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doit - Automation Tool

Project description


doit comes from the idea of bringing the power of build-tools to execute any kind of task

A task describes some computation to be done (actions), and contains some extra meta-data.

def task_example():
    return {
        'actions': ['myscript'],
        'file_dep': ['my_input_file'],
        'targets': ['result_file'],


  • can be external programs (executed as shell commands) or python functions.
  • a single task may define more than one action.

doit uses the task’s meta-data to:

cache task results

doit checks if the task is up-to-date and skips its execution if the task would produce the same result (cached) of a previous execution.

execution order

By checking the inter-dependency between tasks doit ensures that tasks will be execute in the correct order.

parallel execution

built-in support for task parallel (multi-process) task execution

Traditional build-tools were created mainly to deal with compile/link process of source code. doit was designed to solve a broader range of tasks.

powerful dependency system

  • the up-to-date check is not restricted to looking for file modification on dependencies, it can be customized for each task
  • target files are not required in order to check if a task is up-to-date
  • dependencies can be dinamically calculated by other tasks

Task’s metadata (actions, dependencies, targets…) are better described in a declarative way, but often you want to create this metadata programmatically.

flexible task definition

doit uses plain python modules to create tasks (and its meta-data)

customizable task definition

By default tasks are described by a dict. But it can be easily customized. like:

def my_task_action(dependencies):
     # do something


Other features…

self documented

doit command allows you to list and obtain help/documentaion for tasks

inotify integration

built-in support for a long-running process that automaticly re-execute tasks based on file changes by external process (linux/mac only)

custom output

process output can be completely customized through reporters


Apart from using doit to automate your project it also expose its API so you can create new applications/tools using doit functionality

What people are saying about doit

Congratulations! Your tool follows the KISS principle very closely. I always wondered why build tools had to be that complicated. - Elena

Let me start by saying I’m really lovin doit, at first the interface seemed verbose but quickly changed my mind when I started using it and realized the flexibility. Many thanks for the great software! - Michael Gliwinski

I love all the traditional unix power tools, like cron, make, perl, …, I also like new comprehensive configuration management tools like CFEngine and Puppet. But I find doit to be so versatile and so productive. - Charlie Guo

I needed a sort of ‘make’ tool to glue things together and after trying out all kinds, doit … has actually turned out to be beautiful. Its easy to add and manage tasks, even complex ones– gluing things together with decorators and ‘library’ functions I’ve written to do certain similar things. - Matthew

Some time ago, I grew frustrated with Make and Ant and started porting my build files to every build tool I found (SCons, Waf, etc.). Each time, as soon as I stepped out of already available rules, I ran into some difficult to overcome stumbling blocks. Then I discovered this little gem of simplicity: doit. It’s Python-based. It doesn’t try to be smart, it does not try to be cool, it just works. If you are looking for a flexible little build tool for different languages and tasks, give it a chance. (…) - lelele

Project Details

  • This is an open-source project (MIT license) written in python (runs on Python 2.6 through 3.3)
  • Download from PyPi
  • Project management (bug tracker, feature requests and source code ) on bitbucket.
  • Questions and feedback on google group.
  • This web site is hosted on
  • doit-recipes contains a collection of non-trivial examples and a list of projects using doit.
  • Professional support and consulting services available from doit creator & maintainer (schettino72 at

This blog post explains how everything started.


doit is under active development. Version 0.19 released on 2012-12.

doit core features are quite stable. So if there is no recent development, it does NOT mean doit is not being maintained… Development is done based on real world use cases. If I don’t need a feature and nobody never asked for it, it is not implemented ;) It is well designed and have a very small code base so adding new features isn’t hard.

If you use doit please drop me a line telling me your experience…

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