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Contributing to Spyder

👍🎉 First off, thanks for taking the time to contribute to Spyder! 🎉👍

General Guidelines

This page documents at a very high level how to contribute to Spyder. Please check the Spyder IDE Contributor Documentation for a more detailed guide on how to do so.


Before posting a report, please carefully read our Troubleshooting Guide and search the issue tracker for your error message and problem description, as the great majority of bugs are either duplicates, or can be fixed on the user side with a few easy steps. Thanks!

Submitting a Helpful Issue

Submitting useful, effective and to-the-point issue reports can go a long way toward improving Spyder for everyone. Accordingly, please read the relevant section of the Spyder Troubleshooting Guide, which describes in detail how to do just that.

Most importantly, aside from the error message/traceback and the requested environment/dependency information, please be sure you include a detailed, step by step description of exactly what triggered the problem. Otherwise, we likely won't be able to find and fix it, and your issue will have to be closed after a week (7 days). Thanks!

Setting Up a Development Environment

Cloning the repo

  $ git clone

Creating a conda environment or virtualenv

If you use Anaconda you can create a conda environment with the following commands:

  $ conda create -n spyder-dev python=3.6
  $ source activate spyder-dev

On Windows, you'll want to run the commands with the Anaconda Prompt, and use just activate spyder-dev for the second command.

You can also use virtualenv on Linux, but conda is strongly recommended:

  $ mkvirtualenv spyder-dev
  $ workon spyder-dev

Installing dependencies

After you have created your development environment, you need to install Spyder's necessary dependencies. The easiest way to do so (with Anaconda) is

  $ conda install -c spyder-ide --file requirements/conda.txt

This installs all of Spyder's dependencies into the environment along with the stable/packaged version of Spyder itself, and then removes the latter.

If using pip and virtualenv (not recommended), you need to cd to the directory where your git clone is stored and run:

  $ pip install -e .

Using the correct version of spyder-kernels

Following the separation in v3.3 of Spyder's console code into its own package, spyder-kernels, you'll need to have the corresponding version of it available—0.x for Spyder 3 (3.x branch), and 1.x for Spyder 4 (master branch). The above procedure will install the 0.x version; to test the master branch (Spyder 4), you'll need to install the corresponding 1.x version of spyder-kernels.

This can be done via two methods: installing the correct version via conda:

conda install -c spyder-ide spyder-kernels=1.*

or pip:

pip install spyder-kernels==1.*

(and using conda install spyder-kernels=0.* to switch back to the Spyder 3 version), or by clone-ing the spyder-kernels git repository to somewhere on your path checking out the appropriate branch (0.x or master) corresponding to the version of Spyder (3 or 4) you would like to run, and running the commend pip install -e at the root. For any non-trivial development work, keeping two separate virtual environments (with conda-env or venv) for Spyder 3 and 4 makes this process much quicker and less tedious.

Running Spyder

To start Spyder directly from your clone, i.e. without installing it into your environment, you need to run (from the directory you cloned it to e.g. spyder):

  $ python

To start Spyder in debug mode, useful for tracking down an issue, you can run:

  $ python --debug

Important Note: To test any changes you've made to the Spyder source code, you need to restart Spyder or start a fresh instance (you can run multiple copies simultaneously by unchecking the Preferences option Use a single instance under General > Advanced Settings .

Running Tests

To install our test dependencies under Anaconda:

  $ conda install -c spyder-ide --file requirements/tests.txt

If using pip (for experts only), run the following from the directory where your git clone is stored:

  $ pip install -e .[test]

To run the Spyder test suite, please use (from the spyder root directory):

  $ python

Spyder Branches

When you start to work on a new pull request (PR), you need to be sure that your work is done on top of the correct Spyder branch, and that you base your PR on Github against it.

To guide you, issues on Github are marked with a milestone that indicates the correct branch to use. If not, follow these guidelines:

  • Use the 3.x branch for bugfixes only (e.g. milestones v3.2.1, v3.2.2, or v3.2.3)
  • Use master to introduce new features or break compatibility with previous Spyder versions (e.g. milestones v4.0beta1 or v4.0beta2).

You should also submit bugfixes to 3.x or master for errors that are only present in those respective branches.

To start working on a new PR, you need to execute these commands, filling in the branch names where appropriate:

  $ git checkout <SPYDER-BASE-BRANCH>
  $ git pull upstream <SPYDER-BASE-BRANC>
  $ git checkout -b NAME-NEW-BRANCH

Changing the base branch

If you started your work in the wrong base branch, or want to backport it, you can change the base branch using git rebase --onto, like this:


For example, backporting my_branch from master to 3.x:

  $ git rebase --onto 3.x master my_branch

Adding Third-Party Content

All files or groups of files, including source code, images, icons, and other assets, that originate from projects outside of the Spyder organization (regardless of the license), must be first approved by the Spyder team. Always check with us (on Github, Gitter, Google Group, etc) before attempting to add content from an external project, and only do so when necessary.


Code considered for inclusion must be under a permissive (i.e. non-copyleft) license, particularly as the following (in order of preference):

  • MIT (Expat)
  • Public domain (preferably, CC0)
  • ISC license
  • BSD 2-clause ("Simplified BSD")
  • BSD 3-clause ("New" or "Modified BSD")
  • Apache License 2.0

Additionally, external assets (fonts, icons, images, sounds, animations) can generally be under one of the following weak-copyleft and content licenses:

  • Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 or 4.0
  • SIL Open Font License 1.1
  • GNU LGPL 2.1 or 3.0

Additional licenses may qualify for these lists from time to time, but every effort should be made to avoid it. Regardless, all such licenses must be OSI, FSF, and DSFG approved as well as GPLv3-compatible to ensure maximum free distribution and use of Spyder with minimum ambiguity or fragmentation.

Steps to take

#. Contact the Spyder team to ensure the usage is justified and compatible.

#. Add the files, preserving any original copyright/legal/attribution header

#. If making non-trivial modifications, copy the standard Spyder copyright header from .ciocopyright to just below the original headers; if the original headers are unformatted and just consist of a copyright statement and perhaps mention of the license, incorporate them verbatim within the Spyder header where appropriate. Always ensure copyright statements are in ascending chronological order, and replace the year in the Spyder copyright statement with the current one. Modify the license location to be the current directory, or NOTICE.txt.

#. Include the following line at the end of each module's docstring, separated by blank lines:

Adapted from path/to/file/in/original/ of the
`Project Name <url-to-original-github-repo>`_.

For example,

Adapted from qcrash/_dialogs/ of the
`QCrash Project <>`_.

#. Convert the files to project standards where needed.

#. If the copied file(s) reside in a directory dedicated to them, place the source project's LICENSE.txt file there, and any other legal files. Also, mention the same in the file in that directory.

#. Add an entry in NOTICE.txt with the instructions and template there.

#. If a non-code visible asset (icons, fonts, animations, etc) or otherwise under a Creative Commons license, include a mention in the appropriate section of the README, as well as Spyder's About dialog, in the same form as the others present there.

More information

Main Website

Download Spyder (with Anaconda)

Online Documentation

Spyder Github

Troubleshooting Guide and FAQ

Development Wiki

Gitter Chatroom

Google Group

@Spyder_IDE on Twitter

@SpyderIDE on Facebook

Support Spyder on OpenCollective

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