How to create and maintain a Python package using the Astropy template

If you run into any problems, don’t hesitate to ask for help on the astropy-dev mailing list!

The package-template repository provides a template for Python packages. This package design mirrors the layout of the main Astropy repository, as well as reusing much of the helper code used to organize Astropy. See the package template documentation for instructions on using the package template.

Releasing a Python package

You can release a package using the steps given below. In these instructions, we assume that the release is made from a fresh clone of the remote “main” repository and not from a forked copy. We also assume that the changelog file is named CHANGES.rst, like for the astropy core package. If instead you use Markdown, then you should replace CHANGES.rst by in the instructions.


The instructions below assume that you do not make use of bug fix branches in your workflow. If you do wish to create a bug fix branch, we recommend that you read over the more complete astropy Release Procedures and adapt them for your package.

  1. Make sure that Travis and any other continuous integration is passing.

  2. Update the CHANGES.rst file to make sure that all the changes are listed, and update the release date, which should currently be set to unreleased, to the current date in yyyy-mm-dd format.

  3. Update the version number in setup.cfg to the version you’re about to release, without the .dev suffix (e.g. 0.1).

  4. Run git clean -fxd to remove any untracked files (WARNING: this will permanently remove any files that have not been previously committed, so make sure that you don’t need to keep any of these files).

  5. Run:

    python build sdist --format=gztar

    and make sure that generated file is good to go by going inside dist, expanding the tar file, going inside the expanded directory, and running the tests with:

    python test

    You may need to add the --remote-data flag or any other flags that you normally add when fully testing your package.


    Running python build sdist runs two setup commands in succession. First it runs build, then immediately runs sdist to create the source distribution. The reason to do this is that there are several generated source files that must be included in the source distribution for it to be valid. Running build first ensures that those files will be generated and packaged in the source distribution.

  6. Go back to the root of the directory and remove the generated files with:

    git clean -fxd
  7. Add the changes to CHANGES.rst and setup.cfg:

    git add CHANGES.rst setup.cfg

    and commit with message:

    git commit -m "Preparing release <version>"
  8. Tag commit with v<version>, optionally signing with the -s option:

    git tag v<version>
  9. Change VERSION in setup.cfg to next version number, but with a .dev suffix at the end (e.g. Add a new section to CHANGES.rst for next version, with a single entry No changes yet, e.g.:

    0.2 (unreleased)
    - No changes yet
  10. Add the changes to CHANGES.rst and setup.cfg:

    git add CHANGES.rst setup.cfg

    and commit with message:

    git commit -m "Back to development: <next_version>"
  11. Check out the release commit with git checkout v<version>. Run git clean -fxd to remove any non-committed files.

  12. (optional) Run the tests in an environment that mocks up a “typical user” scenario. This is not strictly necessary because you ran the tests above, but it can sometimes be useful to catch subtle bugs that might come from you using a customized developer environment. For more on setting up virtual environments, see Python virtual environments, but for the sake of example we will assume you’re using Anaconda. Do:

    conda create -n myaffilpkg_rel_test astropy <any more dependencies here>
    source activate myaffilpkg_rel_test
    python sdist
    cd dist
    pip install myaffilpkg-version.tar.gz
    python -c 'import myaffilpkg; myaffilpkg.test()'
    source deactivate
    cd <back to your source>

    You may want to repeat this for other combinations of dependencies if you think your users might have other relevant packages installed. Assuming the tests all pass, you can proceed on.

  13. If you did the previous step, do git clean -fxd again to remove anything you made there. Run python build sdist --format=gztar to create the files for upload. Then you can upload to PyPI via twine:

    twine upload dist/*

    as described in these instructions. Check that the entry on PyPI is correct, and that the tarfile is present.

  14. Go back to the master branch and push your changes to github:

    git checkout master
    git push --tags origin master

    Once you have done this, if you use Read the Docs, trigger a latest build then go to the project settings, and under Versions you should see the tag you just pushed. Select the tag to activate it, and save.

  15. If your package is available in the conda-forge conda channel, you should also submit a pull request to update the version number in the feedstock of your package.

Modifications for a beta/release candidate release

Before a new release of your package, you may wish do a “pre-release” of the code, for example to allow collaborators to independently test the release. If the release you are performing is this kind of pre-release, some of the above steps need to be modified.

The primary modifications to the release procedure is:

  • When entering the new version number, instead of just removing the .dev, enter “1.2b1” or “1.2rc1”. It is critical that you follow this numbering scheme (x.yb# or x.y.zrc#), as it will ensure the release is ordered “before” the main release by various automated tools, and also tells PyPI that this is a “pre-release”.