python virtual environment, isolated environment

3 Ways for Managing Python Virtual Environment


Python virtual environment refers to an isolated execution environment for managing Python versions, dependencies, and indirectly permissions. When you have multiple projects working on and there are potential conflicting requirements such as different Python versions or libraries to be used in these projects, you need to consider using a virtual environment so that installing packages for one project will not impact another.

In this project, we will discuss about the different ways to create Python virtual environment for your multiple projects.

Using venv or virtualenv

Since Python 3.3, it introduced a lightweight venv module for you to create virtual environment, so that you do not need to install any additional tools for it. But if you are working on some projects with older Python versions, you will need to install another popular package called virtualenv for managing the virtual environment. Using Windows as an example, the steps to create a virtual environment are as simple as below:

  • Go to your command line window (Win- R)
  • Use “cd” command to switch to a writable folder where you want your Python virtual environment to be created e.g.: a dedicated folder called “py_venv”
  • Use below command to create a virtual environment for your project
python -m venv project_name
  • It takes a few seconds for the above to complete, and you shall be able to see below folder structure created under “project_name”:Python virtual environment, Python isolated environment

The pyvenv.cfg file describes the home directory, Python version etc. If you are using virtualenv, it will also indicate the version of this package you used.

  • Under the “Scripts” folder, you can see the following files:

Python virtual environment, Python isolated environment

Now the virtual environment has been created successfully. From the command line window, you can go to the “Scripts” folder and type “activate” or “activate.bat” and hit enter. You shall see below on your command line:

Python virtual environment, Python isolated environment

When seeing project name prefix at the beginning of the command, it means you are already in the virtual environment mode for this project, now you can proceed to install all the necessary packages, build and debug your code in this isolated environment. There is a system-site-packages parameter which you can specify whether you want to inherit the packages from the global environment, this might be useful when you have some heavy packages that you do not want to re-install them in each of your virtual environment.

To exit from the current virtual environment, you can run the “deactivate.bat”:

venv deactivate

Or if you need to switch from one virtual environment to another, for instance another virtual environment called “test”, you can activate the “test”, then it will exit the “project_name” automatically and switch to “test” environment:

Python virtual environment, Python isolated environment

From the above steps, you may wonder how to specify the different Python version when creating your virtual environment.

Assuming you have already installed Python 3.7 and Python 3.8, and during the installation, you have added the Python installation directories to your PATH variable. When you use “where python”:

Python virtual environment, Python isolated environment

You can see all the different Python versions you have installed. As “venv” does not support to specify the Python version, you will need to use virtualenv for this case, for instance:

virtualenv test1 -p python3.7
virtualenv test2 -p python3.8

This shall create the virtual environments based on the Python version you’ve specified, you can verify the version_info from the pyvenv.cfg file in the folder.

Many people may have question on whether the virtual environment folder shall be created separately or put it under the same place where your source code is placed.

Generally there is no right or wrong where you shall create your virtual environment folder, but you shall exclude this folder when you submit your code to the repository since other people may not be able to re-use whatever packages you’ve installed due to the different OS they are using.

My personal preference is to have a dedicated folder for all the virtual environment setup, and use the below command to export the installed packages when submitting to the repository, so that your source code folders will be cleaner:

python3 -m pip freeze > requirements.txt

Sometimes you may find tedious to switch between your existing virtual environments by using the activate/deactivate script, the virtualenvwrapper provides easier way to switch environment by names. You can read more from its official documents

Managing Python Virtual Environment with Conda

Conda is an open-source package and environment management tool which you can easily use it for handling your Python with conflicting dependency requirements. If you have never used it before, I would suggest you to do a quick review on the user guide from their official website, and down the miniconda based on which OS you are using.

To create a virtual environment with Conda, you can run the below from your command line:

conda create -n test python=3.9

You can see that Conda allows to specify the Python version, and it will check and download the Python version you’ve specified if it is not installed yet, and set up the virtual environment in the below default folder.

