Yet another wrapper object for environment variables. Does only the things I care about.

environment, variables, environment-variables, python
pip install enviable==1.0.0



Author: Keryn Knight
Version: 1.0.0

A small module for wrapping over environment variables (pulled from os.environ) which provides convenience methods to fetch and check various data types (including iterables) in what I'd charitably hope is a semi-sensible way.


I've worked on enough projects of long lifespan that ultimately everyone ends up with their own environment variables configured, invariably differently and often out-of-date or stale in unique ways, depending on when they arrive and the maturity and state of the project at the time.

This is an attempt to resolve that by having a single configuration, read from env vars, and capable of dumping an env file full of valid example values which should be enough to run safely locally.

Explicitly doesn't attempt to read from any .env or .envrc file, because that doesn't describe valid examples or which things may/should be set into the environment. It becomes an absolute pot-luck. It also means you end up carrying around stale environment variables because some change or other wasn't mentioned/documented and so env var MY_COOL_ENV isn't used any more.

Tracks requested environment variables and their default/fallback/example values, and whether or not the fallback was used. Never tracks the actual environment value.

If this package isn't to your liking, there's plenty of others, and I'm largely suffering from Not-Invented-Here syndrome.

All methods exposed by the Environment accept a key and a default.

  • The key is the environment variable to search for.
  • The default MUST be a string, as it is subject to the same parsing as if it had been found in the environment, and thus serves as a documented example of a valid value to export as an environment variable. Enforced value documentation!

A series of examples

A short overview of all of the available check/cast methods on an Environment follows

Assume all examples are prefixed with:

from enviable import env

which is roughly equivalent to:

from enviable import Environment
import os
env = Environment(os.environ)

Remember, the second argument (default) is always a string, and always gets parsed the same as a real value, so treat it as an example value in the following...

Conversions and validations

To trim any accidental quotes or whitespace from the beginning and end of the value:

env.text("VAR_NAME", "'   test '") == "test"

To convert an incoming string to an integer:

env.int("VAR_NAME", "3") == 3

To convert an incoming string to real boolean (True or False), note that upper or lower case doesn't matter:

env.bool("VAR_NAME", "true") is True
env.bool("VAR_NAME", "on") is True
env.bool("VAR_NAME", "1") is True
env.bool("VAR_NAME", "yes") is True
env.bool("VAR_NAME", "y") is True

env.bool("VAR_NAME", "false") is False
env.bool("VAR_NAME", "off") is False
env.bool("VAR_NAME", "0") is False
env.bool("VAR_NAME", "no") is False
env.bool("VAR_NAME", "n") is False

To make a uuid.UUID from an optionally hyphenated string:

env.uuid("VAR_NAME", "aaaaaaaa-aaaa-aaaa-aaaa-aaaaaaaaaaaa") == UUID('aaaaaaaa-aaaa-aaaa-aaaa-aaaaaaaaaaaa')
env.uuid("VAR_NAME", "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa") == UUID('aaaaaaaa-aaaa-aaaa-aaaa-aaaaaaaaaaaa')

To check if an email looks valid:

env.email("VAR_NAME", "a@b.com") == "a@b.com"

To verify if a string is all hexi characters:

env.hex("VAR_NAME", "abcdef12345ABCDEF") == "abcdef12345ABCDEF"

Confirm that a string can be decoded from a base64 encoded value:

env.b64("VAR_NAME", "d29vZg==") == 'd29vZg=='

There's no support for float because it's lossy, but you can have decimals:

env.decimal("VAR_NAME", "1.25") == Decimal("1.25")

To confirm that a string looks like it might be an importable python thing:

env.importable("VAR_NAME", "path.to.my.module") == "path.to.my.module"

To make sure a string represents an existing, readable file on disk:

env.filepath("VAR_NAME", "/path/to/my/valid_file.json") == "/path/to/my/valid_file.json"

To make sure a string is a directory which exists:

env.directory("VAR_NAME", "/path/to/my") == "/path/to/my"

