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Spine Toolbox is an open source Python package to manage data, scenarios and workflows for modelling and simulation. You can have your local workflow, but work as a team through version control and SQL databases.


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Spine Toolbox

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Spine Toolbox is an open source Python package to manage data, scenarios and workflows for modelling and simulation. You can have your local workflow, but work as a team through version control and SQL databases.

Spine Toolbox

Programming language

  • Python 3.8*
  • Python 3.9
  • Python 3.10**
  • Python 3.11**

*Python 3.8.0 is not supported (use Python 3.8.1 or later).
**Python 3.10 and Python 3.11 require Microsoft Visual C++ 14.0 or greater on Windows.


Spine Toolbox is released under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) license. All accompanying documentation, original graphics and other material are released under the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license. Licenses of all packages used by Spine Toolbox are listed in the Spine Toolbox User Guide.


If you use Spine Toolbox in a published work, please cite the following publication (Chicago/Turabian Style).

Kiviluoma Juha, Pallonetto Fabiano, Marin Manuel, Savolainen Pekka T., Soininen Antti, Vennström Per, Rinne Erkka, Huang Jiangyi, Kouveliotis-Lysikatos Iasonas, Ihlemann Maren, Delarue Erik, O’Dwyer Ciara, O’Donnel Terence, Amelin Mikael, Söder Lennart, and Dillon Joseph. 2022. "Spine Toolbox: A flexible open-source workflow management system with scenario and data management" SoftwareX, Vol. 17, 100967,


We provide three options for installing Spine Toolbox:

Installation with Python and pipx

This works best for users that just want to use Spine Toolbox and keep it updated with new releases. The instructions below are written for Windows, but they also apply to Linux and Mac where applicable.

  1. If you don't have Python installed, please install e.g. Python 3.9 from If you have other than Python 3.9 installed, consider installing also 3.9 or make sure you can fix the issues mentioned with the other Python versions.

  2. If you want to use Python 3.10 or 3.11 on Windows, please install Microsoft Visual C++ 14.0 or greater on Windows. Get it with Microsoft C++ Build Tools: (Earlier versions of Python use earlier versions of C++ libraries that should be available with Windows.)

  3. Open a terminal (e.g., Command Prompt). Windows: If you have issues with Python and/or git not found in path, you can add the paths to environment variables manually. This can be done from Windows Control Panel (use find with 'environmental') or from a command prompt using set PATH=%PATH%;[path-to-executable] e.g. set PATH=%PATH%;C:\Users\my_user_name\AppData\Local\Programs\Git\Cmd.

  4. Managing the packages requires Git, so if your terminal doesn't find Git (try e.g. git --version), please install (or add to path if it already exists). Windows version can be found here:

  5. Get the latest version of pip (pip is a package manager for Python)

     python -m pip install --upgrade pip
  6. Install pipx. pipx helps in creating an isolated environment for Spine Toolbox to avoid package conflicts.

     python -m pip install --user pipx
     python -m pipx ensurepath
  7. Restart the terminal or re-login for the changes of the latest command to take effect.

  8. Choose which Toolbox version to install (NOTE: There is no release version for Python 3.11, yet). Latest release version is installed using

    python -m pipx install spinetoolbox

or get the latest development version using

    python -m pipx install git+

That’s it! To launch Spine Toolbox, open a terminal and run


If for some reason the command is not found, the executable can be found under ~/.local/bin (%USERPROFILE%\.local\bin on Windows).

To update Spine Toolbox to the latest available release, open a terminal and run

python -m pipx upgrade spinetoolbox

Here, replace spinetoolbox with spinetoolbox-dev if you installed the latest development version.

Installation from sources using Git

This option is for developers and for those who want to get the latest features right away and are willing to report bugs. First, follow the instructions above to install Python and get the latest version of pip.

  1. Make sure you have git:

  2. Clone or download the source code from this repository.

  3. Create an environment either through a) Python or b) conda

    a) Through Python virtual environment. First, make sure you have the right Python version in the system path (see above about Python versions), or use the full path of the Python version you want to use (replace 'python' below with [path]/python.

     python -m venv .venv

    b) Through miniconda environment. You can download miniconda from here. Note: Anaconda environments are not supported. Create a new miniconda environment just for Toolbox (without the packages that may be in your conda base environment). For Python 3.9 use

     conda create -n spinetoolbox python=3.9
  4. Activate the Python environment using .venv\Scripts\activate.bat (Windows cmd.exe) or source .venv/bin/activate (bash, zsh) or the conda environment with conda activate spinetoolbox.

