Command line activation

Activating Toolkit via the command line

This document describes functionality only available if you have taken control over a Toolkit configuration. Please refer to the Shotgun Integrations User Guide for details. Prior to the Shotgun Desktop was released, Toolkit was installed and set up via a command line script. If you for some reason still would like to use this legacy process rather than our new and official UI based process, this document outlines how.


This document describes how you install and configure your first setup of the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit using the command line based activation script.

Note! For most use cases, we strongly recommend that you use the Shotgun Desktop to activate Toolkit. This document outlines the command line based setup workflow that was used before the Shotgun Desktop was released. If for some reason the Shotgun Desktop isn't suitable to use to get started, the steps outlined below may be useful.

System Requirements

In a nutshell, you need the following in order to run the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit:

  • A Shotgun site, either local or hosted. If you don't have a Shotgun installation yet, you can sign up for a free evaluation here:
  • Your operating system needs to be Windows, Linux or Macosx
  • Python v2.6 or later (but not v3.x) installed.

Installing Python on Windows (Click to expand)

On Linux and Macosx, python is included as part of the system. On windows, you need to install it yourself. We recommend that you use 64 bit Python 2.7 and you can download an installer here:

It's still a bit technical!

Please note that installing the Shotgun Toolkit is still currently a bit technical, requiring work on the command line and manual editing of config files. Our target audience is pipeline developers. Total installation time should be 20 minutes or so if you use our default configurations.

Activating the Toolkit for your Shotgun site

The first thing to do is to activate the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit. Once you have activated the Toolkit, you will be able to set up Shotgun projects with the Toolkit, install apps for them, etc. This first activation step includes a couple of different things: Installing the Core Pipeline Toolkit API on your machine, tweaking some settings inside of Shotgun and installing the Shotgun Browser plugin which acts as a bridge between Shotgun running in your Browser and the Toolkit and the various application where the Toolkit is running.

Step 1. Check your Shotgun Site

Does your Shotgun site address end with In that case, congratulations! You should be all set and your site has already been prepared for the Toolkit Setup! Please continue to Step 2.

If not, please drop us a line on our support site - it is possible that your site has not yet been fully prepared for Toolkit and the Shotgun team may need to go in and do some small adjustments before you can get going!

Step 2. Make sure the Toolkit is enabled!

Before doing anything else, make sure you have actually turned on support for the Toolkit inside of Shotgun. You do this by logging in as an admin, navigating to the Manage Apps menu and then clicking the switch icon next to Toolkit:

Step 3. Location on disk for the example installation

The Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit is highly configurable, and in you can configure it to match your existing studio file system structure. For your very first test install, we suggest using a simple test structure. This setup consists of three key locations on disk:

  • The project data root /mnt/projects - this is where all the production data for all projects will be stored. This includes things like maya scenes, renders, Nuke scripts, images. Before proceeding, make sure that this folder exists on disk.

  • The studio root /mnt/software/shotgun/studio - this contains the installation of the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit core API.

  • Configurations inside of /mnt/software/shotgun - there is one configuration folder for each project. Before proceeding, make sure that this folder exists on disk.

Note that you don't need to use the locations outlined above - it is entirely up to you to decide where things should go on disk and the installation process will prompt you for all file locations. The rest of this document, however, will assume that you are using the locations shown above.

If you are running on Windows, we recommend that you can use the same setup, but with the drive letter prefix (e.g. c:\mnt\projects or z:\mnt\projects).

Step 4. Create a Shotgun API 'Toolkit' script for you site

The next step is to create an API Script inside of Shotgun. This script will be used by the Pipeline Toolkit whenever it needs to communicate with Shotgun. The activation script will ask for this when it establishes a connection to your Shotgun server.

Make sure you are logged in as an administrator, then use the top-right main menu to navigate to the Scripts page in Shotgun and create a new script named Toolkit (with a capital T). Make sure it belongs to the API Admin permissions group:

When Shotgun creates a new API Script, it generates a random authentication key which is needed whenever you use it. The Pipeline Toolkit activation script will ask for this script key as part of the installation process, so now is a good time to navigate to the API Script detail page and copy that value to the clipboard.

