1. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1.1. Generalities

1.1.1. Why do you use the LGPL license to prevent me from doing X ?

LGPL means that if you redistribute your application, you need to redistribute the changes you made to CubicWeb under the LGPL licence.

Publishing a web site has nothing to do with redistributing source code according to the terms of the LGPL. A fair amount of companies use modified LGPL code for internal use. And someone could publish a CubicWeb component under a BSD licence for others to plug into a LGPL framework without any problem. The only thing we are trying to prevent here is someone taking the framework and packaging it as closed source to his own clients.

1.1.2. Why does not CubicWeb have a template language ?

There are enough template languages out there. You can use your preferred template language if you want. [explain how to use a template language]

CubicWeb does not define its own templating language as this was not our goal. Based on our experience, we realized that we could gain productivity by letting designers use design tools and developpers develop without the use of the templating language as an intermediary that could not be anyway efficient for both parties. Python is the templating language that we use in CubicWeb, but again, it does not prevent you from using a templating language.

Moreover, CubicWeb currently supports simpletal out of the box and it is also possible to use the cwtags library to build html trees using the with statement with more comfort than raw strings.

1.1.3. Why do you think using pure python is better than using a template language ?

Python is an Object Oriented Programming language and as such it already provides a consistent and strong architecture and syntax a templating language would not reach.

Using Python instead of a template langage for describing the user interface makes it to maintain with real functions/classes/contexts without the need of learning a new dialect. By using Python, we use standard OOP techniques and this is a key factor in a robust application.

1.1.4. CubicWeb looks pretty recent. Is it stable ?

It is constantly evolving, piece by piece. The framework has evolved since 2001 and data has been migrated from one schema to the other ever since. There is a well-defined way to handle data and schema migration.

You can see the roadmap there: http://www.cubicweb.org/project/cubicweb?tab=projectroadmap_tab.

1.1.5. Why is the RQL query language looking similar to X ?

It may remind you of SQL but it is higher level than SQL, more like SPARQL. Except that SPARQL did not exist when we started the project. With version 3.4, CubicWeb has support for SPARQL.

The RQL language is what is going to make a difference with django- like frameworks for several reasons.

  1. accessing data is much easier with it. One can write complex queries with RQL that would be tedious to define and hard to maintain using an object/filter suite of method calls.
  2. it offers an abstraction layer allowing your applications to run on multiple back-ends. That means not only various SQL backends (postgresql, sqlite, sqlserver, mysql), but also non-SQL data stores like LDAP directories and subversion/mercurial repositories (see the vcsfile component).

1.1.6. Which ajax library is CubicWeb using ?

CubicWeb uses jQuery and provides a few helpers on top of that. Additionally, some jQuery plugins are provided (some are provided in specific cubes).

1.2. Development

1.2.2. How to create an anonymous user ?

This allows to browse the site without being authenticated. In the all-in-one.conf file of your instance, define the anonymous user as follows

# login of the CubicWeb user account to use for anonymous user (if you want to
# allow anonymous)

# password of the CubicWeb user account matching login

You also must ensure that this anon user is a registered user of the DB backend. If not, you can create through the administation interface of your instance by adding a user with in the group guests.


While creating a new instance, you can decide to allow access to anonymous user, which will automatically execute what is decribed above.

1.2.3. How to format an entity date attribute ?

If your schema has an attribute of type Date or Datetime, you usually want to format it when displaying it. First, you should define your preferred format using the site configuration panel http://appurl/view?vid=systempropertiesform and then set ui.date and/or ui.datetime. Then in the view code, use:


which will always return a string whatever the attribute’s type (so it’s recommended also for other attribute types). By default it expects to generate HTML, so it deals with rich text formating, xml escaping...

1.2.4. How to update a database after a schema modification ?

It depends on what has been modified in the schema.

  • update the permissions and properties of an entity or a relation: sync_schema_props_perms('MyEntityOrRelation').
  • add an attribute: add_attribute('MyEntityType', 'myattr').
  • add a relation: add_relation_definition('SubjRelation', 'MyRelation', 'ObjRelation').

