Developer’s Guide for Setuptools

If you want to know more about contributing on Setuptools, this is the place.

Project Management

Setuptools is maintained primarily in Github at this home. Setuptools is maintained under the Python Packaging Authority (PyPA) with several core contributors. All bugs for Setuptools are filed and the canonical source is maintained in Github.

User support and discussions are done through the issue tracker (for specific) issues, through the distutils-sig mailing list, or on IRC (Freenode) at #pypa.

Discussions about development happen on the pypa-dev mailing list or on Gitter.

Authoring Tickets

Before authoring any source code, it’s often prudent to file a ticket describing the motivation behind making changes. First search to see if a ticket already exists for your issue. If not, create one. Try to think from the perspective of the reader. Explain what behavior you expected, what you got instead, and what factors might have contributed to the unexpected behavior. In Github, surround a block of code or traceback with the triple backtick “```” so that it is formatted nicely.

Filing a ticket provides a forum for justification, discussion, and clarification. The ticket provides a record of the purpose for the change and any hard decisions that were made. It provides a single place for others to reference when trying to understand why the software operates the way it does or why certain changes were made.

Setuptools makes extensive use of hyperlinks to tickets in the changelog so that system integrators and other users can get a quick summary, but then jump to the in-depth discussion about any subject referenced.

Source Code

Grab the code at Github:

$ git checkout

If you want to contribute changes, we recommend you fork the repository on Github, commit the changes to your repository, and then make a pull request on Github. If you make some changes, don’t forget to:

  • add a note in CHANGES.rst

Please commit all changes in the ‘master’ branch against the latest available commit or for bug-fixes, against an earlier commit or release in which the bug occurred.

If you find yourself working on more than one issue at a time, Setuptools generally prefers Git-style branches, so use Mercurial bookmarks or Git branches or multiple forks to maintain separate efforts.

The Continuous Integration tests that validate every release are run from this repository.

For posterity, the old Bitbucket mirror is available.


The primary tests are run using tox. To run the tests, first make sure you have tox installed, then invoke it:

$ tox

Under continuous integration, additional tests may be run. See the .travis.yml file for full details on the tests run under Travis-CI.

Semantic Versioning

Setuptools follows semver.

Building Documentation

Setuptools relies on the Sphinx system for building documentation. To accommodate RTD, docs must be built from the docs/ directory.

To build them, you need to have installed the requirements specified in docs/requirements.txt. One way to do this is to use rwt:

setuptools/docs$ python -m rwt -r requirements.txt – -m sphinx . html