To vaguely sanity-check URLs (must start with http:// or https:// or // or /...):

env.web_address("VAR_NAME", "http://example.com/")

To constrain a value to one of a few valid options (where choices is parsed the same way as Iterables):

env.one_of("VAR_NAME", "3", choices="1,2,3,4")

and to go off-reservation, you can get JSON out, or the raw environment string:

env.json("VAR_NAME", "{}") == {}
env.raw("VAR_NAME", "'   ...  '") == "'   ...  '"

Temporal values (datetimes, dates, times, timedeltas)

If you have Django (or Python 3.7+) installed (because that's my main use case and I'm lazy) you can also get datetimes if you provide a value in ISO 8601 format:

env.datetime("VAR_NAME", "2019-11-21 16:12:56.002344")
env.datetime("VAR_NAME", "2019-11-21 16:12:56.002344+20:00")
env.datetime("VAR_NAME", "2019-11-21")

Similarly you can ask for dates:

env.date("VAR_NAME", "2019-11-21")
env.date("VAR_NAME", "2019-11-2")
env.date("VAR_NAME", "2019-3-2")

or times:

env.time("VAR_NAME", "13:13:13.000123")
env.time("VAR_NAME", "13:13:13.123")
env.time("VAR_NAME", "13:13:13")
env.time("VAR_NAME", "13:13")

or timedeltas (which do not depend on Django):

env.timedelta("VAR_NAME", "1 day, 10 minutes")
env.timedelta("VAR_NAME", "1 day, 10 minutes; 4 seconds; 10 millisecond")
env.timedelta("VAR_NAME", "1 minutes, 3secs")
env.timedelta("VAR_NAME", "10wks, 4min, 10s, 9ms, 4us")
env.timedelta("VAR_NAME", "-13d19m")
env.timedelta("VAR_NAME", "-1 day, 23:59:59.999000")
env.timedelta("VAR_NAME", "0:00:00.001000")


It's additionally possible to consume a string and cast it to a sequence etc:

env.tuple("VAR_NAME", "123,4356,235") == ("123", "4356", "235")
env.list("VAR_NAME", "123,4356,235") == ["123", "4356", "235"]
env.set("VAR_NAME", "123,4356,235") == {"123", "4356", "235"}
env.frozenset("VAR_NAME", "123,4356,235") == {"123", "4356", "235"}
env.dict("VAR_NAME", "a=1, b=2, c=3") == {"a": "1", "b": "2", "c": "3"}

Commas are treated as delimiters, and may optionally have a single space after each one.

Leading python-iterable characters are dropped if they are present from both sides, and their python type is ignored:

env.tuple("VAR_NAME", "[123, 4356, 235]") == ("123", "4356", "235")
env.tuple("VAR_NAME", "(123, 4356, 235)") == ("123", "4356", "235")
env.tuple("VAR_NAME", "{123, 4356, 235}") == ("123", "4356", "235")

Casting on iterables

Using any of env.tuple, env.list, env.set, env.frozenset, or env.dict allows each parsed value to be validated and optionally cast, with the caveat that the iterable is homogenous (that is, everything can be converted to an int or a uuid or whatever)

Each value may be cast to any of the non-iterable methods documented above, by using env.ensure.methodname instead of env.methodname, for example:

env.tuple("VAR_NAME", "123,4356,235", converter=env.ensure.int) == (123, 4356, 235)
env.set("VAR_NAME", "123,4356,235", converter=env.ensure.hex) == {"123", "4356", "235"}
env.list("VAR_NAME", "a@b.com, b@c.com, def@ghi", env.ensure.email) == ['a@b.com', 'b@c.com', 'def@ghi']

env.dict is slightly special in that it has arguments for key_converter and value_converter so that keys can have a different type to values. Both must still be homogenous:

env.dict("VAR_NAME", "a=1, b=2, c=3", key_converter=env.ensure.hex, value_converter=env.ensure.int) == {'a': 1, 'c': 3, 'b': 2}

