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published April 4, 2018

It is the second part of my long journey to creating the web application for recognition handwritten digits. Here I'll explain how to integrate our trained model into the Flask application.
#Set up environment

As we'll build the application from scratch we need to create a virtual environment in order to incapsulate all our dependencies. Let's create python3 virtual environment.
python3 -m venv venv source venv/bin/activate
Now we have the environment and we can install all needed dependencies.

pip install flask flask-script scipy scikit-image numpy pillow

That's all about setting up the environment.

#Configure application

We need the ability of running our application without setting env variables everytime. This goal can be achieved using flask-script package. At first we should create a file called manage.py

touch manage.py

Next step is getting this manage.py ready.
from flask_script import Manager
from app import create_app

app = create_app()
manager = Manager(app)

def runserver():
    app.run(debug=True, host='', port=5000)

if __name__ == '__main__':
As you see there is an unknown function create_app inside the app package. Now we'll make this function known. I start from creating the package.

mkdir app touch app/__init__.py

And then make the target function
from flask import Flask

def create_app():
    app = Flask(__name__)
    return app
It's now our app ready and can be run by calling.

python3 manage.py runserver

#Add storage

As we'll deal with the kNN classifier we need to remember the clusters after the training process. The simplies way is to store serialized version of the classifier in a file. Let's create this file.

mkdir storage touch storage/classifier.txt

#Create settings file

Finally we need to create settings file where we'll have the paths of the application's base directory and the classifier storage.

touch settings.py

The file's content is
import os

BASE_DIR = os.getcwd()
CLASSIFIER_STORAGE = os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'storage/classifier.txt')
#Make handlers

The first step is to specify handlers for incoming requests. We'll develop a SPA so the first handler will always return index.html page.
def create_root_view(app):
    @app.route('/', defaults={'path': ''})
    def root(path):
        return render_template("index.html")
Besides this view we also must create an API endpoint for predictions. For now we'll just pass handling the request, but return here afterwards.
class PredictDigitView(MethodView):
    def post(self):
#Construct the prediction logic

For our prediction view we need 2 things: image processor and kNN classifier. As we've already trained our classifier the only thing to realize is the image processing.

Image processor will be represented by the lots of functions to convert our image from data URI to the flat numpy array of the 8x8 grayscale image with intensity form 0 to 16(like the original ones from the digits dataset).

Firstly we need to convert image from data URI to the Image object.
import numpy as np
from skimage import exposure
import base64
from PIL import Image
from io import BytesIO

def data_uri_to_image(uri):
    encoded_data = uri.split(',')[1]
    image = base64.b64decode(encoded_data)
    return Image.open(BytesIO(image))
Then because of the specificity of our front end(will see it later) we need to replace the image background from transparent to white.
def replace_transparent_background(image):
    image_arr = np.array(image)
    alpha1 = 0
    r2, g2, b2, alpha2 = 255, 255, 255, 255

    red, green, blue, alpha = (
        image_arr[:, :, 0],
        image_arr[:, :, 1],
        image_arr[:, :, 2],
        image_arr[:, :, 3]
    mask = (alpha == alpha1)
    image_arr[:, :, :4][mask] = [r2, g2, b2, alpha2]

    return Image.fromarray(image_arr)
Another thing to do is avoid from the white frame of the image and replace it with the small one just like in the test data. We'll do it in 2 steps:

  • Remove the whole frame
def crop_image_frame(image, color=255):
    image_arr = np.array(image)
    cropped_image_arr = image_arr[~np.all(image_arr == color, axis=1)]
    cropped_image_arr = cropped_image_arr[:, ~np.all(cropped_image_arr == color, axis=0)]
    return Image.fromarray(cropped_image_arr)
  • Add the frame that we need
def pad_image(image, height=0, width=30, color=255):
   return Image.fromarray(np.pad(
       ((height, height), (width, width)),
After that let's resize the image to 8x8 format.
def resize_image(image):
    return image.resize((8, 8), Image.ANTIALIAS)
The original images' features show the intensity of gray color from 0 to 16. To reach this gain we have only rescale_intensity function which just change the scale of our image. So, in our case if we have a pixel with the value 255(white) it will be scaled into 16. But the intensity of gray color is 0 in white. That's why we need to invert white to 0(black) and only after that change the intensity scale.
def white_to_black(image):
    image_arr = np.array(image)
    image_arr[image_arr > 230] = 0
    return Image.fromarray(image_arr)

