How do I manage third-party Python libraries with Google App Engine? (virtualenv? pip?)


Here's how I do it:

  • project
    • .Python
    • bin
    • lib
      • python2.5
        • site-packages
          • < pip install packages here >
    • include
    • src
      • app.yaml
      • index.yaml
      • main.yaml
      • < symlink the pip installed packages in ../lib/python2.5/site-packages

The project directory is the top level directory where the virtualenv sits. I get the virtualenv using the following commands:

cd project
virtualenv -p /usr/bin/python2.5 --no-site-packages --distribute .

The src directory is where all your code goes. When you deploy your code to GAE, *only* deploy those in the src directory and nothing else. The will resolve the symlinks and copy the library files to GAE for you.

I don't install my libraries as zip files mainly for convenience in case I need to read the source code, which I happen to do a lot just out of curiosity. However, if you really want to zip the libraries, put the following code snippet into your

import sys
for p in ['', 'package.egg'...]:
    sys.path.insert(0, p)

After this you can import your zipped up packages as usual.

One thing to watch out for is setuptools' I copied that directly into my src directory so my other symlinked packages can use it. Watch out for anything that uses entry_points. In my case I'm using Toscawidgets2 and I had to dig into the source code to manually wire up the pieces. It can become annoying if you had a lot of libraries that rely on entry_point.


What's the best strategy for managing third-party Python libraries with Google App Engine?

Say I want to use Flask, a webapp framework. A blog entry says to do this, which doesn't seem right:

$ cd /tmp/
$ wget
$ tar zxf Flask-0.6.1.tar.gz
$ cp -r Flask-0.6.1/flask ~/path/to/project/
(... repeat for other packages ...)

There must be a better way to manage third-party code, especially if I want to track versions, test upgrades or if two libraries share a subdirectory. I know that Python can import modules from zipfiles and that pip can work with a wonderful REQUIREMENTS file, and I've seen that pip has a zip command for use with GAE.

(Note: There's a handful of similar questions — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 — but they're case-specific and don't really answer my question.)

Note: this answer is specific for Flask on Google App Engine.

See the flask-appengine-template project for an example of how to get Flask extensions to work on App Engine.

Drop the extension into the namespace package folder at src/packages/flaskext and you're all set.

Non-Flask packages can be dropped into the src/packages folder as zip files, eggs, or unzipped packages, as the project template includes the sys.path.insert() snippet posted above.

I recently created a tool for this called gaenv. It follows a requirements.txt format, but doesn't install it, you can install with pip install -r requirements.txt then run the command line tool gaenv.

$ pip install -r requirements.txt
$ gaenv

This creates symlinks automatically, you could install gaenv in your virtualenv too and run the binary from there. Here is a blog post about it:

also on github