BigML Python Bindings

BigML makes machine learning easy by taking care of the details required to add data-driven decisions and predictive power to your company. Unlike other machine learning services, BigML creates beautiful predictive models that can be easily understood and interacted with.

These BigML Python bindings allow you to interact with, the API for BigML. You can use it to easily create, retrieve, list, update, and delete BigML resources (i.e., sources, datasets, models and, predictions).

This module is licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0.


Please report problems and bugs to our issue tracker.

Discussions about the different bindings take place in the general BigML mailing list. Or join us in our Campfire chatroom.


Only Python 3 versions are currently supported by these bindings. Support for Python 2.7.X ended in version 4.32.3.

The basic third-party dependencies are the requests, unidecode, requests-toolbelt, numpy and scipy libraries. These libraries are automatically installed during the setup. Support for Google App Engine has been added as of version 3.0.0, using the urlfetch package instead of requests.

The bindings will also use simplejson if you happen to have it installed, but that is optional: we fall back to Python’s built-in JSON libraries is simplejson is not found.

Also in order to use local Topic Model predictions, you will need to install pystemmer. Using the pip install command for this library can produce an error if your system lacks the correct developer tools to compile it. In Windows, the error message will include a link pointing to the needed Visual Studio version and in OSX you’ll need to install the Xcode developer tools.


To install the latest stable release with pip

$ pip install bigml

You can also install the development version of the bindings directly from the Git repository

$ pip install -e git://

Importing the module

To import the module:

import bigml.api

Alternatively you can just import the BigML class:

from bigml.api import BigML


All the requests to must be authenticated using your username and API key and are always transmitted over HTTPS.

This module will look for your username and API key in the environment variables BIGML_USERNAME and BIGML_API_KEY respectively.

Unix and MacOS

You can add the following lines to your .bashrc or .bash_profile to set those variables automatically when you log in:

export BIGML_USERNAME=myusername
export BIGML_API_KEY=ae579e7e53fb9abd646a6ff8aa99d4afe83ac291

refer to the next chapters to know how to do that in other operating systems.

With that environment set up, connecting to BigML is a breeze:

from bigml.api import BigML
api = BigML()

Otherwise, you can initialize directly when instantiating the BigML class as follows:

api = BigML('myusername', 'ae579e7e53fb9abd646a6ff8aa99d4afe83ac291')

These credentials will allow you to manage any resource in your user environment.

In BigML a user can also work for an organization. In this case, the organization administrator should previously assign permissions for the user to access one or several particular projects in the organization. Once permissions are granted, the user can work with resources in a project according to his permission level by creating a special constructor for each project. The connection constructor in this case should include the project ID:

api = BigML('myusername', 'ae579e7e53fb9abd646a6ff8aa99d4afe83ac291',

If the project used in a connection object does not belong to an existing organization but is one of the projects under the user’s account, all the resources created or updated with that connection will also be assigned to the specified project.

When the resource to be managed is a project itself, the connection needs to include the corresponding``organization ID``:

api = BigML('myusername', 'ae579e7e53fb9abd646a6ff8aa99d4afe83ac291',

Authentication on Windows

The credentials should be permanently stored in your system using

setx BIGML_USERNAME myusername
setx BIGML_API_KEY ae579e7e53fb9abd646a6ff8aa99d4afe83ac291

Note that setx will not change the environment variables of your actual console, so you will need to open a new one to start using them.

Authentication on Jupyter Notebook

You can set the environment variables using the %env command in your cells:

%env BIGML_USERNAME=myusername
%env BIGML_API_KEY=ae579e7e53fb9abd646a6ff8aa99d4afe83ac291

Alternative domains

The main public domain for the API service is, but there are some alternative domains, either for Virtual Private Cloud setups or the australian subdomain ( You can change the remote server domain to the VPC particular one by either setting the BIGML_DOMAIN environment variable to your VPC subdomain:


or setting it when instantiating your connection:

api = BigML(domain="")

The corresponding SSL REST calls will be directed to your private domain henceforth.

You can also set up your connection to use a particular PredictServer only for predictions. In order to do so, you’ll need to specify a Domain object, where you can set up the general domain name as well as the particular prediction domain name.

from bigml.domain import Domain
from bigml.api import BigML

domain_info = Domain(prediction_domain="",

api = BigML(domain=domain_info)

Finally, you can combine all the options and change both the general domain server, and the prediction domain server.

from bigml.domain import Domain
from bigml.api import BigML
domain_info = Domain(domain="",

api = BigML(domain=domain_info)

Some arguments for the Domain constructor are more unsual, but they can also be used to set your special service endpoints:

  • protocol (string) Protocol for the service (when different from HTTPS)
  • verify (boolean) Sets on/off the SSL verification
  • prediction_verify (boolean) Sets on/off the SSL verification for the prediction server (when different from the general SSL verification)

Note that the previously existing dev_mode flag:

api = BigML(dev_mode=True)

that caused the connection to work with the Sandbox Development Environment has been deprecated because this environment does not longer exist. The existing resources that were previously created in this environment have been moved to a special project in the now unique Production Environment, so this flag is no longer needed to work with them.