1.2.5. I get NoSelectableObject exceptions, how do I debug selectors ?

You just need to put the appropriate context manager around view/component selection. One standard place for components is in cubicweb/vregistry.py:

def possible_objects(self, *args, **kwargs):
    """return an iterator on possible objects in this registry for the given
    from logilab.common.registry import traced_selection
    with traced_selection():
        for appobjects in self.itervalues():
                yield self._select_best(appobjects, *args, **kwargs)
            except NoSelectableObject:

This will yield additional WARNINGs, like this:

2009-01-09 16:43:52 - (cubicweb.selectors) WARNING: selector one_line_rset returned 0 for <class 'cubicweb.web.views.basecomponents.WFHistoryVComponent'>

For views, you can put this context in cubicweb/web/views/basecontrollers.py in the ViewController:

def _select_view_and_rset(self, rset):
        from logilab.common.registry import traced_selection
        with traced_selection():
            view = self._cw.vreg['views'].select(vid, req, rset=rset)
    except ObjectNotFound:
        self.warning("the view %s could not be found", vid)
        req.set_message(req._("The view %s could not be found") % vid)
        vid = vid_from_rset(req, rset, self._cw.vreg.schema)
        view = self._cw.vreg['views'].select(vid, req, rset=rset)

1.2.6. I get “database is locked” when executing tests

If you have “database is locked” as error when you are executing security tests, it is usually because commit or rollback are missing before login() calls.

You can also use a context manager, to avoid such errors, as described here: Managing connections or users.

1.2.7. What are hooks used for ?

Hooks are executed around (actually before or after) events. The most common events are data creation, update and deletion. They permit additional constraint checking (those not expressible at the schema level), pre and post computations depending on data movements.

As such, they are a vital part of the framework.

Other kinds of hooks, called Operations, are available for execution just before commit.

For more information, read Hooks and Operations section.

1.3. Configuration

1.3.1. How to configure a LDAP source ?

See LDAP integration.

1.3.2. How to import LDAP users in CubicWeb ?

Here is a useful script which enables you to import LDAP users into your CubicWeb instance by running the following:
import os
import pwd
import sys

from logilab.database import get_connection

def getlogin():
    """avoid using os.getlogin() because of strange tty/stdin problems
    (man 3 getlogin)
    Another solution would be to use $LOGNAME, $USER or $USERNAME
    return pwd.getpwuid(os.getuid())[0]

    database = sys.argv[1]
except IndexError:
    print 'USAGE: python ldap2system.py <database>'

if raw_input('update %s db ? [y/n]: ' % database).strip().lower().startswith('y'):
    cnx = get_connection(user=getlogin(), database=database)
    cursor = cnx.cursor()

    insert = ('INSERT INTO euser (creation_date, eid, modification_date, login, '
              ' firstname, surname, last_login_time, upassword) '
              "VALUES (%(mtime)s, %(eid)s, %(mtime)s, %(login)s, %(firstname)s, "
              "%(surname)s, %(mtime)s, './fqEz5LeZnT6');")
    update = "UPDATE entities SET source='system' WHERE eid=%(eid)s;"
    cursor.execute("SELECT eid,type,source,extid,mtime FROM entities WHERE source!='system'")
    for eid, type, source, extid, mtime in cursor.fetchall():
        if type != 'CWUser':
            print "don't know what to do with entity type", type
        if source != 'ldapuser':
            print "don't know what to do with source type", source
        ldapinfos = dict(x.strip().split('=') for x in extid.split(','))
        login = ldapinfos['uid']
        firstname = ldapinfos['uid'][0].upper()
        surname = ldapinfos['uid'][1:].capitalize()
        if login != 'jcuissinat':
            args = dict(eid=eid, type=type, source=source, login=login,
                        firstname=firstname, surname=surname, mtime=mtime)
            print args
            cursor.execute(insert, args)
            cursor.execute(update, args)


