Background and BasicsΒΆ

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss the build system
  • Write a pydoit hello world

If you’ve made it this far, I will assume you’ve been convinced and are prepared to receive your happiness and smugness, and are ready to dive into doit. doit is best compared to build systems like make, which track dependencies and outputs for a list of commands and manage execution of programs on those files. Unlike make though, doit is pure python, and can run either shell commands or arbitrary python code. It also can be used as a library for task management, where the programmer can build applications using doit tasks as the bricks and the doit library as the mortar.

For now though, we’ll look at the more canonical way of using doit, which is as a simple build and automation system.

For me, it helps to immediately get started with an example. The basic building blocks of a pydoit workflow are tasks, which encode the work we would like to get done. Here is an extremely simple task.

def task_hello_world():
    return {'actions': ['echo "hello world!" > hello.txt'],
            'targets': ['hello.txt']}

The task is a python function prefixed with task, which returns a dictionary containing some predefined entries. The actions entry is a list of the actual commands we’d like to run, in this case, a single shell command. The targets entry is a list of the files output by this task.

Testing your installation

Create a working directory, and within it, create a script named Copy the above function into it, save, and close. Then, move to that directory and run doit. This should run the task and generate hello.txt.

Of course, hello world doesn’t really do anything for us. Throughout this lesson, we’re going to build a pipeline which downloads some data, plots it with matplotlib, generates a markup file with the chart, and outputs a final compiled document – in other words, a barebones version of a publication pipeline.