Streaming Contents

Sometimes you want to send an enormous amount of data to the client, much more than you want to keep in memory. When you are generating the data on the fly though, how do you send that back to the client without the roundtrip to the filesystem?

The answer is by using generators and direct responses.

Basic Usage

This is a basic view function that generates a lot of CSV data on the fly. The trick is to have an inner function that uses a generator to generate data and to then invoke that function and pass it to a response object:

def generate_large_csv():
    def generate():
        for row in iter_all_rows():
            yield f"{','.join(row)}\n"
    return generate(), {"Content-Type": "text/csv")

Each yield expression is directly sent to the browser. Note though that some WSGI middlewares might break streaming, so be careful there in debug environments with profilers and other things you might have enabled.

Streaming from Templates

The Jinja2 template engine supports rendering a template piece by piece, returning an iterator of strings. Flask provides the stream_template() and stream_template_string() functions to make this easier to use.

from flask import stream_template

def timeline():
    return stream_template("timeline.html")

The parts yielded by the render stream tend to match statement blocks in the template.

Streaming with Context

The request will not be active while the generator is running, because the view has already returned at that point. If you try to access request, you’ll get a RuntimeError.

If your generator function relies on data in request, use the stream_with_context() wrapper. This will keep the request context active during the generator.

from flask import stream_with_context, request
from markupsafe import escape

def streamed_response():
    def generate():
        yield '<p>Hello '
        yield escape(request.args['name'])
        yield '!</p>'
    return stream_with_context(generate())

It can also be used as a decorator.

def generate():

return generate()

The stream_template() and stream_template_string() functions automatically use stream_with_context() if a request is active.