Pipenv at Pycon Singapore 2018
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pipenv logo

A Python package manager using virtual environments. It creates virtualenvs in a standard location and automatically adds/removes packages to a Pipfile when they are [un]installed.

For anyone new to virtual environments

For developers using other virtualenv tools

For anyone new to virtual environments


$ pip install pipenv

Virtual environment basics

Different projects require different versions of Python and different package versions. A virtual environment is simply a set of modules and a version of Python. We can manage package versions between projects easily by having each project use its own virtual environment.

Step by step

Imagine you are a developer in a web agency and you have a project(called project1) with an using Python 2.7 and Django 1.11 and want to start another project(project2) with Python 3 and Django 2.0. We can manage both projects concurrently with pipenv. ☺️

For this step by step tutorial, we will need to have Python 2, Python 3 and pipenv installed. You can also just use Python 3, and replace --two with --three in the instructions.

First, let's open up any shell and create a new folder called 'workshop', and two other folders within it called 'project1' and 'project2'.

$ mkdir workshop
$ cd workshop
$ mkdir project1
$ mkdir project2

Let's cd into the project1 folder.

$ cd project1

Now, let's run pipenv install django==1.11 --two to install django into a newly created virtual environment. The --two option tells pipenv that we want to use Python 2.

$ pipenv install django==1.11 --two
Creating a virtualenv for this project…
Using /usr/local/bin/python2 (2.7.14) to create virtualenv…
⠋Running virtualenv with interpreter /usr/local/bin/python2
New python executable in /Users/yisheng/.virtualenvs/project1-d4NfzhET/bin/python2.7
Also creating executable in /Users/yisheng/.virtualenvs/project1-d4NfzhET/bin/python
Installing setuptools, pip, wheel...done.

Virtualenv location: /Users/yisheng/.virtualenvs/project1-d4NfzhET
Creating a Pipfile for this project…
Installing django==1.11…

Adding django==1.11 to Pipfile's [packages]…
Pipfile.lock not found, creating…
Locking [dev-packages] dependencies…
Locking [packages] dependencies…
Updated Pipfile.lock (d5a021)!
Installing dependencies from Pipfile.lock (d5a021)…
To activate this project's virtualenv, run the following:
 $ pipenv shell

Several things happened here, so let's go through each of them. The command installed a copy of Python 2.7 (which was already on my machine), together with some basic packages, to a new folder(the virtual environment), and it tells me the location of that folder.

Virtualenv location: /Users/yisheng/.virtualenvs/project1-d4NfzhET

It's within .virtualenvs/ in the user folder. The first half of the virtual environment's name is the project folder's name (where we ran pipenv install django==1.11 --two). The second half(d4NfzhET) is a string hashed from the project folder's path, so if you delete the virtual environment, and create it again from the same project folder, it will use the same folder name.

The command also created a Pipfile for the project, which stores the project's direct dependencies(and Python version). Anyone else working on this project will use the Pipfile to install all necessary dependencies.

Creating a Pipfile for this project…

Next, Django 1.11 was installed in the virtual environment and Pipenv added it to the Pipfile.

Pipenv also created a Pipfile.lock, which stores the exact version of the project's direct dependencies and sub-dependencies. On the production machine, we can run pipenv sync to install the exact package versions specified by Pipfile.lock, so that it will always be safe from breaking updates, even twenty years from now.

Just like that, our virtual environment is all ready to go! 😄 We can continue to do pipenv install pytest and it will be installed into the existing virtual environment and added to the Pipfile and Pipfile.lock.

$ pipenv install pytest
Installing pytest…
Adding pytest to Pipfile's [packages]…
Pipfile.lock (d5a021) out of date, updating to (fbff64)…
Locking [dev-packages] dependencies…
Locking [packages] dependencies…
Updated Pipfile.lock (fbff64)!
Installing dependencies from Pipfile.lock (fbff64)…

We can automatically check for updates and upgrade our packages with the following workflow:

$ pipenv update --outdated
[any outdated packages appear here]
$ pipenv update

Do note that packages which have their exact version specified, like our Django==1.11 will not be updated with pipenv update.

Whenever we want to work on the project, we use $ pipenv shell anywhere within the project1 folder. This activates the virtual environment, and uses the Python version and packages from the virtual environment only, instead of packages installed globally on our machine.

$ pipenv shell
Spawning environment shell (/bin/zsh). Use 'exit' to leave.
. /Users/yisheng/.virtualenvs/project1-d4NfzhET/bin/activate

We can confirm that the project is using Django 1.11 with pip show django.

$ pip show django
Name: Django
Version: 1.11

Sure enough, we're using Django 1.11. We can run:

$ exit

to deactivate the virtual environment,

Instead of activating and deactivating the virtual environment, we can also use pipenv run [command] to run the command from the virtual environment, like so:

$ pipenv run pip show django

This can be especially useful for writing shell scripts (or a crontab).

We can easily create the virtual environment for project2 in the same way. We can run:

$ cd project2
$ pipenv install django==2.0 --three

to setup a new virtual environment with Python 3 and install Django 2.0.

Now, both your projects have their separate virtual environments and no longer need to share packages or Python versions. 😎

For developers using other virtualenv tools

Advantages of Pipenv over similar tools

  • Separate your project development dependencies (which should be upgraded) with the production dependency exact versions required (which should be deterministic)
  • Manage all your virtualenvs from one place (not like with venv)
  • Update package list automatically in Pipfile - no more pip freeze > requirements.txt
  • Update project packages easily with pipenv update
  • See top-level dependencies clearly with pipenv graph
  • Mark out developer dependencies easily with pipenv install [my_package] --dev
  • Prune out old, unused dependencies with pipenv clean

Migrating to Pipfile from requirements.txt

pipenv install -r requirements.txt

This creates your Pipfile for you from requirements.txt. You should manually edit the Pipfile to remove exact versioning, which should only be maintained for the Pipfile.lock.

Common usage

Setup new project or project on new machine

Task With virtualenvwrapper With pipenv
Setup new virtualenv $ mkvirtualenv [project] $ pipenv (--three OR --two)
Install all packages in a virtualenv $ pip install -r requirements.txt $ pipenv install --dev
Install non-dev packages in a virtualenv not able $ pipenv install

Work on project

Task With virtualenvwrapper With pipenv
Activate the virtualenv $ workon [project] $ pipenv shell
Deactivate the virtualenv $ deactivate $ exit

Add or remove package

Task With virtualenvwrapper With pipenv
Install a project dependency (activated) $ pip install (package) $ pipenv install (package)
Install a project dev dependency not able $ pipenv install pytest --dev
Install local package $ pip install (path) $ pipenv install -e (path)
Remove a project dependency (activated) $ pip uninstall (package) $ pipenv uninstall [package]
Remove all unused dependencies not able $ pipenv clean
Remove all project dependencies $ pip uninstall -r requirements.txt -y $ pipenv uninstall --all
  • Note: pipenv automatically adds or removes the packages from the Pipfile.

Freeze dependencies for production

Task With virtualenvwrapper With pipenv
Freeze project dependencies $ pip freeze > requirements.txt $ pipenv lock

Upgrade project dependencies

Task With virtualenvwrapper With pipenv
Upgrade project dependencies not able $ pipenv update
List project outdated dependencies not able $ pipenv update --outdated
List project direct dependencies not able $ pipenv graph



Pipenv fails on Git Bash (github issue). Instead, use powershell, cmd, cmder or another shell.