Along with contributing documentation and general code, the cool thing about watchme is that it’s fairly easy to add a new kind of watcher task! A task can literally do anything that your imagination can come up, within the constraints of your local machine, ranging from interaction with web APIs to system resources and networking. Follow this guide for instructions.

1. Add a Task Folder

First, create a new folder under watchme/tasks that corresponds with the name of your task. For example, the urls watcher is located at watchme/tasks/urls. Actually, it’s usually easiest to copy an entire watcher folder as a template to start:

cp -R watchme/watchers/urls watchme/watchers/mytype

2. Task Setup

You will then need to add your new task name and or links to the following files:

List of Watchers

There is a list of watchers (bullets) in the watchers folder Add a relative link to your folder there. This is to help those browsing GitHub to find the folder (and you can add some details about what kinds of tasks are included)


The file defines sets of dependencies for different “extra_install” options provided by watchme. For example, for the urls task folder there is a “dynamic” function that uses Python’s beautiful soup to parse html. We add this to

## beautiful soup selection task

    ('beautifulsoup4', {'min_version': '4.6.0'}),

Also add the new set of dependencies to the INSTALL_ALL variable (if the user runs pip install watchme[all]:


And then in the we add a named extra install to point to it (the variable URLS_DYNAMIC):

INSTALL_REQUIRES = get_requirements(lookup)
URLS_DYNAMIC = get_requirements(lookup,'INSTALL_URLS_DYNAMIC')

And add it to the list here:

    'all': [INSTALL_REQUIRES],
    'urls-dynamic': [URLS_DYNAMIC]

And then the interested user would install the extra dependecies like:

$ pip install watchme[urls-dynamic]

You should be sure to write instructions for how to do this in the documentation for your task folder (discussed later).

List of Task Types

Add the task name to the WATCHME_TASK_TYPES in

WATCHME_TASK_TYPES = ['urls', 'url', 'mytype']

Import of Task

Also in the watchme/watchers/ you should add a handler to import the Task type from the correct folder:

# Validate variables provided for task
if task_type.startswith('url'):
    from .urls import Task

# Validate variables provided for task
if task_type == 'psutils':
    from .psutils import Task

If you forget the handler, an error message will alert you when you try to add a task from your set.

3. Add your Task

In the folder you should put your watcher class called “Task” that instantiates the TaskBase class as a parent:


Copyright (C) 2019 Vanessa Sochat.

This Source Code Form is subject to the terms of the
Mozilla Public License, v. 2.0. If a copy of the MPL was not distributed
with this file, You can obtain one at

from watchme.tasks import TaskBase
from watchme.logger import bot
import os
import sys

class Task(TaskBase):

    required_params = ['url']

    def __init__(self, name, params=[], **kwargs): 

        self.type = 'urls'

        # Handles setting the name, setting params, and validate
        super(Task, self).__init__(name, params, **kwargs)

Under self.type you should put the name, which is usually the same as the folder (urls shown above). If you have any required parameters (the minimum set for the task to run) put them under required_params.

4. Write a validation function

The parent class is already going to check that the user has provided the required_params, so you can implement an (optional) _validate function that does additional input checks. This check will be performed both when the user adds a new task, and when a task is run, in the case that the user decided to manually edit a configuration file and invalidate a task.

    def _validate(self):
        '''additional validation function, called by validate() of 
           superclass. Here we assume all required self.params are included.
           If an parameter is found to be invalid, self.valid should be set
           to False
        # The url must begin with http
        if not self.params['url'].startswith('http'):
            bot.error('%s is not a valid url.' % self.params['url'])
            self.valid = False

If one or more parameters are found to be invalid, you should set self.valid to False. You don’t need to exit from the function. You also don’t need to have this function if no further validation is needed.

5. Write a function to run your task

The watcher client is going to be assembling the list of tasks to run, and then running them. Specifically, it’s going to be creating an instance of your Task class, and handing it the entire (dictionary) of parameters as key value pairs:

task = Task(params)

In the example above, params looks like this:

    "url": "",
    "active": "true",
    "type": "urls",
    "uri": "task-reddit-hpc"

The user generated this task at the command line only providing a url:

$ watchme add-task [watcher] task-reddit-hpc url@

And the variables for active, the unique resource identifier (uri) and the task type were added either as a default setting (type) or a default variable set by the watcher (active and uri). If your watcher were called something different (e.g., network) then the command would have looked like this:

$ watchme add-task [watcher] task-reddit-hpc url@ --type network

It follows that in the instantiation of your class, it must return a task object. If the task.valid is True, you are good to go. If task.valid is False, the task won’t be run.

