Custom Receivers

txHL7 ships with a simple example of a twisted.receiver.LoggingReceiver, but for most cases, you will want to execute some custom actions when a message is received. To do this, you will need to define your own receiver, which implements txHL7.receiver.IHL7Receiver.

txHL7.receiver.IHL7Receiver only requires a few methods to be implemented (and if you look further down this document, you will find the even easier AbstractHL7Receiver):

  • parseMessage provides the parsing logic to transform the pipe-delimited message into something more useful. It will return an instance of txHL7.receiver.MessageContainer. The MessageContainer is important, because it implements how build an HL7 ACK message.
  • handleMessage receives the parsed txHL7.receiver.MessageContainer and is where you should put your business logic. It must return a twisted.internet.defer.Deferred instance.
  • Internally txHL7 treats data as unicode, and getCodec provides the codec to use to decode the bytestring into unicode.

If you wish to use python-hl7 to parse the message, txHL7.receiver.AbstractHL7Receiver makes your job even easier. You just need to implement handleMessage and optionally getCodec.

Example Receiver

A simple example:

from txHL7.receiver import AbstractHL7Receiver
from twisted.internet import defer

class ExampleReceiver(AbstractHL7Receiver):
    def handleMessage(self, container):
        message = container.message

        # Our business logic
        mrn = message.segment('PID')[3][0]
        # Do something with mrn

        # We succeeded, so ACK back (default is AA)
        return defer.succeed(container.ack())

    def getCodec(self):
        # Our messages are encoded in Windows-1252
        # WARNING this is an example and is not universally true! You will
        # need to figure out the encoding you are receiving.
        return 'cp1252'

We can launch this receiver with:

twistd --nodaemon mllp --receiver example.ExampleReceiver

Deferring to a Thread

Remember that twisted is non-blocking. Blocking operations should ideally be executed outside the main loop. One way to accomplish this is to defer to a thread in twisted [1].


It is up to you to ensure that your application is thread-safe.

Here is an example that calls a blocking operation in importMessage, which is defered to a thread in handleMessage. We additionally, show catching an error are returning a reject message:

from txHL7.receiver import AbstractHL7Receiver
from twisted.internet import threads

class ThreadedReceiver(AbstractHL7Receiver):
    def saveMessage(self, message):
            return message.ack()
            # reject the message
            return message.ack(ack_code='AR')

    def handleMessage(self, message):
         return threads.deferToThread(self.saveMessage, message)