Sopel 7.0 Migration
Sopel 7 lays the groundwork for a lot of awesome stuff! We have a major update to Sopel’s command-line interface in progress (which will be finished in Sopel 8), and some API updates that might affect a few existing plugins.
But first, we really need to talk briefly about Python.
A note about Python versions
If you still use Sopel under Python 2, you might notice that Sopel 7 emits warnings about version compatibility. The sad reality is, as of January 1, 2020, Python 2.7 no longer receives any updates. While this doesn’t mean we will simply drop support for running Sopel under Python 2 immediately, it does mean that we will no longer reject ideas that would require doing so.
For the life of Sopel 7.x, we still plan to maintain compatibility with Python 2.7 unless it becomes absolutely necessary to drop it. For example, if a severe bug is found in one of Sopel’s dependencies, and the fix is only released for Python 3, we would consider dropping Python 2 support in the next minor version.
From Sopel 8 onward, it would be much easier to implement new features and enhancements if we dropped support for very old Python releases. For example, Sopel’s support for reloading plugins during runtime can be made much more robust using features added to the language in Python 3.4.
The crux of the matter is this: Sopel’s range of supported Python releases remained stagnant for far too long. While the Sopel project was effectively unmaintained between late 2016 and early 2018, Python 3.3 reached end-of-life (September 29, 2017). During the lengthy development period of Sopel 7, Python 3.4 reached end-of-life (March 18, 2019). Sopel 7 was released very close to the EOL of Python 2.7 (January 1, 2020).
We can’t keep testing support for these old versions forever. At some point, Sopel’s core developers will lose the ability to run them locally. (Python 3.3 is already difficult—though not impossible—to install on current popular Linux systems like Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.) Travis CI, our continuous integration testing provider for contributions from both maintainers and the community alike, won’t keep supporting the installation of EOL Python releases indefinitely. We can’t support what we can’t test.
Furthermore, it’s a waste of effort to fix bugs in new code that, for whatever reason, only affect old, disused versions of Python. The ratio of time spent to users impacted becomes too high as more systems get upgraded.
And finally, supporting older Python releases sometimes prevents us from making highly desirable improvements (see above, re: reloading things).
Keeping all this in mind, the current plan is as follows. Note that it is subject to change, as Sopel’s development pace remains quite leisurely relative to the overall Python ecosystem.
- Sopel 7 maintains the same Python version compatibility range as 6.x
- If our testing infrastructure becomes unable to run the older versions of Python, we might have to bend this one, but the goal is to avoid dropping any supported versions during the life of Sopel 7.x
- Sopel 8 will no longer support EOL Python releases, and the supported
range will be adjusted as needed during development
- Python 2.7, 3.3, 3.4, and 3.5 were already EOL when work on Sopel 8 began in earnest, and were dropped immediately
- Python 3.6 was dropped following its December 2021 EOL date
Whatever minimum Python version is required for Sopel 8.0.0 will remain supported (by best effort) throughout the 8.x series, just as has been done during the life of Sopel 7.x.
Sopel 7 brings back support for databases other than SQLite—an often-requested feature ever since Sopel went SQLite-only in version 5.
While we can’t practically offer documentation on every possible setup, it should be fairly easy to migrate an existing installation to any supported database type with a bit of search-fu. Sopel’s database support is built on SQLAlchemy, which has ample documentation of its own about getting up and running with various back-ends.
Please don’t hesitate to offer feedback in our IRC channel or a GitHub issue. This is a huge feature, and with a small team it’s simply not possible for us to test everything—especially the less common database types (paid ones like Oracle, especially).
Version 7 deprecates many of the command-line arguments that Sopel has used for most of its life, in favor of a much more extensible command structure.
Instead of having arguments like
--configure-modules, Sopel’s CLI
now works on a sub-command system (like Git and other popular tools). This will
allow adding more functions without having to share one global argument
namespace, and make the commands more “speakable”.
The full new command structure will be documented in the Command-line arguments after release, but as a general overview of the old structure vs. the new:
There’s one argument deserving of special mention:
-m. It will
be removed in Sopel 7, because it has been a no-op since version 4.0.0.
Someone deleted the code to handle it without saying so anywhere, but Sopel
has continued to carry around this useless argument since 2014. No more!
New commands are not always going to be shorter than the old ones (see the
--kill example), but we’re looking at the future picture. This is just the
start of Sopel’s CLI evolution, and more features will come based on this new
Removal of old commands
For the life of Sopel 7, the existing (“legacy”) arguments are still supported,
just with deprecation notices in the
In Sopel 8, the old arguments from Sopel 6 and lower will be removed.
