Building and Installing

The Bokeh project encompasses two major components: the Bokeh package source code, written in Python, and the BokehJS client-side library, written in CoffeeScript. Accordingly, development of Bokeh is slightly complicated by the fact that BokehJS requires an explicit compilation step to render the CoffeeScript source into deployable JavaScript.

For this reason, in order to develop Bokeh from a source checkout, you must first be able to build BokehJS.

Cloning the Repository

The source code for the Bokeh project is hosted on GitHub. To clone the source repository, issue the following command:

git clone

This will create a bokeh directory at your location. This bokeh directory is referred to as the “source checkout” for the remainder of this document.

Building BokehJS

The BokehJS build process is handled by Grunt, which in turn depends on Node.js. Grunt is used to compile CoffeeScript and Less (CSS) sources (as well as Eco templates), and to combine these resources into optimized and minified bokeh.js and bokeh.css files.

Install npm and node

First, install Node.js and npm (node package manager). You can download and install these directly, or use conda to install them from the Bokeh channel on Binstar:

$ conda install -c bokeh nodejs

Alternatively, on Ubuntu you can use apt-get:

$ apt-get install npm node

Install Grunt and necessary plugins

Once you have npm and Node.js installed, you must use them to install the required dependencies before you can build BokehJS. Execute the following command in the bokehjs subdirectory:

$ npm install

This command will install the necessary packages into the node_modules subdirectory (and list them as devDependencies in package.json).

At this point you can typically use the script at the top level of the source chekcout to manage building and installing BokehJS as part of the complete Bokeh library (see Python Setup).

However, if you are using BokehJS as a standalone JavaScript library, then the instructions below describe the process to iteratively build BokehJS with Grunt for development purposes.

Building BokehJS with Grunt

If you want to be able to run the commands below, you can either use bokehjs/node_modules/.bin/grunt or globally install the grunt command line interface:

$ npm install -g grunt-cli

There are three main Grunt commands for development (to be executed from the bokehjs subdirectory):

$ grunt deploy

This will generate the compiled and optimized BokehJS libraries, and deploy them to the build subdirectory.

$ grunt build

This will build the BokehJS sources without concatenating and optimizing into standalone libraries. At this point BokehJS can be be as an AMD module.

$ grunt watch

This directs Grunt to automatically watch the source tree for changes and trigger a recompile of individual files as they change. This is especially useful together with the --splitjs mode of the Bokeh server to afford a more rapid development cycle.

Building BokehJS with SBT


The sbt build system is experimental and not integrated with, so it should be used with caution.

As an alternative to Grunt, you can use SBT to build BokehJS. To start, run the command:

$ ./sbt

in the top level directory. This will download sbt (and its dependencies) itself, and configure the build system.

There are two main commands available: build and deploy. The build command compiles CoffeeScript, Less and Eco sources, and copies other resources to the build directory. The deploy command does the same and additionally generates optimized and minified bokeh.js and bokeh.css outputs.

You may also run specific subtasks, e.g. compile to compile CoffeeScript, Less and Eco sources, but not copy resources. You can also prefix any command with ~, which enables incremental compilation. For example, issuing ~less will watch *.less sources and compile only the subset of files that changed. To stop watching sources, press ENTER. Pressing Ctrl+C will terminate sbt.

Python Setup

Once you have a working BokehJS build (which you can verify by completing the steps described in Building BokehJS), you can use the script at the top level of the source checkout to install or develop the full Bokeh library from source.

The script has two main modes of operation: install and develop.

When python install is used, Bokeh will be installed in your local site-packages directory. In this mode, any changes to the python source code will not show up until install is run again.

When python develop is used, a path file bokeh.pth will be written to your site-packages directory that points to the bokeh subdirectory of your source checkout. Any changes to the python source code will be available immediately without any additional steps.

With either mode, you will be prompted for how to install BokehJS, e.g.:

$ python install

Bokeh includes a JavaScript library (BokehJS) that has its own
build process. How would you like to handle BokehJS:

1) build and install fresh BokehJS
2) install last built BokehJS from bokeh/bokehjs/build


You may skip this prompt by supplying the appropriate command line option to

  • --build_js
  • --install_js

If you have any problems with the steps here, please contact the developers (see Contact).


If you are working within a Conda environment, you will need to make sure you have the python requirements installed. You can install these via conda install or pip install for the packages referenced at Dependencies.

Testing dependencies include the following additional libraries:

  • beautiful-soup
  • colorama
  • pdiff
  • boto
  • nose
  • mock
  • coverage
  • websocket-client

Windows Notes

If you build Bokeh on a Windows machine in a Conda environment with either install or develop, running bokeh-server will not work correctly. The .exe will not be available within the Conda environment, which means you will use the version available in the base install, if it is available. Instead, you can make sure you use the version within the environment by explicitly running the bokeh-server python script in the root of the bokeh repository, similar to the following example:

python bokeh-server --script path\to\<yourapp>.py

Incremental Compilation

The processes described about result in building and using a full bokeh.js library. This could be considered “production” mode. It is also possible to run Bokeh code in a mode that utilizes require.js to serve up individual JavaScript modules separately. If this is done, then changes to BokehJS can be incrementally compiled (e.g. by running grunt watch in the bokehjs directory), and the development iteration cycle shortened considerably.

For static examples, you can use the BOKEH_RESOURCES environement variable to indicate that BokehJS should be loaded from individual sources:

$ BOKEH_RESOURCES=relative-dev python

For Bokeh server examples, simply add the --dev command line flag to the server invocation:

$ bokeh-server --dev

$ python