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The DRY Python package builder

Project Description

Pyron is a simple tool that lets you develop and distribute Python packages while avoiding the complexity of writing and maintaining a “” file. With Pyron, each package you are developing needs only a small pyron.ini file, whose format is designed to help you avoid repeating yourself.

Developing with Pyron

To see Pyron in action, install Ian Bicking’s virtualenv tool and create a virtual environment to serve as your development environment. Install the Pyron package there.

$ virtualenv dev
$ cd dev
$ source bin/activate
(dev)$ ls
bin/  include/  lib/
(dev)$ pip install pyron
Successfully installed argparse pyron

Two packages that are currently developed using Pyron, and that we can use here as samples, are the cursive tools that you might have seen on the Python Package Index. You can check out their development trees very simply, using Mercurial:

(dev)$ hg clone
(dev)$ hg clone
(dev)$ ls
bin/  cursivepymag/  cursivetools/  include/  lib/

You can always identify a Pyron-powered development package because it will have a pyron.ini file at the top level.

(dev)$ ls cursivetools
README.txt  entry_points.ini  pyron.ini

The pyron.ini file contains all of the essential metadata about a project that cannot be easily introspected from its contents:

(dev)$ cat cursivetools/pyron.ini
name =
author = Brandon Craig Rhodes <>
url =
requires = docutils

The version, however, is taken directly from the __version__ symbol in the package’s file, to avoid having to maintain the same version number in two different places.

(dev)$ grep __version__ cursivetools/
__version__ = '0.3'

The description that is placed on the Python Package Index for this package will be copied verbatim from README.txt, which should start with a title that can be used for the short summary description on the Package Index:

(dev)$ head -6 cursivetools/README.txt

Tools for authoring restructured text files

This package provides a ``cursive`` command that is intended to become
the core of a whole set of tools for working with `reStructured Text`_

By pulling version information from the package’s code and documentation from its README.txt, Pyron not only enforces good Python community customs, but it avoids either making the developer repeat the same information in several different places, or else write complicated code to pull the information in from elsewhere.

Activating Development Packages

When developing a package, you not only need its files on your hard drive, but you need for Python itself to be able to see the package. This involves three things:

  • Python should be able to import the package.
  • The package’s entry points should be available.
  • Any console scripts the package declares should be installed.

None of these three things are true yet of the development packages in our example, because Python cannot yet see them.

(dev)$ python -c 'import'
Traceback (most recent call last):
ImportError: No module named

To make the development copy of this package “appear” in our virtual environment, we have to use the Pyron command-line tool to activate it. You can use the Pyron “status” (abbreviated “st”) command to see which development packages are currently active in the virtual environment, and the “add” command to activate further projects:

(dev)$ pyron status
No packages are under development in this environment.
(dev)$ pyron add cursivetools
(dev)$ pyron status
    Console-script: cursive (

As you can see from the “status” command, the package is now under active development. This means that Python will now be able to import it! You can verify that Python is now loading the package directly from its development directory:

(dev)$ python
>>> import
>>> exit()

And the console script declared by is now available in the virtual environment as well.

(dev)$ bin/cursive
Usage: cursive [options] <command> [options]
Available Commands:

 wc - Word count

The above output shows both that the package is fully up and running, and also that its one built-in entry point, that defines the “wc” sub-command, is active as well. To add another entry point, we can activate the cursive.pymag package that we downloaded earlier as well:

(dev)$ pyron add cursivepymag
(dev)$ pyron st
        Console-script: cursive (

    Package: cursive.pymag

(dev)$ bin/cursive
Usage: cursive [options] <command> [options]
Available Commands:

 pymag - Convert an RST document to Python Magazine Ceres markup
 wc    - Word count

You can see that a second sub-command, “pymag”, is available because the cursive.pymag package declares an entry point for it. Activating a development project with Pyron has all of the old advantages of running a with the develop sub-command, but has the additional features that metadata is always pulled live from the pyron.ini file (rather than being copied into an egg-info directory and growing stale), and that you can easily turn packages back off. You can turn them off with the “remove” or “rm” sub-command by either naming their directory, or using the package name itself:

(dev)$ pyron rm ./cursivepymag
(dev)$ pyron rm
(dev)$ pyron st
No packages are under development in this environment.
(dev)$ python -c 'import'
Traceback (most recent call last):
ImportError: No module named
(dev)$ bin/cursive
zsh: no such file or directory: bin/cursive

This makes it easy to quickly adjust the mix of active development packages as you write and test your code.

Deploying Packages

Sharing a Python package with other people typically has two steps: you need to first register the package on the Python Package Index so that its name, description, and other metadata shows up, and then you need to provide a .tar.gz file that other people can download and install using pip or easy_install. These two steps are quite easy to accomplish using Pyron:

(dev)$ pyron register cursivetools
(dev)$ pyron upload cursivetools

With both of these sub-commands, and in fact with most Pyron commands, you should follow the command with the names of one or more directories where a Pyron-powered development package lives. If you provide no directory name, then the current directory is searched, so the two commands above could also have been written:

(dev)$ cd cursivetools
(dev)$ pyron register
(dev)$ pyron upload
(dev)$ cd ..

If you want the source distribution written to a local file without being made available yet for the entire world, use the “sdist” sub-command. It prints out the name of the file it creates.

(dev)$ pyron sdist cursivetools

Note that when Pyron builds a .tar.gz distribution, it includes most of the files in the development package, except that Pyron:

  • Ignores hidden files that begin with a period.
  • Ignores files whose names end with .pyc and .pyo.
  • Does not include the pyron.ini file.
  • Does not include the entry_points.ini file (if any).

Before you run the “sdist” or “upload” sub-command, therefore, you should make sure that no temporary data or other unnecessary files are sitting inside of the development package’s directory, or those files will be included in the archive.

Note that Pyron has no provision for building, or distributing, C-language extensions or shared libraries or other binary code that has to be compiled. If your package needs to be compiled to operate, then you should use the normal mechanism; that’s what it’s good for: situations that are already complicated, where you need lots of control over a difficult build process. Pyron, by constrast, is intended only for distributing pure-Python packages.

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