Most deprecated arguments in Sopel 7 will output warnings to the terminal when used. Hopefully we remembered them all during development—but if we missed any, please do let us know via the issue tracker or IRC.
New helper commands
Some helper tools debut with Sopel 7. So far, they are
sopel-plugins. Both are intended to make the job of configuring a Sopel
instance easier, without needing to edit the config file manually.
sopel-config tool supports
initializing a new config file,
existing config files, and
getting values from an existing config file.
More features will likely be added along the road to Sopel 8. Suggestions are welcomed and encouraged!
sopel-plugins command, you can
list available plugins;
disable plugins in a specific config file; and
show details about a
specific plugin such as where it is on disk and whether it’s enabled.
Here, too, more features will likely be added along the road to Sopel 8. Suggestions are welcomed and encouraged!
Sopel 7 API changes
This is a good time to remind you that your plugins should specify a maximum Sopel version in their requirements. Doing so reduces the likelihood that users will be able to install your plugin alongside an incompatible version of Sopel, and thus minimizes the risk of compatibility errors during startup or runtime.
We do everything possible to introduce breaking API changes only in major
versions, so it’s typically safe for your plugin to require (for example)
sopel>=6.0,<8.0—at least the earliest major version you’ve tested, and less
than the next unreleased major version. Occasionally you might need to require
a specific minor version, if your code needs a new feature that was introduced
in between major releases, but major-version compatibility is typically all
you’ll need to worry about.
Normally, when a feature needs to be removed from the API, we try to allow for a deprecation period, during which the feature to be removed continues to work but logs a warning if used. It is extremely rare for an API feature to be removed in a minor release—and if we do so, that means there was no way to keep that feature around in a working state until the next major Sopel version. The changelog always notes deprecations and removals.
In a twist of fate (and old spaghetti code), it turns out that Sopel has been
Identifiers to lowercase incorrectly for a long time. Like, since
Identifier was called
Nick, over 7 years ago.
Ever since version 3.2.0, the first version to introduce case-mapping for
nicknames, it’s been non-compliant with the RFC.
Sopel 7 finally fixes that. Existing instances will opportunistically convert
values from the old (incorrect) representation to the new (correct) one as
needed, but that can’t cover all plugins. With our apologies for the
inconvenience, you’ll have to implement your own migration logic if your plugin
stores and/or manipulates
Identifiers in any way outside the
set/get_*_value() functions provided by Sopel’s DB API.
Everything you’ll need from Sopel’s API is still in the
Identifier class. You
Identifier._lower() to get the corrected
representation of a nick or channel name. Call on
Identifier._lower_swapped() for the
previous, incorrect, representation. When working with channel names
method might be helpful.
Whether to write a one-off migration that converts everything at once, extra logic that converts values on-the-fly as needed, or something else is all up to you, based on your own plugin’s considerations. Different plugin projects will have different needs. For example, if you’re the only user of your plugin, you might simply write a short script to run once against your bot’s database and be done with it—but if your plugin is uploaded to PyPI, you might choose to release the migration as part of your next version bump. The choice is yours; we just provide the tools you need to get started.
Accessing the database
bot.db.execute()should still return an object that behaves like a
Cursor, but since it’s actually a SQLAlchemy wrapper not everything is guaranteed to work exactly the same
bot.db.get_uri()hasn’t functionally changed, but it’s important to remember that the returned URI might not point to SQLite
bot.db.connect()is likewise functionally unchanged, except that it can now return a non-SQLite DBAPI connection object, potentially one with behavior different from the SQLite connections always returned in older versions
We recommend that authors of plugins which use a raw database connection from
bot.db.connect() aim to rewrite their code so it uses the ORM approach and
bot.db.session() instead. In the interim, it never hurts
to update your plugin’s documentation to warn users that non-SQLite databases
haven’t been tested, or make sure the plugin is marked as compatible with Sopel
<7.0 only until it can be tested and/or updated.
Managing URL callbacks
For quite a while, Sopel plugins wishing to override the
automatic title-fetching for certain URLs have customarily done something along
# in the plugin's setup() function: if not bot.memory['url_callbacks']: bot.memory['url_callbacks'] = tools.SopelMemory() bot.memory['url_callbacks'][compiled_regex] = methodname
Similar manual manipulation of the object in memory was needed to unregister handlers at plugin unload:
# in the plugin's shutdown() function: try: del bot.memory['url_callbacks'][compiled_regex] except KeyError: pass
Going forward, a new set of API methods should be used instead:
bot.register_url_callback(pattern, callback), to invoke
callbackwhen a URL in a message matches the
bot.unregister_url_callback(pattern, callback), to stop invoking the
callbackwhen a URL in a message matches the
bot.search_url_callbacks(url), to find callbacks matching the given
bot.memory['url_callbacks'] will remain unchanged for the life of Sopel 7.x.
