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An API for virtualenv/pip

Project description

Build Status Latest version BSD License

virtualenv is a tool to create isolated Python environments. Unfortunately, it does not expose a native Python API. This package aims to provide an API in the form of a wrapper around virtualenv.

It can be used to create and delete environments and perform package management inside the environment.

Full support is provided for Python 2.7 and Python 3.3+.


The latest stable release is available on PyPi:

$ pip install virtualenv-api

Please note that the distribution is named virtualenv-api, yet the Python package is named virtualenvapi.

Alternatively, you may fetch the latest version from git:

$ pip install git+


  • To begin managing an environment (it will be created if it does not exist):
from virtualenvapi.manage import VirtualEnvironment
env = VirtualEnvironment('/path/to/environment/name')

You may also specify the Python interpreter to use in this environment by passing the python argument to the class constructor (new in 2.1.3):

env = VirtualEnvironment('/path/to/environment/name', python='python3')

If you have already activated a virtualenv and wish to operate on it, simply call VirtualEnvironment with no arguments:

env = VirtualEnvironment()

New in 2.1.7:

An optional argument readonly may be provided (defaults to False) that will prevent all operations that could potentially modify the environment.

  • Check if the mezzanine package is installed:
>>> env.is_installed('mezzanine')
  • Install the latest version of the mezzanine package:
>>> env.install('mezzanine')
  • A wheel of the latest version of the mezzanine package (new in 2.1.4):
>>> env.wheel('mezzanine')
  • Install version 1.4 of the django package (this is pip’s syntax):
>>> env.install('django==1.4')
  • Upgrade the django package to the latest version:
>>> env.upgrade('django')
  • Upgrade all packages to their latest versions (new in 2.1.7):
>>> env.upgrade_all()
  • Uninstall the mezzanine package:
>>> env.uninstall('mezzanine')

Packages may be specified as name only (to work on the latest version), using pip’s package syntax (e.g. django==1.4) or as a tuple of ('name', 'ver') (e.g. ('django', '1.4')).

  • A package may be installed directly from a git repository (must end with .git):
>>> env.install('git+git://')

New in 2.1.10:

  • A package can be installed in pip’s editable mode by prefixing the package name with -e (this is pip’s syntax):
>>> env.install('-e git+')
  • Instances of the environment provide an installed_packages property:
>>> env.installed_packages
[('django', '1.5'), ('wsgiref', '0.1.2')]
  • A list of package names is also available in the same manner:
>>> env.installed_package_names
['django', 'wsgiref']
  • Search for a package on PyPI (changed in 2.1.5: this now returns a dictionary instead of list):
{'virtualenv-api': 'An API for virtualenv/pip'}
>>> len('requests'))
  • The old functionality (pre 2.1.5) of may be used:
>>> list('requests').items())
[('virtualenv-api', 'An API for virtualenv/pip')]

Verbose output from each command is available in the environment’s build.log file, which is appended to with each operation. Any errors are logged to build.err.

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