Python virtual environment, Python isolated environment

To activate your virtual environment:

conda activate test

Once it’s activated, you shall see the prefix added to your command line. And you can use below command to check what are the packages available in your current environment:

Python virtual environment, Python isolated environment

To deactivate your virtual environment, you can use the below:

conda deactivate
# or
conda activate other_project

Note that you can use both Conda or pip to install new packages, e.g.:

pip install numpy

You can see that when it is installed from pip, the channel will be indicated as pypi:

Python virtual environment, Python isolated environment

For more usage of Conda, you may refer to their official documentation here.

Managing Python Virtual Environment with IDE

If you are using IDE for Python programming, such as PyCharm, Visual Studio Code or Sublime Text, they usually provide an option for you to specify whether you want to set up a virtual environment when creating the new project. This would save you some effort for manually setting up the virtual environment and you do not have to worry about any potential conflict among your multiple projects.

Using PyCharm as an example, when create/import a new project, you are able to use the virtualenv tool to create a project-specific isolated virtual environment. The virtualenv tool comes bundled with PyCharm, so you do not need to install it separately.

Python virtual environment, Python isolated environment

For the detailed steps, you can refer to the PyCharm official document. Similar guide you can find for the other IDEs.


In this article, we have discussed about the purpose of using Python virtual environment and the different ways you can use to set up an isolated environment for your Python project. If you are new to topic, you may get confused as you would see many variant of the virtual environment tools people talked about, such as pyenv, pyvenv, pipenv, pyenv-virtualenv etc. Some of them are already deprecated in the later Python versions, so for a start, you shall concentrate on the built-in module venv, and then explore virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper for more advanced features.

combine data in pandas with merge vs join

Pandas Tricks – Combine Data in Different Ways


If you have used pandas for your data analysis work, you may already get some idea on how powerful and flexible it is in terms of data processing. Many times there are more than one way to solve your problem, and choosing the best approach become another tough decision. For instance, in one of my previous article, I tried to summarize the 20 ways to filter records in pandas which definitely is not a complete list for all the possible solutions. In this article, I will be discussing about the different ways to merge/combine data in pandas and when you shall use them since combining data probably is one of the necessary step you shall perform before starting your data analysis.


If you have not yet installed pandas, you may use the below command to install it from PyPI:

pip install pandas

And import the module at the beginning of your code:

import pandas as pd

Let’s dive into the code examples.

Combine Data with Append vs Concat

Imagine you have below two data frames from different sources, now you would like to merge them into one data frame.

df1 = pd.DataFrame({"ID" : [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], 
"Name" : ["Aaron", "Jimmy", "Zoe", "Jill", "Jenny"]})
df2 = pd.DataFrame({"ID": [6], "Name" : ["Kelly"]})

The most straightforward way would be using the append method from the pandas DataFrame object:

df1.append(df2, ignore_index=True)

The append method allows to add rows to the end of the current data frame, and with the ignore_index parameter as True, the resulting axis will be relabeled starting from 0.

You would see the output as per below:

combine data in pandas with merge vs join

Alternatively, you can use the pandas concat method which is self-explanatory based on its name. It provides a few more parameters to manipulate the resulting data frame such as specifying the axis for the concatenation to be done as well as the join logic for either union or intersection operation.

You can use the below to generate the same output as previously:

pd.concat([df1, df2], ignore_index=True)

And if you would like to retain a reference to the sources in your result, you can use the keys as per below:

pd.concat([df1, df2], keys=["src_1", "src_2"])

This would return a multi-index data frame where you can easily refer back to the data by source (e.g. df.loc[“src_1”]).

combine data in pandas with merge vs join

Adding new data frame as columns can be also done with axis = 1, for instance:

df3 = pd.DataFrame({"Age" : [12, 13, 13, 12, 13]})
pd.concat([df1, df3], axis=1)

The data frame has been added as one column to the caller:

combine data in pandas with merge vs join

As concat method accepts a list of data frames, you can combine multiple data frames at one time, which would be much faster than using append to do one by one.

Merge Data with Join vs Merge

Beside appending rows or columns based on axis, sometimes you may need more sophisticated operations similar to the left/right join in a rational database. For such scenarios, you shall make use of the pandas merge or join method.

