OpenAPI Python Clients

OpenAPI Python Clients

A Primer For Generated Client Libraries

Steven A. Broderick's photo
Steven A. Broderick
·Mar 3, 2023·

10 min read

Play this article

At the OpenZiti project, we heavily rely on OpenAPI specifications to streamline our development process. The OpenAPI project provides code generators that support a variety of programming languages. In this blog, we'll focus on a practical guide for using a generated OpenAPI Python client library. Using a generated client as a user of an API is not entirely a straightforward process. Investing some time upfront to understand the translation between the spec and the code will help you establish the right mental model and kickstart your development.

We'll generate an OpenAPI Python client library from our OpenZiti Edge Client API spec. This API allows OpenZiti clients to create OpenZiti controller sessions to gather information needed for them to do work. We'll map what we define in the spec to the concepts expressed in the generated client. We'll step through a basic authentication and request/response example to help you understand what is going on.

Generating an OpenAPI Python Client:

Our edge-api project uses go-swagger, which is strictly an OpenAPI 2.0 (a.k.a. Swagger 2.0/OAS2) implementation for Go. In our testing, the Python generator that best supported this spec version was the python-prior generator. Below, we leverage the openapi-generator-cli docker container to generate the Python client library for the OpenZiti Edge Client API from its specification. The generator reads in the spec and produces a Python library compatible with our API. The --package-name option specifies the Python package name (directory structure under site-packages that will contain our library's file).

docker run \
    --rm \
    --volume "$PWD":/out \ generate \
        --generator-name python-prior \
        --input-spec ''
        --output '/out' \
        --package-name 'openziti_edge_client'

Once generated, this library can be installed locally with pip as follows:

pip install .

Understanding the Generated Files:

You'll have a wealth of generated files in the output of the generator. Let's take a condensed look at the structure of what is generated.
├── docs
├── openziti_edge_client
│   ├── api/
│   ├──
│   ├── apis/
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   ├── model/
│   ├── models/
│   └──
└── test

The docs folder contains a bunch of markdown files that document usage for each API endpoint and model generated in the library. The file is essentially a TOC which links to these files, and additionally provides a synopsis of using the library.

The models and apis packages are there for convenience. Importing either will import all api or model modules respectively.

import openziti_edge_client.apis   # all api modules
import openziti_edge_client.models # all model modules

By now, you may be wondering what we mean by api and model - they are the meat and potatoes of the translated spec.

The api package contains Python modules that map the OpenAPI resource paths into Python classes. The generator creates a class method for each HTTP request method associated with the OpenAPI spec for that path. The spec's tags field determines the generated set of classes the Python generator creates. A path specifying multiple tags in the spec results in the same path being available in multiple api modules.

The model package contains modules for each of the OpenAPI definitions. Each model module contains a Python class which maps a definition's properties to the Python class attributes. Requests that contain a payload through an api module take a model instance pertaining to that api request as defined in the spec. Responses through the api modules return an instance of the module class pertaining to the defined response definitions in the spec. In other words, models are the things exchanged through the api modules. Because a model maps OpenAPI definition properties and instance attributes, accessing the response payload is a matter of accessing the resulting model's instance attributes.

Finally, if requests made against an api with the result in an error, the library throws one of the exceptions defined in the module. The contains a Configuration class to hold state regarding things like the api_client credentials, or the logger configuration. We'll show an example below that does this, and we take a closer look at the api and model modules.

For now, let's grab the OpenZiti Edge Client spec so we can inspect a few paths, definitions, and securityDefinitions.

curl -O

We'll use yq to filter the spec YAML. I'll strip the examples throughout here to keep the output a little more concise.

Let's Get Started:

Let's look at a subset of the generated documentation and map it to back to the spec.

ClassMethodHTTP requestDescription
ServiceApilist_servicesGET /servicesList services

Here, we see we have a generated ServiceApi class. That class has a list_services method, which performs a GET request against the /services path in our API.

Let's briefly take a look at that path in our spec:

yq --yaml-output '.paths."/services"' client.yml
    - ztSession: []
  description: 'Retrieves a list of config resources; supports filtering, sorting,
    and pagination. Requires admin access.'
    - Service
  summary: List services
  operationId: listServices
    - type: integer
      name: limit
      in: query
    - type: integer
      name: offset
      in: query
    - type: string
      name: filter
      in: query
    - type: array
        type: string
      collectionFormat: multi
      name: roleFilter
      in: query
    - type: string
      name: roleSemantic
      in: query
      description: A list of services
        $ref: '#/definitions/listServicesEnvelope'
      description: The supplied request contains invalid fields or could not be parsed
        (json and non-json bodies). The error's code, message, and cause fields can
        be inspected for further information
        $ref: '#/definitions/apiErrorEnvelope'
      description: The currently supplied session does not have the correct access
        rights to request this resource
        $ref: '#/definitions/apiErrorEnvelope'

Notice a few of the keys in the spec and how they map to the generated documentation:

  • tags => defines the Python class the requests methods will be generated in => ServicesApi
  • path => the endpoint the request will operate against => /services
  • get -> defines the HTTP request method when executing the method => GET
  • operationId -> defines the method name that will perform the request => list_services()
  • parameters -> become the available function parameters in the generated method => list_services(limit=my_limit, offset=my_offset, ...)

Additionally, the responses describe a number of schemas that shall be returned by the API for each of the possible HTTP status codes. These are models in the generated Python library. When a request is made successfully (status code == 200), the return value of the list_services() method will be an instance of the ListServicesEnvelope model class. For any other status code, implying an error has occurred, the method will instead return an instance of the ApiErrorEnvelope model class.

