Support subclassing objects

Implement support for subclassing objects properly. If some hook, extension, or alternative DB API backend subclasses one of the base objects, the new object should be registered and all code should end up using this new class.

Problem description

Subclassing objects may be necessary to implement alternative DB API backends. There are probably some other use cases where it may be necessary to override some default object behavior. There was a rough plan to support subclassing objects in trunk. However, it wasn’t fully thought through before we started landing all of the current object code. All objects do get registered right now, however there is no checking of the versions the objects advertise. Additionally, all code directly references the base object classes under nova/objects right now.

Proposed change

As objects are registered, check the version to see if it already exists. If so, replace the original in the tracked object list with the new one. As objects are registered, set an attribute on the nova.objects module to point to the newest class for latest version of the object. Replace all code that directly references object classes in modules under nova/objects with code that uses the nova.objects attribute. This has a side-effect of cleaning up imports. Instead of importing a ton of nova.object modules, only nova.objects will be imported.

NOTE: This spec does not cover adding a hook/entrypoint for allowing alternative object implementations. That will be proposed at some point as a separate spec. At the moment, someone could specify an alternative db_backend and register alternative object implementations that way, but I don’t see that as being the correct way to do that in the longer term.


There are probably some alternatives to setting attributes on the nova.objects module, like creating a method that returns the newest object and calling to that method everywhere. That would result in slightly lower performance. I suppose another solution to avoid having to change code everywhere is to rename all object classes to Base<Object> and then somehow setattr the latest version to be <Object> on the current modules. But, I rather like how using objects.<Object> everywhere will look.

Data model impact


REST API impact


Security impact


Notifications impact


Other end user impact


Performance Impact


Other deployer impact


Developer impact

The changes will touch a lot of files. Anywhere there is a reference to something like instance_obj.Instance, it will change to objects.Instance. There’s high chance of conflicts to resolve in either the object-subclassing patches or in other patches up for review.

New patchsets should never import the module defining an object to reference the object class in it, directly. One should always import nova.objects and use nova.objects.<Object>.

Objects register themselves when the module that defines them is imported. With this change, since there’s likely no need to import object modules in code that uses them (you’ll import nova.objects, instead), you must make sure that object modules are imported within nova/objects/’s register_all() method.



Primary assignee:


Work Items

  • Fix object registration to track object classes properly and set attributes on the nova.objects module

  • Switch code to use the nova.objects module. This will be broken up into areas of nova like nova/api and nova/compute, etc.




Tests will be modified to use nova.objects as well.

Documentation Impact