For the previous example to append df2 to df1, you can achieve it with merge as well:

df1.merge(df2, how="outer")

Output as following:

combine data in pandas with merge vs join

It would be more tedious if you want to achieve the same via join since it can only join the data frame based on index, so you will have to set the index to the correct columns you would like to use as key. Below is how you can do it via join:

df1.join(df2.set_index(["ID", "Name"]), 
        on=["ID", "Name"], how="outer").reset_index(drop=True)

Assuming you have the below student’s score for each subject, and you want to merge the student information (df1) and the below based on the “Name” column:

df4 = pd.DataFrame({"ID" : [1001, 1002, 1003, 1002, 1001],
                    "Subject": ["Science", "Math", "English", "Math", "Science"], 
                    "Name": ["Aaron", "Jimmy", "Jimmy", "Zoe", "Jenny"], 
                    "Score" : ["A", "B", "C", "B", "B"]})

With merge function, you can specify the joining logic as left join on “Name” column as per below:

df1.merge(df4, on="Name", how="left")

Pandas will automatically add suffix whenever there are columns with duplicate names (e.g. “ID” in df1 and df4) from the two data frames, below is the output you may see:

combine data in pandas with merge vs join

To generate the same output via join, you can use below code which you need to pre-set the index for df4 and specify the suffix for left and right data frame:

df1.join(df4.set_index("Name"), on="Name", lsuffix="_x", rsuffix="_y")

Of course, if you would like to perform the right join for the above two data frames, you can do as per below:

df1.merge(df4, on="Name", how="right")
# or
df1.join(df4.set_index("Name"), on="Name", how="right", lsuffix="_x", rsuffix="_y")

Output as per below:

combine data in pandas with merge vs join

Merge DataFrame with Duplicate Keys

When merging multiple DataFrame objects, you may occasionally encounter the scenario that there are duplicate values for the columns you want to use as keys for joining. For instance, you may have below records if one subject has more than one lecturers:

df5 = pd.DataFrame({"Subject": ["Science", "Science", "Math", "Math", "English"], 
                    "Lecturer": ["Michael", "John", "Tim", "Robert", "Alex"]})

When you merge this information with student score based on the subject with merge or join method:

df4.merge(df5, on="Subject", how="left")
df4.join(df5.set_index("Subject"), on="Subject", how="left")

You would see the below output with M x N records due to the duplicate key in the df5:

combine data in pandas with merge vs join

If your objective is to perform something similar to excel vlookup to return the first matched value, then you can use the drop_duplicates method to remove the duplicate records before joining. E.g.:

df4.merge(df5.drop_duplicates("Subject"), on="Subject", how="left")

This would allow you to combine the two data frames with the first matched record from df5:

combine data in pandas with merge vs join

And in case you do not want to lose the information from the lecturer data frame, you will need to perform some sort of data aggregation before joining, e.g.:

df4.merge(df5.groupby("Subject").agg({"Lecturer" : lambda x: ','.join(x)}),
 on="Subject", how="left")

With this aggregation on the lecturer values, you would be able to see the below output:

combine data in pandas with merge vs join

Based on the above examples, you may find that merge and join are interchangeable in most of the cases, and you may have to type a bit more when using join method due to the different default arguments used. Since it always works on the index, you will have to preset the index on the key columns before joining.


In this article, we have reviewed through a few methods pandas offered for combining data frames with some sample code. To wrap up, the append and concat are usually used for merging two or more data frames based on the row or column index, and concat has better performance over append when you have multiple data frames to be worked on. If you need some high performance in-memory join operations like SQL joining for rational database, you will need to use merge or join method which can be interchangeable in most of the scenario. In addition, if the data frame you worked on does not have a index on the joining row/column, using merge over join would probably save your some typing.


group consecutive rows of same values in pandas

How to group consecutive rows of same values in pandas

Problem Statement

You have a data set which you would like to group consecutive rows if one of the columns has the same values. If there is a different value in between the rows, these records shall be split into separate groups.

To better elaborate the issue, let’s use an example.

