Managing Application Dependencies#

The package installation tutorial covered the basics of getting set up to install and update Python packages.

However, running these commands interactively can get tedious even for your own personal projects, and things get even more difficult when trying to set up development environments automatically for projects with multiple contributors.

This tutorial walks you through the use of Pipenv to manage dependencies for an application. It will show you how to install and use the necessary tools and make strong recommendations on best practices.

Keep in mind that Python is used for a great many different purposes, and precisely how you want to manage your dependencies may change based on how you decide to publish your software. The guidance presented here is most directly applicable to the development and deployment of network services (including web applications), but is also very well suited to managing development and testing environments for any kind of project.

For alternatives, see Other Tools for Application Dependency Management.

Installing Pipenv#

Pipenv is a dependency manager for Python projects. If you’re familiar with Node.js’ npm or Ruby’s bundler, it is similar in spirit to those tools. While pip alone is often sufficient for personal use, Pipenv is recommended for collaborative projects as it’s a higher-level tool that simplifies dependency management for common use cases.

Use pip to install Pipenv:

python3 -m pip install --user pipenv
py -m pip install --user pipenv


This does a user installation to prevent breaking any system-wide packages. If pipenv isn’t available in your shell after installation, you’ll need to add the user base’s binary directory to your PATH. See Installing to the User Site for more information.

Installing packages for your project#

Pipenv manages dependencies on a per-project basis. To install packages, change into your project’s directory (or just an empty directory for this tutorial) and run:

cd myproject
pipenv install requests

Pipenv will install the Requests library and create a Pipfile for you in your project’s directory. The Pipfile is used to track which dependencies your project needs in case you need to re-install them, such as when you share your project with others. You should get output similar to this (although the exact paths shown will vary):

Creating a Pipfile for this project...
Creating a virtualenv for this project...
Using base prefix '/usr/local/Cellar/python3/3.6.2/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.6'
New python executable in ~/.local/share/virtualenvs/tmp-agwWamBd/bin/python3.6
Also creating executable in ~/.local/share/virtualenvs/tmp-agwWamBd/bin/python
Installing setuptools, pip, wheel...done.

Virtualenv location: ~/.local/share/virtualenvs/tmp-agwWamBd
Installing requests...
Collecting requests
  Using cached requests-2.18.4-py2.py3-none-any.whl
Collecting idna<2.7,>=2.5 (from requests)
  Using cached idna-2.6-py2.py3-none-any.whl
Collecting urllib3<1.23,>=1.21.1 (from requests)
  Using cached urllib3-1.22-py2.py3-none-any.whl
Collecting chardet<3.1.0,>=3.0.2 (from requests)
  Using cached chardet-3.0.4-py2.py3-none-any.whl
Collecting certifi>=2017.4.17 (from requests)
  Using cached certifi-2017.7.27.1-py2.py3-none-any.whl
Installing collected packages: idna, urllib3, chardet, certifi, requests
Successfully installed certifi-2017.7.27.1 chardet-3.0.4 idna-2.6 requests-2.18.4 urllib3-1.22

Adding requests to Pipfile's [packages]...

Using installed packages#

Now that Requests is installed you can create a simple file to use it:

import requests

response = requests.get('')

print('Your IP is {0}'.format(response.json()['origin']))

Then you can run this script using pipenv run:

pipenv run python

You should get output similar to this:

Your IP is

Using pipenv run ensures that your installed packages are available to your script. It’s also possible to spawn a new shell that ensures all commands have access to your installed packages with pipenv shell.

Next steps#

Congratulations, you now know how to effectively manage dependencies and development environments on a collaborative Python project! ✨ 🍰 ✨

If you’re interested in creating and distributing your own Python packages, see the tutorial on packaging and distributing packages.

Note that when your application includes definitions of Python source packages, they (and their dependencies) can be added to your pipenv environment with pipenv install -e <relative-path-to-source-directory> (e.g. pipenv install -e . or pipenv install -e src).

Other Tools for Application Dependency Management#

If you find this particular approach to managing application dependencies isn’t working well for you or your use case, you may want to explore these other tools and techniques, listed in alphabetical order, to see if one of them is a better fit:

  • hatch for opinionated coverage of even more steps in the project management workflow, such as incrementing versions and creating new skeleton projects from project templates.

  • micropipenv for a lightweight wrapper around pip that supports requirements.txt, Pipenv and Poetry lock files, or converting them to pip-tools compatible output. Designed for containerized Python applications, but not limited to them.

  • PDM for a modern Python package management relying on standards such as PEP 517 and PEP 621.

  • pip-tools for creating a lock file of all dependencies from a list of packages directly used in a project, and ensuring that only those dependencies are installed.

  • Poetry for a tool comparable in scope to Pipenv that focuses more directly on use cases where the project being managed is structured as a distributable Python package with a valid pyproject.toml file. By contrast, Pipenv explicitly avoids making the assumption that the application being worked on will support distribution as a pip-installable Python package.