Installation and Startup

Supported platforms and prerequisites

PY4WEB runs fine on Windows, MacOS and Linux. Its only prerequisite is Python 3.6+, which must be installed in advance (except if you use binaries).

Setup procedures

There are four alternative ways of running py4web, with different level of difficulty and flexibility. Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Installing from binaries

This is not a real installation, because you just copy a bunch of files on your system without modifying it anyhow. Hence this is the simplest solution, especially for newbies or students, because it does not require Python pre-installed on your system nor administrative rights. On the other hand, it’s experimental, it could contain an old py4web release and it is quite difficult to add other functionalities to it.

In order to use it you just need to download the latest Windows or MacOS ZIP file from this external repository. Unzip it on a local folder and open a command line there. Finally run

py4web-start set_password
py4web-start run apps

With this type of installation, remember to always use py4web-start instead of ‘py4web’ or ‘’ in the following documentation.

Hint: use a virtual environment (virtualenv)

A full installation of any complex python application like py4web will surely modify the python environment of your system. In order to prevent any unwanted change, it’s a good habit to use a python virtual environment (also called virtualenv, see here for an introduction). This is a standard python feature; if you still don’t know virtualenv it’s a good time to start its discovery!

Activate it before using any of the following real installation procedures is highly reccomended.

Installing from pip

Using pip is the standard installation procedure for py4web. From the command line

python3 -m pip install --upgrade py4web --no-cache-dir --user

but do not type the –user option with virtualenv or a standard Windows installation which is already per-user.

Also, if python3 does not work, try with the simple python command instead.

This will install py4web and all its dependencies on the system’s path only. The assets folder (that contains the py4web’s system apps) will also be created. After the installation you’ll be able to start py4web on any given working folder with

py4web setup apps
py4web set_password
py4web run apps

If the command py4web is not accepted, it means it’s not in the system’s path. On Windows, a special py4web.exe file (pointing to will be created by pip on the system’s path, but not if you type the –user option by mistake.

Installing from source (globally)

This is the traditional way for installing a program, but it works only on Linux and MacOS. All the requirements will be installed on the system’s path along with links to the program on the local folder

git clone
cd py4web
make assets
make test
make install
py4web run apps

Also notice that when installing in this way the content of py4web/assets folder is missing at first but it is manually created later with the ‘make assets’ command.

Installing from source (locally)

In this way all the requirements will be installed or upgraded on the system’s path, but py4web itself will only be copied
on a local folder. This is especially useful if you already have a working py4web installation but you want to test a different
one. From the command line, go to a given working folder and then run
git clone
cd py4web
python3 -m pip install  --upgrade -r requirements.txt

Once installed, you should always start it from there with

For Linux / MacOS

./ setup apps
./ set_password
./ run apps

If you have installed py4web both globally and locally, notice the ./ ; it forces the run of the local folder’s py4web and not the globally installed one.

For Windows

python3 setup apps
python3 set_password
python3 run apps

On Windows, the programs on the local folder are always executed before the ones in the path (hence you don’t need the ./). But running .py files directly it’s not usual and you’ll need an explicit python3/python command.


If you installed py4web from pip you can simple upgrade it with

python3 -m pip install --upgrade py4web

Mind that it will not automatically upgrade the apps like Dashboard and Default. You have to manually remove these apps and then run

py4web setup apps

in order to re-install them. This is a safety precaution, in case you made changes to those apps.

If you installed py4web in any other way, you must upgrade it manually. First you have to make a backup of any personal py4web work you’ve done, then delete the old installation folder and re-install the framework again.

First run

Running py4web using any of the previous procedure should produce an output like this

██████╗ ██╗   ██╗██╗  ██╗██╗    ██╗███████╗██████╗
██╔══██╗╚██╗ ██╔╝██║  ██║██║    ██║██╔════╝██╔══██╗
██████╔╝ ╚████╔╝ ███████║██║ █╗ ██║█████╗  ██████╔╝
██╔═══╝   ╚██╔╝  ╚════██║██║███╗██║██╔══╝  ██╔══██╗
██║        ██║        ██║╚███╔███╔╝███████╗██████╔╝
╚═╝        ╚═╝        ╚═╝ ╚══╝╚══╝ ╚══════╝╚═════╝
Dashboard is at:
[X] loaded _dashboard
[X] loaded _default
Bottle v0.12.16 server starting up (using TornadoServer())...
Listening on
Hit Ctrl-C to quit.

Generally apps is the name of the folder where you keep all your apps, and can be explicitly set wit the _‘run_’ command. If that folder does not exist, it is created. PY4WEB expects to find at least two apps in this folder: Dashboard (_dashboard) and Default (_default). If it does not find them, it installs them.

Dashboard is a web based IDE.

Default is an app that does nothing other than welcome the user.

Notice that some apps - like Dashboard and Default - have a special role in py4web and therefore their actual name starts with _ to avoid conflicts with apps created by you.

Once py4web is running you can access a specific app at the following urls:


Notice that ONLY the Default app is special because if does not require the “{appname}/” prefix in the path, like all the other apps do. In general you you may want to symlink apps/_default to your default app.

