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Resources to get you started with Algorithmia

Getting Started


One of the great things about Algorithmia is that the platform allows you to put your own work online and make it available to other developers through the API. This guide will show you how with a walk-through of making and publishing a classic “Hello World” algorithm.

This example shows how to create a Python algorithm. However, all the steps shown are the same in all languages. To see specific code examples in the languages we support, check out Algorithm Development Languages.

Note: this guide uses the web UI to create and deploy your Algorithm. If you prefer a code-only approach to deployment, see Algorithm Management.

Table of Contents

Create your First Algorithm

Let’s start by creating an algorithm. First navigate to Algorithmia and click the plus sign in the navbar to open the create menu, where you’ll see the “Algorithm” option.

Add algorithm navigation

When you click the “Algorithm” link, you’ll see a form for creating your algorithm that we’ll fill out step-by-step below:

Algorithm Owner & Name

Configure your algorithm's owner and name

Owner (User or Organization) Note: If you don’t belong to an organization, skip this step and go to the next.

If you belong to an organization then you’ll have the option to set the owner of the algorithm. Go ahead and select which account or organization you want to own this algorithm.

Algorithm Name: This is the unique identifier for the algorithm, which will be used to call it via the API. It should be something descriptive based on what the algorithm does.

For example this is the beginning portion of the Language Guides which show how to create an algorithm that splits text up into words, which is called tokenizing in natural language processing. So, this example algorithm is called “TokenizeText”, but go ahead and name your algorithm according to what your code does.

Source Code

This section allows you to customize the visibility, licensing, and hosting for your algorithm’s source code.

Configure your algorithm's repository host

Repository Host: Pick where you want to host your algorithm’s source code: either within the Algorithmia platform itself, or within GitHub. For this tutorial we’ll choose Algorithmia, but you can read more about creating algorithms with GitHub in our Source Code Management docs.

Source code visibility: We’d like to keep the source code for this algorithm private, so we’ll select “Restricted” here.

License: In the Settings section, you can select your algorithm’s license, and customize its permissions if you need to. We’re using the Algorithmia Platform License.


This section allows you to tune the specific environment your algorithm will build and execute within.

Configure your algorithm's container settings

Language: Pick the language of your choice. Here we’ll be using the default of Python 3.

Instance type: Here you can enable a GPU environment for you algorithm. Since we don’t require that for this example, we’ll leave the instance set to CPU.

Algorithm Settings

This section allows you to adjust the specific permissions your algorithm has to access the internet or other algorithms.

Configure your algorithm's settings

Internet: In this example we’ll want access to the internet, so we’ll leave this enabled.

Pipelining: This permission sets whether an algorithm can call other Algorithmia-hosted algorithms. Our example will need this enabled.

You can find out more about algorithm permissions in the Algorithm Permissions Section. Also, consider whether your algorithm would benefit from using a Graphics Processing Unit to accelerate certain kinds of computation, such as image processing and deep learning. When “Advanced GPU” is selected, the algorithm will run on servers with GPU hardware, with specific drivers and frameworks to help algorithm developers take advantage of GPU computing. This includes nvidia drivers, CUDA support, and several of the most popular deep learning frameworks, including TensorFlow, Caffe, Theano, and Torch.

Now hit the “Create” button on the bottom lower right of the form and you’ll see this modal:

cli info modal

You can now clone your Algorithm (via Git) and install the CLI to edit/test locally, or you can close the modal and continue to create your algorithm in the Web IDE.

Editing your algorithm locally via GIT and CLI

The preferred way to edit and test your Algorithm’s code is to install the CLI on your local machine, clone your algorithm’s repo via Git, and use your favorite editing tools to modify the code. This gives you the benefits of using a familiar development environment, plus an easy way to test your changes locally before committing changes back to the repo and publishing a new algorithm version.

