BrainGlobe version 1 is here! Head over to the blog to find out more


pip install brainglobe is doing what you expect - installing a package from PyPI called brainglobe. This package, colloquially referred to as the “meta”-package, brainglobe, and/or brainglobe-meta, doesn’t actually contain any functionality beyond providing a version and some author information. Instead, it’s primary purpose is to (explicitly) depend on the other BrainGlobe tools that we want users to be able to install in a single command, through this package. You can find the source for this package in the brainglobe-meta repository on GitHub.


The meta-package should always be installable in one line, and preferably should be installed for the first time in a clean environment.

From PyPI, via pip#

brainglobe can be installed from PyPI via

pip install brainglobe


python -m pip install brainglobe

Pass the -U or --upgrade flag to pip to force an update on an existing install.



The rule of thumb for versioning and releasing the meta-package (creating a “new version of brainglobe”):

Any brainglobe vX.0.0 release is a set of stable, compatible tools that interoperate with each other consistently. A brainglobe vX.Y.0 or vX.Y.Z release should be used when there have been several minor or patch updates to the BrainGlobe tool suite, that we want to encourage the user-base to adopt.

As such, we typically envision major version releases of the meta-package taking place when one or more BrainGlobe tools undergo major updates. An example would be the release of brainglobe version 1; which saw the various brainreg packages merged, the cellfinder package was repurposed in order to merge cellfinder-core and cellfinder-napari, and the brainmapper tool replace the (old) cellfinder command-line interface. The resulting brainglobe version 1.0.0 release prevents users from installing incompatible versions of brainreg and cellfinder, for example, both by removing the need for users to install these tools manually and by pinning minimum versions for each.

Minor or patch updates to brainglobe we envision to be cases where multiple tools have undergone performance improvements, minor patches, or under-the-hood code refactoring that we feel benefits the user experience, but does not require a change in how the user interacts with these tools. A typical example of this might be when a function appears in both brainglobe-tool-A and brainglobe-tool-B, so we decide to refactor it into brainglobe-utils which is a common dependency. In this case, each of brainglobe-tool-A, brainglobe-tool-B, and brainglobe-utils would get new releases, and furthermore both brainglobe-tool-A and brainglobe-tool-B would now depend on the new version of brainglobe-utils. We would then decide to release a minor version of the meta-package, which updates the minimum version of these three packages - from the user perspective, this will come in a single update.

Dependency Pinning#

With the above conventions on versioning in mind, meta-package dependencies are always pinned from below, and from above by the next major version. As such, all BrainGlobe dependencies in the meta-package pyproject.toml will have the form:

dependencies = [

for example,

dependencies = [

This ensures that:

  • Minor and patch updates to BrainGlobe tools should be picked up automatically by package installer when updating the metapackage. For example, if cellfinder bumps from 1.1.3 to 1.2.0, updating the meta-package will result in cellfinder being updated to 1.2.0.

  • Major or breaking changes to BrainGlobe tools are not automatically picked up on update!

  • We can force certain (combinations of) minor/patch updates to tools on users by simply releasing minor/patch updates to brainglobe. Changing cellfinder>=1.1.0,<2 to cellfinder>=1.1.4,<2 and brainrender>=2.1.3,<3" to brainrender>=2.2.1,<3", then creating a new brainglobe minor/patch release, allows the user to update both of these packages with an update to brainglobe, not having to worry about the individual packages themselves.

Dependency Tree#

BrainGlobe comprises a number of tools, spread across a number of repositories. These tools are all interlinked and interdependent, but the meta-package allows us to abstract this complexity away from the user.

To ensure we retain explicit control over what brainglobe provides to users, it is important that the meta-package explicitly depends on all BrainGlobe tools that it wants to provide, including “redundant dependencies”. For example, if the meta-package is providing brainglobe-tool-A, which itself depends on brainglobe-tool-B, then the dependency list of the meta-package should include both brainglobe-tool-A and brainglobe-tool-B. Both packages should also have minimum versions pinned as per the dependency pinning guidelines above.

The dependency tree of BrainGlobe tools provided by the meta-package is provided below, and should be updated periodically as new tools are added, or new versions of brainglobe are released. Whilst it is not necessary for developers to remember the dependency structure, it is a useful reference guide for discerning how updates to one BrainGlobe tool might have knock-on effects on others. The dependency tree reads top-to-bottom; that is, arrows are drawn out of dependencies into the tools that depend on them. The tree does not include non-BrainGlobe dependencies. Coloured arrows are only present to allow for line-tracing when arrows cross.

Dependency tree for tools provided by the meta-package.

Regenerating the Dependency Tree#

The image file containing the dependency tree is saved under <repo_root>/docs/source/community/developers/repositories/brainglobe-meta/brainglobe-dependencies.svg. It can be edited with any software that can open and manipulate .svg files, however the recommended tool is drawio which provides a GUI for editing .svgs. Simply upload the current version of the file to the website, edit the flowchart as you see fit, then hit File > Export As... > SVG, which will open a further dialogue box with export options. In this box, be sure to select “Text Settings: Convert Labels to SVG” to ensure that the exported flowchart’s text is encoded correctly. You can then export the file and save the new version to the repository.

As a general rule of thumb when editing the dependency chart, packages/tools should be organised into levels from the top down, with arrows pointing out of dependencies into the dependent packages.

Packages on the top level depend on no other BrainGlobe tools. Packages on the level below depend on at least one package from the level above, and any number of packages from the level(s) further up than that. This illustrates both how BrainGlobe tools build on each other, as well as which tools may be affected by new releases of others.

Latest rendering of the dependency tree: v1.0.1.