We plan to make this data structure private in Sopel 8.0, so we can improve it
(e.g. allowing multiple callbacks for the same pattern). The new API methods
are already future-proofed against the changes we plan to make; that’s why the
callback function is required both when registering and unregistering.
Adding multiple command examples
Decorating a plugin callable like this was a great way to add documentation to
that command through Sopel’s
from sopel import module @module.example('.foo barbaz') def foo_cmd(bot, trigger): bot.action('foos %s' % trigger.group(3))
However, only one example could ever appear in the
help output. This was
confusing to plugin authors.
Furthermore, if more than one example was defined:
from sopel import module @module.example('.foo barbaz') @module.example('.foo spam eggs sausage bacon') def foo_cmd(bot, trigger): bot.action('foos %s' % ', '.join(trigger.group(2).split())
It was not necessarily intuitive which example would be displayed if a user
.help foo. The code says it would use
example. That’s the first one
in the list, which makes sense. But take a guess which of the two above would
.foo barbaz or
.foo spam eggs sausage bacon?
Ready to see if you were right?
Sopel would use
.foo spam eggs sausage bacon as the example, because due to
how decorators work, it ends up first in the internal list despite appearing
last in the source code. Not very intuitive for beginning plugin writers…
So, in Sopel 7, there is a
user_help argument to
@module.example. If at
least one of a callable’s examples has this attribute set to
True, all such
examples will be used when outputting help for that command:
from sopel import module @module.example('.foo barbaz', 'foos barbaz', user_help=True) @module.example('.foo', "I can't foo that!") @module.example('.foo egg sausage bacon', 'foos egg, sausage, bacon', user_help=True) def foo_cmd(bot, trigger): if not trigger.group(2): return bot.say("I can't foo that!") bot.action('foos %s' % ', '.join(trigger.group(2).split())
Here, Sopel’s help output will show both
.foo barbaz and
.foo egg sausage
bacon as examples. Plain
.foo does not have
user_help=True (it’s purely
there for testing), and so it will not be shown.
Of course, backwards compatibility is important! That’s why we used this
approach. Callables without any
user_help=True examples will behave just
like they would have in Sopel 6 and older: The “first” example (the one
closest to the function’s
def line, last in the source line order) will
user_help=True the default would make a ton of sense, definitely!
But if we did that, many (many) existing Sopel (and Willie) plugins would
potentially output “bad” help information—so we elected to keep the old
behavior by default in an effort to minimize any “breakage”.
Logging API rework
Plugins should use the new
sopel.tools.get_logger() function to get a
logging object, starting with Sopel 7.0. It takes the same argument (the
plugin’s name) as its predecessor,
sopel.logger.get_logger() will have an extended deprecation cycle, to allow
ample time for the ecosystem to adapt without spamming too many log files at
first. The old function’s behavior has been tweaked to work reasonably nicely
with the harmonized logging system implemented for Sopel 7.
sopel.logger.get_logger() will begin emitting deprecation warnings
in Sopel 8.0, to alert stragglers (or users of possibly-abandoned code). We
will remove this function from the API in Sopel 9.0.
Removal of deprecated attributes
A number of ancient attributes that were considered deprecated many releases
ago finally have been removed, mostly from the
Bot object. Among them:
This list is not comprehensive, but honestly: If your code breaks because a
removed attribute no longer exists, it’s actually been broken for a long time
on account of the attributes themselves always being empty. They were just
placeholders to avoid anything raising
AttributeError. (Sopel’s current
maintenance team wouldn’t have done it that way, but we can’t undo the past.)
Improvements to testing tools
An absolute ton of work went into refactoring how the bot works internally
for Sopel 7, and one side benefit (nay, a goal) of the changes was to make
things more directly testable, without needing to create special “mock”
objects. If you have used
sopel.test_tools to write unit tests for your
plugin code, you’re probably familiar with at least one of
MockSopelWrapper—three classes Sopel itself used in its own
tests until this release.
With the rewrites for Sopel 7, though, Sopel’s tests don’t need these mock
classes any more. We test directly on the “real” objects, only switching out
the IRC connection for a fake one that just logs its input and output instead
of actually opening a socket to a remote server. This means that our
classes can be marked as deprecated; we will remove them in Sopel 8.