To learn more about this process, see Algorithmia’s CLI and Git guides. If you’re already familiar with the CLI and Git, the basic steps you need to take are:

  1. Install the CLI: curl -sSLf | sh (Windows instructions here )
  2. Clone your algorithm: algo clone username/algoname
  3. Use your preferred editor to modify the code
  4. Test your algorithm: cd algoname; algo run -D [JSON FILE]
  5. Commit your changes: git commit -m [commit message]; git push origin master
  6. Publish your changes: you can do so using the Algorithmia API or via the web IDE:
    1. visit
    2. click on your algorithm
    3. click “Edit Source”
    4. click “Compile”, then “Publish

If you’re using Python, you must set an environment variable: LANGUAGE_VERSION=python2 or LANGUAGE_VERSION=python3 before using runlocal

For more tips and tricks on local development, see our guide: setting up your local environment for Algorithm development.

Editing your algorithm via the web IDE

If you prefer to continue creating your algorithm in the Web IDE, simply close the modal and you should see the algorithm description page for your newly created algorithm:

Algorithm descrption page

Notice the tabs: Run, Docs, Cost, Discussion, Manage, and Source.

The tab currently showing Run is where users can run the algorithm with the default input that you will provide during the publishing step of the algorithm or they can run their own input to test out your algorithm. Also, on this tab, you can add a short summary stating what your algorithm is and why people might be interested in it (for example how it solves a particular problem in a use case).

Docs consists of the section that you will want to show how to use your algorithm including complete information about the input types allowed and what the expected outputs will be.

Cost will be filled out automatically once you publish your algorithm and will show if you’ve chosen to charge royalites or if you’ve decided to open source your algorithm. It will also give the estimated cost so the user consuming your algorithm can see how much it will cost.

The Discussion tab shows the comments and questions from users so you can keep up to date regarding user feedback.

Under the Manage tab you can see how to clone your algorithm, see what items are checked off in the Algorithm Checklist, delete your algorithm and edit various settings of your algorithm even after you’ve created it.

Features you can edit are:

  • Visibility (Open or closed source)
  • Environment (CPU or GPU)
  • Properties (Licensing - note that if you choose any license other than the Algorithmia Platform License, you’ll need to have the visibility set to “Open Source”).
  • Permissions:
    • Managing internet accesibility from your algorithm
    • Calling other algorithms from your algorithm

If you have published your algorithm and want to only make changes to the settings on the “Manage” tab, then you will still need to hit “Build” before republishing to see your new changes. Then you can hit “Publish” after your algorithm builds and go through the normal publishing workflow.

Finally click on the Source tab which will display the UI for creating your algorithm if you prefer it over the CLI.

As you can see in your algorithm editor, there is a basic algorithm stub already written that takes a string as input and returns the string “Hello” followed by the user input.

The main thing to note about the algorithm is that it’s wrapped in the apply() function.

The apply() function defines the input point of the algorithm. We use the apply() function in order to make different algorithms standardized. This makes them easily chained and helps authors think about designing their algorithms in a way that makes them easy to leverage and predictable for end users.

To run this algorithm first hit the “Build” button on the top right hand corner of the algorithm editor and then at the bottom of the page in the console you’ll see a confirmation that it has compiled and the version number of that commit. Until you have Published your algorithm, the version number will be a hash such as 4be0e18fba270e4aaa7cff20555268903f69a11b - only you will be able to call this version. After you’ve Published an algorithm, it will be given a major.minor.revision number as described in the Versioning Documentation.

Compiling your algorithm will also save your work, but note that the first time you compile your algorithm it might take some time while subsequent compiles will be quicker.

Algorithm console Python

Once you have finished editing and want to run the algorithm, click the green Build button at the top right of the editor. This will save your algorithm by committing your code to your personal git repository and will try to compile your code.

Once your algorithm has successfully complied, you can test it out by passing input though the console at the bottom of the screen. For instance, after compiling this algorithm, you can test the “Hello World” code by typing in “World” in the console:

Run basic algorithm in console Python

Working With Data

Depending on your data source, you’ll either want to use Algorithmia’s Data API to connect to your data within your algorithm, or write a wrapper to connect to your database.

