Converting from Make to Paver
As I briefly mentioned in an earlier post, I recently moved the PyMOTW build from
make to Kevin Dangoor’s Python-based build tool
Paver. I had been
wanting to try Paver out for a while, especially since seeing Kevin’s
presentation at PyWorks in November. As a long time Unix/Linux user, I
didn’t have any particular problems with make, but it looked
intriguing. PyMOTW is one of the few projects I have with a
significant build process (beyond simply creating the source tarball),
so it seemed like a good candidate for experimentation.
The basic concepts with Paver and make are the same. Make “targets” correspond roughly to Paver “tasks”. Paver places less emphasis on file modification time-stamps, though, so tasks are all essentially “PHONEY” targets. As with make, Paver keeps track of which dependencies are executed so they are not repeated while building any one target.
Tasks are implemented as simple Python functions. Paver starts by loading pavement.py, and tasks can be defined inline there or you can import code from elsewhere if needed. According to Kevin, once the main engine settles down enough to reach a 1.0 release, he doesn’t anticipate a lot of active development on the core. Recipes for extending Paver can be added easily through external modules which would be distributed separately.
Building a Source Distribution
The most important target from the old PyMOTW Makefile was “package”. It ran sphinx-build to create the HTML version of the documentation then produced a versioned source distribution with distutils. The whole thing was bundled up and dropped on my computer desktop, ready to be uploaded to my web site.
package: clean html rm -f setup.py $(MAKE) setup.py rm -f MANIFEST MANIFEST.in $(MAKE) MANIFEST.in python setup.py sdist --force-manifest mv dist/*.gz ~/Desktop/
Paver sits on top of distutils, so one of the pre-defined tasks it has
built-in is “sdist” (similar to
python setup.py sdist, for producing
source distributions of Python apps or libraries). In my case, I
extended the task definition to perform some pre-requisite tasks and
move the tarball out of the build directory onto the desktop of my
computer, to make it easier to upload to my web site.
Let’s look at the task definition:
@task@needs(['generate_setup', 'minilib', 'html_clean', 'setuptools.command.sdist']) def sdist(): """Create a source distribution. """ # Copy the output file to the desktop dist_files = path('dist').glob('*.tar.gz') dest_dir = path(options.sdist.outdir).expanduser() for f in dist_files: f.move(dest_dir)return
@task decorator registers the function as a task, tying it in to
the list of options available from the command line. The docstring for
the function is included in the help output (
paver help or
$ paver help ---> help Paver 0.8.1 Usage: paver [global options] [option.name=value] task [task options] [task...] Run 'paver help [section]' to see the following sections of info: options global command line options setup available distutils/setuptools tasks tasks all tasks that have been imported by your pavement 'paver help taskname' will display details for a task. Tasks defined in your pavement: blog - Generate the blog post version of the HTML for the current module html - Build HTML documentation using Sphinx html_clean - Remove sphinx output directories before building the HTML installwebsite - Rebuild and copy website files to the remote server pdf - Generate the PDF book sdist - Create a source distribution webhtml - Generate HTML files for website website - Create local copy of website files webtemplatebase - Import the latest version of the web page template from the source
To run the task, pass the name as argument to
paver on the command line:
$ paver sdist
@needs decorator specifies the prerequisites for a task, listed
in order and identified by name. Paver prerequisites correspond to
make dependencies, and are all run before the task, as you would
In the Makefile, before building a source distribution I always ran
html targets, too. That meant I had a fresh copy of
the HTML version of PyMOTW, generated by sphinx. The next step was to
build setup.py using a simple input template file processed by
(so I didn’t have to remember to edit the version and download URL
Paver provides a task to generate a
I no longer need to mess around with templates on my own. The
minilib task writes a ZIP archive with enough of Paver to support
installation through the usual
python setup.py install or
easy_install PyMOTW incantations.
setuptools.command.sdist is the fully qualified name to
the task being redefined locally. That means in this case the standard
work for sdist()` (producing the source distribution) is run prior to
invoking my override function.