1.4. Security

1.4.1. How to reset the password for user joe ?

If you want to reset the admin password for myinstance, do:

$ cubicweb-ctl reset-admin-pwd myinstance

You need to generate a new encrypted password:

$ python
>>> from cubicweb.server.utils import crypt_password
>>> crypt_password('joepass')

and paste it in the database:

$ psql mydb
mydb=> update cw_cwuser set cw_upassword='qHO8282QN5Utg' where cw_login='joe';

if you’re running over SQL Server, you need to use the CONVERT function to convert the string to varbinary(255). The SQL query is therefore:

update cw_cwuser set cw_upassword=CONVERT(varbinary(255), 'qHO8282QN5Utg') where cw_login='joe';

Be careful, the encryption algorithm is different on Windows and on Unix. You cannot therefore use a hash generated on Unix to fill in a Windows database, nor the other way round.

You can prefer use a migration script similar to this shell invocation instead:

$ cubicweb-ctl shell <instance>
>>> from cubicweb import Binary
>>> from cubicweb.server.utils import crypt_password
>>> crypted = crypt_password('joepass')
>>> rset = rql('Any U WHERE U is CWUser, U login "joe"')
>>> joe = rset.get_entity(0,0)
>>> joe.cw_set(upassword=Binary(crypted))

Please, refer to the script example is provided in the misc/examples/chpasswd.py file.

The more experimented people would use RQL request directly:

>>> rql('SET X upassword %(a)s WHERE X is CWUser, X login "joe"',
...     {'a': crypted})

1.4.2. I’ve just created a user in a group and it doesn’t work !

You are probably getting errors such as

remove {'PR': 'Project', 'C': 'CWUser'} from solutions since your_user has no read access to cost

This is because you have to put your user in the “users” group. The user has to be in both groups.

1.4.3. How is security implemented ?

The basis for security is a mapping from operations to groups or arbitrary RQL expressions. These mappings are scoped to entities and relations.

This is an example for an Entity Type definition:

class Version(EntityType):
    """a version is defining the content of a particular project's
    # definition of attributes is voluntarily missing
    __permissions__ = {'read': ('managers', 'users', 'guests',),
                       'update': ('managers', 'logilab', 'owners'),
                       'delete': ('managers',),
                       'add': ('managers', 'logilab',
                               ERQLExpression('X version_of PROJ, U in_group G, '
                                              'PROJ require_permission P, '
                                              'P name "add_version", P require_group G'),)}

The above means that permission to read a Version is granted to any user that is part of one of the groups ‘managers’, ‘users’, ‘guests’. The ‘add’ permission is granted to users in group ‘managers’ or ‘logilab’ or to users in group G, if G is linked by a permission entity named “add_version” to the version’s project.

An example for a Relation Definition (RelationType both defines a relation type and implicitly one relation definition, on which the permissions actually apply):

class version_of(RelationType):
    """link a version to its project. A version is necessarily linked
    to one and only one project. """
    # some lines voluntarily missing
    __permissions__ = {'read': ('managers', 'users', 'guests',),
                       'delete': ('managers', ),
                       'add': ('managers', 'logilab',
                               RRQLExpression('O require_permission P, P name "add_version", '
                                              'U in_group G, P require_group G'),) }

The main difference lies in the basic available operations (there is no ‘update’ operation) and the usage of an RRQLExpression (rql expression for a relation) instead of an ERQLExpression (rql expression for an entity).

You can find additional information in the section The security model.

1.4.4. Is it possible to bypass security from the UI (web front) part ?

No. Only Hooks/Operations can do that.

1.4.5. Can PostgreSQL and CubicWeb authentication work with kerberos ?

If you have PostgreSQL set up to accept kerberos authentication, you can set the db-host, db-name and db-user parameters in the sources configuration file while leaving the password blank. It should be enough for your instance to connect to postgresql with a kerberos ticket.