Chapter 38 - The Python egg

Python eggs are an older distribution format for Python. The new format is called a Python wheel, which we will look at in the next chapter. An egg file is basically a zip file with a different extension. Python can import directly from an egg. You will need the SetupTools package to work with eggs. SetupTools is the original mainstream method of downloading and installing Python packages from PyPI and other sources via the command line, kind of like apt-get for Python. There was a fork of SetupTools called distribute that was eventually merged back into SetupTools. I only mention it because you may see references to that fork if you do much reading about Python eggs outside of this book.

While the egg format is being migrated away from, you do still need to know about it as there are many packages that are distributed using this technology. It will probably be years before everyone has stopped using eggs. Let’s learn how to make our own!

Creating an egg

You can think of an egg as just an alternative to a source distribution or Windows executable, but it should be noted that for pure Python eggs, the egg file is completely cross-platform. We will take a look at how to create our own egg using the package we created in a previous modules and packages chapter. To get started creating an egg, you will need to create a new folder and put the mymath folder inside it. Then create a file in the parent directory to mymath with the following contents:

from setuptools import setup, find_packages

    name = "mymath",
    version = "0.1",
    packages = find_packages()

Python has its own package for creating distributions that is called distutils. However instead of using Python’s distutils’ setup function, we’re using setuptools’ setup. We’re also using setuptools’ find_packages function which will automatically look for any packages in the current directory and add them to the egg. To create said egg, you’ll need to run the following from the command line:

c:\Python34\python.exe bdist_egg

This will generate a lot of output, but when it’s done you’ll see that you have three new folders: build, dist, and mymath.egg-info. The only one we care about is the dist folder in which you will find your egg file, mymath-0.1-py3.4.egg. Note that on my machine, I forced it to run against Python 3.4 so that it would create the egg against that version of Python. The egg file itself is basically a zip file. If you change the extension to “zip”, you can look inside it and see that it has two folders: mymath and EGG-INFO. At this point, you should be able to point easy_install at your egg on your file system and have it install your package.

Wrapping Up

Now it’s your turn. Go onto the Python Package Index and find some pure Python modules to download. Then try creating eggs using the techniques you learned in this chapter. If you want to install an egg, you can use easy_install. Uninstalling an egg is a bit tougher. You will have to go to its install location and delete the folder and / or egg file it installed as well as remove the entry for the package from the easy-install.pth file. All of these items can be found in your Python’s site-packages folder.