To learn about the various data sources, make sure to visit Connecting Your Data, or check out our reference guide on the available methods using Algorithmia’s Data API.

Note: if you are authoring an algorithm and using the Data API, avoid using the ‘.my’ pseudonym in the source code. When the algorithm is executed, ‘.my’ will be interpreted as the user name of the user who called the algorithm, rather than the author’s user name.

Calling Your Algorithm

To call your algorithm during testing you can use the hash of that algorithm to call it locally using the language client of your choice. Or if you are testing it within the Algorithmia Web IDE you can use the console for running your algorithm during development.

To call a private version of an algorithm you own, you must use a fully specified semantic version or a version hash or you will get an error. For more information you can get details in the API Docs

Publish Your Algorithm

Last is publishing your algorithm. The best part of hosting your model on Algorithmia is that users can access it via an API that takes only a few lines of code to use! Here is what you can set when publishing your algorithm:

On the upper right hand side of the algorithm page you’ll see a purple button Publish which will start the publish flow:

Publish an algorithm

There are 3 steps to publishing an algorithm: documenting changes, adding example input and output, and configuring algorithm settings.

The Changes step shows you your commit history and allows you to add release notes.

The Example I/O step is where you’ll create your sample input and output for the user to try under Try the API in the Run tab. When you add a sample input, make sure to test it out with all the inputs that you accept since users will be able to test your algorithm with their own inputs.

During the Settings step you can select whether your algorithm will be for public use or private use as well as set the royalty. The algorithm can either be royalty-free or charge per-call. If you opt to have the algorithm charge a royalty, as the author, you will earn 70% of the royalty cost.

Check out Algorithm Pricing for more information on how much algorithms will cost to run.

Under “Semantic Version” you can choose which kind of release your change should fall under: Major, Minor, or Revision.

Under “Pending Changes” you’ll see any revisions you’ve made under the “Manage” tab.

If you are satisfied with your algorithm and settings, go ahead and hit publish. Congratulations, you’re an algorithm developer!

Editing Your Algorithm

Your published algorithm can be edited from the browser, where you can edit the source code, save your work, compile, and submit the algorithm to be available through the API. You can also use Git to push directly to Algorithmia from your current workflow.

Calling Other Algorithms

Because any call made from your algorithm is considered the same session as when the user calls your algorithm, you won’t need to set an API key within your algorithm code. Instead of setting the API key on the client like you would when consuming an algorithm, you can call another from inside your algorithm and pass the input like so:

if 'url' in input:
  text = Algorithmia.algo('util/Html2Text/0.1.3').pipe(input['url']).result

This example shows an algorithm that checks the type of input passed in, and if it is a URL, will call into the Html2Text algorithm. The original caller of your algorithm will be charged for both the first algorithm call as well as the internal algorithm call. The algorithm will automatically use the credentials of the person calling your algorithm.

(Optional) Delete your Algorithm

If your algorithm has never been published, or has only been published for Private use, you have the option to delete it when it is no longer needed. To do so, go to your algorithm’s page and click on the Manage tab, then find the Delete button at the bottom.

Delete algorithm

If you have ever published your Algorithm with “Public” selected, it cannot be deleted. This is to ensure that others’ code will not break if they have written algorithms or client code which depends on your algorithm.

Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve published your first simple algorithm on the platform, you can feel empowered to add even more algorithms. You can write them from scratch, adopt and modify open source algorithms, or even chain multiple pre-existing algorithms together to make a micro service you can call with the Algorithmia API! Get inspired by checking out our Recipes.

Next Steps

After you’ve finished this tutorial, you’ll probably want to check out the Language Guides for how to write algorithms in the language you prefer, such as R, Python, Rust, Ruby, Java, Scala, or JavaScript.