Python download file from github

Python download file from github DEFAULT

Earth Data Analytics Online Certificate

Learning Objectives

After completing this page, you will be able to:

  • Explain how a GitHub repository stores and tracks changes to files.
  • Create a copy of (i.e. ) other users’ files on .
  • Use the command to download a copy of a GitHub repository to your computer.

About Git and GitHub

Previously in this textbook, you learned that git is tool that is used to track changes in files (a process called version control) through a suite of commands that you can execute in the Terminal. You also learned that GitHub allows you to store files in the cloud to access them from any computer and to share them with others.

You can use git and GitHub together in a workflow to make changes to files locally with git and to store and share your files on To work together, git and GitHub use repositories (i.e. directories of files) to manage and store files.

Data Tip: A GitHub repository is a directory of files and folders that is hosted on

Having a copy of a set of files stored in GitHub repositories in the cloud is ideal because:

  1. There is a backup: If something happens to your computer, the files are still available online.
  2. You can share the files with other people easily.
  3. You can even create a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) using third party tools like Zenodo to cite your files or ask others to cite your files. You can also add these DOIs to your resume or C.V. to promote your work.

Directory Structure of Repositories

In essence, a repository is a directory for a specific project that is identified as a repository by git and GitHub because it contains a subdirectory called .

The subdirectory is created automatically, either by GitHub if it is created on or by git if the repository is created locally on a computer first (i.e. initialized as a repository). This subdirectory is used by these tools to manage and track the various tasks that are run on this directory (e.g. tracking changes to files in the repository). Thus, you never need to access or modify the files in the subdirectory.

A typical repository (e.g. ) is structured as follows:

In addition to the subdirectory, it is common to have subdirectories for specific files of a workflow such as data or scripts. A few common files in most if not all git repos are:

  1. file: This is a Markdown file that is used to provide a description of the repository (i.e. its contents, purpose, etc), so that others can learn how to use the files in the repository.
  2. file: This file can be used to list the files that you do not want git to track (i.e. monitor via version control). You will learn more about both of these useful files later in this chapter.

URL of Repositories on

When a repository is stored on, it is assigned a unique URL (i.e. link on the website) that can be used to find the repository and access its files. While repositories on can be made either public or private, the default is public for free GitHub accounts.

In either case (public or private), the URL links to a GitHub repository always follows the same format:

The username is the username of the creator (i.e. owner) of the repository. The username can either be an individual such as (or your GitHub username!), or it can represent an organization such as .

For example, the repositories that you will work with throughout this textbook will be owned by , and thus, will have URLs that look like this:

Create a Copy of Other Users’ Files on (Fork a Repo)

Using, you can make a copy of a GitHub repository (also known as a repo) owned by another user or organization (a task referred to as a repository). This means that you do not have to fork a repository that you already own. Instead, other users can fork your repository if they would like a copy to work with, and your original files will not be modified!

The ability to a repository is a benefit of using GitHub repositories because the forked repository is linked to the original. This means that you (or other users) can update the files in your fork from the original to your (or their) forked repository. It also means that you can suggest changes to the original repository, which can be reviewed by the owner of that repository. Thus, forking allows you to collaborate with others while protecting the original versions of files. When collaborating, everyone will work with copies of the original files. And all changes are tracked in each file’s history and can be undone at any time.

You can an existing GitHub repository from the main page of the repository that you want to copy.

To fork a repo:

  1. Navigate to the repo page that you wish to fork - example:
  1. On that page, you will see a button in the UPPER RIGHT hand corner that says . The number next to that button tells you how many times the repo has already been forked.
  2. Click on the button and select your user account when it asks you where you want to fork the repo.
  3. Once you have forked the repo, you will have a copy of it in your account. Navigate to your repo page. The url should look something like this:
You can create a copy of repositories created by other users on Github by forking their repository to your Github account.

Later in this textbook, you will learn how to suggest changes to the original repository, receive updates from the original repository to your fork, and collaborate with others.

Copy Files From to Your Computer ()

To work locally with a GitHub repository (including forked repos), you need to create a local copy of that repository on your computer (a task referred to as a repo). You can clone GitHub repositories that you own or that are owned by others (e.g. repositories that you have forked to your GitHub account).

In either case, cloning allows you to create a local copy of a GitHub repository, so that you can work with the files locally on your computer. Cloning a repository to your computer is a great way to work on your files locally, while still having a copy of your files on the cloud on Following the steps below, you will use the command in the terminal to clone GitHub repositories.

Use to Change to Your Desired Working Directory

The first step to using any git command is to change the current working directory to your desired directory. In the case of , the current working directory needs to be where you want to download a local copy of a GitHub repository.

For this textbook, you will clone a repo into a directory called on your computer (or wherever you are working. This directory should be located in the home directory of your computer.

Copy a Repository URL From

To run the command, you need the URL for the repository that you want to clone (i.e. either a repository owned by you or a fork that you created of another user’s repository).

On the main page of the repository, you can click on the green button for , and copy the URL provided in the box, which will look like:

You can make a local copy of your forked repository on your computer with the git clone command.

Data Tip: You can also copy the URL directly from your web browser, or in some cases, you might already know the URL. However, in many cases, you will come across a new repository on your own and will need to follow these instructions to copy the URL for future use.

Run the Git Clone Command in the Terminal

Now that you have the URL for a repository that you want to copy locally, you can use the terminal to run the command followed by the URL that you copied:

You have now made a local copy of a repository under your directory. You can double check that the directory exists using the command in the terminal.

