Tutorial 0 - Let’s get set up!

Before we build our first BeeWare app, we have to make sure we’ve got all the prerequisites for running BeeWare.

Install Python

The first thing we’ll need is a working Python interpreter, running Python 3.5 or higher.

If you’re on macOS, you can get the official installer from the Python website. You can use any stable version of Python from 3.5 onward (although we’d advise avoiding alphas, betas, and release candidates unless you really know what you’re doing).

If you’re on Linux, you’ll install Python using the system package manager (apt on Debian/Ubuntu/Mint; dnf on Fedora, or pacman on Arch).

We don’t support Raspberry Pi at this time.

If you’re on Windows, you can get the official installer from the Python website. You can use any stable version of Python from 3.5 onward (although we’d advise avoiding alphas, betas and release candidates unless you really know what you’re doing.

Alternative Python distributions

There are lots of different ways of installing Python. You can install Python through homebrew. You can use pyenv to manage multiple Python installs on the same machine. Windows users can install Python from the Windows App Store. Users from a data science background might want to use Anaconda or Miniconda.

It doesn’t matter how you’ve installed Python - it only matters that you can run python3 from your operating system’s command prompt/terminal application, and get a working Python interpreter.

Install dependencies

Next, install the additional dependencies needed for your operating system:

Building BeeWare apps on macOS require:

  • Git, a version control system. You can download Git from git-scm.org.
  • Xcode, Apple’s IDE tooling. Xcode is available for free from the macOS App Store.

To support local development, you’ll need to install some system packages. The list of packages required varies depending on your distribution:

Ubuntu 16.04, Debian 9

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install git python3-dev python3-venv libgirepository1.0-dev libcairo2-dev libpango1.0-dev libwebkitgtk-3.0-0 gir1.2-webkit-3.0

Ubuntu 18.04, Debian 10

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install git python3-dev python3-venv libgirepository1.0-dev libcairo2-dev libpango1.0-dev libwebkit2gtk-4.0-37 gir1.2-webkit2-4.0

Fedora

$ sudo dnf install git pkg-config python3-devel gobject-introspection-devel cairo-devel cairo-gobject-devel pango-devel webkitgtk4

Arch, Manjaro

$ sudo pacman -Syu git pkgconf cairo python-cairo pango gobject-introspection gobject-introspection-runtime python-gobject webkit2gtk

Briefcase also uses a tool called AppImage to build binaries that can be used across Linux distributions. However, building AppImage binaries for Linux is complicated, because of the inconsistent library versions present on each distribution. Briefcase uses Docker to provide a well-controlled binary environment for hosting AppImage builds.

Official installers for Docker Engine are availble for a range of Unix distributions. Follow the instructions for your platform. Once you’ve installed Docker, you should be able to start an Ubuntu 16.04 container:

$ docker run -it ubuntu:16.04

This should show you a Unix prompt (something like root@84444e31cff9:/#) inside your Docker container. Type Ctrl-D to exit Docker and return to your local shell.

Building BeeWare apps on Windows requires:

  • Git, a version control system. You can download Git from from git-scm.org.
  • WiX Toolset, a set of utilities for building Windows installers. An installer can be obtained from the WiX Toolset website.

Set up a virtual environment

We’re now going to create a virtual environment - a “sandbox” that we can use to isolate our work on this tutorial from our main Python installation. If we install packages into the virtual environment, our main Python installation (and any other Python projects on our computer) won’t be affected. If we make a complete mess of our virtual environment, we’ll be able to simply delete it and start again, without affecting any other Python project on our computer, and without the need to re-install Python.

$ mkdir beeware-tutorial
$ cd beeware-tutorial
$ python3 -m venv beeware-venv
$ source beeware-venv/bin/activate
$ mkdir beeware-tutorial
$ cd beeware-tutorial
$ python3 -m venv beeware-venv
$ source beeware-venv/bin/activate
C:\...>md beeware-tutorial
C:\...>cd beeware-tutorial
C:\...>py -m venv beeware-venv
C:\...>beeware-venv\Scripts\activate.bat

If this worked, your prompt should now be changed - it should have a (beeware-venv) prefix. This lets you know that you’re currently in your BeeWare virtual environment. Whenever you’re working on this tutorial, you should make sure your virtual environment is activated. If it isn’t, re-run the last command (the activate command) to re-activate your environment.

Alternative virtual environments

If you’re using Anaconda or miniconda, you may be more familiar with using conda environments. You might also have heard of virtualenv, a predecessor to Python’s built in venv module. As with Python installs - it doesn’t matter how you create your virtual environment, as long as you have one.

Even then - strictly speaking, using a virtual environment is optional. You can install BeeWare’s tools directly into your main Python environment. However, it’s really, really, really recommended that you use a virtual environment.

Next steps

We’ve now set up our environment. We’re ready to create our first BeeWare application.