Conda-build recipes

To enable building conda packages, install and update conda and conda-build.

Building a conda package requires a recipe. A conda-build recipe is a flat directory that contains the following files:

  • meta.yaml — A file that contains all the metadata in the recipe. Only package/name and package/version are required.

  • — The script that installs the files for the package on macOS and Linux. It is executed using the bash command.

  • bld.bat — The build script that installs the files for the package on Windows. It is executed using cmd.

  • run_test.[py,pl,sh,bat] — An optional Python test file, a test script that runs automatically if it is part of the recipe.

  • Optional patches that are applied to the source.

  • Other resources that are not included in the source and cannot be generated by the build scripts. Examples are icon files, readme files and build notes.

Review Defining metadata (meta.yaml) to see a breakdown of the components of a recipe, including:

  • Package name

  • Package version

  • Descriptive metadata

  • Where to obtain source code

  • How to test the package


When you use the conda skeleton command, the first 3 files — meta.yaml,, and bld.bat — are automatically generated for you.

Conda-build process

Conda-build performs the following steps:

  1. Reads the metadata.

  2. Downloads the source into a cache.

  3. Extracts the source into the source directory.

  4. Applies any patches.

  5. Re-evaluates the metadata, if source is necessary to fill any metadata values.

  6. Creates a build environment and then installs the build dependencies there.

  7. Runs the build script. The current working directory is the source directory with environment variables set. The build script installs into the build environment.

  8. Performs some necessary post-processing steps, such as adding a shebang and rpath.

  9. Creates a conda package containing all the files in the build environment that are new from step 5, along with the necessary conda package metadata.

  10. Tests the new conda package — if the recipe includes tests — by doing the following:

    • Deletes the build environment and source directory to ensure that the new conda package does not inadvertantly depend on artifacts not included in the package.

    • Creates a test environment with the package and its dependencies.

    • Runs the test scripts.

The archived conda-recipes repo, AnacondaRecipes aggregate repo, and conda-forge feedstocks repo contain example recipes for many conda packages.


All recipe files, including meta.yaml and build scripts, are included in the final package archive that is distributed to users. Be careful not to put sensitive information such as passwords into recipes where it could be made public.

The conda skeleton command can help to make skeleton recipes for common repositories, such as PyPI.

Deep dive

Let's take a closer look at how conda-build uses a recipe to create a package.


When you build a conda package, conda-build renders the package by reading a template in the meta.yaml. See Templating with Jinja.

Templates are filled in using your conda build config, which shows the matrix of things to build against. The conda build config determines how many builds it has to do. For example, defining a conda_build_config.yaml of the form and filling it defines a matrix of 4 packages to build:

  - 1.0
  - 2.0
  - 1.2.0
  - 1.4.0

After this, conda-build determines what the outputs will be. For example, if your conda build config indicates that you want 2 different versions of Python, conda-build will show you the rendering for each Python version.


To build the package, conda-build will make an environment for you and install all of the build and run dependencies in that environment. Conda-build will indicate where you can successfully build the package. The prefix will take the form:

<file path to conda>/conda-bld/<package name and string>/h_env_placeholder…

Conda-build downloads your package source and then builds the conda package in the context of the build environment. For example, you may direct it to download from a Git repo or pull down a tarball from another source. See the Source section for more information.

What conda-build puts into a package depends on what you put into the build, host, or run sections. See the Requirements section for more information. Conda-build will use this information to identify dependencies to link to and identify the run requirements for the package. This allows conda-build to understand what is needed to install the package.


Once the content is downloaded, conda-build runs the build step. See the Build section for more information. The build step runs a script. It can be one that you provided. See the Script section for more information on this topic.

If you do not define the script section, then you can create a or a bld.bat file to be run.

Prefix replacement

The build environment is created in a placeholder prefix. When the package is bundled, the prefix is set to a "dummy" prefix. Once conda is ready to install the package, it rewrites the dummy prefix with the final one.


Once a package is built, conda-build has the ability to test it. To do this, it creates another environment and installs the conda package. The form of this prefix is:

<file path to conda>/conda-bld/<package name + string>/_test_env_placeholder…

At this point, conda-build has all of the information from meta.yaml about what its runtime dependencies are, so those dependencies are installed as well. This generates a test runner script with a reference to the testing meta.yaml that is created. See the Test section for more information. That file is run for testing.

Output metadata

After the package is built and tested, conda-build cleans up the environments created during prior steps and outputs the metadata. The recipe for the package is also added in the output metadata. The metadata directory is at the top level of the package contents in the info directory. The metadata contains information about the dependencies of the package and a list of where all of the files in the package go when it is installed. Conda reads that metadata when it needs to install.

Running conda install causes conda to:

  1. Reach out to the repodata containing the dependencies for the package(s) you are installing.

  2. Determine the correct dependencies.

  3. Install a list of additional packages determined by those dependencies.

  4. For each dependency package being installed: #. Unpack the tarball to look at the information contained within. #. Verify the file based on metadata in the package. #. Go through each file in the package and put it in the right location.

For additional information on conda install, please visit the conda documentation deep dive page on that topic.