[Distutils] advice re: packaging tasks

Chris Jerdonek chris.jerdonek at gmail.com
Thu Oct 2 18:15:54 CEST 2014

On Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 8:08 AM, Marius Gedminas <marius at pov.lt> wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 04:44:09PM -0700, Chris Jerdonek wrote:
>> I was curious what others do for the following packaging tasks, or if
>> you have any recommendations otherwise.  There is also a code
>> organization question at the end.
>> 1) For starters, it's very easy to make mistakes in one's MANIFEST.in,
>> so I hacked the sdist command in my setup.py to list the differences
>> between one's project repo and the generated sdist each time you run
>> "python setup.py sdist".  Are there better solutions for this out
>> there so I don't have to rely on my own hack?
> I wrote check-manifest for this.

Yes, I just started using this (as you know). :)  It is very nice!

> Prior to that I used to have horrific Makefile rules that did a similar check:
> https://github.com/mgedmin/objgraph/blob/master/Makefile#L69
>> 2)  Secondly, like many, my README files are in markdown, so I hacked
>> a command in my setup.py to use Pandoc to convert README.md to a .rst
>> file for use as the long_description argument to setup().  I also
>> check in the resulting file for troubleshooting purposes, etc.  Are
>> there more elegant solutions for this that people know of?
> I wrote restview for a different purpose, but found it rather useful for
> discovering ReStructuredText problems that would make PyPI's fall back
> to plaintext rendering.
> If you run
>   restview --long-description
> in a directory containing a setup.py, it'll invoke `python setup.py
> --long-description' and interpret it using the same docutils settings as
> PyPI, highlighting any errors.
> For a more automated (but perhaps less accurate) solution I pipe
>   python setup.py --long-description | rst2html > /dev/null

Yes, I had been familiar with this latter approach.  It is documented here:


It did not work for me in my case though.  I eventually found that my
use of URL fragments to link to sections elsewhere on the same page,
and using relative links (supported by GitHub,
https://github.com/blog/1395-relative-links-in-markup-files ) are what
broke things.

Here is a link to a PyPI bug report regarding making it easier to find
such issues:


If people are interested, I wrote a pandoc filter to convert such
links to things that will continue to work once uploaded to PyPI:


> in my Makefile:
> https://github.com/mgedmin/objgraph/blob/master/Makefile#L99
>> Also, for commands like the latter, is it better to define them in
>> one's setup.py, or simply to have separate scripts in one's repo?
> I'm really happy with being able to make releases of any of my packages
> with
>   make release
> This runs the test suite (tox/detox FTW), checks for uncommitted
> changes, makes sure MANIFEST.in is correct, makes sure the version
> number in setup.py matches the version number in CHANGES.rst (and
> release date is today), makes sure there are no RST errors in
> long_descrption, and reminds me the commands I need to run to creates a
> version control system tag and package + upload the sdist to PyPI.  (I'm
> too paranoid to let automated tools perform externally-visible actions
> like uploading to PyPI or pushing git tags, so I just copy & paste the
> commands once I'm sure everything's ship-shape.)

That sounds great.

> There are other excellent tools for this (e.g. zest.releaser).  One day
> I'll get tired of copy-pasting my Makefiles from project to project and
> I'll switch to zest.releaser.
>> Lastly, as these setup-related tasks grow larger and more complicated,
>> I found it helped to break them out into a separate setup package that
>> sits alongside my project's main package library (and even adding
>> tests in some cases).  Is this normal?  Have other people run into
>> this?
> I'm not sure what you mean.  Do you have any examples?

I mean that if you are working on project MyProject with package
myproject inside the repo, you might find yourself adding ad hoc
custom code to setup.py.  If this setup.py code starts to grow (a bit
like your Makefile may grow), it might make sense to move some of the
setup code to a package called something like myproject_setup
alongside myproject (which would be used only for setup tasks).  And
if this setup code was sufficiently complicated, you might find
yourself wanting to add unit tests for some of it, so you might have
myproject_setup/tests (and even testing it as part of your automated
tests, etc).


> Marius Gedminas
> --
> Life begins when you can spend your spare time programming instead of
> watching television.
>                 -- Cal Keegan
> _______________________________________________
> Distutils-SIG maillist  -  Distutils-SIG at python.org
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