Assuming you have the connection log data for some devices such as Bluetooth. It triggers a event when the connection is established as well as when it’s disconnected from the paired device. In between, there may be additional events triggered out for connectivity test. Let’s load the data and visualize it:

import pandas as pd 

df = pd.read_excel("connection log.xlsx")


You can see the below output from Jupyter Lab:

connection log data

If you would like to check the duration for each device per every connection, you probably want to group these records if the events are triggered during the same connection. To determine whether the records are within the same connection, you shall sort the event date in ascending order and if the device Id is not the same in the consecutive rows, then they must be some events for different connections. So can this be done in pandas?

Solution to group the consecutive rows

Let’s do some sorting to our data first to make sure the records are in chronological order based on the event date:

df.sort_values(["Event Time", "Device ID"], ascending=[True, True], inplace=True)

To compare the value of current row and subsequent row for a particular column, we can use the data series shift method. For instance, we can shift the “Device ID” values to next row and store the result into new column named “Device ID X”:

df["Device ID X"] = df["Device ID"].shift()

After the shifting, you shall see the updated data frame as per below:

shifted rows

If you try to compare the values of both columns:

df["Device ID"] != df["Device ID X"]

You can see the return value of the True/False in a data series form:

compare device id column

Now it is coming to the most critical step. Since we know that there is only one True value when device ID switched to a new ID, we can use the pandas cumsum method to sum up these True values accumulatively as per below:

df["cumsum"] = (df["Device ID"] != df["Device ID X"]).cumsum()

When doing the accumulative summary, the True values will be counted as 1 and False values will be counted as 0. So you would see the below output:

comparison result

You can see that the same values calculated for the rows we would like to group together, and you can make use of this value to re-group the records for further analysis.

You can even simply combine the above steps into one liner to get the earliest and latest event time for each group as per below:

df.groupby((df["Device ID"] != df["Device ID"].shift()).cumsum()).agg({"Event Time" : ["min", "max"]})

Output as per below:

one liner result

You may be also interested in some other similar topic from here.


python logging, queuehandler

8 Tips for Using Python Logging

Python Logging is a built-in module typically used for capturing runtime events for diagnostic purposes. If you are using Python to build a tool for yourself or just for proof of concept, you may not necessarily need any logging. But if the code is to be used in production environment, it would be a better idea to add proper logging information to make your life easier later when you need to troubleshoot any production issues.

In this article, I will be sharing with you some tips for using Python logging module in your production code.

Basic Python Logging With basicConfig

When you have a very simple script and need a very basic logging mechanism to capture some runtime information, Python basicConfig is the best fit where everything comes with a default value.

Below is the code to create a root logger to write log to the console:

import logging
logging.warning('Authentication failure: %s', 'username or password incorrect.')

When running the above code, you shall see the below printed out in your console:

WARNING:root:Authentication failure: username or password incorrect.

It indicates the severity of the log record, the logger hierarchy as well as the actual log message. Usually you may also want to capture the timestamp of the log event. To specify what are the details (refer to the available attributes here) you want to add in your log record, you can provide your own logging format when initializing the root logger.

For instance the below code:

FORMAT = '[{asctime}] [{name}] [{levelname}] - {message}'
logging.basicConfig(format=FORMAT, style="{")

logging.warning('Authentication failure: %s', 'username or password incorrect.')

With the above custom formatting, you shall see the output as per below:

[2021-03-25 21:37:09,158] [root] [WARNING] - Authentication failure: username or password incorrect.

To capture the log into a file rather than printing it out in the console (sys.stderr), you can achieve it with a minor change to specify the filename parameter for the basicConfig method, you would then be able to write logs to the file you’ve specified.

logging.basicConfig(filename="a.log", format=FORMAT, style="{")

When filename parameter is not empty, python logging will create a FileHandler object to handle the I/O related operations.

Create Logger at Module Level

The Python logging module has a logger hierarchy for ancestors and descendant to share the configurations or passing around the messages. In the above examples, the root logger is initialized when calling the basicConfig.

A good practice is to create module-level logger so that you have the flexibility to handle the log messages differently for each module and track which module generated the logs.