  5. Make sure that the terminal prompt indicates the active environment and get the latest version of pip (pip is a package manager for Python)

     python -m pip install --upgrade pip
  6. Install Spine Toolbox along with its dependencies with

     python -m pip install -r requirements.txt
  7. (Optional) Install additional development packages with

     python -m pip install -r dev-requirements.txt

You can now launch Spine Toolbox by calling spinetoolbox when the environment is active.

To upgrade, pull (or copy) the latest changes from the Spine Toolbox repository

git pull
git fetch --tags origin

and run (to upgrade the other Spine Toolbox packages)

python -m pip install -U -r requirements.txt

NOTE: The version number of Spine packages are automatically generated from the Git tags during the pip install step. This makes it important to fetch new tags from GitHub before running pip install when upgrading. This is true also for editable installs.

Additional comments for developers

If you are alternating between multiple branches, you should repeat the pip install -e . step after switching a branch. This ensures the version number is updated correctly. On the other hand if you do not need the version number to be precise, it is okay to skip the step.

To illustrate with an example, consider there are two feature branches P and Q that you are working on. Both are based on master after the release 0.6.18.

---o----o--o--o  P
     o--o--o--o  Q

Then the versions are:

  • P: 0.7.0.dev3+g<commit-hash-P>.d<commit-date-P>,
  • Q: 0.7.0.dev4+g<commit-hash-Q>.d<commit-date-Q>.

The version should be available inside Python as:

from spinetoolbox.version import version_tuple

# P: (0, 7, 0, 'dev3', 'g<commit-hash-P>.d<commit-date-P>')
# Q: (0, 7, 0, 'dev4', 'g<commit-hash-Q>.d<commit-date-Q>')

So if your code uses any of the components of the version_tuple that might change, you should re-run pip install, otherwise it maybe ignored safely.

Windows 64-bit installer package

There are old Windows installer packages available for a quick install, but they are at this point (26.1.2023) quite obsolete and cannot be recommended for anything but a quick look at how Spine Toolbox looks and feels (although even that has changed). Download the installer package from here, run it, and follow the instructions to install Spine Toolbox.

About requirements

Python 3.8.1-3.11 is required. Python 3.8.0 is not supported due to problems in DLL loading on Windows.

See the files pyproject.toml and requirements.txt for packages required to run Spine Toolbox. (Additional packages needed for development are listed in dev-requirements.txt.)

The requirements include three packages (spinedb_api, spine_engine, and spine_items), developed by the Spine project consortium.

Building the User Guide

You can find the latest documentation on readthedocs. If you want to build the documentation yourself, source files for the User Guide can be found in docs/source directory. In order to build the HTML docs, you need to install the optional requirements (see section 'Installing requirements' above). This installs Sphinx (among other things), which is required in building the documentation. When Sphinx is installed, you can build the HTML pages from the user guide source files by using the bin/build_doc.bat script on Windows or the bin/ script on Linux and Mac. After running the script, the index page can be found in docs/build/html/index.html. The User Guide can also be opened from Spine Toolbox menu Help->User Guide (F2).


Obscure crashes that may produce a traceback related to PySide6's model classes

The first thing is to make sure that you are not using Anaconda. Only Miniconda is supported. Anaconda's base environment includes Qt related packages and we suspect that they leak some shared Qt libraries into environments, even when specifically requesting that base environment packages should not be linked to environment packages. See also Problems in starting the application below.

Installation fails

Please make sure you are using Python 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, or 3.11 to install the requirements.

If you are on Python 3.10 or 3.11, please install Microsoft Visual C++ 14.0 or greater on Windows. Get it with Microsoft C++ Build Tools:

'No Python' error when installing with pipx

If you see the following error when running the command python -m pipx install spinetoolbox

No Python at 'c:\python38\python.exe'
Fatal error from pip prevented installation. Full pip output in file:

Where c:\python38\python.exe may be some other path. To fix this, delete the folder C:\Users\<user name>\.local\pipx\shared and run the python -m pipx install spinetoolbox command again.

Installation fails on Linux

If Python runs into errors while installing on Linux systems, running the following command in a terminal may help:

$ sudo apt install libpq-dev

Problems in starting the application

If there are problems in starting Spine Toolbox, the chances are that the required packages were not installed successfully. In case this happens, the first thing you should check is that you don't have Qt, PyQt4, PyQt5, PySide, PySide2, and PySide6 packages installed in the same environment. These do not play nice together and may introduce conflicts. In addition, make sure that you do not have multiple versions of these Qt related packages installed in the same environment. The easiest way to solve this problem is to create a blank (e.g. venv virtual environment) Python environment just for PySide6 applications and installing the requirements again.