For all apps the trailing /index is optional.

Command line options

py4web provides multiple command line options which can be listed by running it with the –help argument

# py4web --help

  PY4WEB - a web framework for rapid development of efficient database
  driven web applications

  Type "py4web COMMAND -h" for available options on commands

  -help, -h, --help  Show this message and exit.

  call          Call a function inside apps_folder
  run           Run all the applications on apps_folder
  set_password  Set administrator's password for the Dashboard
  setup         Setup new apps folder or reinstall it
  shell         Open a python shell with apps_folder added to the path
  version       Show versions and exit

call command option

# py4web call -h

  Call a function inside apps_folder

  --args TEXT        Arguments passed to the program/function  [default: {}]
  -help, -h, --help  Show this message and exit.

run command option

# py4web run -h

  Run all the applications on apps_folder

  -Y, --yes                     No prompt, assume yes to questions  [default:

  -H, --host TEXT               Host name  [default:]
  -P, --port INTEGER            Port number  [default: 8000]
  -p, --password_file TEXT      File for the encrypted password  [default:

  -w, --number_workers INTEGER  Number of workers  [default: 0]
  -d, --dashboard_mode TEXT     Dashboard mode: demo, readonly, full
                                (default), none  [default: full]

  --watch [off|sync|lazy]       Watch python changes and reload apps
                                automatically, modes: off (default), sync,
  --ssl_cert PATH               SSL certificate file for HTTPS
  --ssl_key PATH                SSL key file for HTTPS
  -help, -h, --help             Show this message and exit.

If you want py4web to automatically reload an application upon any changes to files of that application, you can:

  • for immediate reloading (sync-mode): py4web run --watch=sync

  • for reloading on any first incoming request to the application has been changed (lazy-mode): py4web run --watch=lazy

set_password command option

# py4web set_password -h
Usage: set_password [OPTIONS]

  Set administrator's password for the Dashboard

  --password TEXT           Password value (asked if missing)
  -p, --password_file TEXT  File for the encrypted password  [default:

  -h, -help, --help         Show this message and exit.

If the --dashboard_mode is not demo or none, every time py4web starts, it asks for a one-time password for you to access the dashboard. This is annoying. You can avoid it by storing a pdkdf2 hashed password in a file (by default called password.txt) with the command

py4web set_password

It will not ask again unless the file is deleted. You can also use a custom file name with

py4web set_password my_password_file.txt

and then ask py4web to re-use that password at runtime with

py4webt run -p my_password_file.txt apps

Finally you can manually create the file yourself with:

$ python3 -c "from pydal.validators import CRYPT; open('password.txt','w').write(str(CRYPT()(input('password:'))[0]))"
password: *****

setup command option

# py4web setup -h
Usage: setup [OPTIONS] [APPS_FOLDER]

  Setup new apps folder or reinstall it

  -Y, --yes          No prompt, assume yes to questions  [default: False]
  -help, -h, --help  Show this message and exit.

This option create a new apps folder (or reinstall it). If needed, it will ask for the confirmation of the new folder’s creation and then for copying every standard py4web apps from the assets folder. It currently does nothing on binaries installations and from source installation (locally) - for them you can manually copy the existing apps folder to the new one.

shell command option

# py4web shell -h
Usage: shell [OPTIONS] [APPS_FOLDER]

  Open a python shell with apps_folder added to the path

  -h, -help, --help  Show this message and exit.

Py4web’s shell is just the regular python shell with apps added to the search path. Notice that the shell is for all the apps, not a single one. You can then import the needed modules from the apps you need to access.

For example, inside a shell you can

from apps.myapp import db
from py4web import Session, Cache, Translator, DAL, Field
from py4web.utils.auth import Auth

version command option

# py4web version -h
Usage: version [OPTIONS]

  Show versions and exit

  -a, --all          List version of all modules
  -h, -help, --help  Show this message and exit.

With the -a option you’ll get the version of all the available python modules, too.

Deployment on the cloud

Deployment on GCloud (aka Google App Engine)

Login into the Gcloud console ( and create a new project. You will obtain a project id that looks like “{project_name}-{number}”.

In your local file system make a new working folder and cd into it:

mkdir gae
cd gae

Copy the example files from py4web (assuming you have the source from github)

cp /path/to/py4web/development_tools/gcloud/* ./

Copy or symlink your apps folder into the gae folder, or maybe make a new apps folder containing an empty and symlink the individual apps you want to deploy. You should see the following files/folders:

  ... your apps ...

Install the Google SDK, py4web and setup the working folder:

make install-gcloud-linux
make setup
gcloud config set {your email}
gcloud config set {project id}

(replace {your email} with your google email account and {project id} with the project id obtained from Google).

Now every time you want to deploy your apps, simply do:

make deploy

You may want to customize the Makefile and app.yaml to suit your needs. You should not need to edit

Deployment on

Watch the video: and follow the detailed tutorial on . The script is in py4web/deployment_tools/