I’ve defined an
html_clean() task in
pavement.py to take the place
of the old make targets
@task def html_clean(): """Remove sphinx output directories before building the HTML. """ remake_directories(options.sphinx.doctrees, options.html.outdir) call_task('html') return
remake_directories() is a simple Python function I’ve written to
remove the directories passed to it and then recreate them, empty. It
is the equivalent of
rm -r followed by
mkdir. It’s not strictly
necessary, but I’m paranoid about old versions of renamed files ending
up in my generated output, so I always start with an empty directory.
Working with Files
Paver’s standard library includes Jason Orendorff’s path
library for working
with directories and files. Using the library, paths are objects with
methods (instead of just strings). Methods include finding the
directory name for a file, getting the contents of a directory,
removing a file, etc. – the sorts of things you want to do with files
and directories. One especially nice feature is the
which works like os.path.join()
. It is simple to construct a path using components in separate variables, joining them with /`.
sdist() function is responsible for copying the packaged source
distribution to my desktop. It starts by using path’s globbing support
to build a list of the
.tar.gz files created by
setuptools.command.sdist(). (There should only be one file, but
predicting the name is more difficult than just using globbing.) The
destination directory is configured through the options Bundle (a
dictionary-like object with attribute look-up for the keys). Since the
value of the option might include
~, I expand it before using it as
the destination directory for the file move operation.
Make is usually configured via the shell environment and variables within the Makefile itself. Paver uses a collection of Bundle objects organized into a hierarchical namespace. The options can be set to static literal values, computed at runtime using normal Python expressions, or overridden from the command line.
Each task can define its own section of the namespace with options. Some underlying recipes (especially the distutils and sphinx integration) depend on a specific structure, documented with the relevant task documentation. For example, these are the settings I use when running sphinx:
sphinx = Bunch( sourcedir='PyMOTW', docroot = '.', builder = 'html', doctrees='sphinx/doctrees', confdir = 'sphinx', ),
Tasks access the options using dot-notation starting with the root of
the namespace. For example,
Running Shell Commands
Even with the power of Python as a programming language, sometimes it
is necessary to shell-out to run an external program. Paver makes that
sh() wraps Python’s standard library module subprocess to
make it easier to work with for the sorts of use cases commonly found
in a build system. Simply pass a string containing the shell command
you want run, and optionally include the
capture argument to have it
return the output text (useful for commands like
takes care of running the command, or in dry-run mode printing the
command it would have run.
For example, the last step of building the PyMOTW PDF requires running a target included in the Makefile generated by Sphinx.
latex_dir = path(options.pdf.builddir) / 'latex' sh('cd %s; make' % latex_dir)
Sphinx and Cog Integration
Paver also includes built-in support for
Sphinx. The standard integration with
Sphinx supports producing HTML output. You can configure many of the
Sphinx options you would normally put in a
conf.py file directly
through Paver’s pavement.py. I had to override the way Sphinx is run
by default, because I want to produce 3 different versions of HTML
output (using different templates) and the PDF, but simpler projects
won’t have to do much more than set up the location of the input
In addition to Sphinx, Paver integrates Ned Batchelder’s
Cog, a templating/macro
definition tool that lets you generate part of your documentation on
the fly from arbitrary Python code. I’ve done some work to have cog
run the PyMOTW examples and insert the output into the
before passing it to Sphinx to be converted to HTML or PDF. The
process is complicated enough to warrant its own post, though, so that
will have to wait for another day.
Paver is a useful alternative to make, especially for Python-based packages. The default integration with distutils makes it very easy to get started. Build environments requiring a lot of external shell calls may find Makefile’s easier to deal with. In my case, I was able to fold a couple of small Python scripts into the pavement.py file, so I eliminated a few separate tools.
It’s hard to say whether a pavement file is “simpler” than a Makefile. Task definitions do not tend to be shorter than make targets, but the verbosity is an artifact of Python (function definitions and decorators, etc.) rather than anything inherent in the way Paver is designed.
A typical Paver configuration file is likely to be more portable than a Makefile, so that may be something to take into account. With file operations easily accessible in a portable library, it should be easy to set up your pavement.py to work on any OS.
For the complete pavement.py file used by PyMOTW, grab the latest release from the web site.