Genesis is a command-line tool to create new Python projects.

When invoked, it copies files and directories from a project template, doing several search-and-replace operations on the copied files to insert your project's name, the project author's name, etc.

One default project template is provided built-in to Genesis, but you can also supply your own.

Note that this README describes some features which are not yet implemented. See 'Known Issues' below.


  • Tested on Ubuntu and Windows XP
  • Python 3.2


genesis [<options>] <projectname> [<name>=<value>...]

This creates a directory named projectname, if it doesn't already exist, containing your new project. <Options> may include any of:

--template=T Template to use. T defaults to 'default'. Valid values are the name of any template directory stored within your '~/.genesis' directory.
--license=L Uses license file 'L' from ~/.genesis/licenses. Also useful as a template tag: G{license} anywhere else in your template will be replaced with the name of your license.
--force Required to create a new project in a non-empty directory, overwriting any files or dirs with the same name as template content.

All of the above also define name-value pairs which are used to search-and- replace tags within the copied template. For example, a tag in the template of the form 'G{template}' will be replaced by the value of the template argument in the output files.

In addition, the command line can include any number of space-separated name=value pairs, which are also used to search-and-replace tags in the template.

For example, author_email=me@example.com on the command-line will cause G{author_email} anywhere in the template to be replaced with 'me@example.com' in the created project.

<Projectname> should not contain any equals characters - this is the only feature that distinguishes it from name=value pairs.

Undefined tag values

If the template contains any G{name} tags which do not have a value defined on the command-line nor in the config file, then a warning 'Undefined tags in template' will be issued.

The project that is created will still have the named G{} tags in it. To fix this, you can simply search for these tags and replace them manually. Alternatively, re-run Genesis with a name=value pair added to the command-line for each of the undefined tags. Better still would be to define the tags permanently in your config file, so they will not cause the same problem in future.

Regardless, if you end up re-running Genesis to regenerate the project, then you will either have to delete the one that was just created, or use the --force command-line flag, so that Genesis overwrites the previously generated project.

Config file

The config file, ~/.genesis/genesis.config, is a Python 3.2 syntax file, although it has no .py extension. In it values can be assigned to variables which behave just like flags or name-value pairs on the command-line. For example, a config file might contain:

template = 'my_favourite'
author = 'Jonathan Hartley'

This is equivalent to specifying --template=my_favourite author=Jonathan\ Hartley on the command-line.

Values in the config file are overridden by the command-line.

If your template contains tags with names which are not valid Python variable names, you will not be able to specify those tags' values in the config file.

The Default Project Template

Projects created by Genesis 'default' template support the following:

Create a source distribution

python setup.py sdist

This uses the first paragraph from your README as your project's description, and the remainder of the README as the long_description. The Cheese Shop expects these to be in RestructuredText format like this README is.

Register on The Cheese Shop (PyPI)

python setup.py register

Upload source distribution to the Cheese Shop (PyPI)

python setup.py sdist register upload

Create a Windows binary

python setup.py py2exe


A Makefile is created to abbreviate the above commands (make sdist, etc), and also supports the following targets:

Deletes .pyo .pyc, tags. Requires ctags to be on the path.
Requires RunSnakeRun, see Makefile for details.

The Makefile can be used on Windows by having Cygwin binaries on your PATH.

Defining your own templates

Create a directory under ~/.genesis. Fill it with the files and directories you'd like to start your project with. Insert tags into the template files of the form G{name}. Now you can create a new project using this template using:

genesis --template <mytemplate> <projectname>

Where <mytemplate> is the name of the directory you created. To make this type of template the default, add a line to your config file:

template = '<mytemplate>'

Now you need only issue the command-line:

genesis <projectname>

Known Issues

Default template should be a console app which supports --version and --help

Default template should produce sdist, register and upload to PyPI

Default template should be able to produce a Windows binary with py2exe (if user is on Windows)

--license not implemented. Assumes your project is BSD license. Should barf on unknown license choices. User should be able to add own licenses. Implementation suggestion: G{license_text} should be automatically generated from choice of --license. Genesis should provide the text of various well-known licenses. Alternative implementation: Before search-and-replace, we choose a license file based on --license.

Not actually tested on Ubuntu

No binaries are available, which makes Genesis unusable unless you you have Python 3.2 foremost on your path.

Default template setup.py does not put data_files into the manifest.in

Should allow user to interactively supply values for undefined tags.

Default template should work on Python2.x as well as 3.x

Default template should produce a Mac binary (if user is on a Mac)

Default template should produce a Linux binary (if user is on Linux)

Default template should include documentation.

Default template should upload docs to ReadThedocs

Should preserve permissions on template files.

Should override argparse's default 'usage' string, to show name=value pairs explicitly.

Auto generated tags:
G{year}, for use in LICENSE.txt G{date}, for use in CHANGES.txt

Don't know what to use for project url: Explicit G{url} tag requires setting on command line for every project, or else using a wrong default value. Alternative is to try and be clever:


But presumably this pattern is not applicable to many projects. How about the not-quite-as clever:


Final alternative is to leave blank. :-(

The config file is parsed using 'eval'. I'm not smart enough to know whether this is a security problem.


The modest contents of this directory owe much to Tarek Ziadé's highly recommended book Expert Python Programming, which improved the way I work with Python every day.