Fortunately, there’s also another bit of good news: Sopel now comes with a
pytest plugin and a whole set of fixtures, factories, and mocks in
sopel.tests. We encourage you to explore them and update
your plugins’ tests (or write them, if you haven’t already, you naughty
developer!) to use the new goodies. Trust us—they’re much nicer to write
tests with than the old tools were!
Sopel 7 plugin changes
Reminder DB migration
Sopel 7 refers to specific instances by config file name whenever possible,
instead of using other pieces of config data such as
host that are
more likely to change. The
tell plugins have been updated with
this in mind, and will attempt to automatically convert their respective data
files to the new name format if the old filename exists.
You probably will not need to do anything. However, if the automatic migration does fail, it will output (and log) information about what it was trying to do, and link to this section of the Sopel 7 upgrade guide for convenience.
If a migration failure brought you here: Above the link you should find the old and new filenames the plugin was attempting to use.
Important: Ensure the associated instance of Sopel is NOT running before doing anything. Tampering with the reminder files while Sopel is running can result in data loss.
In most error cases, migration will fail because the new filename already exists. The simplest fix is to move or rename the conflicting file, and run Sopel again so the migration can complete.
If both the old and new files are non-empty, you might want to peek inside them with a text editor to see what’s there before deciding which to keep. The current format for both plugins’ data files is essentially TSV, and they can be merged by hand (again, with Sopel stopped) if both the old and new files somehow contain meaningful, unique entries.
And of course, if you need more in-depth assistance with fixing a failed migration, our IRC channel always welcomes questions.
Core plugin removals
As of February 2018, the Python bindings for
unmaintained. This made installing the
plugin’s dependencies increasingly difficult, and often
caused problems with new installations.
Because of this, the
spellcheck plugin was rewritten to use
and extracted into a standalone PyPI package to eliminate
those non-Python dependencies for installing Sopel itself.
The rewrite also added new commands to manage a custom word list:
.scadd- stages a word for adding to the bot’s word list
.scpending- lists words pending addition to the bot’s custom list
.scdel- removes a word from the pending list
.scsave- commits pending words to the bot’s word list
.scclear- clears the list of pending words without saving
aspell API only supports adding words to the custom
dictionary. To remove a custom word, a user must manually edit the dictionary
file, so we decided to go with a two-step process. Hopefully it will help Sopel
admins around the world avoid adding typos to their bots’ custom dictionaries!
We’ve made the
ipython plugin into its own PyPI package,
further reducing the packages required to install Sopel itself. Mostly, though,
this decision was based on the limited utility of this plugin for
non-developers. Its main use case is poking around in Sopel’s state while
debugging a new plugin or plugin feature, with Sopel running in an interactive
shell. It’s unusable when Sopel is run as a service/daemon (which is how most
deployments should run Sopel), and we decided it doesn’t make sense to
continue bundling this plugin and its requirements with the core bot.
Planned user-facing changes
A “user” here is someone who runs (or is responsible for maintaining) one or more Sopel bots. If you’re reading this, that probably describes you. (Unless you’re some kind of weirdo who only writes plugins for other people to use, and never tests them… Seriously, who does that?)
You might need to edit your bot’s configuration in the future due to these plans. Sopel might take care of them on its own, too. But in case human intervention is required, here are the details.
Config format change for list values
Since the new config system was introduced, lists of values have been
represented in the config file as strings separated by commas (
,). Sopel 7
adds support for storing these lists as multi-line strings instead, with
values separated by newlines.
Here’s what that means in practice:
# Current format [core] enable = admin,reddit,wikipedia,wiktionary # New format [core] enable = admin reddit wikipedia wiktionary
Note that Sopel 7 will upgrade the stored format of any comma-separated list
value if the config is saved (with
.save) after editing the value via IRC
.set section.option_name list,of,values).
Important: The new format requires any value beginning with
# to be
quoted. Automatic conversion will handle this, but be aware of it if you’re
tweaking your config file(s) by hand during the upgrade process. You will need
to be careful with the
core.channels list, in particular. Most updated
core.channels values should look like this:
[core] channels = "#spam" "#eggs" "#bacon" "#snakes"
Unquoted values beginning with
# might work properly on certain Python
versions if indented, but you should quote them anyway to be safe.
In Sopel 7, this is just a convenience change. It means that lists stored in the new format can support commas within the values, without any annoying escape-character shenanigans (which was our first plan). Old-style values (all on a single line) will continue to be split on commas when reading config files, as before, and will be updated to the new format as described above.
Eventually, in Sopel 9, we plan to remove this fallback behavior. Sopel 8 may emit a warning to the console and/or log file at startup if old-style list values are present in the loaded config file, but we encourage updating your config files long before then.
