Setup for Python workshop

Last updated on 2024-02-27 | Edit this page


This workshop is designed to be run on your laptop. First, you will need to download the data we use in the workshop. Then, you need to install some software. After following the instructions on this page, you should have everything you need to participate fully in the workshop!


You can download all of the data used in this workshop as a single zip file. The file is 206 KB.

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.


Software Install Manual Available for Description
Spreadsheet program Download LibreOffice LibreOffice documentation Linux, MacOS, Windows Spreadsheet program for organizing tabular data.
OpenRefine Download OpenRefine OpenRefine documentation Linux, MacOS, Windows
Python See install instructions below. Linux, MacOS, Windows
DB Browser for SQLite Download DB Browser for SQLite Linux, MacOS, Windows

Spreadsheet program

  • To interact with spreadsheets, we can use LibreOffice, Microsoft Excel, Gnumeric,, or other programs. Commands may differ a bit between programs, but the general ideas for thinking about spreadsheets are the same. For this workshop, we recommend using either Microsoft Excel (paid software) or LibreOffice (free and open source). Other spreadsheet programs may not have all of the features we will be exploring in this workshop.

  • To install LibreOffice, first download LibreOffice. The website should automatically select the correct option for your operating system. Click the “Download” button. You will go to a page that asks about a donation, but you don’t need to make one. Your download should begin automatically. Once the installer is downloaded, double click on it (you may need to open your Downloads folder) and LibreOffice should install.


OpenRefine can be downloaded from the OpenRefine downloads page. When you download the version for your operating system, you are redirected to a page with initial instructions for running the software.

More detailed instructions are included in the Setup section in the OpenRefine for Social Science Data.

Python and Jupyter Notebooks

  • Python is a popular language for scientific computing, and great for general-purpose programming as well. For this workshop we use Python version 3.x. Installing all of its scientific packages individually can be a bit difficult, so we recommend an all-in-one installer. We will use Anaconda or Miniconda. They both use Conda, the main difference is that Anaconda comes with a lot of packages pre-installed. With Miniconda you will need to install the required packages. We recommend using the Anaconda installation instructions.

Download and install Anaconda. Remember to choose the installer for Python 3.x. Anaconda does not include the plotting package plotnine. To install this package, open your terminal application and type:


conda install -c conda-forge plotnine

Miniconda is a “light” version of Anaconda. If you install and use Miniconda you will also need to install the workshop packages.

Download and install Miniconda following the instructions. Remember to choose the installer for Python 3.x.

From your terminal application, type:


conda list

To install the packages we’ll be using in the workshop, type:


conda install -y numpy pandas matplotlib jupyter
conda install -c conda-forge plotnine

After installing either Anaconda or Miniconda and the workshop packages, launch a Jupyter notebook by typing this command from the terminal:


jupyter notebook

The notebook should open automatically in your browser. If it does not or you wish to use a different browser, open this link: http://localhost:8888.

For a brief introduction to Jupyter Notebooks, please consult our Introduction to Jupyter Notebooks page.


  • SQL is a specialized programming language used with databases. We use a simple database manager called SQLite in our lessons. We will use the DB Browser for SQLite program, which is available for all major platforms.

  • To install the DB Browser, first download DB Browser for SQLite and choose the correct installer for your operating system. Once the installer is downloaded, double click on it (you may need to open your Downloads folder), follow any other instructions that appear, and DB Browser should install. After installing, you can delete the installer file.

Congratulations! You are now ready for the workshop!