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Quick Start Guide
1. Install Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 with Python workload and
Python native development component.
1a. Optionally install Python 3.6 or later. If not installed,
get_externals.bat (via build.bat) will download and use Python via
2. Run "build.bat" to build Python in 32-bit Release configuration.
3. (Optional, but recommended) Run the test suite with "rt.bat -q".
Building Python using Microsoft Visual C++
This directory is used to build CPython for Microsoft Windows NT version
6.0 or higher (Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, or later) on 32 and 64
bit platforms. Using this directory requires an installation of
Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 (MSVC 14.1) with the *Python workload* and
its optional *Python native development* component selected. (For
command-line builds, Visual Studio 2015 may also be used.)
Building from the command line is recommended in order to obtain any
external dependencies. To build, simply run the "build.bat" script without
any arguments. After this succeeds, you can open the "pcbuild.sln"
solution in Visual Studio to continue development.
To build an installer package, refer to the README in the Tools/msi folder.
The solution currently supports two platforms. The Win32 platform is
used to build standard x86-compatible 32-bit binaries, output into the
win32 sub-directory. The x64 platform is used for building 64-bit AMD64
(aka x86_64 or EM64T) binaries, output into the amd64 sub-directory.
The Itanium (IA-64) platform is no longer supported.
Four configuration options are supported by the solution:
Used to build Python with extra debugging capabilities, equivalent
to using ./configure --with-pydebug on UNIX. All binaries built
using this configuration have "_d" added to their name:
python38_d.dll, python_d.exe, parser_d.pyd, and so on. Both the
build and rt (run test) batch files in this directory accept a -d
option for debug builds. If you are building Python to help with
development of CPython, you will most likely use this configuration.
PGInstrument, PGUpdate
Used to build Python in Release configuration using PGO, which
requires Premium Edition of Visual Studio. See the "Profile
Guided Optimization" section below for more information. Build
output from each of these configurations lands in its own
sub-directory of this directory. The official Python releases may
be built using these configurations.
Used to build Python as it is meant to be used in production
settings, though without PGO.
Building Python using the build.bat script
In this directory you can find build.bat, a script designed to make
building Python on Windows simpler. This script will use the env.bat
script to detect either Visual Studio 2017 or 2015, either of
which may be used to build Python. Currently Visual Studio 2017 is
officially supported.
By default, build.bat will build Python in Release configuration for
the 32-bit Win32 platform. It accepts several arguments to change
this behavior, try `build.bat -h` to learn more.
C Runtime
Visual Studio 2017 uses version 14.0 of the C runtime (vcruntime140).
The executables no longer use the "Side by Side" assemblies used in
previous versions of the compiler. This simplifies distribution of
The run time libraries are available under the redist folder of your
Visual Studio distribution. For more info, see the Readme in the
redist folder.
The CPython project is split up into several smaller sub-projects which
are managed by the pcbuild.sln solution file. Each sub-project is
represented by a .vcxproj and a .vcxproj.filters file starting with the
name of the sub-project. These sub-projects fall into a few general
The following sub-projects represent the bare minimum required to build
a functioning CPython interpreter. If nothing else builds but these,
you'll have a very limited but usable python.exe:
.dll and .lib
These sub-projects provide extra executables that are useful for running
CPython in different ways:
pythonw.exe, a variant of python.exe that doesn't open a Command
Prompt window
py.exe, the Python Launcher for Windows, see
pyw.exe, a variant of py.exe that doesn't open a Command Prompt
_testembed.exe, a small program that embeds Python for testing
purposes, used by
These are miscellaneous sub-projects that don't really fit the other
_freeze_importlib.exe, used to regenerate Python\importlib.h after
changes have been made to Lib\importlib\
pyshellext.dll, the shell extension deployed with the launcher
python3.dll, the PEP 384 Stable ABI dll
builds an example module that makes use of the PEP 384 Stable ABI,
see Modules\xxlimited.c
The following sub-projects are for individual modules of the standard
library which are implemented in C; each one builds a DLL (renamed to
.pyd) of the same name as the project:
The following Python-controlled sub-projects wrap external projects.