Below is an example to create a module-level logger with getLogger method:

logger = logging.getLogger('module.x')

You can create also your own formatter and specify the handler you need for your module-level logger. Below is an example to create a StreamHandler with your own logging format:

FORMAT = '[{asctime}] [{name}] [{levelname}] - {message}'
formatter = logging.Formatter(FORMAT, style="{")

ch = logging.StreamHandler()

To verify if your logger is working as expected, you can log some messages in different levels as per below:

def log_func(msg):
    logger.debug("Debugging now: %s", msg)
    logger.info("For your info only : %s", msg)
    logger.warning("This is a warning : %s", msg)
    logger.error("Error is happening : %s", msg)
    logger.critical("App is going to crash : %s", msg)


You may see the output similar to below:

[2021-03-25 15:17:12,638] [module.x] [INFO] - For your info only : yolo
[2021-03-25 15:17:12,639] [module.x] [WARNING] - This is a warning : yolo
[2021-03-25 15:17:12,642] [module.x] [ERROR] - Error is happening : yolo
[2021-03-25 15:17:12,642] [module.x] [CRITICAL] - App is going to crash : yolo

Similar to Python package hierarchy, by specifying the logger name as “module.x.y”, a child logger will be created under “module.x”.

Pass Extra Information to LogRecord

When calling logger to log some event, a LogRecord instance is created automatically to pass to log handler. If you need some additional information to be added into the LogRecord, you can make use of the extra parameter together with the formatter.

d = {'clientip': ''}
FORMAT = '[{clientip}] [{asctime}] [{name}] [{levelname}] - {message}'

logging.basicConfig(format=FORMAT, style="{")
logging.warning('Protocol problem: %s', 'connection reset', extra=d)

You shall see the output as per below:

[] [2021-03-25 15:36:31,449] [root] [WARNING] - Authentication failure: password incorrect.

Create Multiple Log Files with RotatingFileHandler

There are cases where you need to switch to a new log file when the file size reaching to certain limit to avoid the particular log file growing too big. The RotatingFileHandler from the logging.handlers module provides a easy way to limit the max size of the file and number of backup files to be created.

Below is an example to set file size at 2KB and create max 5 backup files for logging:

from logging.handlers import RotatingFileHandler

logger = logging.getLogger("simple app")
fh = RotatingFileHandler(filename="app.log", maxBytes=2000, backupCount=5)
formatter = logging.Formatter('[{asctime}] - [{name}] - [{levelname}] - {message}', style="{")


When the app.log file grows to 2KB, the new logs will be automatically directed to a new file, and the old file will be renamed to app.log.X (until X reaches to 5).  If you’ve set backupCount as 1, the log file will be growing without changing to a new file.

Similarly, you can use TimedRotatingFileHandler to rotate the log files at certain time intervals such as every X hours/days etc.

Send Log to Email via SMTPHandler

If you would like to send log events via email to notify the recipients e.g. to notify the system administrator or support team on some critical runtime errors, you can achieve it with SMTPHandler.  Below is an example to use gmail to send out emails. (you will need to replace the email address and password to your own gmail account)

from logging.handlers import SMTPHandler

smtph = SMTPHandler(mailhost=("smtp.gmail.com", 587), 
subject="Test Error from Python Script", 
credentials=("from@gmail.com", "password"), 

logger.critical("App is going to crash")

Note that I have passed an empty tuple for the secure parameter in order for SMTPHandler to use TLS encryption for the SMTP connection.

(You will also need to enable the less secure apps for your google account in order to go through the authentication)

Use Queue to Process Log Asynchronously with QueueHandler

The previous example demonstrated how to use the SMTPHandler to send out email. If you have tried the code yourself, you may notice the sluggish behavior especially at the last line of the code. This is because sending email will block the main thread until it finishes, which may not be something you are expecting when you need an immediate response in your web application.

To make sure the performance-critical thread is not blocked by any of these slow operations, you shall consider to use queue to process them in separate threads. The QueueHandler and QueueListener are designed for this purpose. Below is an example to show you how to use queue handler and listener:

from logging.handlers import SMTPHandler, QueueHandler, QueueListener

log_queue = queue.Queue(-1)
queue_handler = QueueHandler(log_queue)

#smtph is the SMTPHandler created from previous example
listener = QueueListener(log_queue, smtph, respect_handler_level=True)


#a log function created in previous example


Take note that the respect_handler_level has been specified as True in order for the listener to filter the messages based on the severity level set in the handlers. E.g. the handler smtph has been set to handle messages with severity level above error, when respect_handler_level is True, only messages with severity level above error will be passed into the queue. Otherwise if respect_handler_level is False, all the messages regardless of the severity levels are passed into queue for processing.