Modules vs. plugins
Sopel has long used the term “module” in reference to Python files (or folders
thereof) that add functionality to the bot. This is reflected even in the
layout of Sopel’s data folder:
~/.sopel/modules is so named because that’s
where the modules go! We’d like to change that, though.
The simplified explanation is that Python already has “modules”. Add-ons for Sopel are also Python modules, but not all Python modules are Sopel add-ons. This overlap gets confusing for developers sometimes.
Many similar projects call this kind of add-on a “plugin”. We’ve already started using the term “plugin” in our documentation, in place of “module”, when referring to these add-ons.
As a user, you’ll notice only small changes related to this shift. The
restructured CLI described above, for example, uses
sopel configure --plugins to replace
sopel --configure-modules. Our
documentation will continue to move toward consistently referring to “plugins”
and “modules” as distinct concepts. We’ll also change the default search
location for plugins from
~/.sopel/plugins in a future
release (probably Sopel 8), but it will be easy to re-add the old folder if
you like via the
Planned future API changes
This section is all about stuff that won’t cause problems now, but will break in a future release if not updated. Most of these are planned removals of, or changes to, API features deprecated long ago.
We suggest reviewing these upcoming changes, and updating your own plugins if they still use anything listed here, as soon as possible. Updating plugins published to PyPI should take priority, especially plugins written for Sopel 6 that are not future-proofed by capping Sopel’s version in their requirements.
If you use third-party plugins that have not been updated, we encourage you to inform the author(s) politely that they need to update. Or better yet, submit a pull request or patch yourself!
Sopel 7.x will be the last release series to support the
structure (deprecated in Sopel 6.2.0, released January 16, 2016).
Beginning in Sopel 8,
bot.privileges will be removed and plugins trying to
access it will throw an exception.
bot.channels will be the only place to
get privilege data going forward.
Back in 6.0, Sopel’s API standardized around a consistent argument
order for messaging functions:
message first, then an optional
destination, if you like). Part of the old API,
bot.msg(), has stuck around
since then because it was, quote, “way too much of a pain to
remove”. In fact, it turned out to be quite easy to remove.
None of Sopel’s own code uses this old method any more, and we will remove it
entirely in 8.0. Uses of
bot.msg() in 7.0 will emit a deprecation warning, so
any remaining third-party code that still uses it can be found and patched.
While the whole
sopel.web module was marked as deprecated in Sopel
6.2.0, because it largely serves as a wrapper around the
library, parts of it seem to be useful enough that they should be kept around.
For Sopel 8, we intend to move
sopel.tools.web. The new
location is available in Sopel 7 to provide a transitional period. Similar to
how importing from both
sopel worked in the run-up to Sopel 6.0,
it is possible to do any of the following during Sopel 7’s life cycle:
from sopel import web
from sopel.tools import web
In Sopel 8, we will remove the pointers from
sopel.web to the new location.
These explicitly deprecated functions will also be removed at the same time:
sopel.web.get_urllib_object()— really, just use
We will also tweak the module constants:
sopel.web.default_headers: renamed to
sopel.web.ca_certs: removed in
sopel.tools.web— it no longer has any function (and was probably not useful for Sopel plugins to import, anyway)
New additions to Sopel’s web tools made during the life of 7.x will be
available only in
sopel.tools.web. Functions and constants that we plan to
remove in Sopel 8 (as listed above) will be available only from the old
Finalizing the “plugin” transition
As described above, we’re trying to get away from the ambiguity of calling Sopel add-ons “modules”, because that term is already used by Python itself. All Sopel add-ons are Python modules, but not all Python modules are Sopel add-ons. Many people in the Sopel community have tripped over this blurred line, and we have plans to change more than just documentation eventually.
Already, in Sopel 7, the internal mechanisms for handling add-on code are all
about “plugins” now. The module responsible is named
sopel.plugins, and its
submodules & members all agree on this nomenclature. But you, a plugin
developer, must—confusingly—still import the “module” module from
use any of the decorators that make Sopel plugins work. Annoying, isn’t it?
Rest assured that we’re not done yet. Future releases of Sopel will support
(even encourage) importing
sopel.plugin instead, which will be the new home
of all plugin-related decorators & constants.
sopel.module won’t go away any
time soon, though. It predates even the name “Willie”, after all—we can’t just
yank it out without a long deprecation cycle. We might just leave it as a
permanent alias to
sopel.plugin. (The plan is still up for
discussion, if you’re interested.)
But, once available, you should definitely use
sopel.plugin in your new
code. It’s the future!