Note that these external libraries are not necessary for a working
interpreter, but they do implement several major features. See the
"Getting External Sources" section below for additional information
about getting the source for building these libraries. The sub-projects
Python wrapper for version 1.0.6 of the libbzip2 compression library
Python wrapper for version 5.2.2 of the liblzma compression library
Python wrapper for version 1.1.0h of the OpenSSL secure sockets
library, which is downloaded from our binaries repository at
Building OpenSSL requires Perl on your path, and can be performed by
running PCbuild\prepare_ssl.bat. This will retrieve the version of
the sources matched to the current commit from the OpenSSL branch
in our source repository at
To use an alternative build of OpenSSL completely, you should replace
the files in the externals/openssl-bin-<version> folder with your own.
As long as this folder exists, its contents will not be downloaded
again when building.
Wraps SQLite, which is itself built by sqlite3.vcxproj
Wraps version 8.6.6 of the Tk windowing system, which is downloaded
from our binaries repository at
Building Tcl and Tk can be performed by running
PCbuild\prepare_tcltk.bat. This will retrieve the version of the
sources matched to the current commit from the Tcl and Tk branches
in our source repository at
The two projects install their respective components in a
directory alongside the source directories called "tcltk" on
Win32 and "tcltk64" on x64. They also copy the Tcl and Tk DLLs
into the current output directory, which should ensure that Tkinter
is able to load Tcl/Tk without having to change your PATH.
Getting External Sources
The last category of sub-projects listed above wrap external projects
Python doesn't control, and as such a little more work is required in
order to download the relevant source files for each project before they
can be built. However, a simple script is provided to make this as
painless as possible, called "get_externals.bat" and located in this
directory. This script extracts all the external sub-projects from
via a Python script called "", located in this directory.
If Python 3.6 or later is not available via the "py.exe" launcher, the
path or command to use for Python can be provided in the PYTHON_FOR_BUILD
environment variable, or get_externals.bat will download the latest
version of NuGet and use it to download the latest "pythonx86" package
for use with Everything downloaded by these scripts is
stored in ..\externals (relative to this directory).
It is also possible to download sources from each project's homepage,
though you may have to change folder names or pass the names to MSBuild
as the values of certain properties in order for the build solution to
find them. This is an advanced topic and not necessarily fully
The get_externals.bat script is called automatically by build.bat
unless you pass the '-E' option.
Profile Guided Optimization
The solution has two configurations for PGO. The PGInstrument
configuration must be built first. The PGInstrument binaries are linked
against a profiling library and contain extra debug information. The
PGUpdate configuration takes the profiling data and generates optimized
The build_pgo.bat script automates the creation of optimized binaries.
It creates the PGI files, runs the unit test suite or PyBench with the
PGI python, and finally creates the optimized files.
for more on this topic.
Static library
The solution has no configuration for static libraries. However it is
easy to build a static library instead of a DLL. You simply have to set
the "Configuration Type" to "Static Library (.lib)" and alter the
preprocessor macro "Py_ENABLE_SHARED" to "Py_NO_ENABLE_SHARED". You may
also have to change the "Runtime Library" from "Multi-threaded DLL
(/MD)" to "Multi-threaded (/MT)".
Visual Studio properties
The PCbuild solution makes use of Visual Studio property files (*.props)
to simplify each project. The properties can be viewed in the Property
Manager (View -> Other Windows -> Property Manager) but should be
carefully modified by hand.
The property files used are:
* python (versions, directories and build names)
* pyproject (base settings for all projects)
* openssl (used by projects dependent upon OpenSSL)
* tcltk (used by _tkinter, tcl, tk and tix projects)
The pyproject property file defines all of the build settings for each
project, with some projects overriding certain specific values. The GUI
doesn't always reflect the correct settings and may confuse the user
with false information, especially for settings that automatically adapt
for diffirent configurations.