Structuring and automating a Python project with the Python Project Template

This post was originally published here

To create a project that other people can use and contribute to, you need to
follow a specific directory structure. Moreover, releasing a new version should
be as simple and painless as possible. For my projects, I use a template that
has the structure already in place, and comes with automation for almost every
part of a release.

The Python Project Template is my approach to this. It comes with a good (IMO) structure and automation.

What does it include? A whole lot of things. Documentation, Sphinx
configuration, a simple test suite, a file, some AUR stuff, and
perhaps the most important part — the release script. It can automate a lot
of tasks that are part of a release.

You see, releasing a package is error-prone. There are a lot of things that can go wrong:

  • Version numbers. They may appear in code comments, Sphinx configuration,
    README files and documentation, and Some people claim to have
    “solutions” for this. Most of those solutions don’t work right — either they
    import a file from the project (which may break if is too
    magical), read a file from that place (which might not get included
    properly), or use some setuptools extension to get the version from VCS or
    whatever (which needs to be installed before the package). Using sed to
    fix the version numbers is much simpler.
  • Forgetting about changelogs.
  • Not updating translations or other important files.

We’ve had quite a few botched releases in the Nikola project. I wrote a
checklist to prevent things like those. You may notice that the most
prominent step is to run a release script. This step replaced 21 others —
now the checklist only talks about writing announcements, sending e-mails,
updating the website, and doing some GitHub stuff that is not yet automated.

The template promotes a release early, release often workflow: since making a
new release requires almost no human intervention, you might as well do it
every time you make a bunch of changes. In my projects, everything gets
automated, and it might as well be possible in yours.

The complete feature list (as of v2.1.5)

  • pre-configured Sphinx with:
    • CONTRIBUTING.rst guide (used by GitHub when sending a pull request or an issue)
    • LICENSE.rst
    • an empty CHANGELOG.rst
    • README.rst
    • a bare-bones index.rst page
  • The exact same files in /, which are fragile and MAY NOT be modified
    as they are replaced with copies in /docs by the release script
  •, and files in the Python package directory
  • A file that could be good enough for people, and that supports
    entry_points (see
  • tests/ containing some Is My Python Sane?-style tests (using pytest)
  • An automated global update script (.pypt/PYPT-UPDATE)
  • Entry points configuration ready to be uncommented (and a matching file)
  • Add-ons for Qt users (in pypt-extras/Qt)
  • A sample hook for AUR updates (in pypt-extras/AUR)
  • PKGBUILDs for the Arch Linux User Repository (AUR)
  • A state-of-the-art release script, the operations of which are:
    • querying the user for version number, commit message and changes
    • updating /docs/CHANGELOG.rst
    • bumping the version number in all the files, changing dates where necessary
    • copying over /docs/README.rst, /docs/CHANGELOG.rst and /docs/CONTRIBUTING.rst to /
    • locale generation (via the .pypt/localegen script)
    • running import $PROJECTLC and the test suite
    • uploading a source distribution and a wheel to PyPI
    • Making a Git commit and tagging the release
    • creating a GitHub Releases entry
    • updating the AUR packages (by using hooks)

System Message: ERROR/3 (<string>, line 76)

Content block expected for the “raw” directive; none found.

.. raw:: html
    <div style="text-align: center;">
    <a href="" class="btn btn-lg btn-info"><i class="fa fa-github"></i> Check it out on GitHub</a>

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