Step 5. Set up a Local File Storage named 'primary'

Now we need to tell Shotgun where files are stored on disk. In our suggested configuration outlined in step 1, we nominated /mnt/projects as our location on disk where all the production data is stored. Now it is time to register this with Shotgun. This is done by defining a Local Storage in Shotgun. You can do this by navigating to the Site Preferences (again, make sure you are logged in as an administrator in Shotgun) and expanding the File Management tab. Add a storage named primary (note the lower case p) and set the paths like the figure below illustrates:

This primary storage is required by the standard configuration which we suggest that you start your Toolkit evaluation with.

Later on, when you are setting up your own studio configuration, you can change and redefine this, even create a config that uses more than a single storage - this is handy if you for example have your textures, renders, work files etc on different mount points or drive letters.

Step 6. Adjust some Shotgun UI Layouts

Now it is time to make some minor adjustments to the Shotgun UI. The Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit creates Publish Entities when you publish a file, so it is handy to add a Publishes Tab to key Assets such as Shot and Asset. To do this, make sure that you are logged in as an admin user. Start by navigating to an Asset or Shot and enter into Design Mode:

Now click the little menu triangle on one of the tabs, and select the Add New Tab action. This will bring up a Dialog UI. Call the tab Publishes and make sure that it is associated with Published File Entities:

Now click Save to save your changes. You are all set!

Note: Shotgun will choose a couple of default fields to pull in when you create a new tab. You may want to add a couple of extra fields for publishes. This is done by clicking the little plus button in the top-right hand corner of the spreadsheet you can see under your new publishes tab. We recommend that you add the following fields:

  • Description - Holds a description of the changes in this publish
  • Created By - The user who created the publish
  • Date Created - When the publish was made

If you make changes to your layouts, don't forget to save the page afterwards!

Step 7. Install the Shotgun Browser Plugin

The Toolkit allows you execute commands inside of Shotgun - for example, you can select one of your tasks, right click on it and choose Launch Maya, whereby Maya starts up, preconfigured for you to work on that specific Task. In order to do this, the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit uses a special browser plugin that takes care of the communication between Shotgun and the Toolkit. We recommend that you install it at this point. You can find detailed information, including both source and installers here:

Note: If your shotgun installation is local, e.g. if your Shotgun Site URL does not end with, you need to go through some additional steps when you are installing the browser plugin! Read more about it here:

A note about Java (Click to expand)

Previously we relied on a Java Applet to manage the communication between Shotgun and the Toolkit. You can still use Java, and if you don't install the Browser plugin, Shotgun will automatically fall back on the Java Applet. Note however that this has been scheduled to become deprecated and we strongly recommend that you use the browser plugin which is faster and more reliable.

For more information, see this blog post:

Step 8. Run the activation script

Now you are all set to get started! It is time to download and run the Pipeline Toolkit Activation Script. This script is a little python script that you run from the command line. It will set up the basic folder structure on disk and download the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit API from the App Store.

Click to download the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit activation package.

Before downloading the activation package, we ask you to read through and accept the Shotgun terms of service below.

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Now open a terminal window (or cmd.exe on Windows) and run the activation script simply by navigating to the folder where the activation script was downloaded to and then typing

> python

The activation script will start executing. It will prompt you for information at various points and once complete, you will be all set to create your first Pipeline Toolkit project!

Using the console (cmd.exe) on windows (Click to expand)

On Windows, use the start menu to start a console session, then navigate to the folder where you downloaded the activation script and run python from that location:

Are you using a Proxy Server to connect to the Internet? (Click to expand)

If your studio is using a proxy server to connect to the Internet, the activation script (and further Toolkit operations) may not function correctly. In this case, you can specify a special --sg-proxy parameter when you run the activation script. For more information about this, run the activation script with a --help parameter.