Quick Start

Imagine that you want to use this csv file containing the Iris flower dataset to predict the species of a flower whose petal length is 2.45 and whose petal width is 1.75. A preview of the dataset is shown below. It has 4 numeric fields: sepal length, sepal width, petal length, petal width and a categorical field: species. By default, BigML considers the last field in the dataset as the objective field (i.e., the field that you want to generate predictions for).

sepal length,sepal width,petal length,petal width,species

You can easily generate a prediction following these steps:

from bigml.api import BigML

api = BigML()

source = api.create_source('./data/iris.csv')
dataset = api.create_dataset(source)
model = api.create_model(dataset)
prediction = api.create_prediction(model, \
    {"petal width": 1.75, "petal length": 2.45})

You can then print the prediction using the pprint method:

>>> api.pprint(prediction)
species for {"petal width": 1.75, "petal length": 2.45} is Iris-setosa

Certainly, any of the resources created in BigML can be configured using several arguments described in the API documentation. Any of these configuration arguments can be added to the create method as a dictionary in the last optional argument of the calls:

from bigml.api import BigML

api = BigML()

source_args = {"name": "my source",
     "source_parser": {"missing_tokens": ["NULL"]}}
source = api.create_source('./data/iris.csv', source_args)
dataset_args = {"name": "my dataset"}
dataset = api.create_dataset(source, dataset_args)
model_args = {"objective_field": "species"}
model = api.create_model(dataset, model_args)
prediction_args = {"name": "my prediction"}
prediction = api.create_prediction(model, \
    {"petal width": 1.75, "petal length": 2.45},

The iris dataset has a small number of instances, and usually will be instantly created, so the api.create_ calls will probably return the finished resources outright. As BigML’s API is asynchronous, in general you will need to ensure that objects are finished before using them by using api.ok.

from bigml.api import BigML

api = BigML()

source = api.create_source('./data/iris.csv')
dataset = api.create_dataset(source)
model = api.create_model(dataset)
prediction = api.create_prediction(model, \
    {"petal width": 1.75, "petal length": 2.45})

Note that the prediction call is not followed by the api.ok method. Predictions are so quick to be generated that, unlike the rest of resouces, will be generated synchronously as a finished object.

The example assumes that your objective field (the one you want to predict) is the last field in the dataset. If that’s not he case, you can explicitly set the name of this field in the creation call using the objective_field argument:

from bigml.api import BigML

api = BigML()

source = api.create_source('./data/iris.csv')
dataset = api.create_dataset(source)
model = api.create_model(dataset, {"objective_field": "species"})
prediction = api.create_prediction(model, \
    {'sepal length': 5, 'sepal width': 2.5})

You can also generate an evaluation for the model by using:

test_source = api.create_source('./data/test_iris.csv')
test_dataset = api.create_dataset(test_source)
evaluation = api.create_evaluation(model, test_dataset)

The API object also offers the create, get, update and delete generic methods to manage all type of resources. The type of resource to be created is passed as first argument to the create method;

from bigml.api import BigML

api = BigML()

source = api.create('source', './data/iris.csv')
source = api.update(source, {"name": "my new source name"})

Note that these methods don’t need the api.ok method to be called to wait for the resource to be finished. The method waits internally for it by default. This can be avoided by using finished=False as one of the arguments.

from bigml.api import BigML

api = BigML()

source = api.create('source', './data/iris.csv')
dataset = api.create('dataset', source, finished=False) # unfinished
api.ok(dataset) # waiting explicitly for the dataset to finish
dataset = api.update(dataset, {"name": "my_new_dataset_name"},

As an example for the delete and get methods, we could create a batch prediction, put the predictions in a dataset object and delete the batch_prediction.

from bigml.api import BigML

api = BigML()

batch_prediction = api.create('batchprediction',
                              args={"output_dataset": True})
batch_prediction_dataset = api.get(batch_prediction["object"][ \

If you set the storage argument in the api instantiation:

api = BigML(storage='./storage')

all the generated, updated or retrieved resources will be automatically saved to the chosen directory. Once they are stored locally, the retrieve_resource method will look for the resource information first in the local storage before trying to download the information from the API.

dataset = api.retrieve_resource("dataset/5e8e5672c7736e3d830037b5",

Alternatively, you can use the export method to explicitly download the JSON information that describes any of your resources in BigML to a particular file:


This example downloads the JSON for the model and stores it in the my_dir/my_model.json file.