Use dictConfig for Log Configuration

Setting up logger configurations line by line via code can be tedious sometimes especially when you have more than one handlers or formatters to be set up. The logging module also provides ways to load configurations from config files into dictionary object, and then load the configurations by calling the dictConfig method.

Below is an example for using dictionary to create a logger with StreamHandler and SMTPHandler:

    'version': 1,
    'disable_existing_loggers': True,
    'formatters': {
        'standard': {
            'format': '%(levelname)s %(asctime)s %(module)s %(message)s'
    'handlers': {
            'formatter': 'standard'
        'email': {
            'level': 'ERROR',
            'formatter': 'standard',
            'class': 'logging.handlers.SMTPHandler',
            'mailhost': ("smtp.gmail.com", 587),
            'fromaddr': "from@gmail.com", 
            'toaddrs': "to@gmail.com", 
            'subject': "Test Error from Python Script",
            'credentials': ("from@gmail.com", "password"),
            'secure': ()            
    'loggers': {
        'app_log': {
            'handlers': ['console', 'email'],
            'level': 'INFO',

log = logging.getLogger("app_log")

In your project, you may put your configurations into a file in INI/JSON/YAML format, and load it as a dictionary to pass into the dictConfig method, so that you do not need to modify any source code whenever you want to change any logging configurations.

Suppress Error in Production Environment

Last but not the least, you shall consider to suppress any exceptions raised during the logging rather than letting it crash your entire application in a production environment. For instance, if your logs are written to a file and the disk is full or someone accidently updated the file permission to read-only, you would not wish such exceptions to bring down the entire application.

To prevent such issue, you can set raiseExceptions to False, so that any logging exceptions would not impact your application functionality.

logging.raiseExceptions = False

With above set to False, you shall not see any error even when there is some TypeError like below:

logging.info("For your info only : %s %s", msg)
# No error message will be showing and nothing will be logged

But make sure to set it as True (the default value) in your test environment, so that you can identify these type of errors before deploying your code into production. (refer to another topic for python suppressing stdout and stderror)


In this article, we have summarized 8 tips for using the Python logging module with some sample codes which hopefully will give you some ideas on how to use this module when you are developing some code for production use.

A lot of details are not covered such as the list of attributes for Formatter, LogRecord, Handler and Filter etc., you may need to go through the official documents if certain details you need is not discussed here in this article.

plot route on Google Maps with Python Google Maps API, optimize route with Google Maps API, Singapore

Plot Route on Google Maps with Python


You probably use Google Maps a lot in your daily life, such as locate a popular restaurant, check the distance between one place to another, or find the nearest driving route and shortest travelling time etc. If you have been thrown with a big set of location data where you need check and validate them from a map, and then find the optimal routes, you probably would think how this can be done programmatically in Python. In this article, we will be exploring how all these can be achieved with Python Google Maps APIs.


To be able to use Google Maps APIs, you will need to create a Google Cloud Service account and set up a billing method. If you are a new signed up user, you would get $300 credit for you to try out all the various Google APIs. You can follow the official docs to set up a new project, and from where you would get an API key for using its services.

You will also need to install the GoogleMaps package in your working environment, below is the pip command to install the package:

pip install -U googlemaps

Now let’s import the package at the beginning of our code, and initialize the service with your API Key:

import googlemaps

gmaps = googlemaps.Client(key='YOUR API KEY')

If you did not get any error up to this step, you are all set to go. Let’s start to explore the various function calls you can do with this package.

Get Geolocation of the Addresses

Often you need to check a location by address, postal code or even the name of the store/company, this can be done via the geocode function which is similar to search a place in Google Maps from your browser. The function returns a list of possible locations with the detailed address info such as the formatted address, country, region, street, lat/lng etc.

