Deferred Request Callbacks

One of the design principles of Flask is that response objects are created and passed down a chain of potential callbacks that can modify them or replace them. When the request handling starts, there is no response object yet. It is created as necessary either by a view function or by some other component in the system.

But what happens if you want to modify the response at a point where the response does not exist yet? A common example for that would be a before-request function that wants to set a cookie on the response object.

One way is to avoid the situation. Very often that is possible. For instance you can try to move that logic into an after-request callback instead. Sometimes however moving that code there is just not a very pleasant experience or makes code look very awkward.

As an alternative possibility you can attach a bunch of callback functions to the g object and call them at the end of the request. This way you can defer code execution from anywhere in the application.

The Decorator

The following decorator is the key. It registers a function on a list on the g object:

from flask import g

def after_this_request(f):
    if not hasattr(g, 'after_request_callbacks'):
        g.after_request_callbacks = []
    return f

Calling the Deferred

Now you can use the after_this_request decorator to mark a function to be called at the end of the request. But we still need to call them. For this the following function needs to be registered as after_request() callback:

def call_after_request_callbacks(response):
    for callback in getattr(g, 'after_request_callbacks', ()):
    return response

A Practical Example

At any time during a request, we can register a function to be called at the end of the request. For example you can remember the current language of the user in a cookie in the before-request function:

from flask import request

def detect_user_language():
    language = request.cookies.get('user_lang')
    if language is None:
        language = guess_language_from_request()
        def remember_language(response):
            response.set_cookie('user_lang', language)
    g.language = language