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presented at PyCon USA

Note: While this program is still in early stages of development, it is suitable for use in production. If you have any problems/suggestions/questions please let me know in a GitHub Issue. This is my first big open-source project, so feel free to submit a pull-request! Thanks! - Cole Wilson


Sailboat is a Python developer's best friend. It's a Python build tool that can do anything you need it to! It suports a countless number of plugins — you can even make your own. Sailboat is made for anyone, whether you are a beginner on your very first project, or a senior software engineer with years of experience.

Let's say that that you have created a basic game, Guess My Number, and you want to send it to all of your friends. There are a lot of different ways you can do this, but using Sailboat is the easiest. All you have to do is type three commands: sail quickstart, sail build, and sail release, and you can have a Homebrew file, a pip installable package, and a PyInstaller desktop app. So easy!

Sailboat also supports custom subcommands. These don't build your project, but they can add features such as a todo list that help speed up your development process.



pip3 install sailboat


Download from latest release.


brew install cole-wilson/taps/Sailboat

Build From Source:

git clone
cd sailboat
python3 install


Sailboat is intended to be used from the command line/terminal.

It is suggested to run sail quickstart to get started. Then, use sail build to build your project, and sail release to release it! Be sure to to look at the subcommand docs for more detail. (look in table below)

There are two base commands that can be used: sail and sailboat. These both do exactly the same thing, there is no difference. sail will be used in the documentation, as it's shorter easier to type, but you can do whatever.

To get a list of the availible subcommands type sail help. To refresh the plugin list, type sail -r.

There are countless subcommands, but these are the core ones:

subcommand description
add Add a plugin to your project.
build Build your project for release.
dev Run your project without building it.
git Manage git for your project.
github Manage git for your project.
plugins Plugin manager.
quickstart Get your project up and running.
release Release your project.
remove Remove a plugin from you project.
wizard Configure you project or a plugin.
workflow Generate a GitHub actions workflow file.
help Display this message.


Sailboat uses a plugin based architecture. Every single command or subcommand is a plugin, even the core features. Plugins are registered using the Python entry points system, using the group name sailboat_plugins. There are four types of plugins:


This type of plugin is reserved for 1st party plugins - plugins that are part of the actual Sailboat source. They have unreserved access to all project data, and therefore this type should not be used in custom plugins.


command plugins are most basic form of a plugin. They are called by typing sail <name of plugin>. They are standalone python scripts that add to the project, like a task list manager.


This is perhaps the most common type of plugin, they are run with the build core plugin, and are used to generate or edit project files. An example would be the PyInstaller plugin, which generates frozen binaries of the project. These should store output in the top level dist folder, in a subfolder with the name of the project. For example: the PyInstaller plugin saves output in ./dist/pyinstaller. Build plugins can also contain release plugins within them.


This group of plugins is used by the release core plugin. They are used to distribute files. For example: the homebrew release plugin uploads the Homebrew formula to a GitHub repo.

All plugins should be a subclass of sailboat.plugins.Plugin, a basic class that provide the neccesary functions and registration features. An example command plugin might look like this:

from sailboat.plugins import Plugin

class Echo(Plugin):
	description = "A basic command plugin that echos it's input."
	_type = 'command'
	setup = {"string_to_echo":"What string should I echo? "}  # Used by wizard
	def run(self):
		string = self.getData('string_to_echo')  # Get string to echo.

Plugins store their data in the sailboat.toml file, under their type namespace. For example, the above example will store it's data like so:

string_to_echo = "Testing..."

A plugin should NEVER edit the sailboat.toml file on it's own. Instead plugins should use the provided functions OR edit, a dictionary of the file. Only data stored in the plugins namespace will be preserved. However, a plugin can read from the top level data.

Plugins can get very complex, and therefore useful, but it is too long to put here. Please look at the file for details.


Thanks to all the people at PyInstaller, dmgbuild, twine, and GitHub actions who provided ways for me to create this.


Stargazers repo roster for @cole-wilson/sailboat


  • Cole Wilson


Please submit an issue if you have any questions or need help or find a bug. I'm happy to help!