[AstroPy] Putting astronomy packages on PyPI

Erik Tollerud erik.tollerud at gmail.com
Tue May 3 19:41:35 EDT 2011

I definitely agree that putting packages on PyPI is a desirable thing,
and it really is very easy to do.   Having all these packages on PyPI
would also make it possible to write automated installer tools to
install everything in one go (e.g. astpys-setup in astropysics works
because the PyPI data is easy to access automatically).

One tip that I think may be of particular use to packages that require
compilation: we should stop using "easy_install" and switch to "pip

Setuptools and easy_install are not being developed anymore, and are
python 3.0 incompatible.  The replacement for setuptools is distribute
(http://pypi.python.org/pypi/distribute), which emulates all of the
setuptools functionality and is actively being developed (although in
the future it is going to be replaced by a standard library tool).
The replacement for easy_install is pip
(http://pypi.python.org/pypi/pip/1.0.1).  pip is different from
easy_install in that it installs from source where possible, which
makes it much more robust in most settings - my experience is that it
usually just works, unlike easy_install (at least for more complicated
packages).  Pip is also much cleaner about where it puts packages, and
doesn't cause all the strange path problems you sometimes see when you
install multiple versions of something in easy_install.  Pip also
includes an "uninstall" option, which is very useful for certain

By the way, pyfits is on PyPI
(http://pypi.python.org/pypi/pyfits/2.4.0) - "pip install pyfits"
works for me (both in OS X and Linux).

On Tue, May 3, 2011 at 6:34 AM, Tom Aldcroft
<aldcroft at head.cfa.harvard.edu> wrote:
> I see there has been some discussion previously on the idea of putting
> packages on PyPI (in particular for vo-0.6).  There did not seem to
> have been a resolution so I want to ask once more why it is not
> possible or desirable to do so.
> As background, over the last two months my colleagues and I at CfA
> have been running a series of workshops on Practical Python for
> Astronomers.  The first and most difficult workshop was building a
> usable Python installation on individual laptops supporting Mac
> (mostly), linux, and Windows.  Once we got the base installation done
> with Python, NumPy, SciPy and matplotlib then there were a bunch of
> other packages that we use during the workshops.  The instructions for
> installing these were:
> easy_install asciitable
> easy_install http://www.stsci.edu/resources/software_hardware/pyfits/pyfits-2.4.0.tar.gz
> easy_install pywcs
> easy_install atpy
> easy_install aplpy
> easy_install http://stsdas.stsci.edu/astrolib/vo-0.6.tar.gz
> easy_install http://stsdas.stsci.edu/astrolib/coords-0.37.tar.gz
> easy_install pyparsing
> easy_install pyregion
> For the most part this worked quite well across all the platforms.  So
> why can't pyfits, vo, and coords be there on PyPI to supply the
> download URL to easy_install in a uniform and non-version-dependent
> way?  (The fact that I'm singling out those three should be taken as a
> compliment that they are useful and worth the bother).  Of course you
> cannot guarantee that this will *always* build properly, but it's
> certainly worth an initial try the "easy" way.
> If package authors could make their source distribution available via
> PyPI would be a nice step toward making Python easier to adopt for
> astronomers.  Again I understand there can be complications and
> ensuring perfection is impossible, but sometimes better is the enemy
> of good.
> - Tom
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Erik Tollerud

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