Pycharm Development Environment

Pycharm is an IDE dedicated to developing python projects. It provides coding assistance and easy access to debugging tools as well as integration with pytest. It is a popular tool for working with VOLTTRON. Jetbrains provides a free community version that can be downloaded from

Open Pycharm and Load VOLTTRON

When launching Pycharm for the first time we have to tell it where to find the VOLTTRON source code. If you have already cloned the repo then point Pycharm to the cloned project. Pycharm also has options to access remote repositories.

Subsequent instances of Pycharm will automatically load the VOLTTRON project.


When getting started make sure to search for gevent in the settings and ensure that support for it is enabled.

Open Pycharm Load Volttron

Set the Project Interpreter

This step should be completed after running the bootstrap script in the VOLTTRON source directory. Pycharm needs to know which python environment it should use when running and debugging code. This also tells Pycharm where to find python dependencies. Settings menu can be found under the File option in Pycharm.

Set Project Interpreter

Running the VOLTTRON Process

If you are not interested in running the VOLTTRON process itself in Pycharm then this step can be skipped.

In Run > Edit Configurations create a configuration that has <your source dir>/env/bin/volttron in the script field, -vv in the script parameters field (to turn on verbose logging), and set the working directory to the top level source directory.

VOLTTRON can then be run from the Run menu.

Run Settings

Running an Agent

Running an agent is configured similarly to running VOLTTRON proper. In Run > Edit Configurations add a configuration and give it the same name as your agent. The script should be the path to scripts/ and and the script parameter must be the path to your agent’s file.

In the Environment Variables field add the variable AGENT_CONFIG that has the path to the agent’s configuration file as its value, as well as AGENT_VIP_IDENTITY, which must be unique on the platform.

A good place to keep configuration files is in a directory called config in top level source directory; git will ignore changes to these files.


There is an issue with imports in Pycharm when there is a secondary file (i.e. not but another module within the same package). When that happens right click on the directory in the file tree and select Mark Directory As -> Source Root

Listener Settings Run Listener


There will be issues if two agents create a file with the same name in the same working directory. For instance: SQLHistorian agent and Forwarder agent both create a backup.sqlite directory on the same working directory. When that happens both the agents attempt to use the same backup db and eventually lock the db. To avoid this situation, create different working directories for each agent and add the absolute path for the config file. The best way to go about this is to create a new folder and assign working directory to that folder as shown below.

Run Forwarder Run Historian

Testing an Agent

Agent tests written in pytest can be run simply by right-clicking the tests directory and selecting Run ‘pytest in tests, so long as the root directory is set as the VOLTTRON source root.

Run Tests