In the case of models that can be represented in a PMML syntax, the export method can be used to produce the corresponding PMML file.


You can also retrieve the last resource with some previously given tag:


which selects the last ensemble that has a foo tag. This mechanism can be specially useful when retrieving retrained models that have been created with a shared unique keyword as tag.

For a descriptive overview of the steps that you will usually need to follow to model your data and obtain predictions, please see the basic Workflow sketch document. You can also check other simple examples in the following documents:

Fields Structure

BigML automatically generates idenfiers for each field. To see the fields and the ids and types that have been assigned to a source you can use get_fields:

>>> source = api.get_source(source)
>>> api.pprint(api.get_fields(source))
{   u'000000': {   u'column_number': 0,
                   u'name': u'sepal length',
                   u'optype': u'numeric'},
    u'000001': {   u'column_number': 1,
                   u'name': u'sepal width',
                   u'optype': u'numeric'},
    u'000002': {   u'column_number': 2,
                   u'name': u'petal length',
                   u'optype': u'numeric'},
    u'000003': {   u'column_number': 3,
                   u'name': u'petal width',
                   u'optype': u'numeric'},
    u'000004': {   u'column_number': 4,
                   u'name': u'species',
                   u'optype': u'categorical'}}

When the number of fields becomes very large, it can be useful to exclude or paginate them. This can be done using a query string expression, for instance:

>>> source = api.get_source(source, "offset=0;limit=10&order_by=name")

would include in the retrieved dictionary the first 10 fields sorted by name. There’s a limit to the number of fields that will be included by default in a resource description. If your resource has more than 1000 fields, you can either paginate or force all the fields to be returned by using limit=-1 as query string-

To handle field structures you can use the Fields class. See the Fields section.

ML Resources

You’ll find a description of the basic resources available in BigML in ML Resources

WhizzML Resources

You’ll learn about the scripting resources available in BigML in WhizzML Resources. WizzML is our scripting language that will allow you to create any workflow.

Managing Resources

You can learn how to create, update, retrieve, list and delete any resource in:

Local Resources

You can learn how to download and use in your local environment any of the models created in the BigML platform in Local Resources.


Once you have a resource, you can use the Fields class to generate a representation that will allow you to easily list fields, get fields ids, get a field id by name, column number, etc.

from bigml.api import BigML
from bigml.fields import Fields
api = BigML()
source = api.get_source("source/5143a51a37203f2cf7000974")

fields = Fields(source)

you can also instantiate the Fields object from the fields dict itself:

from bigml.api import BigML
from bigml.fields import Fields
api = BigML()
source = api.get_source("source/5143a51a37203f2cf7000974")

fields = Fields(source['object']['fields'])

The newly instantiated Fields object will give direct methods to retrieve different fields properties:

# Internal id of the 'sepal length' field
fields.field_id('sepal length')

# Field name of field with column number 0

# Column number of field name 'petal length'
fields.field_column_number('petal length')

# Statistics of values in field name 'petal length')
fields.stats('petal length')

Depending on the resource type, Fields information will vary. Sources will have only the name, label, description, type of field (optype) while dataset resources will have also the preferred (whether a field will is selectable as predictor), missing_count, errors and a summary of the values found in each field. This is due to the fact that the source object is built by inspecting the contents of a sample of the uploaded file, while the dataset resource really reads all the uploaded information. Thus, dataset’s fields structure will always be more complete than source’s.

In both cases, you can extract the summarized information available using the summary_csv method:

from bigml.api import BigML
from bigml.fields import Fields
api = BigML()
dataset = api.get_dataset("dataset/5143a51a37203f2cf7300974")

fields = Fields(dataset)

In this example, the information will be stored in the my_fields_summary.csv file. For the typical iris.csv data file, the summary will read:

field column field ID field name field label field description field type preferred missing count errors contents summary errors summary
0 000000 sepal length     numeric true 0 0 [4.3, 7.9], mean: 5.84333  
1 000001 sepal width     numeric false 0 0 [2, 4.4], mean: 3.05733  
2 000002 petal length     numeric true 0 0 [1, 6.9], mean: 3.758  
3 000003 petal width     numeric true 0 0 [0.1, 2.5], mean: 1.19933  
4 000004 species     categorical true 0 0 3 categorìes: Iris-setosa (50), Iris-versicolor (50), Iris-virginica (50)  

Another utility in the Fields object will help you update the updatable attributes of your source or dataset fields. For instance, if you need to update the type associated to one field in your dataset, you can change the field type values in the previous file and use it to obtain the fields structure needed to update your source:

from bigml.api import BigML
from bigml.fields import Fields
api = BigML()
source = api.get_source("source/5143a51a37203f2cf7000974")

fields = Fields(source)
fields_update_info = fields.new_fields_structure("my_fields_summary.csv")
source = api.update_source(source, \

where filter_fields_update will make sure that only the attributes that can be updated in a source will be sent in the update request. For both sources and datasets, the updatable attributes are name, label and description. In sources you can also update the type of the field (optype), and in datasets you can update the preferred attribute.

