Installing Cartopy on Ubuntu 14.04 (or Travis-CI)

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that using GitHub to share projects, even in work-in-progress (WIP) state is quite beneficial. For one, someone can quickly point out that such project exists or suggest a tool which would simplify some operations. What’s more, with tools like Travis-CI or CodeCov it’s easy to follow whether the project is actually buildable or whether updates broke functionally of other features. Real convenience! Although, there is some price to pay for these goods.

One of the projects I’m currently working on is MapViz. Its aim is to provide easy to use visualization and summary for country and other administrative units data, mainly EuroStat dataset. This project heavily depends on Cartopy library – a great tool for handling geographical data, however, not so great when it comes to installing. It comes with many dependencies, some of which have to be installed separately. For example, the newest version of Cartopy requires Proj.4 lib in version 4.9, which is not available for Ubuntu older than 16.04. This is unfortunate, because Travis allows to use Ubuntu in versions 12.04 (precise) or 14.04 (trusty). For these only Proj.4 in version 4.8 is available and that’s not enough. Once these are obtained, installing Cartopy with `pip` is easy, it’s just:

$ pip install cartopy

but the trick is to install all dependencies.

The workaround is dirty, but it works. One can directly download and install Proj.4 and its dependencies (libproj9) from 16.04 (xenial) repo. For exact links go to libproj9 and libproj-dev, select your architecture and then click on any mirror link. (Just a note that by default Travis-CI uses amd64.) So, download it with wget and then install with dpkg. Here’s an example:

$ wget 
$ sudo dpkg -i libproj9_4.9.2-2_amd64.deb 

For comparison, here is my whole .travis.yml file:

dist: trusty
language: python
  - 2.7
  - 3.4
  - 3.5
  - sudo apt-get -qq update
  - sudo apt-get install -y libproj-dev proj-bin proj-data
  - sudo apt-get install -y python-pyproj
  - sudo apt-get install -y libc6
  - wget 
  - sudo dpkg -i libproj9_4.9.2-2_amd64.deb 
  - wget
  - sudo dpkg -i libproj-dev_4.9.2-2_amd64.deb
  - pip install -r requirements.txt
  - python install

Plots in matplotlib pylab

When trying to explain something to someone it is usually much better to actually present it in a graphical form. For this, I’m usually using Python and its module Matplotlib. It is highly customizable package with lots and lots different display techniques both for 2D and 3D images. Great feature is that one can also create animations to include in presentations.

One of the classes in Matplotlib is called PyLab. It is meant to have the same functionality as Matlab’s plotting functions. For my everyday activity that’s typical more than enough. I’m not going to discuss package in details. I just want to mention few nice options when displaying and saving plot to a file.

As a default, pylab leaves lots of whitespace for axis, titles and borders. On one hand this is good, because it makes everything look really nice, but on the other, we are losing some space for actual graphs. If you are going to discuss the plot while presenting, sometimes you can remove “unnecessary” content.

Supposedly one imports pylab with

import pylab as py  # including pylab lib

To remove ticks from axis:

frame = py.gca()  # returns (gets) current axis
frame.axes.get_xaxis().set_ticks([]) # removes all x axis ticks
frame.axes.get_yaxis().set_ticks([]) # removes all y axis ticks

To change the distance between subplots and margins:

py.subplots_adjust(left=leftMargine, bottom=bottomMargine,
                    right=rightMargine, top=topMargine,
                    wspace=widthSpace, hspace=highSpace)

Parameters left, right, bottom and top refer to location of the grid corners. Wspace and hspace are respectively horizontal and vertical spaces between subplots. Pylab can actually do it by itself, but the result is not always the best possible. Command to do it automatically is


On top of that, one can also remove unnecessary white space in output when saving to file

py.savefig(filename, bbox_inches='tight')

where the ‘tight’ indicates cropping margins.

Here is a short snippet where those functions are applied:

import pylab as py
import numpy as np

N = 500
t = np.linspace(0, 1, N)
s1 = np.random.random(N)
s2 = np.random.random(N)
s3 = np.random.random(N)

py.plot(t, s1)

py.plot(t, s2)

py.plot(t, s3)

py.savefig('output', dpi=150, bbox_inches='tight')