Below are a few possible address info you can pass to this API call:

#short form of address, such as country + postal code
geocode_result = gmaps.geocode('singapore 018956')

#full address
geocode_result = gmaps.geocode("10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956")

#a place name
geocode_result = gmaps.geocode("zhongshan park")

#Chinese characters
geocode_result = gmaps.geocode('滨海湾花园')

#place name/restaurant name
geocode_result = gmaps.geocode('jumbo seafood east coast')


Depends how complete the information you have supplied to the function call, you may get some sample output as per below:

1206 ECP, #01-07/08 East Coast Seafood Centre, Singapore 449883

Reverse Geocoding

You can also use the latitude and longitude to check the address information, this is called reverse geocoding. For instance, the below will give you the human readable addresses for the given lat/lng:

reverse_geocode_result = gmaps.reverse_geocode((1.3550021,103.7084641))

#'87 Farrer Dr, Singapore 259287'

You may get multiple address info with the same lat/lng as Google just return the list of addresses closest to this lat/lng.

Check the Distance Between Locations

To check the distance between multiple locations, you can use the Google distance matrix API, where you can supply multiple locations, and Google will return the travelling distance between each location as well as the travelling time. E.g.:

from datetime import datetime, timedelta

                      departure_time=datetime.now() + timedelta(minutes=10))

In above example, we have provided the departure time as 10 minutes later from current time for Google to calculate the travelling time. The departure time cannot be any time in the past.

The return JSON object would include the travelling distance and time based on the current traffic condition (default transport mode is driving):

{'destination_addresses': ['87 Farrer Dr, Singapore 259287'],
 'origin_addresses': ['1206 ECP, #01-07/08 East Coast Seafood Centre, Singapore 449883'],
 'rows': [{'elements': [{'distance': {'text': '22.2 km', 'value': 22219},
     'duration': {'text': '24 mins', 'value': 1442},
     'duration_in_traffic': {'text': '22 mins', 'value': 1328},
     'status': 'OK'}]}],
 'status': 'OK'}

Get Directions Between Locations

One of the most frequent usage of Google Maps is to check the direction from one place to another. You can use directions API to get the route info as per below:

directions_result = gmaps.directions(geocode_result[0]['formatted_address'],
                                     arrival_time=datetime.now() + timedelta(minutes=0.5))

For this directions API, it returns you the detailed routing information based on what type of travelling mode you’ve chosen.

In the above example, we have specified the mode as “transit”, so Google Maps will suggest a route that you can take the public transport whenever possible to reach your final destination. It may not meet your arrival time if it is really infeasible anyway.

Below is the sample return with detailed routing directions:

[{'bounds': {'northeast': {'lat': 1.3229677, 'lng': 103.9314612},
   'southwest': {'lat': 1.2925606, 'lng': 103.8056495}},
  'copyrights': 'Map data ©2021 Google',
  'legs': [{'arrival_time': {'text': '9:16pm',
     'time_zone': 'Asia/Singapore',
     'value': 1611321373},
    'departure_time': {'text': '7:59pm',
     'time_zone': 'Asia/Singapore',
     'value': 1611316750},
    'distance': {'text': '18.0 km', 'value': 17992},
    'duration': {'text': '1 hour 17 mins', 'value': 4623},
    'end_address': '87 Farrer Dr, Singapore 259287',
    'end_location': {'lat': 1.3132547, 'lng': 103.8070619},
    'start_address': '1206 ECP, #01-07/08 East Coast Seafood Centre, Singapore 449883',


{'distance': {'text': '0.1 km', 'value': 106},
        'duration': {'text': '1 min', 'value': 76},
        'end_location': {'lat': 1.305934, 'lng': 103.9306822},
        'html_instructions': 'Turn <b>left</b>',
        'maneuver': 'turn-left',
        'polyline': {'points': 'q{}Fk_jyRM?KAIAE@a@DQBGDEBGDIF_@LQD'},
        'start_location': {'lat': 1.3050507, 'lng': 103.9309369},
        'travel_mode': 'WALKING'},

