Created: 2011-07-13 14:56
Updated: 2019-01-29 19:35

Colony Framework

The Colony Framework is an open source plugin framework specification. Implementations of the specification offer a runtime component model, that allows for plugins to be installed, started, stopped, updated and uninstalled without requiring the application container to be stopped. The specification relies heavily on the Inversion of control principle, in order to make it easier for application components to discover and interact with each other.

Colony aims to eliminate the complexity typically associated with the creation of modular applications, through a simplified unified model for component development. Practical applications can range from modular enterprise software to application mashing.

Quick start


  • Install Colony using pip install colony
  • Run the command RUN_MODE=devel colony


  • Start and activate the environment using virtualenv venv && source venv/bin/activate
  • Install Colony in the system using pip install colony
  • Deploy the console package using cpm install console_interface
  • Run your new colony using the command RUN_MODE=devel colony


  • Create a new directory to serve as base for the build mkdir colony && cd colony
  • Retrieve the Dockerfile from the repo using wget
  • Create the new docker image using docker build --tag self/colony .
  • Execute colony with docker run -e RUN_MODE=devel -i -t self/colony

To actually do something useful look into How to Establish your Colony in 3 Easy Steps


For development

  • Set PYTHONPATH to the colony/src path so that the python source files may be included
  • Set PATH to the colony/scripts/pypi to used the provided base scripts

For production


Most of the colony operation are run through the cpm command:

  • cpm clone <target> - clones the base colony instance into the target directory (new project)
  • cpm cleanup <target> - cleans the current instance removing extra files
  • cpm pack <target> - packs the current instance into a .zip file
  • cpm generate [target] <...> - generates a .json descriptor file for the provided python file and then runs the build operation for the generated .json file, effectively build the package item
  • cpm build [descriptor] <...> - builds the target .json descriptor file into a package file
  • cpm deploy [package] - deploys the target .cbx file into the current instance
  • cpm info [package] - prints information about the package to the standard output
  • cpm install [name] <...> - installs the package with the provided name from the remote repositories
  • cpm upgrade - updates the complete set of packages deployed in the instance
  • cpm require [path] <...> - installs the complete set of packages defined in the requirements file
  • cpm upload [target] <repo> - generates a package for the provided path and then uploads it to the currently configured primary repository, or another repository if defined


In order to run the complete set of available tests for the deployment use either colony test or MODE=test colony and Colony Manager will boot directly to unit testing and exit in error in case at least one test fails.


  • Runtime modularity.
  • No restart required for deploying new plugins, updating or reconfiguring existing ones.
  • Simplified component model (easy to create a plugin, even easier to combine existing ones).
  • Capabilities: simple extension points which allow your plugins to take advantage of future plugins which adhere to the capability API.
  • Dependencies: simplified dependency management, just declare the id of the plugin your plugin needs in order to function and the plugin manager will ensure your plugin only gets loaded when the conditions are met.
  • Most importantly, runs Colony Plugins.

And remember this is just the base runtime, to understand the kind of things you can do with Colony, browse the Colony Plugins repository.


Although Colony is still in an early stage we're welcoming help for all kinds of work. The best ways to get involved:

  1. Join the mailing list.
  2. Send pull requests for bug fixes or new features and improvements.
  3. Help make the docs better.


To find python native extension required for some of the plugins used the following sites:

  • Python Imaging Library (PIL) link.
  • Reportlab PDF Generator link.
  • Unofficial Windows Binaries for Python Extension Packages link.
  • MySQL driver for Python link.

Project information


Colony is an open-source project currently licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0.

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