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Generate ctags from eggs for development.

Project description




This recipe generates a TAGS database file that can be used with a number of different editors to quickly look up class and function definitions in your package’s source files and egg dependencies.


Before running a tags enabled buildout, you must install the appropriate command line tag generation tools: exuberant-ctags and id-utils. In Ubuntu, you can install these with apt-get:

$ sudo apt-get install exuberant-ctags id-utils

On a Mac, download and install port from and then install ctags and idutils in this way:

$ sudo port install ctags idutils

How to use this recipe

With Buildout

Suppose you have an egg called MyApplication. To use this recipe with buildout, you would add the following to the buildout.cfg file:

recipe = z3c.recipe.tag
eggs = MyApplication

This produces a script file in the bin/ directory which you can then run like this:

$ ./bin/tags

By default, this script produces three files in the directory from which you ran the script:

  • a ctags file called TAGS for use by emacs,

  • a ctags file called tags for use by vi, and

  • an idutils file called ID for use by id-utils (gid, lid).

You can then use these files in your editor of choice.

Optionally, you can select which files to build. The following is the output of ./bin/tags --help:

usage: build_tags [options]

  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -l LANGUAGES, --languages=LANGUAGES
                        ctags comma-separated list of languages. defaults to
  -e, --ctags-emacs     flag to build emacs ctags ``TAGS`` file
  -v, --ctags-vi        flag to build vi ctags ``tags`` file
  -b, --ctags-bbedit    flag to build bbedit ctags ``tags`` file
  -i, --idutils         flag to build idutils ``ID`` file

If you’d like to set command line options by default (e.g. to limit building to ctags-vi by default) you can pass the default option in your buildout.cfg:

recipe = z3c.recipe.tag
eggs = MyApplication
default = ['-v']

With virtualenv

You can use this with virtualenv too:

my_venv/bin/pip install z3c.recipe.tag

this will build a tags file for all the packages installed in that virtualenv.

With Paver

If you are using Paver and already have z3c.recipe.tag installed, then all you have to do is add this line to your file:

import z3c.recipe.tag

And then run the z3c.recipe.tag.tags task from the command line:

$ paver z3c.recipe.tag.tags

Additional Resources

For additional information on using tags tables with different editors see the following websites:

For more information on ctags, visit

(BBEdit is a Macintosh text editor.)

For more information about GNU id-utils (basically a local text indexing/search engine; think of it as a very fast version of grep -w), see the id-utils manual.


1.0 (2023-02-09)

  • Drop support for Python < 3.7.

  • Add support for Python 3.7 up to 3.11.

  • Require zc.buildout >= 3.

0.8 (2014-10-20)

  • Add –tag-relative option to support relative tag generation.

0.7 (2013-03-22)

  • Support and require zc.buildout 2.0.

  • Add supported Python version (3.6, 2.7, 3.2, 3.3) classifiers to

0.6 (2012-09-07)

  • Update manifest to allow package generation fron non-VCS export. Counters the 0.5 “brown bag” release.

0.5 (2012-09-06)

  • Exclude Python import statements by default from showing up as tags.

  • Add ‘defaults’ option to allow adding default command line options (e.g. to set ‘-v’ by default)

0.4.1 (2012-01-11)

  • Skip nonexistent sys.path directories to avoid ctags warnings.

0.4.0 (2010-08-29)

  • Support new script features from zc.buildout 1.5 and higher. This version requires zc.buildout 1.5 or higher.

  • Also index Mako and HTML files with id-utils.

0.3.0 (2009-08-16)

  • Add support for using this recipe as a paver task.

  • Also index Javascript, CSS and ReStructuredText files with id-utils.

  • Define a default entry point for zc.buildout, so you can simply say:

    recipe = z3c.recipe.tag

0.2.0 (2008-08-28)

  • Allow command-line choices for what files to build, and what languages ctags should parse. (Note that the default behavior of running ./bin/tags is the same as previous releases.)

  • Support the Mac OS X packaging system “macports” (exuberant ctags is ctags-exuberant in Ubuntu and ctags in macports).

  • Support creating BBEdit-style ctags files.

  • Small changes for development (use bootstrap external, set svn:ignore)

0.1.0 (2008-03-16)

  • Initial release.

    • buildout recipe for generating ctags of eggs used.

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