Functions are the most powerful extension to Arches. Functions associated with a Resource are called during various CRUD operations, and have access to any server-side model. Proficient Python/Django developers will find few limitations extending an Arches Project with Functions.

Function must be created, registered, and then associated with a Resource Model.

Creating a Function

A Function comprises three separate files, which should be seen as front-end/back-end complements. On the front-end, you will need a component made from a Django HTML template and JavaScript pair, which should share the same basename.

In your Project, these files must be placed like so:

/myproject/myproject/media/js/views/components/functions/spatial_join.js /myproject/myproject/templates/views/components/functions/spatial_join.htm

The third file is a Python file which contains a dictionary telling Arches some important details about your Function, as well as its main logic.



As in the example above, its advisable that all of your files share the same basename. (If your Function is moved into a Package, this is necessary.) A new Project should have an example function in it whose files you can copy to begin this process.

Defining the Function’s Details

The first step in creating a function is defining the details that are in the top of your Function’s .py file.

details = {
    'name': 'Sample Function',
    'type': 'node',
    'description': 'Just a sample demonstrating node group selection',
    'defaultconfig': {"selected_nodegroup":""},
    'classname': 'SampleFunction',
    'component': 'views/components/functions/sample-function'

Required Name is used to unregister a function, and shows up in the fn list command.


Required As of version 4.2, this should always be set to node


Optional Add a description of what your Function does.


Required A JSON object with any configuration needed to serve your function’s logic


Required The name of the python class that holds this Function’s logic.


Required Canonical path to html/js component.

More about the defaultconfig field

Any configuration information you need your Function to access can be stored here. If your function needs to calculate something based on the value of an existing Node, you can refer to it here. Or, if you want your Function to e-mail an administrator whenever a specific node is changed, both the Node ID and the email address to be used are good candidates for storage in the defaultconfig dictionary.

The defaultconfig field serves both as a default, and as your user-defined schema for your function’s configuration data. Your front-end component for the function will likely collect some of this configuration data from the user and store it in the config attribute of the pertinent FunctionXGraph.

Writing your Function Logic

In your Function’s Python code, you have access to all your server-side models. You’re basically able to extend Arches in any way you please. You may want to review the Data Model documentation.

Function Hooks

Your function needs to extend the BaseFunction class. Depending on what you are trying to do, you will need to implement the get, save, delete, on_import, and/or after_function_save methods.

class MyFunction(BaseFunction):

    def get(self):
        raise NotImplementedError

    def save(self, tile, request):
        raise NotImplementedError

    def delete(self, tile, request):
        raise NotImplementedError

    def on_import(self, tile):
        raise NotImplementedError

    def after_function_save(self, functionxgraph, request):
        raise NotImplementedError


Not all of these methods are called in the current Arches software. You can also leave any of them unimplemented, and the BaseFunction class will raise a NotImplementedError for you. Arches is designed to gracefully ignore these exceptions for functions.

A detailed description of current functionality is below.

save and delete

The Tile object will look up all its Graph’s associated Functions upon being saved. Before writing to the database, it calls each function’s save method, passing itself along with the Django Request object. This is likely where the bulk of your function’s logic will reside.

The Tile object similarly calls each of its graph’s functions’ delete methods with the same parameters. Here, you can execute any cleanup or other desired side effects of a Tile’s deletion. Your delete implementation will have the same signature as save.


The Graph view passes a FunctionXGraph object to after_function_save, along with the request.

The FunctionXGraph object has a config attribute which stores that instance’s version of the defaultconfig dictionary. This is a good opportunity, for example, to programmatically manipulate the Function’s configuration based on the Graph or any other server-side object.

You can also write any general logic that you’d like to fire upon the assignment of a Function to a Resource.


The import module calls on_import if the file format is a JSON-formatted Arches file, and passes an associated Tile object.

CSV imports do not call this hook.

The UI Component

Having implemented your function’s logic, it’s time to develop the front-end components required to associate it with Resources and provide any configuration data.

The component you develop here will be rendered in the Resource Manager when you associate the function with a Resource, and this is where you’ll put any forms or other UI artifacts used to configure the Function.

Developing your Function’s UI component is very similar to developing `Widgets`_. More specific guidelines are in progress, but for now, refer to the sample code in your project’s templates/views/components/functions/ directory, and gain a little more insight from the templates/views/components/widgets/ directory. The complementary JavaScript examples will be located in media/js/views/components/functions/ and media/js/views/components/widgets directories.

Registering Functions

First, list the names of functions you already have registered:

(ENV)$ python fn list

Now you can register your new function with

(ENV)$ python fn register --source <path to your function's .py file>

For example:

(ENV)$ python fn register --source /Documents/projects/mynewproject/mynewproject/functions/

Now navigate to the Function Manager in the Arches Designer to confirm that your new function is there and functional. If it’s not, you may want to unregister your function, make additional changes, and re-register it. To unregister your function, simply run

(ENV)$ python fn unregister --name 'Sample Function'

All commands are listed in Command Line Reference - Function Commands.