Expose your ML model via a simple API in Python

As data scientists, it is important that we have a method of sharing the insight from our models. In this post, I am going to show you how to create a super simple API, whereby the customer can pass URL parameters to extract data, generated by a Python function. Before we get started, make sure you have Flask installed (pip install Flask).

The first example I am going to look at is as below. Here, we are simply allowing the user to hit our API via a URL. When they do so, they will get the response provided by the Python function (in this case, the string ‘yo’). So, when the user goes to, that is the response they will get.

NOTE: run the file with FLASK_APP=app.py flask run and kill the process with sudo fuser -k 5000/tcp (where 5000 is the port being used).

#import the flask class
from flask import Flask

#create a new instance of the class
app = Flask(__name__)

#route() decorator tells flask which URL should trigger the function

def welcome():
    return 'yo'


Here is the reponse:

Now, let’s increase the usefulness a little bit. Now we are going to allow the user to pass their own name into the URL. So, when the customer visits, they will get a response ‘yo theirname’.

from flask import Flask
app = Flask(__name__)

def hello(name):
    return "yo " + name


Finally, let’s do something really useful. Now I am going to return customer information from a database (Pandas Dataframe in this case – for simplicity).

As you can see, I have defined a dataframe (df), which contains the details of two users. Now, if the URL is visited, it will return the first name, last name, town and age for that customer.

This is super useful. Imagine that you create a customer happiness score every day. You could produce that score and load it into a database. When a customer makes contact, the customer service team can quickly request the customers happiness score, simply by providing the customer ID. This makes the data much more accessible & can be integrated into many systems and use-cases.

import pandas as pd
from flask import Flask

app = Flask(__name__)

users = [['bob', 'smith', 'london', 22], ['carl', 'liners', 'manchester', 44]]
df = pd.DataFrame(users)
df.columns = ['name', 'last', 'town', 'age']

def hello(name, last):
    output = df.loc[(df['name'] == name) & (df['last'] == last)]
    return str(output.values.tolist())


When we deploy a new ML model, we can pickle the model definition:

import pickle
pickle.dump(clf, open('/home/pickled_model.pickle', 'wb'))

We can use this pickled file to make predictions via an API call, given passed input features. We can define our API as below.

from flask import *
import numpy as np
import pickle as p
import json

app = Flask(__name__)

@app.route('/api/', methods=['POST'])

def makecalc():
    #load the pickled model
    happinessModel = '/home/pickled_model.pickle'
    model = p.load(open(happinessModel, 'rb'))
    data = request.get_json()

    #make and return prediction
    prediction = np.array2string(model.predict(data))
    return prediction

To call the API to make predictions we use the below. This will call the /api URL we’ve defined above & pass in a number of input features. These will be evaluated by the model & a prediction will be returned.

import requests
import json

#the API url
url = ''

#the input features to the model
features = [[12.6, 8.1, 0.03, 42]]
json_features = json.dumps(features)

#make the HTTP post & print the response
headers = {'content-type': 'application/json', 'Accept-Charset': 'UTF-8'}
r = requests.post(url, data=json_features, headers=headers)

print(r, r.text)

We will talk about scaling the API deployment and performance considerations (including serialization approach) in a future article.


One thought on “Expose your ML model via a simple API in Python

Comments are closed.