Python CLI App Boilerplate

Three out of every ten Python projects I start will end up as a package (typically on PyPI, but sometimes on private repositories).

This is because either I want it available as an executable CLI script via pip, or as package that I can import into other projects.

Setting up a Python project for packaging and deployment isn't particularly hard, but there's a lot of boilerplate work. It can take a few days if you're doing it for the first time—or in my case at least several hours to re-do it in new projects.

I've spent enough time doing it over and over that I decided to create a generic template project that I can use as a reference for new projects.

This app was published using the template. You can install and run it like so:

# Install it!
pip install pixegami-my-app

# Run it!

# See the version number!
run-my-app --version


This is a template project for creating a Python CLI app intended for distribution to PyPI (so that you can pip install it later). It currently uses Python 3.8 and has been developed/tested on Ubuntu.

  • 📦 Easily create a Python app that is distributed to PyPI and can be installed by anyone with pip install.
  • 💻 ​The package is configured with a script, so you can run it directly from a terminal once installed.
  • ✅ Added sample tests with pytest so you can keep your package well tested!
  • 💯 Automatic version increment.


To configure the project, modify publish/config.json:

vi publish/config.json

Here is the default sample configuration:

  "author": "Pixegami",
  "package_name_override": "pixegami-my-app",
  "email": "",
  "description": "A template Python CLI app.",
  "url": "",
  "python_version": "3.8",
  "version": "0.0.8",
  "scripts": [
    "run-my-app = my_app:main"

This will be the information that is published to PyPI. Your scripts array allows you to specify which commands will be available once you install this package.

For example, this configuration will let you execute run-my-app as a command directly from terminal, which will call the main() function in the my_app package.

The package_name_override will be what we attempt to publish the package as, so make sure it is unique on PyPI.

Publish Locally

This will build the package, and install it directly into your current Python environment.

cd publish
sh ./

Once installed, you should be able to test the script.

# Executing 'main()' from my app!
# Hello World

run-my-app --version 
# Executing 'main()' from my app!
# 0.0.7

Publish to PyPI

First, you will need to create an account on PyPI. Then you need to export your PyPI credentials in the environment variables of your terminal.

I like to do this by just adding the following exports to the ~/.bashrc (or whichever file, depending on the terminal you are using).


The publish script will use these environment variables to upload your package to PyPI. Next, you can run the script:

cd publish
sh ./

This will build it into a package like pixegami-my-app. Now you can install it directly with pip install.


To run the tests, you need to install pytest, which is already in the developer_requirements.txt.

pip install pytest

From the project root, you can run this to test and print all output:

python -m pytest -s

Or to test a specific file or function:

# Test file tests/
python -m pytest -s tests/

# Test function test_app_main() in tests/
python -m pytest -s tests/


Every time you publish the package (either locally or remote), the version field in publish/config.json will go up (specifically, the last digit). So 1.2.3 will become 1.2.4, etc. It will keep going up.

The major and minor versions (the first two digits) can only be changed manually. Change it directly in the file when you need to.

Related Reading

  • Packaging Python projects: A guide explaining how to package Python projects using and setuptools (we use this here).
  • argparse: I use this to "understand" CLI arguments and sub-commands.
  • pytest: Testing framework for this project.
© 2021 Pixegami