Development Guidelines

This page is intended for developers of Catalyst, people who want to contribute to the Catalyst codebase or documentation, or people who want to install from source and make local changes to their copy of Catalyst.

All contributions, bug reports, bug fixes, documentation improvements, enhancements and ideas are welcome. We track issues on GitHub and also have a discord group and a forum where you can share ideas and ask questions.

Creating a Development Environment

First, you’ll need to clone Catalyst by running:

$ git clone [email protected]:enigmampc/catalyst.git

Then check out to a new branch where you can make your changes:

$ git checkout -b some-short-descriptive-name

If you don’t already have them, you’ll need some C library dependencies. You can follow the install guide to get the appropriate dependencies.

The following section assumes you already have virtualenvwrapper and pip installed on your system. Suggested installation of Python library dependencies used for development:

$ mkvirtualenv catalyst
$ ./etc/ ./etc/requirements.txt
$ pip install -r ./etc/requirements_dev.txt
$ pip install -r ./etc/requirements_blaze.txt

Finally, you can build the C extensions by running:

$ python build_ext --inplace

Development with Docker

If you want to work with zipline using a Docker container, you’ll need to build the Dockerfile in the Zipline root directory, and then build Dockerfile-dev. Instructions for building both containers can be found in Dockerfile and Dockerfile-dev, respectively.

Git Branching Structure

If you want to contribute to the codebase of Catalyst, familiarize yourself with our branching structure, a fairly standardized one for that matter, that follows what is documented in the following article: A successful Git branching model. To contribute, create your local branch and submit a Pull Request (PR) to the develop branch.

Style Guide & Running Tests

We use flake8 for checking style requirements and nosetests to run Catalyst tests. Our continuous integration tool will run these commands.

Before submitting patches or pull requests, please ensure that your changes pass when running:

$ flake8 catalyst tests

In order to run tests locally, you’ll need to install several libraries (one of them is TA-lib, so make sure you have it installed following these instructions before continuing).

$ pip install -r ./etc/requirements.txt
$ pip install -r ./etc/requirements_dev.txt
$ pip install -r ./etc/requirements_blaze.txt
$ pip install -r ./etc/requirements_talib.txt
$ pip install -e .

You should now be free to run tests:

$ cd tests && nosetests

Continuous Integration

We use Travis CI for Linux-64 bit builds.


We do not currently have CI for OSX-64 bit builds or Windows-64 bit builds.

Contributing to the Docs

If you’d like to contribute to the documentation on, you can navigate to docs/source/ where each reStructuredText file is a separate section there. To add a section, create a new file called some-descriptive-name.rst and add some-descriptive-name to index.rst. To edit a section, simply open up one of the existing files, make your changes, and save them.

We use Sphinx to generate documentation for Catalyst, which you will need to install by running:

$ pip install -r ./etc/requirements_docs.txt

To build and view the docs locally, run:

# assuming you're in the Catalyst root directory
$ cd docs
$ make html
$ {BROWSER} build/html/index.html

There is a documented issue with sphinx and docutils that causes the error below when trying to build the docs.

Exception occurred:
  File "(...)/env-c/lib/python2.7/site-packages/docutils/writers/", line 671, in depart_document
    assert not self.context, 'len(context) = %s' % len(self.context)
AssertionError: len(context) = 3

If you get this error, you need to downgrade your version of docutils as follows, and build the docs again:

$ pip install docutils==0.12

Commit messages

Standard prefixes to start a commit message:

BLD: change related to building Catalyst
BUG: bug fix
DEP: deprecate something, or remove a deprecated object
DEV: development tool or utility
DOC: documentation
ENH: enhancement
MAINT: maintenance commit (refactoring, typos, etc)
REV: revert an earlier commit
STY: style fix (whitespace, PEP8, flake8, etc)
TST: addition or modification of tests
REL: related to releasing Catalyst
PERF: performance enhancements

Some commit style guidelines:

Commit lines should be no longer than 72 characters. The first line of the commit should include one of the above prefixes. There should be an empty line between the commit subject and the body of the commit. In general, the message should be in the imperative tense. Best practice is to include not only what the change is, but why the change was made.


MAINT: Remove unused calculations of max_leverage, et al.

In the performance period the max_leverage, max_capital_used,
cumulative_capital_used were calculated but not used.

At least one of those calculations, max_leverage, was causing a
divide by zero error.

Instead of papering over that error, the entire calculation was
a bit suspect so removing, with possibility of adding it back in
later with handling the case (or raising appropriate errors) when
the algorithm has little cash on hand.

Formatting Docstrings

When adding or editing docstrings for classes, functions, etc, we use numpy as the canonical reference.