In addition to that, you can also easily pair a list of values with fields ids what is very useful to make predictions.

For example, the following snippet may be useful to create local predictions using a csv file as input:

test_reader = csv.reader(open(dir + test_set))
local_model = Model(model)
for row in test_reader:
    input_data = fields.pair([float(val) for val in row], objective_field)
    prediction = local_model.predict(input_data)

If missing values are present, the Fields object can return a dict with the ids of the fields that contain missing values and its count. The following example:

from bigml.fields import Fields
from bigml.api import BigML
api = BigML()
dataset = api.get_dataset("dataset/5339d42337203f233e000015")

fields = Fields(dataset)

would output:

{'000003': 1, '000000': 1, '000001': 1}

if the there was a missing value in each of the fields whose ids are 000003, 000000, 000001.

You can also obtain the counts of errors per field using the errors_count method of the api:

from bigml.api import BigML
api = BigML()
dataset = api.get_dataset("dataset/5339d42337203f233e000015")

The generated output is like the one in missing_counts, that is, the error counts per field:

{'000000': 1}

Account and tasks

In BigML, every account has an associated subscription level. The subscription level will determine the number of tasks that can be performed in parallel in the platform and the maximum allowed dataset size. This kind of information is available through the methods .get_account_status and get_tasks_status in the connection object:

from bigml.api import BigML
api = BigML()

The result will be a dictionary that contains the number of tasks in use and their status, the maximum number of tasks and the number of tasks available. This information can be used to manage the complexity of sending new creation tasks to BigML.

However, we strongly discourage the use of this kind of mechanism, because it’s clearly suboptimal and cumbersome compared to using the scripting utilities in the platform described in next sections and the 101 documents in the quick start section. Scalability, reproducibility and reusability are the key points in Machine Learning automation and using WhizzML, BigML’s Domain Specific Language for Machine Learning, provides them out of the box. Client-side approaches and/or general languages are definitely not the best fit for that.

Environment variables

The bindings will read some configuration values from environment variables.

  • BIGML_USERNAME: The name of the user in BigML
  • BIGML_API_KEY: The API key for authentication in BigML

For VPCs or on-site API installs, other than the general public domain:

  • BIGML_DOMAIN: The domain of the BigML API endpoints
  • BIGML_PROTOCOL: http/https protocol
  • BIGML_SSL_VERIFY: (0/1) to set SSL verification

If you are using a Predict Server (or a different API url only for predictions)

  • BIGML_PREDICTION_DOMAIN: The domain of the BigML API prediction endpoint
  • BIGML_PREDICTION_PROTOCOL: http/https for prediction domain
  • BIGML_PREDICTION_SSL_VERIFY: (0/1) to set SSL verification for predictions

For users working in an organization:

  • BIGML_ORGANIZATION: The ID of the organization

To use external data connectors:

  • BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_HOST: Host name or IP for the external database
  • BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_PORT: Port for the exteranl database
  • BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_DB: Database name
  • BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_USER: Database user name
  • BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_PWD: Database user password
  • BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_SOURCE: Type of database: mysql, postgresql, elasticsearch, etc. (see details in the API documentation for external connectors)

Running the Tests

The test will be run using nose , that is installed on setup, and you’ll need to set up your authentication via environment variables, as explained in the authentication section. Also some of the tests need other environment variables like BIGML_ORGANIZATION to test calls when used by Organization members and BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_HOST, BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_PORT, BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_DB, BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_USER, BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_PWD and BIGML_EXTERNAL_CONN_SOURCE in order to test external data connectors.

With that in place, you can run the test suite simply by issuing

$ python nosetests

Additionally, Tox can be used to automatically run the test suite in virtual environments for all supported Python versions. To install Tox:

$ pip install tox

Then run the tests from the top-level project directory:

$ tox

Building the Documentation

Install the tools required to build the documentation:

$ pip install sphinx

To build the HTML version of the documentation:

$ cd docs/
$ make html

Then launch docs/_build/html/index.html in your browser.

Additional Information

For additional information about the API, see the BigML developer’s documentation.