Developer’s Overview


Contribute to source code, documentation, examples and report issues:

Note that the latest released version on PyPi may be significantly behind the develop branch. Please open any feature requests against the develop branch

There is also a python-can mailing list for development discussion.

Some more information about the internals of this library can be found in the chapter Internal API. There is also additional information on extending the module.


The latest pre-release can be installed with:

pip install --upgrade --pre python-can

Building & Installing

The following assumes that the commands are executed from the root of the repository:

The project can be built with:

pip install wheel
python sdist bdist_wheel

The project can be installed in editable mode with:

pip install -e .

The unit tests can be run with:

pip install tox
tox -e py

The documentation can be built with:

pip install -r doc/doc-requirements.txt
python -m sphinx -an doc build

The linters can be run with:

pip install -r requirements-lint.txt
pylint --rcfile=.pylintrc-wip can/**.py
black --check --verbose can

Creating a new interface/backend

These steps are a guideline on how to add a new backend to python-can.

  • Create a module (either a *.py or an entire subdirectory depending on the complexity) inside can.interfaces

  • Implement the central part of the backend: the bus class that extends can.BusABC. See Extending the BusABC class for more info on this one!

  • Register your backend bus class in BACKENDS in the file

  • Add docs where appropriate. At a minimum add to doc/interfaces.rst and add a new interface specific document in doc/interface/*. It should document the supported platforms and also the hardware/software it requires. A small snippet of how to install the dependencies would also be useful to get people started without much friction.

  • Also, don’t forget to document your classes, methods and function with docstrings.

  • Add tests in test/* where appropriate. To get started, have a look at Simply add a test case like BasicTestSocketCan and some basic tests will be executed for the new interface.

Code Structure

The modules in python-can are:




Contains interface dependent code.


Contains the interface independent Bus object.


Contains the interface independent Message object.


Contains a range of file readers and writers.


Contains interface independent broadcast manager code.

Creating a new Release

  • Release from the main branch (except for pre-releases).

  • Update the library version in using semantic versioning.

  • Check if any deprecations are pending.

  • Run all tests and examples against available hardware.

  • Update CONTRIBUTORS.txt with any new contributors.

  • For larger changes update doc/history.rst.

  • Sanity check that documentation has stayed inline with code.

  • Create a temporary virtual environment. Run python install and tox.

  • Create and upload the distribution: python sdist bdist_wheel.

  • Sign the packages with gpg gpg --detach-sign -a dist/python_can-X.Y.Z-py3-none-any.whl.

  • Upload with twine twine upload dist/python-can-X.Y.Z*.

  • In a new virtual env check that the package can be installed with pip: pip install python-can==X.Y.Z.

  • Create a new tag in the repository.

  • Check the release on PyPi, Read the Docs and GitHub.