Anže's Blog

Python, webdev, and surfing

10 Feb 2022

Python Dependency Management

Python has multiple ways for delaing with dependecies and the options can seem intimidating. This blogpost explains the most common dependency management tools and some of the most common commands that one would run.


If you worked in Python you probably stumbled onto a file named requirements.txt. It’s a file containing a list of items to be installed using pip install. An example file could have the following content:


And you can install it with

pip install -r requirements.txt

The result of the command would look somewhat like:

pip install -r requirements.txt
Collecting django
  Downloading Django-4.0.2-py3-none-any.whl (8.0 MB)
     ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ 8.0/8.0 MB 1.7 MB/s eta 0:00:00
Collecting sqlparse>=0.2.2
  Using cached sqlparse-0.4.2-py3-none-any.whl (42 kB)
Collecting asgiref<4,>=3.4.1
  Using cached asgiref-3.5.0-py3-none-any.whl (22 kB)
Installing collected packages: sqlparse, asgiref, django
Successfully installed asgiref-3.5.0 django-4.0.2 sqlparse-0.4.2

And we can see that our requirements.txt file installed 3 packages. asgiref-3.5.0 django-4.0.2 sqlparse-0.4.2.

The issue with this is that you might install a newer version of Django, sqlparse, or asgiref anytime you run pip install -r requirements.txt. This might break your application code and is considered a bad practice.

To solve this problem you can lock all of the pacakges with pip freeze > requirements.txt that will save all the versions:


But now we have a different problem. We no longer know which dependencies are direct dependencies for our application (django) and which came from our dependencies’ dependencies. This makes upgrading dependencies tricky.

Only use this approach for small side projects.


pip-tools is a suite of tools that automate pinning and installing dependencies. You give it a list of dependencies that your project depends on (in our case that would be django) and it generates a requirements.txt file for us automatically. This way we can clearly separate the dependencies that we need from the dependencies or dependencies need, thus solving the main problem from the previous section.

We can create a file called (although and pyproject.toml are also supported) with the following content:


And then we can run pip-compile which will generate the following requirements.txt file:

# This file is autogenerated by pip-compile with python 3.10
# To update, run:
#    pip-compile
    # via django
    # via -r
    # via django

Now that we have the generatd requirement.txt filem, we can install all the dependencies with pip install -r requirements.txt or with pip-sync requirements.txt. The advantage of using pip-sync is that it will also uninstall all the packages not in requirements.txt making sure your environment matches the specification.

Upgrading dependencies

Upgrading dependencies is done with pip-compile --upgrade. The command will respect the version pins in your file. This means that if your file contains django<4.1 it will never upgrade django to Django 4.1.

Dev dependencies

pip-tools doesn’t have a way a built in way to separate your production dependencies with your development dependencies like some of the other tools do. Instead, we define a new requirements file and name it something like

-c requirements.txt

We can generate a compiled requirements-dev.txt file that will include our dev dependencies.


Pipenv is not just a dependency management tool like pip-tools, but also a Python virtual enviornment manager. To start using pipenv we need to tell it which python version the project will be using: pipenv --python 3.10:

pipenv --python 3.10
Creating a virtualenv for this project...
Pipfile: /Users/anze/coding/python-package-managers/Pipfile
Using /usr/local/bin/python3 (3.10.2) to create virtualenv...
 Creating virtual environment...created virtual environment in 240ms
  creator CPython3Posix(dest=/Users/anze/.local/share/virtualenvs/python-package-managers-KVHa45pe, clear=False, no_vcs_ignore=False, global=False)
  seeder FromAppData(download=False, pip=bundle, setuptools=bundle, wheel=bundle, via=copy, app_data_dir=/Users/anze/Library/Application Support/virtualenv)
    added seed packages: pip==21.3.1, setuptools==60.3.1, wheel==0.37.1
  activators BashActivator,CShellActivator,FishActivator,NushellActivator,PowerShellActivator,PythonActivator

 Successfully created virtual environment!
Virtualenv location: /Users/anze/.local/share/virtualenvs/python-package-managers-KVHa45pe

This command will do two things:

  1. Generate a new development virtual environment using Python 3.10
  2. Create a Pipfile with the following content:
url = ""
verify_ssl = true
name = "pypi"



python_version = "3.10"

Now if we wanted to add django we would run pipenv install django

after running this our pipfile will look like this:

url = ""
verify_ssl = true
name = "pypi"

django = "*"


python_version = "3.10"

And we will also have a Pipenv.lock file with the following content:

    "_meta": {
        "hash": {
            "sha256": "7e6dca07b964c2888324e576ba6c1bc240d74a27b75619fc88bca2ee3979baf8"
        "pipfile-spec": 6,
        "requires": {
            "python_version": "3.10"
        "sources": [
                "name": "pypi",
                "url": "",
                "verify_ssl": true
    "default": {
        "asgiref": {
            "hashes": [
            "markers": "python_version >= '3.7'",
            "version": "==3.5.0"
        "django": {
            "hashes": [
            "index": "pypi",
            "version": "==4.0.2"
        "sqlparse": {
            "hashes": [
            "markers": "python_version >= '3.5'",
            "version": "==0.4.2"
    "develop": {}

We can see that like pip-tools from the section above, Pipfile.lock also includes the same version pins.