Challenge - Fork and Clone a Repository

Go to and login. Then use the link below to open the practice-git-skillz repo.

  • On the main page of this repository, you will see a button on the top right that says . The number next to tells the number of times that the repository has been copied or forked.
  • Click on the button and select your account as the home of the forked repository.
  • Once you have forked a repository, you will have a copy (or a fork) of that repository in your GitHub account. The URL to your fork will contain your username:
  • Finally, clone the fork that you created above so you have a copy of all the files on on your local computer. You may want to clone this repo into your earth-anlaytics directory if you are working through the complete Bootcamp course as a part of our Professional Certificate program.

To make sure you did things right, in bash, cd to the practice-git-skillz directory on your computer. Type:

The paths returned should look something like this:

Setup Git About Version Control


At VendAsta we frequently share libraries of code between projects. To make it easier to share this code I’ve developed a small package manager that downloads code within a directory from Github to be copied in to your current project. It’s a quick and dirty alternative to cloning an entire repository, grabbing the set of files you want and placing them in your project.

We’ll use the PyGithub Python library to interact with the Github API.

Logging in to Github

The first step is to log in to Github using our credentials. To do this we instantiate a new Github object given our username and password and access the associated user by calling .

This is equivalent to making a basic authentication request to get the currently authenticated user and storing the result in a local representation.

Accessing a repository

Now that we have a user we can get a repository for that user by name. To get the repository for this website we make a request to get a repo by owner.

Downloading a single file

To download a single file from a repository we make a call to get the contents of a file.

Referencing commits

We have all the building blocks to download a resource from Github. The next step is to download a resource referenced by a specific commit. The Github API expects SHA values to reference a commit. To make this a bit more user friendly we can write a function that will search for a SHA given a git tag or branch name.

Now we can pass this SHA to the function to get a file for that specific commit.

Putting it all together

By putting a bit more polish on this we can easily download entire directories of code that reference a single tag or branch and copy them to our local environment. The basic workflow is:

  1. Choose a repository.
  2. Choose a branch or tag.
  3. Choose a directory.
  4. Iteratively download all the files in that directory.

Let’s make that happen.

For this code I’ll assume that the Github user belongs to a single organization and that this organization is sharing code between repositories.

This piece of code is fairly simple and relies on a couple of helper functions: and . will return the SHA commit hash given a branch or tag and will recursively download the files in the given directory.

We’ve been using a variation of this simple script to share code between Github repositories and appreciate it’s flexibility and ease of use. Let me know if you find it useful!

github  packaging 

See also

  1. Gta online casino money glitch
  2. Ted ed einstein riddle
  3. One piece empty wanted poster

When you clone or pull a Git repository, the entire contents of that repository are downloaded by default. Git does not allow you to download part of a repository. Using GitHub, you can download one file from a Git repository.

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In this guide, we talk about how to download a single file from GitHub. We walk through two examples to help you learn how to download files from the web browser and the command line.

Download a Single File from GitHub

GitHub lets you download one file from a repository. This is a useful feature because it means you do not have to clone or retrieve an entire repository to download a particular file.

You cannot retrieve a single file using the git command line, even if your repository is hosted on GitHub. You need to use the GitHub web interface, or a direct URL to a file.

To download an individual file from a repository, first navigate to the file you want to download on the GitHub website. Then, click the “Raw” download button that appears on the top right corner of the file explorer window on your page:

PhbCcr2zL2KxtvszHjrW5ql1Svy4dDMeszN1kO4x5 OrZKsH RCSYbDsn6FJHA5kKlFzFBeUr5QdhPU8AqI R8MXlbRTSOF0MxtIxe0yuejGASrrE5SYl7b3Mipc4NAPg

In this example, we are viewing the file in a repository called ck-git. When we click “Raw”, we are directed to a plain-text version of our file.

This takes us to the following URL:

Now that we are viewing a plain-text version of our file, we can save it like we would with any web resource. Press Ctrl-S or Cmd-S for Windows and Mac, respectively, and choose where you want to save the file that you are viewing.

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Download a Single File Using a URL

We do not need the web interface to view the raw version of a file. We can manually write the URL of the file we want to retrieve.

Let’s take another look at the URL that the web interface pointed us to earlier:

This URL follows a standard format:


We can use this format to retrieve any file from our Git archive, such as a HTML file or a markdown file. We could download a file called in a folder called “main” using this URL:

This method works on both plain text and binary files. If you need to download an image, for example, you’ll be able to do so using this approach.

This approach only works for files that are public. If you want to retrieve a file from a private repository, you’ll need to download it directly from the GitHub web interface. This is because the web interface provides an access token that you need to view a private file.

Download a Single File Using Wget

We can download a single file from the command line using the wget command. This is because we can write the URL for the file we want to retrieve.

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Like the last approach, you can only download a single file using wget if that file is public.

All we have to do to download a single file using wget is write a wget command:

wget -L

This command retrieves the main/ file from our project. The -L flag instructs wget to retrieve only the file that we have specified. We could alternatively use cURL to retrieve the file we want to download.


You can download an individual file from a GitHub repository from the web interface, by using a URL, or from the command line.

You can only retrieve public files by URL or from the command line. This is because private files are protected by an access token that you can only retrieve by viewing a file from the web interface.

Now you have the knowledge you need to download a single file from GitHub like a pro!

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