def to_flat_grayscaled_image_arr(image):
    image_arr = np.array(image)
    image_arr = exposure.rescale_intensity(image_arr, out_range=(0, 16))
    return image_arr.flatten()
Now we can combine all the image utils together. The only addition is to convert the image from RGB to L format. So all RGB pixels will be aggregated by the formula: L = R _ 299/1000 + G _ 587/1000 + B * 114/1000.
def to_classifier_input_format(data_uri):
    raw_image = data_uri_to_image(data_uri)
    image_with_background = replace_transparent_background(raw_image)
    grayscaled_image = image_with_background.convert('L')
    cropped_image = crop_image_frame(grayscaled_image)
    padded_image = pad_image(cropped_image)
    inverted_image = white_to_black(padded_image)
    resized_image = resize_image(inverted_image)
    return np.array([
#Handle the request

The first thing to do is to create the repo for getting and updating our classifier.
import pickle

class ClassifierRepo:
    def __init__(self, storage):
        self.storage = storage

    def get(self):
        with open(self.storage, 'rb') as out:
                classifier_str = out.read()
                if classifier_str != '':
                    return pickle.loads(classifier_str)
                    return None
            except Exception:
                return None

    def update(self, classifier):
        with open(self.storage, 'wb') as in_:
            pickle.dump(classifier, in_)
Also we need a factory to create the fitted classifier.
from sklearn.model_selection import train_test_split
from sklearn.neighbors import KNeighborsClassifier

class ClassifierFactory:
    def create_with_fit(data, target):
        model = KNeighborsClassifier(n_neighbors=3)
        model.fit(data, target)
        return model
It's almost done. The only thing to finish our view is to gather all the things above into a service.
from sklearn.datasets import load_digits

from app.classifier import ClassifierFactory
from app.utils import to_classifier_input_format

class PredictDigitService:
    def __init__(self, repo):
        self.repo = repo

    def handle(self, image_data_uri):
        classifier = self.repo.get()
        if classifier is None:
            digits = load_digits()
            classifier = ClassifierFactory.create(
                digits.data, digits.target
        x = to_classifier_input_format(image_data_uri)
        prediction = classifier.predict(x)[0]
        return prediction
So, let's add this service in our view.
class PredictDigitView(MethodView):
    def post(self):
        repo = ClassifierRepo(CLASSIFIER_STORAGE)
        service = PredictDigitService(repo)
        image_data_uri = request.json['image']
        prediction = service.handle(image_data_uri)
        return Response(str(prediction).encode(), status=200)
And initialize handlers by calling this function inside the create_app.
def init_urls(app):
So the final version of __init__.py inside the app folder
from flask import Flask
from .urls import init_urls

def create_app():
    app = Flask(__name__)
    return app

Now you can test our app. Let's run the application

python3 manage.py runserver

And send an image in base64 format. You can do it by downloading this image, then convert it to base64 using this resource, copy the code and save it in the file called test_request.json. Now we can send this file to get a prediction.

curl 'http://localhost:5000/api/predict' -X "POST" -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d @test_request.json -i && echo -e '\n\n'

You should see the following output.

\(venv) Teimurs-MacBook-Pro:digits-recognizer teimurgasanov$ curl 'http://localhost:5000/api/predict' -X "POST" -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d @test_request.json -i && echo -e '\n\n' HTTP/1.1 100 Continue HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8 Content-Length: 1 Server: Werkzeug/0.14.1 Python/3.6.3 Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2018 07:02:08 GMT 4
As you see our web app correctly detected that it is 4.

#Final result

You can find the code from this article in my Github repository.
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Originally published at
Teimur Gasanov
Python/Go/Javascript full stack developer
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