Editable installs#

Editable installs are a Python package installation mode designed to facilitate package development. When a package is installed in editable mode, edits to the project source code become effective without the need of a new installation step. Editable installs are a build backend independent formalization of the development mode introduced by setuptools.

While most Python build backends apply development mode or editable installs to the pure Python components, meson-python extends editable installs to package components that require a compilation step such as extension modules.

To install a package in editable mode, pass the --editable or -e option to pip install. The editable installation mode implies that the source code of the project being installed is available in a local directory. To install the project in the current directory in editable mode install the project’s build dependencies in your development environment and run

$ python -m pip install --no-build-isolation --editable .

This will install a stub in the Python site packages directory that loads the package content from the sources and build directory. The same stub is responsible to rebuild the compiled parts of the package when the package is imported the first time in a given Python interpreter instance. Because of the very fast partial rebuilds allowed by Meson and ninja, the rebuild has an almost negligible impact on the import times.

Please note that some kind of changes, such as the addition or modification of entry points, or the addition of new dependencies, and generally all changes involving package metadata, require a new installation step to become effective.

An editable install exposes at least all the files that would be available in a regular installation. However, depending on the file and directory organization in your project, it might also expose files that would not be normally available.

Build dependencies#

Because packages installed in editable mode are rebuilt on import, all build dependencies need to available at execution time in the development environment.

By default, pip builds packages in a isolated environment where build dependencies are installed without affecting the user environment. Packages installed in editable mode using build isolation will fail to rebuild when imported, unless build dependencies are also installed in the development environment. Furthermore, when build using build isolation, a package that depends on headers or other resources provided by its build dependencies, would resolve the path to these in the isolated build environment. The isolated build environment is deleted after the build is completed, resulting in failures when the package in rebuild on import. For these reasons, when installing packages in editable mode, it is recommended to disable build isolation passing the --no-build-isolation argument to pip.

At the time of writing, pip does not offer a command to install a the build dependencies for a package. The build dependencies requirements can be obtained inspecting pyproject.toml for the package to be installed. These include at least the meson-python Python package, and the meson and ninja Python packages, if the respective commands are not provided by the system, or if they are not the required version:

$ python -m pip install meson-python meson ninja

Build directory#

Because the compiled components of the package are loaded directly from the build directory, the build directory needs to be available alongside the source directory at execution time.

When building a package in editable mode, meson-python uses a build directory named as the wheel ABI tag associated to the interpreter for which the package is being build. The build directory is placed in a directory named build inside the source tree. For example, an editable installation for CPython 3.11 will be associated to a build/cp311/ build directory. This directory structure allows to install the same project in editable mode for multiple interpreters with different ABIs.

An alternative build directory can be specified using the build-dir config setting.

Verbose mode#

Because editable installation are mostly a package development aid, it might be often useful to be able to inspect the compilation log. Setting the MESONPY_EDITABLE_VERBOSE environment variable will result in the output of the build process to be emitted when a package is rebuilt on import. To enable this verbose mode permanently for a package, the editable-verbose config setting can be set to a non-null value when installing the package:

$ python -m pip install --no-build-isolation --config-settings=editable-verbose=true --editable .