How to Package Python Apps With PyInstaller

Minimal packaging
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Have you ever built a Python app and wanted to share it with your non-developer friends? Generally, this is what you would typically go through to set up a Python app on a fresh new machine:

  1. Download & install a specific version of Python
  2. Install pip
  3. Setup a virtual environment, pipenv , virtualenv or venv and all that jazz
  4. Installing all dependencies

Think for a moment about how are you going to explain all these steps to your non-developer friends. Without a doubt, setting up a Python project can super frustrating for non-developers

In this article, I will show you how you can easily package your Selenium App along with a ChromeDriver and add an editable config file outside of the PyInstaller dist directory.

Goals

  • We are going to create a simple Python Selenium app that navigates to http://quotes.toscrape.com/ to perform a login action
  • Make chromedriver.exe part of our executable app
  • Read configuration from example.ini
  • Read user info from example.json
  • These external config files can be updated anytime after pyinstallercompiles to exe
  • We will then compile the entire Selenium app into a single executable named selenium-automation-exe.exe

In case you are lost in anywhere or want to jump in quickly, you may refer to the source code here

PyInstaller & Selenium

Basically, Pyinstaller abstracts all these steps by bundling all the dependencies together. In this post, we are going to create a sample project to our Python Selenium app into a single executable on Windows.

Selenium on the other hand is an open-sourced web-based automation tool used for testing, navigating in your browser, automate form filling, etc.

Let’s start!


1. Installing dependencies

For starters, make sure you have the latest stable version of python and pip installed on your machine.

Here I am going to use pipenv as my Python packaging tool of choice. Feel free to use anything that you prefer.

pipenv shell
pipenv install selenium pyinstaller

2. Downloading ChromeDriver

  • Download the latest release of chrome driver here based on your Chrome browser version at chrome://settings/help
  • Place your downloaded chromedriver.exe into a folder called driver/

Feel free to change this accordingly if you want, but make sure the chromedriver path is updated in the example.ini later

3. Create example files for your app to read from

example.ini dummy configuration file where your app will read from:

[chromedriver]
path = driver\chromedriver.exe

[website]
url = http://quotes.toscrape.com/

[delay]
seconds = 1

example.json with user credentials:

{
    "username": "johndoe",
    "password": "mysupersecretpassword"
}

4. Creating main.py

import json
import time
from configparser import ConfigParser
from selenium import webdriver
from selenium.webdriver.common.keys import Keys


def main():
    with open("example.json", "r") as f:
        credentials = json.load(f)
        username = credentials["username"]
        password = credentials["password"]

    config = ConfigParser()
    config.read("example.ini")
    CHROME_DRIVER_PATH = config.get("chromedriver", "path")
    DURATION = config.getint("delay", "seconds")

    driver = webdriver.Chrome(CHROME_DRIVER_PATH)
    URL = config.get("website", "url")
    driver.get(URL)
    driver.find_element_by_xpath('//a[@href="/login"]').click()

    time.sleep(DURATION)
    username_form_input = driver.find_element_by_id("username")
    time.sleep(DURATION)
    username_form_input.send_keys(username)
    time.sleep(DURATION)

    password_form_input = driver.find_element_by_id("password")
    password_form_input.send_keys(password)
    password_form_input.send_keys(Keys.ENTER)
    time.sleep(DURATION)
    driver.close()


if __name__ == "__main__":
    main()

We’ll also need to add a function to main.py to get an absolute path to chromedriver.exe while using the --add-binary option later on for pyinstaller. (Reference)

In the same main.py, add in the following:

import os
import sys


def resource_path(relative_path: str) -> str:
    try:
        base_path = sys._MEIPASS

	except Exception:
        base_path = os.path.dirname(__file__)
	
    return os.path.join(base_path, relative_path)

def main():
    ...
    # Then modify line 16 to use resource_path:
    driver = webdriver.Chrome(resource_path(CHROME_DRIVER_PATH))

Finally, your project tree should look something like this:

Project tree
Project tree

In order to test this out, run python main.py . Your application should work as stated in our first goal.

5. Making a .spec file for PyInstaller

Okay, here comes the fun part, we are going to create a spec file which tells pyinstaller how to process your main.py script:

pyi-makespec main.py --onefile --noconsole --add-binary "driver\chromedriver.exe;driver\" --add-data "example.json;." --add-data "example.ini;." --name selenium-automation-exe
  • --onefile → turns the outputs as one exe
  • --noconsole → console is not displayed when the created exe is executed.
  • --add-binary specify the binary file you want to add to the exe. In this case, it’s our chromedriver.exe
  • --add-data → specify the data files that you would want to include

After running the command above, you should see a selenium-automation-exe.spec in the same directory.

Project Directory with Spec File
Project Directory with Spec File

6. Modify .spec adding shutil.copyfile

To add config files outside of your final dist folder, you’ll need to modify selenium-automation-exe.spec.

You will need to add the following code at the end of your .spec file (Reference):

import shutil

shutil.copyfile('example.ini', '{0}/example.ini'.format(DISTPATH))
shutil.copyfile('example.json', '{0}/example.json'.format(DISTPATH))

7. Run pyinstaller command

Finally, we will create the executable file with the command below:

pyinstaller --clean selenium-automation-exe.spec

You may find the exe inside the dist folder. Run the selenium-automation-exe.exe to try it out.

Inside the dist folder
Inside the dist folder

Try changing the username inside example.json and run the exe again, it should log in again with your new username.

That's all! Happy coding! You may find the source code here.

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