Packaging guidelines

Thank you very much for packaging vdirsyncer! The following guidelines should help you to avoid some common pitfalls.

While they are called guidelines and therefore theoretically not mandatory, if you consider going a different direction, please first open an issue or contact me otherwise instead of just going ahead. These guidelines exist for my own convenience too.

Obtaining the source code

The main distribution channel is PyPI, and source tarballs can be obtained there. Do not use the ones from GitHub: Their tarballs contain useless junk and are more of a distraction than anything else.

I give each release a tag in the git repo. If you want to get notified of new releases, GitHub’s feed is a good way.

Dependency versions

As with most Python packages, denotes the dependencies of vdirsyncer. It also contains lower-bound versions of each dependency. Older versions will be rejected by the testsuite.


Everything testing-related goes through the Makefile in the root of the repository or PyPI package. Trying to e.g. run py.test directly will require a lot of environment variables to be set (for configuration) and you probably don’t want to deal with that.

You can install the testing dependencies with:

make install-test

You probably don’t want this since it will use pip to download the dependencies. Alternatively you can find the testing dependencies in test-requirements.txt, again with lower-bound version requirements.

You also have to have vdirsyncer fully installed at this point. Merely cd-ing into the tarball will not be sufficient.

Running the tests happens with:

make test

Hypothesis will randomly generate test input. If you care about deterministic tests, set the DETERMINISTIC_TESTS variable to "true":


There are a lot of additional variables that allow you to test vdirsyncer against a particular server. Those variables are not “stable” and may change drastically between minor versions. Just don’t use them, you are unlikely to find bugs that vdirsyncer’s CI hasn’t found.


Using Sphinx you can generate the documentation you’re reading right now in a variety of formats, such as HTML, PDF, or even as a manpage. That said, I only take care of the HTML docs’ formatting.

You can find a list of dependencies in docs-requirements.txt. Again, you can install those using pip with:

make install-docs

Then change into the docs/ directory and build whatever format you want using the Makefile in there (run make for the formats you can build).

Contrib files

Reference systemd.service and systemd.timer unit files are provided. It is recommended to install this if your distribution is systemd-based.