Kamaelia: A quick overview

Kamaelia is a Python library by BBC Research for concurrent programming using a simple pattern of components that send and receive data from each other. The following is an example of a system made by piping the output of one component into another:

from Kamaelia.Chassis.Pipeline import Pipeline
from Kamaelia.Util.Console import ConsoleReader, ConsoleEchoer


Or maybe you want to build a presentation tool? (imports & setup excluded here - full example)

CHOOSER = Chooser(items = files),
IMAGE = Image(size=(800,600), position=(8,48)),
NEXT = Button(caption="Next", msg="NEXT", position=(72,8)),
PREVIOUS = Button(caption="Previous", msg="PREV",position=(8,8)),
FIRST = Button(caption="First", msg="FIRST",position=(256,8)),
LAST = Button(caption="Last", msg="LAST",position=(320,8)),
linkages = {
("NEXT","outbox") : ("CHOOSER","inbox"),
("PREVIOUS","outbox") : ("CHOOSER","inbox"),
("FIRST","outbox") : ("CHOOSER","inbox"),
("LAST","outbox") : ("CHOOSER","inbox"),
("CHOOSER","outbox") : ("IMAGE","inbox"),

That's all well and good, but how is a component written? What's inside it?

from Axon.Component import component
from Axon.Ipc import shutdownMicroprocess, producerFinished

class MyComponent(component):
Inboxes = {"inbox" : "some data in",
"control" : "stops the component"}
Outboxes = {"outbox" : "some data out",
"signal" : "Shutdown signal"}

def __init__(self, **argd):
super(MyComponent, self).__init__(**argd)

def main(self):
while not self.doShutdown():
if self.dataReady("inbox"):
data = self.recv("inbox")
# let's echo what we received...
self.send(data, 'outbox')

if not self.anyReady():

yield 1

def doShutdown(self):
if self.dataReady("control"):
mes = self.recv("control")
if isinstance(mes, shutdownMicroprocess) or isinstance(mes, producerFinished):
self.send(producerFinished(), "signal")
return True
return False

This is the simplest form a component can take. A component:

  • is a class that inherits from Axon.Component.component
  • has inboxes and outboxes

By inheriting from Axon.Component.component you make your class usable by the Axon library which is at the core of the Kamaelia library. It allows for your class to be used with other components.

Inboxes and outboxes allow your component to be linked to and from by other components.

Then your class defines a main method that simple loop until a specific kind of message is put into the "control" inbox of the component. During the looping it checks for any inboxes and process data read from them. Eventually it yields to the Axon scheduler that goes to the next available component. By using a generator we allow the shceduler to come back to the component's loop eventually.

Note that inboxes and outboxes are pure Python dictionary hence they allow for any Python objects and are not limited to strings. The component described above is simple, complex components have many inboxes and outboxes to link to and from.


Kamaelia is a library of complex components for all kind of tasks and topics:

For example taking the previous example we could write:

from Kamaelia.Chassis.Pipeline import Pipeline
from Kamaelia.Util.Console import ConsoleReader, ConsoleEchoer


Pipeline is component that automatically links outboxes to inboxes of each provided component. The console components allow for reading and writing data from and to the command line. Because Pipeline is also a component itself it could in turns be used in another component.

Note that calling the run() method on a component blocks the process until it is killed. You can also simply activate a component which will then be in an active state but will run only when eventually run is called on another component. In other words, the previous snippet could also be written like that:

from Kamaelia.Util.Console import ConsoleReader, ConsoleEchoer

reader = ConsoleReader()

mycomp = MyComponent()
mycomp.link((reader, 'outbox'), (mycomp, 'inbox'))

writer = ConsoleEchoer()
mycomp.link((mycomp, 'outbox'), (writer, 'inbox'))


Now that you have the basics of Kamaelia you should dive into its documentation and have fun with its fantastic library.


Kamaelia is an open source project originated from and guided by BBC Research. For more information browse the site or get in contact.

This is an ongoing community based development site. As a result the contents of this page is the opinions of the contributors of the pages involved not the organisations involved. Specificially, this page may contain personal views which are not the views of the BBC. (the site is powered by a wiki engine)

(C) Copyright 2008 Kamaelia Contributors, including the British Broadcasting Corporation, All Rights Reserved

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