6. Write Task Functions

The multiprocessing workers are going to expect, for each task, to be able to export a set of parameters (dictionary of key value pairs, usually just the task.params object) and a function to run. Thus, we use the following functions:


This function is already implemented, and will return the task.params.


This function is required to be implemented by your Task subclass. The function should expect to take one or more keyword arguments. If your task type just has one function, it’s fairly straight forward to import and return the function. If you choose between one or more functions based on user variables, you can implement that logic here, and return the correct one. Where should you store the task functions? You can put them in a located in the same folder:


Example Task

Here is a simple example task. Notice that the required argument url is a positional argument, and the rest (anything could be passed from the configuration, potentially, including optional args) are represented with kwargs.

def get_task(url, **kwargs):
    '''a simple task to use requests to get a url. By default, we return
       the raw response.

       url: a url to return the page for (required
    result = None
    response = requests.get(url)
    if response.status_code == 200:
        result = response.text
    return result

Notice also that if there is an issue retrieving the url, the result is returned as None.

Rules for Tasks

The following rules should pertain to writing tasks:

  1. The input variables must coincide with the variables named by the task.params. The task should accept some exploded list of of **kwargs to be flexible to do this.
  2. The task should return some finished file object, string, or other text matter that the watcher can then update in the repository (see next section).
  3. If the function is not successful, return None.

Return Values

The return value of your task is going to determine how it’s processed by the watcher.

File Objects

If your function returns a file that is found to exist, it will be moved into the task folder. If your function names the file, it will be moved without changing the name. If the user defined a file_name parameter, it will be renamed to this. If you don’t do a good job to name your file and the user doesn’t specify this parameter, it will be the basename of the url provided.

Json Objects

If you want to write a json to file, either return a path to file (somewhere in tmp to be moved to the repository) or return a dictionary type, and it will be written to result.json in the task folder. If your user (or default task) specifies a file_name variable, it will be named this instead of result.json


If a string is provided and it doesn’t exist as a path, it’s assumed to be some text to write to file. It will by default written to result.txt unless another file_name parameter is specified.


If your task returns a list, watchme will do it’s best to attempt to sniff the content, and figure out what kind of save you want. To make things simply, you are allowed to return lists, but all of the content must be of the same save type.

  1. If the list is empty, no further action is taken.
  2. If the list is provided with save_as@json, then the entire list is saved as a single json object.
  3. If the list is provided and save_as@json_list is set, each object in the list (should be json or dict) is saved as a separate json object.
  4. If the first item in the list is a path that exists, the entire list is assumed to be files that should be copied to the repository.
  5. Otherwise, each item in the list is saved as text content.

As before, if you want to have a custom name for the items in the list, either write the files yourselves (and they will be copied) or set the file_name@custom.txt variable. If you set a custom name, the list of items will be named like:


If there is some functionality you aren’t able to achieve with return types, or you would like a new return type added, please open an issue.

Variables for Tasks

You should tell your users (in the task function header, and documentation for it) what variables are allowed to be set for the task. If the variable is defined in the task.kwargs (from the watcher configuration) your function can check for it, and return a default. For example, let’s say I wanted to give my users the optional to disable ssl checking when downloading an object. I would tell them to set disable_ssl_check when they create the task:

$ watchme add-task [watcher] task-dangerous url@ disable_ssl_check@true

And then my function could check for it, and set a default.

verify = True
if "disable_ssl_check" in kwargs:
    verify = False

As another example, let’s say the task will by default write the content to a file. If you wanted the user to be able to specify writing binary, you could tell them about a write_format variable:

write_format = kwargs.get('write_format', 'w')

It would always default to “w” unless otherwise specified:

$ watchme add-task [watcher] task-download-binary url@ write_format@wb

5. Write Documentation

Finally, you should write up all of the usage examples and variables into a documentation file for the watcher! These are located under docs/_docs/watcher-tasks and the file should be named according to the task type. For example, the “urls” task shown above has a file named docs/_docs/watcher-tasks/ In the front end matter, you should only need to change the title, and the permalink for your type (it should be in the format /watchers/<name>:

title: URLS
category: Watcher Tasks
permalink: /watchers/urls/
order: 2

Then in the in that same folder, add a link for your watcher page:

 - [url watcher](/watchme/watchers/urls/) to watch for changes in web content

Write as much detail in the documentation as you think necessary. Generally, you want to say: