|Original author(s)||Glyph Lefkowitz|
|Initial release||October 22, 2002|
|Stable release||15.1.0 (April 13, 2015[±])|
Twisted projects variously support TCP, UDP, SSL/TLS, IP multicast, Unix domain sockets, a large number of protocols (including HTTP, XMPP, NNTP, IMAP, SSH, IRC, FTP, and others), and much more. Twisted is based on the event-driven programming paradigm, which means that users of Twisted write short callbacks which are called by the framework.
Separation of protocols and transports
Twisted is designed for complete separation between logical protocols (usually relying on stream-based connection semantics, such as HTTP or POP3) and physical transport layers supporting such stream-based semantics (such as files, sockets or SSL libraries). Connection between a logical protocol and a transport layer happens at the last possible moment — just before information is passed into the logical protocol instance. The logical protocol is informed of the transport layer instance, and can use it to send messages back and to check for the peer's identity. Note that it is still possible, in protocol code, to deeply query the transport layer on transport issues (such as checking a client-side SSL certificate). Naturally, such protocol code will fail (raise an exception) if the transport layer does not support such semantics.
Central to the Twisted application model is the concept of a deferred (elsewhere called a future). A deferred is an instance of a class designed to receive and process a result which has not been computed yet, for example because it is based on data from a remote peer. Deferreds can be passed around, just like regular objects, but cannot be asked for their value. Each deferred supports a callback chain. When the deferred gets the value, it is passed to the functions on the callback chain, with the result of each callback becoming the input for the next. Deferreds make it possible to arrange to operate on the result of a function call before its value has become available. For example, if a deferred returns a string from a remote peer containing an IP address in quad format, a callback can be attached to translate it into a 32-bit number. Any user of the deferred can now treat it as a deferred returning a 32-bit number. This, and the related ability to define "errbacks" (callbacks which are called as error handlers), allows code to specify in advance what to do when an asynchronous event occurs, without stopping to wait for the event. In non-event-driven systems, for example using threads, the operating system incurs premature and additional overhead organizing threads each time a blocking call is made.
Twisted supports an abstraction over raw threads — using a thread as a deferred source. Thus, a deferred is returned immediately, which will receive a value when the thread finishes. Callbacks can be attached which will run in the main thread, thus alleviating the need for complex locking solutions. A prime example of such usage, which comes from Twisted's support libraries, is using this model to call into databases. The database call itself happens on a foreign thread, but the analysis of the result happens in the main thread.
Foreign loop support
Twisted can integrate with foreign event loops, such as those of GTK+, Qt and Cocoa (through PyObjC). This allows using Twisted as the networking support layer in graphical user interface (GUI) programs, using all of its libraries without adding a thread-per-socket overhead, as using Python's native library would. A full-fledged web server can be integrated in-process with a GUI program using this model, for example.
Applications using Twisted
The original version of social networking and microblogging site Jaiku used Twisted.
The file-hosting service Ubuntu One used Twisted.
GlobaLeaks, an open-source whistleblowing framework uses Twisted.
Twilio, a cloud telephony provider uses Twisted.
qwebirc, a web-based IRC client uses Twisted.
Zenoss, a network management platform, uses Twisted for many internal and collection daemons.
The site http://twistedmatrix.com/trac/wiki/SuccessStories lists some users of Twisted.
- Reactor pattern
- Perl Object Environment, a comparable framework for the Perl programming language
- JBoss Netty, for the Java programming language
- EventMachine, an event-processing library for Ruby.
- Kivy, a multi-platform GUI framework (including iOS and Android) 
- Untwisted a powerful abstraction of network protocols to simplify asynchronous programming in Python.
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- BuildBot Manual
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