Activation Complete!

Activation is now complete! Congratulations! We recommend that you follow the advice given by the activation script, and add the main installation folder to your PATH environment variable, so that you can access the tank command wherever you are.

How to add the tank command to the PATH environment variable

For example, if you are running Linux or macosx and are using our default locations suggested above, it would be a matter of adding the following to your startup files (assuming you are using bash):

export PATH=$PATH:/mnt/software/shotgun/studio

Now, you can just type tank anywhere in a shell to access toolkit.

If you are using Windows, there is a special UI you can use to modify your environment variables:

  1. From the Desktop, right-click My Computer and click Properties.
  2. In the System Properties window, click on the Advanced tab.
  3. In the Advanced section, click the Environment Variables button.
  4. Finally, in the Environment Variables window, highlight the Path variable in the Systems Variable section and click the Edit button. Each different directory is separated with a semicolon: C:\Program Files;C:\Winnt;C:\Winnt\System32. If you have installed toolkit into c:\mnt\software\shotgun\studio, you want to add that at the end of your existing path. Using the example above, we would get C:\Program Files;C:\Winnt;C:\Winnt\System32;c:\mnt\software\shotgun\studio

The next step in this document is to set up a project to use with the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit. Keep reading for details on how to do that.

Setting up your first project

Once you have activated Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit, it is time to create your first Project. This is straight forward - you run a setup_project command which will take an existing project in Shotgun and extend it into the File System. The process starts by asking for a configuration template to use. This configuration contains all the settings for which apps and engines to use, how the file system should be structured and how the configuration should change across departments. For your very first setup, we suggest you use our default configuration which contains an up to date mix of apps and engines. For the future, however, we recommend that you let your pipeline configuration evolve by simply choosing a configuration from an existing project. This way, any configuration changes and improvements you make to a project will benefit not just that project, but all future projects!

Running the project setup script

In order to create a new project, you use the tank command that was installed as part of the Activation. Just run it with a setup_project parameter, like this:

> /mnt/software/shotgun/studio/tank setup_project

On Windows, it would be

> c:\mnt\software\shotgun\studio\tank setup_project

This command will set up a new project and do all the things you need in order to run the Toolkit for that project. For this example setup, you should be able to simply accept the defaults that the project setup script suggests. You can usually do this by hitting ENTER when prompted for information.

Disk structure after setup

Once the setup project has completed you will have the following structure on disk:

Note that each configuration area gets its own tank command. This is useful later when you want to create a staging or development sandbox for a project and want to run things from there rather than from the main project configuration.

Check for updated versions of Apps and Engines

The starter configuration that is used to set up a new project contains a specific set of app versions. Apps and engines are updated frequently so we recommend that you run the Toolkit's update checker straight away. This command will check if there are more recent versions of the apps and engines and ask you if you want to install them. If you have the tank command added to your PATH, you can run it by specifying the project name (or part of the project name) followed by the updates command:

> /mnt/software/shotgun/studio/tank Project bunny updates
> c:\mnt\software\shotgun\studio\tank Project bunny updates

Next Steps

Now you have installed the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit and set up your first project, your test bed is ready, so let the experimentation and exploration begin! But before you get started, to see it all in action, we recommend spening a couple of minutes checking out our various walkthrough videos. These show the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit in action, how it works inside applications such as Maya and Nuke. It also goes through basic concepts such as publishing, version control, loading etc.

We also have a more technical document that goes through the high level concepts in the Shotgun Pipeline Toolkit and explains 'bigger picture' things. Once you have a good grasp of what the Toolkit does out of the box, we recommend that you move on to this document to get a deeper undestanding of how the Toolkit could be adjusted to suit your particular studio needs.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us! Just submit a ticket.

Big Buck Bunny - footage courtesy of (CC) Blender Foundation,



  • 0
    Ammar Baali

    At step 2, the Pipeline Toolkit is not there at all. Any idea?

    I'm logged in as an admin

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