Upgrading dependencies

To upgrade the dependencies we can run pipenv update and it will update all the versions in Pipfile.lock, respecting the constraint in the Pipfile.

Dev dependencies

To add development dependencies we have to run pipenv install --dev black and this will place black into the development section of Pipenv.


We can start a new Poetry project with

poetry init

This will generate a new folder structrue for you that looks somewhat like this

poetry init

This command will guide you through creating your pyproject.toml config.

Package name [python-package-managers]:  django-demo
Version [0.1.0]:
Description []:
Author [Anže Pečar <>, n to skip]:
License []:
Compatible Python versions [^3.10]:

Would you like to define your main dependencies interactively? (yes/no) [yes]
You can specify a package in the following forms:
  - A single name (requests)
  - A name and a constraint (requests@^2.23.0)
  - A git url (git+
  - A git url with a revision (git+
  - A file path (../my-package/my-package.whl)
  - A directory (../my-package/)
  - A url (

Search for package to add (or leave blank to continue): django
Found 20 packages matching django

Enter package # to add, or the complete package name if it is not listed:
 [0] Django
 [1] django-503
 [2] django-scribbler-django2.0
 [3] django-filebrowser-django13
 [4] django-jchart-django3-uvm
 [5] django-tracking-analyzer-django2
 [6] django-totalsum-admin-django3
 [7] django-debug-toolbar-django13
 [8] django-django_csv_exports
 [9] django-suit-redactor-django2
 > 0
Enter the version constraint to require (or leave blank to use the latest version):
Using version ^4.0.2 for Django

Add a package:

Would you like to define your development dependencies interactively? (yes/no) [yes] no
Generated file

name = "django-demo"
version = "0.1.0"
description = ""
authors = ["Anže Pečar <[email protected]>"]

python = "^3.10"
Django = "^4.0.2"


requires = ["poetry-core>=1.0.0"]
build-backend = "poetry.core.masonry.api"

Do you confirm generation? (yes/no) [yes]

This created a pyproject.toml file so now the only thing left to do is to generate a lock file:

poetry lock
Creating virtualenv django-demo-4WB6S-3I-py3.10 in /Users/anze/Library/Caches/pypoetry/virtualenvs
Updating dependencies
Resolving dependencies... (2.7s)

Writing lock file

The poetry.lock file looks like this:

name = "asgiref"
version = "3.5.0"
description = "ASGI specs, helper code, and adapters"
category = "main"
optional = false
python-versions = ">=3.7"

tests = ["pytest", "pytest-asyncio", "mypy (>=0.800)"]

name = "django"
version = "4.0.2"
description = "A high-level Python web framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design."
category = "main"
optional = false
python-versions = ">=3.8"

asgiref = ">=3.4.1,<4"
sqlparse = ">=0.2.2"
tzdata = {version = "*", markers = "sys_platform == \"win32\""}

argon2 = ["argon2-cffi (>=19.1.0)"]
bcrypt = ["bcrypt"]

name = "sqlparse"
version = "0.4.2"
description = "A non-validating SQL parser."
category = "main"
optional = false
python-versions = ">=3.5"

name = "tzdata"
version = "2021.5"
description = "Provider of IANA time zone data"
category = "main"
optional = false
python-versions = ">=2"

lock-version = "1.1"
python-versions = "^3.10"
content-hash = "3fb42be116725996c36b953689fc39db958af54df415de893c3608be15d5b925"

asgiref = [
    {file = "asgiref-3.5.0-py3-none-any.whl", hash = "sha256:88d59c13d634dcffe0510be048210188edd79aeccb6a6c9028cdad6f31d730a9"},
    {file = "asgiref-3.5.0.tar.gz", hash = "sha256:2f8abc20f7248433085eda803936d98992f1343ddb022065779f37c5da0181d0"},
django = [
    {file = "Django-4.0.2-py3-none-any.whl", hash = "sha256:996495c58bff749232426c88726d8cd38d24c94d7c1d80835aafffa9bc52985a"},
    {file = "Django-4.0.2.tar.gz", hash = "sha256:110fb58fb12eca59e072ad59fc42d771cd642dd7a2f2416582aa9da7a8ef954a"},
sqlparse = [
    {file = "sqlparse-0.4.2-py3-none-any.whl", hash = "sha256:48719e356bb8b42991bdbb1e8b83223757b93789c00910a616a071910ca4a64d"},
    {file = "sqlparse-0.4.2.tar.gz", hash = "sha256:0c00730c74263a94e5a9919ade150dfc3b19c574389985446148402998287dae"},
tzdata = [
    {file = "tzdata-2021.5-py2.py3-none-any.whl", hash = "sha256:3eee491e22ebfe1e5cfcc97a4137cd70f092ce59144d81f8924a844de05ba8f5"},
    {file = "tzdata-2021.5.tar.gz", hash = "sha256:68dbe41afd01b867894bbdfd54fa03f468cfa4f0086bfb4adcd8de8f24f3ee21"},

Upgrading dependencies

To upgrade the dependencies we can run poetry update and it will update all the versions in poetry.lock, respecting the constraint in the pyproject.toml.

Dev dependencies

To add development dependencies we have to run poetry add --dev black and this will place black into the development section of pyproject.toml.

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