Structure of Python Projects

Want to contribute to a git-pull project? They follow a common layout. This guide can help you make sense of things!

tmuxp, libtmux, cihai, libvcs, vcspull, and others follow common patterns in their layout.


black is used for code formatting.

The max line length is 88 (compared to PEP8’s 79). flake8: noqa is permitted for docstrings where it’s too long.

Use $ make black to run your code through black.

Use $ make flake8 to validate compliance with the project’s code standards.


Traditional requirements files

requirements/ - dependencies, for backwards support on systems not using pipenv

Not all projects may have these. If they don’t require third party dependencies in the main project, e.g. SQLAlchemy or colorama, then their may be no base.txt.

requirements/base.txt - Direct project dependencies. These things are included in the install_requires in, so they’re invoked via python install.

requirements/test.txt - Test packages. Examples: pytest, pytest-rerunfailures. These can be included via test_requires in, so they’re invoked via python test.

As of June 2018, our projects also use for automated package updates. These don’t support Pipfile yet, so that’s another reason we’re not moving over to Pipfile immediately.


pipenv supports installing via a Pipfile:

$ pipenv install --dev --skip-lock

Our projects don’t use the Pipfile.lock since they can cause issues with dependencies / version constraints and has a performance penalty.

To keep a Pipfile up to date, you can do some combination of the following:

pipenv install --skip-lock --dev -r requirements/doc.txt && \
pipenv install --skip-lock --dev -r requirements/dev.txt && \
pipenv install --skip-lock --dev -r requirements/test.txt && \
pipenv install --skip-lock -r requirements/base.txt

Some projects may create a Make task for it in the Makefile:

    pipenv install --skip-lock --dev -r requirements/doc.txt && \
    pipenv install --skip-lock --dev -r requirements/dev.txt && \
    pipenv install --skip-lock --dev -r requirements/test.txt && \
    pipenv install --skip-lock -r requirements/base.txt

Optional development tools


You can automatically launch and IDE-like terminal session from tmux via tmuxp and the includes .tmuxp.yaml file. These functionality will automatically handle dependencies via pipenv

Make tasks

make(1) is a popular utility on POSIX-like systems to save common commands across codebases/checkouts. For convenience, these can be stored in tasks in Makefile to prevent unnecessary repetition.

To ensure uniformity and max interoperability across developer systems, Make tasks are used. In addition, makefiles make use of variables via command concatenation to find / filter source files across different platforms.


Variable example:

PY_FILES= find . -type f -not -path '*/\.*' | grep -i '.*[.]py$$' 2> /dev/null

This is uses find(1) and grep(1) options tested to work across BSD, macOS, Linux to scan files recursively (in nested directories), and also filter them. For instance, -f -not -path '*/\.* ignore files beginning with a dot, e.g. .env, and grep’s -i '.*[.]py$$' filters for only *.py files. The double $$ is used to escape the $. In regular expressions, a $ is used to represent the end of a string.


Sphinx documentation tasks.

Variable example:

WATCH_FILES= find .. -type f -not -path '*/\.*' | grep -i '.*[.]rst\|CHANGES\|TODO\|.*conf\.py\|.*[.]py$$' 2> /dev/null

Will be used to generate a list of files to monitor for changes. This uses find .. to look a directory behind ./doc (../doc is the project root). It will monitor for *.rst and *.py files (python files have code documentation) and also for CHANGES and TODO (which include reStructuredTest, but lack file extensions for legacy purposes.)

PYVERSION=$(shell python -c "import sys;v=sys.version_info[0];sys.stdout.write(str(v))")

Is used for version checks. It is a uniform and tested way to find the major python version (2 or 3), since they used a different module to serve HTTP files:

WATCH_FILES= find .. -type f -not -path '*/\.*' | grep -i '.*[.]rst\|CHANGES\|TODO\|.*conf\.py\|.*[.]py$$' 2> /dev/null
PYVERSION=$(shell python -c "import sys;v=sys.version_info[0];sys.stdout.write(str(v))")
HTTP_PORT     = 8031

    @echo '=============================================================='
    @echo 'docs server running at${HTTP_PORT}/_build/html'
    @echo '=============================================================='
    @if test ${PYVERSION} -eq 2; then $(MAKE) serve_py2; else make serve_py3; fi

    python -m SimpleHTTPServer ${HTTP_PORT}

    python -m http.server ${HTTP_PORT}

Task example: make watch


pytest is used for testing, instead of standard library’s unittest.

They reside in the project root, inside of the tests/ folder. Test files are kept in test_{subject_name}.py. In addition, helper modules of any name (e.g. are permitted, in addition to the use of (which is used by pytest’s fixture system)

What you’ll find in a file.

requirements.txt integration

requirements.txt / requirements/base.txt for install_requires requirements/test.txt for install_requires

pytest integration

Overrides python test with a custom class:

from setuptools import setup
from setuptools.command.test import test as TestCommand

class PyTest(TestCommand):
    user_options = [('pytest-args=', 'a', "Arguments to pass to py.test")]

    def initialize_options(self):
        self.pytest_args = []

    def run_tests(self):
        import pytest
        errno = pytest.main(self.pytest_args)
    # ... stuff
    cmdclass={'test': PyTest},