Warning: Using the conda-forge channel for installing the requirements is not recommended.

The required qtconsole package from the conda-forge channel also installs qt and PyQt packages. Since this is a PySide6 application, those are not needed and there is a chance of conflicts between the packages.

Note: Python 3.8.0 is not supported. Use Python 3.8.1 or later.

Recorded Webinars showing the use of Spine Tools

Spine Toolbox: Data, workflow and scenario management for modelling

Wednesday Sep 8, 17:00-18:30 CEST (11:00-12:30 EDT) - Organized together with G-PST

Spine Toolbox is an open source software to manage data, scenarios and workflows for modelling and simulation. You can have your local workflow, but work as a team through version control and SQL databases. This webinar gives a quick overview of the different functionalities and showcases them through two examples.

Recording Chapters:

  • 00:00-00:05 Relation to G-PST Pillar 5 (Clayton Barrows, NREL)
  • 00:05-00:35 Building a workflow in Spine Toolbox PDF, (Juha Kiviluoma, VTT)
  • 00:35-00:55 Example workflow from Canada to manage lots of input sources PDF, (Madeleine McPherson and Jake Monroe, University of Victoria)
  • 01:05-01:15 Example workflow from EU project TradeRES to serve multiple models (Milos Cvetkovic and Jim Hommes, TU Delft)
  • 01:15-01:30 Moderated Q&A

SpineOpt: A flexible energy system modelling framework in Julia

Tuesday Sep 7, 14:00-15:30 CEST (8:00-9:30 EDT) - Organized together with EERA ESI

The importance of operational details in planning future energy systems has been rapidly increasing. One driver for this is the increasing role of variable power generation, which requires that the energy system models consider higher temporal granularity, longer time series and new aspects in power system stability. Another important driver is a consequence of sector coupling through the electrification of transport, space heating and industries. As the other sectors become more integrated with electricity, they need to be modelled at a granularity that is sufficient for describing the potential flexibility they can bring to the power system dominated by variable and uncertain power generation.

This webinar will present the open source Julia based energy system modelling framework SpineOpt, which has been built with these challenges in mind. It can represent different energy sectors using representation typically available only in sector specific models and with highly adaptable temporal and stochastic structures available both for planning and operations. More information at

Recording Chapters:

  • 00:00-00:08 Introduction PDF
  • 00:08-00:31 Basic elements of SpineOpt and the flexible spatial structure PDF
  • 00:31-00:40 Adaptable temporal and stochastic structures PDF
  • 00:50-01:30 Representation of different energy sectors & Attempts to make the model faster PDF
  • 01:25-01:35 Q&A + Step-by-step 10 minute demo on how to build a simple model with SpineOpt using Spine Toolbox

Demonstration of Spine modelling tools through selected case studies

Thursday Sep 9, 14:00-16:00 CEST (8:00-10:00 EDT)

Full recording, all presentations slides PDF

Over the past 4 years, the EU project Spine has developed a set of open-source tools for modelling complex energy systems. This webinar demonstrates the Spine software through six selected case studies, covering topics such as sector coupling, co-optimization of operation and investments, stochastic modelling, and rolling horizon optimization. Each subsection described below consists of a brief introduction followed by a live demonstration of the particular case, where some of the outstanding features of Spine are highlighted and discussed.

Recording Chapters:

  • 00:05-00:15 Introduction to Spine: This section uses a simple example to demonstrate the SpineOpt modelling principle. First, the user defines the different objects in their system, such as units and nodes, as well as the relationships between them, such as which units are connected to which nodes. Then, they specify values for certain pre-defined parameters such as node demand, unit capacity, cost, and conversion ratio. The resulting dataset is passed to SpineOpt which generates the corresponding optimisation model, optimizes it, and delivers the results.
  • 00:15-00:30 Hydro: This section demonstrates hydropower modelling in Spine as performed in Case study A5. The objective is to model part of the Swedish hydropower system, namely the Skellefte river with its 15 power stations, by coupling the river system with the power system. The model maximizes income from electricity supply over one week with an hourly resolution, while respecting basic hydrological constraints.
  • 00:29-00:45 Building heating: This section demonstrates building heating modelling in Spine as performed in Case study A4. The objective is to model the Finnish power and district heating system coupled with an electrically heated residential building stock. The result is a rolling unit commitment and economic dispatch model, that optimizes system performance over one year at hourly resolution.
  • [00:45-00:57] Break
  • 00:57-01:06 Gas grid: This section demonstrates gas grid modelling in Spine as performed in Case study A2. The objective is to model a natural gas transmission system with pressure-driven gas and couple it with an electricity system to capture the flexibility provided by the gas network. The result is a dispatch model that co-optimizes operations in both systems over a day at hourly resolution.
  • 01:06-01:22 Stochastic: This section demonstrates stochastic modelling in Spine using a simple example system. Three different stochastic structures are demonstrated: purely deterministic, stochastic fan, and converging fan.
  • 01:22-01:35 Power grid investments: This section demonstrates power grid investment modelling in Spine as performed in case study C2. The objective is twofold: (i) to model the Nordic synchronous power system (Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark) with high operational detail; and (ii) to find optimal transmission line investment decisions over a long-term horizon of 10 years, for three different wind penetration scenarios.
  • 01:35-01:40 Q&A

