Getting started with Rockpool

Base requirements

Rockpool requires Python 3.7, numpy and scipy to install. These requirements will be installed by pip when installing Rockpool. We recommend using anaconda, miniconda or another environment manager to keep your Python dependencies clean.

Installation using pip

The simplest way to install Rockpool is by using pip to download and install the latest version from PyPI.

pip install rockpool

Installation using conda

You can also install Rockpool using conda, from the conda-forge channel.

conda install -c conda-forge rockpool

Rockpool version

To check your Rockpool version, access the __version__ attribute of the module:

import rockpool


Rockpool has several dependencies for various aspects of the library. However, these dependencies are compartmentalised as much as possible. For example, Jax is required to use the Jax-backed modules (e.g. RateJax); PyTorch is required to use the Torch-backed modules, and so on. But if these dependencies are not available, the remainder of Rockpool is still usable.

To automatically install most of the extra dependencies required by Rockpool, use the command

$ pip install rockpool[all]


$ pip install rockpool\[all\]

if using zsh. Some dependencies, such as pandoc and NEST, must be installed manually.

To check which computational back-ends are available to Rockpool, use the list_backends() function:

import rockpool

Building the documentation

The Rockpool documentation is based on sphinx, and all dependencies required for a local HTML version are installed with pip install rockpool[all].

To build a live, locally-hosted HTML version of the docs, use the command

$ cd docs
$ make clean html

Once built, the documentation will be placed in rockpool\docs\_build\html. Open index.html in a web browser to start using the documentation.

To build a PDF version of the docs, you need to install imagemagick on your system, as well as a working version of latex and pdflatex. You will need to install these dependencies manually.

Once all dependencies are installed, you can build the PDF docs with

$ cd docs
$ make clean latexpdf


If you would like to contribute to Rockpool, then you should begin by forking the public repository at to your own account. Then clone your fork to your development machine

$ git clone rockpool

Install the package in development mode using pip

$ cd rockpool
$ pip install -e . --user


$ pip install -e .[all] --user

The main branch is development. You should commit your modifications to a new feature branch.

$ git checkout -b feature/my-feature develop
$ git commit -m 'This is a verbose commit message.'

Then push your new branch to your repository

$ git push -u origin feature/my-feature

Use the Black code formatter on your submission during your final commit. This is required for us to merge your changes. If your modifications aren’t already covered by a unit test, please include a unit test with your merge request. Unit tests go in the tests directory.

Then when you’re ready, make a merge request on, from the feature branch in your fork to

Running tests

As part of the merge review process, we’ll check that all the unit tests pass. You can check this yourself (and probably should before making your merge request), by running the unit tests locally.

To run all the unit tests for Rockpool, use pytest:

$ pytest tests