An introduction to Mantissa (part 3): Navigation powerups and other friends

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This is the fourth post in a series of articles about Mantissa.

In the previous article I described how an offering can provide powerups to be included in a product, which will then be installed on a user store; in this installment, I will discuss what form these powerups can actually take, and how they allow you to expose your application's functionality to the user.

One of the most commonly-implemented powerup interfaces in Mantissa is INavigableElement. Mantissa has a somewhat generalized idea of "navigation", whereby a nested menu structure can be defined through INavigableElement powerups, and then displayed by different implementations for different protocols; for example, the web view has a visual dropdown menu system, whereas the SSH server presents a textual menu system. A typical INavigableElement powerup implementation will look something like this: (Source)

from zope.interface import implements
from axiom.item import Item
from axiom.attributes import integer
from xmantissa.ixmantissa import INavigableElement
from xmantissa.webnav import Tab

class PonyCreator(Item):
    Powerup for creating and managing ponies.
    powerupInterfaces = [INavigableElement]

    ponyQuota = integer(allowNone=False, default=10)

    def getTabs(self):
        return [Tab('ZOMG PONIES!', self.storeID, 1.0)]

INavigableElement only has one method, getTabs, which returns a list of "tabs" or menu items to be presented in the nav. The primary components of a tab are a title (which is how the item is displayed in the UI), the storeID of an item in the same store which the tab points to, and a float between 0.0 and 1.0 indicating the sort priority of the tab (higher values sort sooner). In this case, we have the tab pointing directly at the PonyCreator item itself; in order for this to work, we'll need some extra code to allow PonyCreator to be exposed via the web.

In order for an item in a user's store to be privately accessible via the web by that user, it needs to be adaptable to the (somewhat poorly-named) INavigableFragment interface. This is almost always done by defining an adapter from the item type to INavigableFragment: (Source)

from twisted.python.components import registerAdapter
from nevow.athena import LiveElement
from xmantissa.webtheme import ThemedDocumentFactory
from xmantissa.ixmantissa import INavigableFragment, ITemplateNameResolver

class PonyCreatorView(LiveElement):
    Web view for Pony management.

    title = u'Pony management'
    docFactory = ThemedDocumentFactory('pony-creator', 'resolver')

    def __init__(self, ponyCreator):
        super(PonyCreatorView, self).__init__()
        self.ponyCreator = ponyCreator
        self.resolver = ITemplateNameResolver(

registerAdapter(PonyCreatorView, PonyCreator, INavigableFragment)

Our element will be wrapped in the Mantissa shell when it is rendered, so we cannot control the page title directly from the template, but the title attribute provides a way for our element to specify the page title. ThemedDocumentFactory is used to retrieve the template through the theme system; the arguments are the name of the template ('pony-creator') and the name of the attribute holding the ITemplateNameResolver implementation used to retrieve the template. This attribute is set in __init__ using a slightly awkward method; the template resolver should really be passed in by Mantissa somehow, but currently there is no mechanism for doing this, so instead we retrieve the default resolver ourselves from the site store.

This is all that is needed for hooking some code up to the web view; any further UI behaviour would be implemented in HTML / JavaScript in PonyCreatorView, usually by invoking additional methods defined on PonyCreator.

Next up: Sharing, or "How do I publish public / shared content?"

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