Manage Environments

The signac-flow package uses environment profiles to adjust the submission process to local environments. That is because different environments provide different resources and options for the submission of operations to those resources. Although the basic options will always be the same, there might be some subtle differences depending on where you want to submit your operations.

How to Use Environments

Environments are defined by subclassing from the ComputeEnvironment class. The ComputeEnvironment class is a meta-class that ensures that all subclasses are automatically globally registered when they are defined. This enables us to use environments simply by defining them or importing them from a different module. The flow.get_environment() function will go through all defined ComputeEnvironment classes and return the one where the is_present() class method returns True.

Packaged Environments

The package comes with a few default environments which are always available and designed for specific schedulers. That includes the DefaultPBSEnvironment and the DefaultSlurmEnvironment. This means that if you are within an environment with a PBS or Slurm scheduler you should be immediately able to submit to the cluster.

In addition, signac-flow comes with some environments tailored to specific compute clusters that are defined in the flow.environments module. These environments are also automatically available, but if they conflict with a specific environment of your choice, you can opt out of using these environments by setting the flow.import_packaged_environments signac config variable. For instance, to opt out of using these environments for a specific signac project, execute signac config set flow.import_packaged_environments off within that environment. This variable may also be set within the global signac configuration file on a given cluster. More generally, if you simply wish to force signac-flow to use a particular environment, you may do so by setting the environment variable SIGNAC_FLOW_ENVIRONMENT in your shell.

For a full list of all packaged environments, please see Supported Environments.

Defining New Environments

In order to implement a new environment, create a new class that inherits from flow.environment.ComputeEnvironment. You will need to define a detection algorithm for your environment, by default we use a regular expression that matches the return value of socket.getfqdn().

Those are the steps usually required to define a new environment:

  1. Subclass from flow.environment.ComputeEnvironment.

  2. Determine a regular expression that would match the output of socket.getfqdn().

  3. Create a template and specify the template name as template class variable.

This is an example for a typical environment class definition:

class MyUniversityCluster(flow.environment.DefaultSlurmEnvironment):

    hostname_pattern = r".*\.mycluster\.university\.edu$"  # Matches names like
    template = ""

Then, add the template script to the templates/ directory within your project root directory.


The new environment will be automatically registered and used as long as it is either defined within the same module as your FlowProject class or its module is imported into the same module.

As an example on how to write a submission script template, this would be a viable template to define the header for a SLURM scheduler:

{% extends "" %}
{% block header %}
#SBATCH --job-name="{{ id }}"
#SBATCH --partition={{ partition }}
#SBATCH -t {{ walltime|format_timedelta }}
{% block tasks %}
#SBATCH --ntasks={{ np_global }}
{% endblock %}
{% endblock %}


The job name must be {{ id }} in order for signac-flow to track the status of job submissions. signac-flow relies on the scheduler job name to recognize the status of submitted jobs. Users should not override the job name manually via the command line or a custom template.

All templates, which are shipped with the package, are within the flow/templates/ directory within the package source code.

Contributing Environments to the Package

Users are highly encouraged to contribute environment profiles that they developed for their local environments. In order to contribute an environment, either simply email them to the package maintainers (see the README for contact information) or create a pull request.