Django database URLs

To facilitate an easier transition from dj-database-url or django-environ, there's support for reading a DATABASE_URL (or other named env var) into the correct format to fit the Django DATABASES dictionaries:

# default key is implicitly "DATABASE_URL"
env.django_database_url("MY_DB", "postgres://user:pass@host:1234/dbname?conn_max_age=600")
env.django_database_url("DATABASE_URL", "psql://user:pass@host:1234/dbname?conn_max_age=None&autocommit=True&atomic_requests=False")
env.django_database_url("MYSQL_DBASE", "mysql://user:pass@host:1234/dbname?init_command=SET storage_engine=INNODB")
env.django_database_url("PG_SOCKET", "postgres:////var/run/postgresql/db")

so you can ultimately do:

    "default": env.django_database_url("postgres://localhost?conn_max_age=1"),
    "other_db": env.django_database_url("OTHER_DB", "sqlite://:memory:"),

Differences from those libraries

  • Using the mssql scheme sets the driver to use mssql-python.
  • Providing a URL fragment (?query_string...#x=10&y=True) parses those key/values the same as the query string, but always puts them into the dictionary's global options, never into the 'OPTIONS' key.
  • the function django_database_url doesn't accept the conn_max_age and ssl_require used by dj-database-url

Handling errors

Failing to successfully convert (or just validate) the value (whether from the environment or from the fallback) immediately halts execution by raising EnvironmentCastError which is a subclass of ValueError.

Failing to provide a string for a default/fallback value will raise EnvironmentDefaultError which is also a subclass of ValueError.

To catch any anticipated error then, is to:

except (EnvironmentCastError, EnvironmentDefaultError) as e:

Checking for existence

To find out if an environment variable is set, regardless of it's value, you can use normal in testing:

if "MY_KEY" in env:

which allows you to change behaviour based on seeing certain variables in the running environment.

Tracking the requests

Every access of an Environment (eg: the default env) keeps an internal log of the key requested + whether or not it was found and used in the environment.

These are available under env.used and env.fallbacks but may be accessed together by iterating over the Environment in question, where each iteration will yield a 3-tuple of:

  • environment variable name requested
  • the default or fallback value
  • a bool of whether or not the environment variable was used or whether the fallback was. True if found in the environment, False if the fallback was used.

For example, to output everything, you might do:

from enviable import env, Environment
import sys
env.int("TEST", "4")
myenv = Environment({"TESTING": "1"})
myenv.bool("TESTING", "0")
if __name__ == "__main__":
    for env_var_name, env_var_example, was_read_from_env in env:
        if was_read_from_env is True:
            sys.stdout.write("{} was in the environment\n".format(env_var_name))
            sys.stdout.write("{} was NOT in the environment, used default value of {}\n".format(env_var_name, env_var_example))

Note that in the above scenario, because env and myenv are different instances with their own individual tracking, the request for TESTING will not output, but TEST will.

Generating an env file

To avoid carrying around stale environment variables on projects of longevity, the Environment provides a self-documenting mechanism to output all of the environment variables and example values to stdout (or any stream), so you can just pipe to a file and you've got a usable env, give or take adjusting the values for your machine:

# my_cool_settings.py
from enviable import env
env.int("TEST", "4")
env.hex("MY_COOL_VAR", "ABCDEF24")
if __name__ == "__main__":

the above will print to stdout when you call python -m my_cool_settings like so:

export TEST='4'

You can adjust the output to say, be .env file compatible like so:


which would instead output:


Only key and value format-kwargs are provided to the output template.

Running the tests

Given a copy of the file enviable.py you ought to be able to do either of the following:

$ python enviable.py
$ python -m enviable

and see the output of the various tests I've bothered with. If mypy is installed, it will also type-check the file.


  • More tests

The license

It's FreeBSD. There's should be a LICENSE file in the root of the repository, and in any archives.