You can also supply the waypoints parameter in order to route multiple locations between your origin and destination. For instance, if you want to go for a one day tour in Singapore, you can provide a list of the attractions and let Google to optimize the route for you with the optimize_waypoints = True parameter. The sample code as per below:

waypoints = ["Chinatown Buddha Tooth Relic Temple", 
"Sentosa Island, Singapore", 
"National Gallery Singapore", 
"Botanic Garden, Singapore",
"Boat Quay @ Bonham Street, Singapore 049782"]

results = gmaps.directions(origin = "Fort Canning Park, Singapore",
                                         destination = "Raffles Hotel, Singapore",                                     
                                         waypoints = waypoints,
                                         optimize_waypoints = True,
                                         departure_time=datetime.now() + timedelta(hours=1)

for i, leg in enumerate(results[0]["legs"]):
    print("Stop:" + str(i),
        "==> ",
        "distance: ",  
        "traveling Time: ",

To get a good result, you will need to make sure all the locations you’ve provided can be geocoded by Google. Below is the output:

plot route on Google Maps with Python Google Maps API

Plot Route on Google Maps

To visualize your route or location on a map, you can make use of the Maps Static API. It allows you to plot your locations as markers on the map and draw the path between each location.

To get started, we shall define the markers for our locations. We can specify the color, size and label attributes for each location in a “|” separated string. As the label only allows a single character from {A-Z, 0-9}, we will just use A-Z to indicate the sequence of each location. E.g.:

locations = ["Fort Canning Park, Singapore",
          "Chinatown Buddha Tooth Relic Temple", 
          "Sentosa Island, Singapore", 
          "National Gallery Singapore", 
          "Boat Quay @ Bonham Street, Singapore 049782",
          "Botanic Garden, Singapore",
          "Raffles Hotel, Singapore"]

markers = ["color:blue|size:mid|label:" + chr(65+i) + "|" 
                   + r for i, r in enumerate(locations)]

In the static_map function, you can specify the scale, size and zoom to define how many pixels of your output and whether you want to show the details up to the city or individual building on your map.

The format and maptype parameters are used to specify the output image format and what type of maps you want to use.

Lastly, we can specify the path parameter to connect the different locations together. Similar to how we define the markers, we can specify the attributes in a “|” separated string. Below is the sample code:

result_map = gmaps.static_map(
                 size=[640, 640], 
                 path="color:0x0000ff|weight:2|" + "|".join(locations))

And if you save the return result into a .jpg file as per below:

with open(“driving_route_map.jpg”, “wb”) as img:
    for chunk in result_map:

You shall see something similar to the below:

plot route on Google Maps with Python Google Maps API

The routing sequence is based on the list of locations you’ve supplied, so you can probably use directions function to return a optimal route and then plot them with static_map.

A few things to be noted are that the static map only support small size of image (up to 1280×1280), and you will have to plot in more points if you want to draw a nicer driver routes. For our above code, we only take 7 location points, so the lines are not making any sense for driving. If we use the location points suggested by Google from directions function, the result would look much better. E.g.:

marker_points = []
waypoints = []

#extract the location points from the previous directions function

for leg in results[0]["legs"]:
    leg_start_loc = leg["start_location"]
    for step in leg["steps"]:
        end_loc = step["end_location"]
last_stop = results[0]["legs"][-1]["end_location"]
markers = [ "color:blue|size:mid|label:" + chr(65+i) + "|" 
           + r for i, r in enumerate(marker_points)]
result_map = gmaps.static_map(
                 center = waypoints[0],
                 size=[640, 640], 
                 path="color:0x0000ff|weight:2|" + "|".join(waypoints))

We are extracting all the location points from the directions function and pass them to the path parameter to draw the connection lines. The output would be similar to below which makes more sense for driving:

plot route on Google Maps with Python Google Maps API, optimize route with Google Maps API, Singapore


In this article, we have reviewed through a few Google Maps APIs which hopefully will help you for any feasibility study or even in your real projects. For example, to cleanse the dirty address for a large set of data, or to calculate the distance/travelling time or get the optimal routes between multiple locations. If your objective is to generate a dynamic map, you probably have to go for the Maps JavaScript API where you can display a map on web page and make it interactive, but still you may find these Python APIs would be more efficient in processing your raw data rather than doing it in JavaScript code.

(last updated on 8-May-2021)