You'll also notice the security section on this path. This endpoint requires the ztSession security definition:

yq --yaml-output '.securityDefinitions' client.yml
  description: An API Key that is provided post authentication
  type: apiKey
  name: zt-session
  in: header

Here, we see that requests to this endpoint must include a header named zt-session containing an API key.

Using the Generated API Client:

OpenZiti Edge clients can authenticate using either the password or cert method. In practice, most OpenZiti clients will create a session with the controller by performing an mTLS handshake, reading a client credentials.json file after JWT enrollment. We'll add these credentials to our api_client's configuration.

Once we authenticate, we'll gather the zt-session token out of the response and add it to our client configuration so that it is used in subsequent requests. We can then finally make a request with our ServicesApi class using the list_services() method, which will return a ListServicesEnvelope model to grant us access to our service information. OpenZiti services are container types that encapsulate information needed by OpenZiti clients to operate on the network.

import json
import tempfile

import openziti_edge_client
from openziti_edge_client.api import authentication_api, service_api
from openziti_edge_client.model.authenticate import Authenticate

# NOTE: we omit some error handling here, to keep things clear

with open("./credentials.json", 'r', encoding='UTF-8') as id_f:
    id_json = json.load(id_f)

# The generated library expects the CA, client cert and key to be files
# so we'll split our `credentials.json` file contents here
ca_fp = tempfile.NamedTemporaryFile(buffering=0)
cert_fp = tempfile.NamedTemporaryFile(buffering=0)
key_fp = tempfile.NamedTemporaryFile(buffering=0)


# We instantiate a Configuration class to store the
# Edge Client API endpoint and client certificates
configuration = openziti_edge_client.Configuration(
    host=id_json['ztAPI'] + "/edge/client/v1",

configuration.cert_file =
configuration.key_file =

# We pass the configuration to the constructor of the `ApiClient`,
# which will read the stored state of the configuration class
with openziti_edge_client.ApiClient(configuration) as api_client:

    # We'll use this api_client as a context manager to make requests
    # against the Edge API and set the authentication method
    api_auth = authentication_api.AuthenticationApi(api_client)
    method = "cert"

    # The /authenticate endpoint requires an `Authenticate` model
    auth = Authenticate()

    # Session here will be an instance of the
    # CurrentApiSessionDetailEnvelope  model class
    session = api_auth.authenticate(method, auth=auth)

    # We can descend down the nested definitions to get our
    # final return value.
    configuration.api_key['ztSession'] =

    # Finally, we can make a request to GET /services
    api_service = service_api.ServiceApi(api_client)
    services = api_service.list_services()

That's it! We authenticated to our API, gathered our zt-session token, and ran our first request to ServiceApi.list_services(). All other requests using the generated client follow a similar pattern. While not shown here, requests for HTTP resource types that contain a body (often a POST, PUT, etc.) will require you to create a model class instance with all required properties and attach it to your request via arguments to the relevant class methods.

A noteworthy aspect of the resulting session and services objects above is they are OpenAPI models whose schemas reference other schemas in the spec. When we descend down the instance attributes like, we are actually traversing the attributes of 3 schema definitions. Similarly, the services object is a ListServicesEnvelope model class instance as prescribed in the spec, which is composed of other definitions. This relationship between the api classes and the model classes is key in the behavior of the Python client.

A closer look at the response:

Let's recursively show the definitions defined in the ListServicesEnvelope, and see how we can access the list of services. Remember, each of these definitions becomes a model class in our generated client.

yq --yaml-output '.definitions.listServicesEnvelope' client.yml
type: object
  - meta
  - data
    $ref: '#/definitions/serviceList'
    $ref: '#/definitions/meta'

Here, we see that the envelope itself is a JSON object with two properties: meta and data. The data property is itself a serviceList with an array type.

yq --yaml-output '.definitions.serviceList' client.yml
type: array
  $ref: '#/definitions/serviceDetail'

Each item in this array is a serviceDetail. These are the actual service objects stored in the OpenZiti database that the API client making this request has access to. If we want to inspect some properties of the services, we must do so through the ServiceDetail model nested in the result.

yq --yaml-output '.definitions.serviceDetail' client.yml
type: object
  - $ref: '#/definitions/baseEntity'
  - type: object
      - name
      - terminatorStrategy
      - roleAttributes
      - permissions
      - configs
      - config
      - encryptionRequired
      - postureQueries
        description: map of config data for this service keyed by the config type
          name. Only configs of the types requested will be returned.
        type: object
          type: object
            type: object
        type: array
          type: string
        description: Describes whether connections must support end-to-end encryption
          on both sides of the connection. Read-only property, set at create.
        type: boolean
        type: string
        $ref: '#/definitions/dialBindArray'
        type: array
          $ref: '#/definitions/postureQueries'
        $ref: '#/definitions/attributes'
        type: string

Continuing from our example above, we can traverse down to these services to inspect the properties described in the ServiceDetail above for each service in our ServiceList:

    # ... continued from above ...
    services = api_service.list_services()

    # ListServicesEnvelope->ServiceList->ServiceDetail
    for service in
        print(f"Model: {type(service)}")
        print(f"Service Name: {}")
        print(f"Service: {service}")

        # ServiceDetail->DialBindArray->DialBind
        for permission in service.permissions.value:
            print(f"Permissions: {permission}")

Finally, we've arrived at our actual services and can access the response JSON through the model's instance attributes.

We hope this guide has helped you get started using OpenAPI-generated Python clients. Currently, we host generated Python clients for our Edge Management and Client APIs in the openziti-test-kitchen GitHub project.

Share this