Tool recommendations

If you’re familiar with Python packaging and installation, and just want to know what tools are currently recommended, then here it is.

Application Dependency Management

Use Pipenv to manage library dependencies when developing Python applications. See Managing Application Dependencies for more details on using pipenv.

Consider other tools such as pip when pipenv does not meet your use case.

Installation Tool Recommendations

  • Use pip to install Python packages from PyPI. [1] [2] Depending on how pip is installed, you may need to also install wheel to get the benefit of wheel caching. [3]
  • Use virtualenv, or venv to isolate application specific dependencies from a shared Python installation. [4]
  • If you’re looking for management of fully integrated cross-platform software stacks, consider:
    • buildout: primarily focused on the web development community
    • Spack, Hashdist, or conda: primarily focused on the scientific community.

Packaging Tool Recommendations

Publishing Platform Migration

The original Python Package Index implementation (hosted at is being phased out in favour of an updated implementation hosted at Both interfaces share a common database backend and file store, allowing the latter to assume more default responsibilities as it becomes more capable.

See Migrating to for more information on the current status of the migration, and the required settings for opting in to the migration early.

[1]There are some cases where you might choose to use easy_install (from setuptools), e.g. if you need to install from Eggs (which pip doesn’t support). For a detailed breakdown, see pip vs easy_install.
[2]The acceptance of PEP 453 means that pip will be available by default in most installations of Python 3.4 or later. See the rationale section from PEP 453 as for why pip was chosen.
[3] and virtualenv install wheel, whereas ensurepip and venv do not currently. Also, the common “python-pip” package that’s found in various linux distros, does not depend on “python-wheel” currently.
[4]Beginning with Python 3.4, venv will create virtualenv environments with pip installed, thereby making it an equal alternative to virtualenv. However, using virtualenv will still be recommended for users that need cross-version consistency.

Although you can use pure distutils for many projects, it does not support defining dependencies on other projects and is missing several convenience utilities for automatically populating distribution metadata correctly that are provided by setuptools. Being outside the standard library, setuptools also offers a more consistent feature set across different versions of Python, and (unlike distutils), setuptools will be updated to produce the upcoming “Metadata 2.0” standard formats on all supported versions.

Even for projects that do choose to use distutils, when pip installs such projects directly from source (rather than installing from a prebuilt wheel file), it will actually build your project using setuptools instead.

[6]distribute (a fork of setuptools) was merged back into setuptools in June 2013, thereby making setuptools the default choice for packaging.