conda-devenv works by creating conda environments from definitions found in environment.devenv.yml files.

environment.devenv.yml files are similar to environment.yml files processed by conda env, with additional support for:


You can use Jinja 2 syntax at will, which lets you do all sort of things like conditionally add dependencies based on the current platform, change the default environment name based python version, etc. For example:

{% set conda_py = os.environ.get('CONDA_PY', '35') %}
name: web-ui-py{{ conda_py }}

  - boost
  - cmake
  - gcc     # [linux]
  - ccache  # [not win]
  - clcache # [win] Windows has clcache

Note that in the example above, we are able to define dependency requirements that are specific to Linux, macOS, and Windows (e.g., ccache is needed in Linux and macOS, whereas clcache is needed in Windows). This is one of the most useful capabilities of conda-devenv.


You can actually write any Python expression that evaluates to a boolean inside the brackets following the YAML comment mark #. For example, # [linux] could be replaced with # [sys.platform.startswith('linux')]. This is heavly inspired by conda-build’s preprocessing selectors.

The following variables are available in the Jinja 2 namespace:

root The full path to the directory containing the environment.devenv.yml file.
os The standard Python module object os obtained with import os.
sys The standard Python module object sys obtained with import sys.
platform The standard Python module object platform obtained with import platform.
x86 True if the system architecture is x86, both 32-bit and 64-bit, for Intel or AMD chips.
x86_64 True if the system architecture is x86_64, which is 64-bit, for Intel or AMD chips.
linux True if the platform is Linux.
linux32 True if the platform is Linux and the Python architecture is 32-bit.
linux64 True if the platform is Linux and the Python architecture is 64-bit.
osx True if the platform is macOS.
unix True if the platform is either macOS or Linux.
win True if the platform is Windows.
win32 True if the platform is Windows and the Python architecture is 32-bit.
win64 True if the platform is Windows and the Python architecture is 64-bit.
is_included True if the current file is processed because it was included by another file.

Using environment variables in the devenv file

Environment variables that are defined when calling conda devenv can be read normally using os.environ, but for convenience and better error messages, you can use the get_env function:

  - python ={{ get_env("PY") }}

This will raise an error if PY is not defined. Alternatively, it is also possible to set a default value:

  - python ={{ get_env("PY", default="3.6") }}

You can also provide a list of allowed or supported values:

  - python ={{ get_env("PY", valid=["3.6", "3.7"]) }}

This will raise an error if PY is set to a different value.


Environment variables can also be set with the -e/--env-var command line option, see the Command-line reference section.

Checking minimum conda-devenv version

If your environment.devenv.yml files make use of features available only in later conda-devenv versions, you can specify a minimum version using the min_conda_devenv_version function at the top of your file:

{{ min_conda_devenv_version("1.1") }}
name: web-ui

If users are using an old version, they will get then an error message indicating that they should update their conda-devenv version.

It is recommended to use this setting to avoid confusing errors of users updating your software when new conda-devenv features are used.


Unfortunately this feature was added in conda-devenv 1.1, so 1.0 users will get a more cryptic message about min_conda_devenv_version not being defined.

Environment Variables

It is possible to define environment variables that should be configured in the environment when activated.

    - {{ root }}/bin
    - {{ root }}/source/python
  DB_LOCATION: https://localhost/dev

Environment variables defined in list form (like PATH and PYTHONPATH above) will append to existing environment variables with the values found in the .devenv.yml file, using the appropriate separator for the platform (: on Linux/OSX and ; on Windows).

Environment variables defined as a single string (like DB_LOCATION above) will overwrite an existing environment variable with the value from the .devenv.yml file.

conda-devenv restores the variables of the environment to their original state upon deactivation.


It is possible to use include directives to include one or more environment.devenv.yml files. This merges all dependencies and environment definitions into a single environment, which makes it a good solution to work in one or more repositories in development mode.

For example:


name: core
  - numpy
  - pandas
  - pytest
  - invoke
    - {{ root }}/source/python
  DB_LOCATION: https://localhost/dev  # [not is_included]


name: web-ui
  - {{ root }}/../core/environment.devenv.yml
  - flask
  - jinja2
    - {{ root }}/source/python
    - {{ root }}/bin
  DB_LOCATION: https://localhost/dev

In this setup, all the user has to do is executing conda devenv:

$ cd ~/projects/web-ui
$ conda devenv

This will create a conda environment named web-ui merging all the dependencies and environment variables defined in both files.

However, the same environment variable defined as a single string (like DB_LOCATION above) in both files will raise an error unless it is not allowed to ‘pass through’ using the # [not is_included] selector above as an example. In other words, an ‘overwrite’ situation is not allowed between files.

How it works

Here’s how conda-devenv works behind the scenes:

  1. Generate an environment.yml file in the same directory as the environment.devenv.yml file. The generated environment.yml should not be added to VCS.
  2. Call conda env update --prune --file environment.yml.
  3. Generate devenv-activate{.sh,.bat} and devenv-deactivate{.sh,.bat} scripts in $PREFIX/etc/conda/activate.d and $PREFIX/etc/conda/deactivate.d respectively which will set/unset the environment variables.

Command-line reference

Default options

  • conda-devenv creates a file name environment.yml at the same directory of the environment.devenv.yml file.


$ conda devenv --help

usage: conda-devenv [-h] [--file [FILE]] [--name [NAME]] [--print]
                    [--print-full] [--no-prune] [--output-file [OUTPUT_FILE]]
                    [--quiet] [--env-var ENV_VAR] [--verbose] [--version]

Work with multiple conda-environment-like yaml files in dev mode.

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  --file [FILE], -f [FILE]
                        The environment.devenv.yml file to process. The
                        default value is 'environment.devenv.yml'.
  --name [NAME], -n [NAME]
                        Name of environment.
  --print               Prints the rendered file as will be sent to conda-env
                        to stdout and exits.
  --print-full          Similar to --print, but also includes the
                        'environment' section.
  --no-prune            Don't pass --prune flag to conda-env.
  --output-file [OUTPUT_FILE]
                        Output filename.
  --quiet               Do not show progress
  --env-var ENV_VAR, -e ENV_VAR
                        Define or override environment variables in the form
                        VAR_NAME or VAR_NAME=VALUE.
  --verbose, -v         Use once for info, twice for debug, three times for
  --version             Show version and exit


The input file to be processed


Prints the contents of the generated file and exits.


Don’t pass the --prune flag when calling conda env update


Specifies the conda-env file which will be created.


Define or override environment variables in the form VAR_NAME or VAR_NAME=VALUE. Can be used multiple times for different variables.