What is Cookiecutter?

Cookiecutter is an open-source command-line utility that provides templates for creating projects. These templates are known as "cookie cutters”. By using this standardized, customizable template system, developers can ensure that every project starts with the same structure and adheres to their conventions and standards. In addition, automation allows them to skip the repetitive tasks in project setup, so they can get straight to the actual work of coding. This streamlines the setup of new projects and accelerates time-to-market.

Cookiecutter templates include directories, files and sample code. Each template is customizable through a json file so it can be tailored to specific projects and needs. Per the documentation, cookiecutter is ideal for generating Python package projects, among others. However, it’s language-agnostic and can work with a variety of languages. 

How does Cookiecutter work? 

Using Cookiecutter starts with cloning the project template. Cookiecutter templates have directories containing files and folders that define the structure of the project the user wants to create. These templates include placeholders - typically in double curly braces, like `{{ some_variable }}` - that Cookiecutter will replace with user-provided values.

Each template has a `cookiecutter.json` file at its root. This file defines the variables that need to be replaced in the template and provides default values for these variables.

Here's a simple example of a `cookiecutter.json` file:



  "project_name": "My Awesome Project",

  "project_slug": "{{ cookiecutter.project_name|slugify }}",

  "author_name": "Your Name",

  "email": "",

  "description": "A short description of the project.",

  "version": "0.1.0",

  "license": "MIT"



In this example:

  • `project_name` is a placeholder for the project's name.
  • `project_slug` will automatically be generated as a URL-friendly version of the `project_name`.
  • `author_name`, `email`, `description`, `version` and `license` are additional placeholders that can be customized.

Once the project template is updated, the user can generate it as a new project, ready for use. Cookiecutter is compatible with GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab and private repos. It can also be generated as a Zip file. More advanced use of Cookiecutter incorporates configuration files, hooks, Choice variables, Boolean variables and more.

Key features of Cookiecutter

The tool’s main features are:

  • Project templates - Cookiecutter uses a template approach to generate projects. These templates can include any type of file and directory structure, predefined files and scripts.
  • Language and framework agnostic - Cookiecutter supports Python, JavaScript, C++, or any other programming language, and Django, Flask, React and any other framework.
  • Parameterization and customization - The cookiecutter.json file allows each project to be customized on the fly without modifying the template itself. The user can specify values like project name, author names, license information and any other variable part of the project structure.
  • Pre and post hooks - Cookiecutter supports pre- and post-generation hooks, which are scripts to be executed before or after the project is generated. This is useful for running custom setup steps, such as initializing a git repository, installing dependencies, or setting up virtual environments.
  • Integrations - Cookiecutter can be integrated with other tools to enhance the development workflow. For example, it can be used in conjunction with project management tools to further automate the setup of new projects.
  • Version control-friendly - The projects generated by Cookiecutter are ready to be placed under version control systems like GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab and private repos.

Cookiecutter and the internal developer portal

An internal developer portal provides developers with simplified and guided access to all the tools, documentation, APIs, and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. It abstracts away the complexity of an internal developer portal and acts as a hub for all development activities within the company.

Combining the use of Cookiecutter or any Cookiecutter substitute with an internal developer portal can significantly enhance the development workflow. Developers can quickly start new projects using templates available on the portal, ensuring standardization, consistency and accelerated project initialization.

In addition, integrating Cookiecutter templates into CI/CD pipelines through the portal ensures that all new projects are equipped with automated testing, building and deployment processes from the start. This automation enhances the reliability and speed of software delivery.

Here’s an example of how it can work. By integrating Cookiecutter with an internal developer portal, the organization can provide standardized templates for microservices development, including predefined configurations for logging, monitoring and security. When a developer needs to create a new microservice, they can simply select the appropriate template from the portal. The template includes all necessary components, such as Dockerfiles, Kubernetes manifests and CI/CD pipeline configurations. The developer can customize the template as needed and start coding almost immediately.

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