PyPI repositories - 101

The Python Package Index (PyPI) is the largest archive of third-party software packages for the Python programming language. Established in 2003, PyPI is operated by the nonprofit Python Software Foundation; as of this writing, it hosts more than 400,000 Python projects.

PyPI repositories are organized collections of files that belong to a particular Python project or library. For example, the pandas repository contains software tools for data science and data analysis, while the beautifulsoup4 repository contains software to simplify the web scraping process. Learning the basics of PyPI repositories is a highly valuable skill for Python programmers.

The page for a given PyPI repository provides a download link for the code as well as useful metadata about the project, such as:

  • The project description and release history

  • The code’s author(s) and software license

  • Statistics about the project’s use

  • Any necessary software dependencies or requirements

Why are PyPI repositories important?

PyPI repositories provide a centralized location for Python programmers to find the most authoritative, up-to-date version of Python software libraries and frameworks. Authors of Python software packages can learn the basics of PyPI repositories and use them to easily distribute their work.

In particular, PyPI repositories interface with the pip tool, which is the most popular package management system for Python. Pip provides a streamlined, user-friendly interface for installing new software. For example, users can download and start working with the matplotlib data visualization library in Python with the command “pip install matplotlib.” Behind the scenes, the pip tool connects to the specified PyPI repository, downloads the code from that repository, and installs the code on the user’s system.

Because the PyPI archive is open to all members of the Python community, anyone can create their own PyPI repository to publish and distribute their Python software packages. While the majority of PyPI repositories have code that is public and open-source, PyPI repositories can also be made private for the needs of a specific team or organization (e.g., by creating your own private PyPI server).

PyPI repositories and Packagecloud

Using Packagecloud’s command-line interface or API, users can upload Python source distributions, eggs, and wheels to public and private Packagecloud repositories. These packages can then be installed on any connected system using the pip package manager.

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