This lesson is in the early stages of development (Alpha version)

Introduction to Geospatial Raster and Vector Data with Python: Setup


This workshop is designed to be run on your local machine. First, you will need to download the data we use in the workshop. Then, you need to set up your machine to analyze and process geospatial data. We provide instructions below to either install all dependencies with a single conda command after installing Python for Anaconda. If you have already installed Python with Anaconda, you can skip Step 1. However, if you have installed Python differently, you will need to complete Step 1 (there is no need to uninstall other python installations). We recommend Anaconda and the conda package manager, since they make installing geospatial python packages easier.


You can download all of the data used in this workshop by clicking this download link. The file is 155.38 MB.

Clicking the download link will automatically download all of the files to your default download directory as a single compressed (.zip) file. To expand this file, double click the folder icon in your file navigator application (for Macs, this is the Finder application).

For a full description of the data used in this workshop see the data page.

Installation Step 1. Installing Python Using Anaconda

Python is a popular language for scientific computing, and great for general-purpose programming as well. Installing all of its scientific packages individually can be a bit difficult, however, so we recommend the all-in-one installer Anaconda.

Regardless of how you choose to install it, please make sure you install Python version 3.x (e.g., 3.7 is fine). Also, please set up your python environment at least a day in advance of the workshop. If you encounter problems with the installation procedure, ask your workshop organizers via e-mail for assistance so you are ready to go as soon as the workshop begins.

Windows - Video tutorial

  1. Open with your web browser.

  2. Download the Python 3 installer for Windows.

  3. Double-click the executable and install Python 3 using the recommended settings. Make sure that Register Anaconda as my default Python 3.x option is checked - it should be in the latest version of Anaconda

Mac OS X - Video tutorial

  1. Visit with your web browser.

  2. Download the Python 3 installer for OS X. These instructions assume that you use the graphical installer .pkg file.

  3. Follow the Python 3 installation instructions. Make sure that the install location is set to “Install only for me” so Anaconda will install its files locally, relative to your home directory. Installing the software for all users tends to create problems in the long run and should be avoided.


Note that the following installation steps require you to work from the shell. If you run into any difficulties, please request help before the workshop begins.

  1. Open with your web browser.

  2. Download the Python 3 installer for Linux.

  3. Install Python 3 using all of the defaults for installation.

    a. Open a terminal window.

    b. Navigate to the folder where you downloaded the installer

    c. Type

    $ bash Anaconda3-

    and press tab. The name of the file you just downloaded should appear.

    d. Press enter.

    e. Follow the text-only prompts. When the license agreement appears (a colon will be present at the bottom of the screen) press the space bar until you see the bottom of the text. Type yes and press enter to approve the license. Press enter again to approve the default location for the files. Type yes and press enter to prepend Anaconda to your PATH (this makes the Anaconda distribution your user’s default Python).

Installation Step 2. Setting up the workshop environment with conda

Once you have installed Anaconda, you should have access to the conda command in your terminal. Create a new file called environment.yml and copy and paste the following text

name: geospatial
  - conda-forge
# Jupyter Lab
  - jupyterlab
# Python scientific libraries
  - numpy
  - scipy
  - scikit-image
  - matplotlib
  - xarray
# Geospatial libraries
  - rasterio
  - gdal
  - geopandas
  - rioxarray
  - geocube
  - earthpy
  - ipyleaflet

Save the file and exit your text editor. In the terminal, navigate to the directory where you saved the environment.yml file using the cd command. Then run conda env create -f environment.yml

This will install the minimal set of packages that you need to complete the workshop. This environment includes a separate python installation and set of packages that is completely independent from your Anaconda installation (we installed Anaconda to get the conda package manager).

When installation completes, run conda activate geospatial to activate your environment. Now, when you call python or jupyter, you will be using these programs from your geospatial environment rather than your default Anaconda python installation. If you close the terminal, you will need to reactivate this environment.

Starting Jupyterlab

In order to follow the lessons on using Python (episode 5 and onward), you should launch JupyterLab after activating the geospatial conda environment in your working directory that contains the data you downloaded. See Starting JupyterLab for guidance.