SpineInterface: How to quickly and easily create new optimization models in Julia Friday

Friday Sep 10, 14:00-15:30 CEST (8:00-9:30 EDT)

Full recording, all presentations PDF

Creation of new optimisation models requires a lot of work to get the data to the models and the results out of the models. Spine Toolbox is an open source data and workflow management tool to assist with these tasks and can work with models written in any language. Meanwhile, SpineInterface is a Julia package that links the data management capabilities of Spine Toolbox with Julia/JuMP modelling environment in a very direct way.

The data interfaces of Spine Toolbox together with SpineInterface simplifies the process of developing optimization models by allowing the model developer to focus on the constraint equations. The required data structures and data are defined with a graphical interface in Spine Toolbox and are immediately available to the model developer inside the constraint equation code without any action or code required by the model developer. SpineInterface supports the full range of data parameter types supported by Toolbox and provides a mechanism for representation of time and time-based data, either time series, time patterns or arbitrarily varying temporal data.

This session will be of interest to model developers and/or students who want a significant head start in developing optimization models. The sessions will also be of interest to model developers who may wish to translate existing models developed in other platforms such as GAMS, into the Spine framework using SpineInterface. The power of SpineInterface will be demonstrated in an interactive session where the full modelling workflow will be illustrated from data structure design and implementation to constraint equation development.


  • Overview of SpineInterface
  • Toolbox concepts and data structures including the Spine data API
  • SpineInterface: convenience functions and accessing Spine Toolbox data in Julia
  • Defining a model data structure in Spine Toolbox
  • Building and solving an optimization model using SpineInterface
  • Q&A + live demo 00:45-01:21

Contribution Guide

All are welcome to contribute!

See detailed instructions for contribution in Spine Toolbox User Guide.

Below are the bare minimum things you need to know.

Setting up development environment

  1. Install the developer requirements:

     python -m pip install -r dev-requirements.txt
  2. Optionally, run pre-commit install in project's root directory. This sets up some git hooks.

Coding style

  • Black is used for Python code formatting. The project's GitHub page includes instructions on how to integrate Black in IDEs.
  • Google style docstrings


It is advisable to run pylint regularly on files that have been changed. The project root includes a configuration file for pylint. pylint's user guide includes instructions on how to integrate the tool in IDEs.

Unit tests

Unit tests are located in the tests directory. You can run the entire test suite from project root by

python -m unittest

Reporting bugs

If you think you have found a bug, please check the following before creating a new issue:

  1. Make sure you’re on the latest version.
  2. Try older versions.
  3. Try upgrading/downgrading the dependencies
  4. Search the project’s bug/issue tracker to make sure it’s not a known issue.

What to put in your bug report:

  1. Python version. What version of the Python interpreter are you using? 32-bit or 64-bit?
  2. OS. What operating system are you on?
  3. Application Version. Which version or versions of the software are you using? If you have forked the project from Git, which branch and which commit? Otherwise, supply the application version number (Help->About menu).
  4. How to recreate. How can the developers recreate the bug? A screenshot demonstrating the bug is usually the most helpful thing you can report. Relevant output from the Event Log and debug messages from the console of your run, should also be included.

Feature requests

The developers of Spine Toolbox are happy to hear feature requests or ideas for improving existing functionality. The format for requesting new features is free. Just fill out the required fields on the issue tracker and give a description of the new feature. A picture accompanying the description is a good way to get your idea into development faster. But before you make a new issue, please check that there isn't a related idea already open in the issue tracker.


EU emblem This work has been partially supported by EU project Mopo (2023-2026), which has received funding from European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency under the European Union’s HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions under grant agreement N°101095998.
EU emblem This work has been partially supported by EU project Spine (2017-2021), which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 774629.


Spine Toolbox is an open source Python package to manage data, scenarios and workflows for modelling and simulation. You can have your local workflow, but work as a team through version control and SQL databases.




LGPL-3.0, GPL-3.0 licenses found

Licenses found






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