Saving and Loading

If you’ve been modifying the pipeline, vocabulary, vectors and entities, or made updates to the model, you’ll eventually want to save your progress – for example, everything that’s in your nlp object. This means you’ll have to translate its contents and structure into a format that can be saved, like a file or a byte string. This process is called serialization. spaCy comes with built-in serialization methods and supports the Pickle protocol.

All container classes, i.e. Language (nlp), Doc, Vocab and StringStore have the following methods available:

to_bytesbytesdata = nlp.to_bytes()

Serializing the pipeline

When serializing the pipeline, keep in mind that this will only save out the binary data for the individual components to allow spaCy to restore them – not the entire objects. This is a good thing, because it makes serialization safe. But it also means that you have to take care of storing the language name and pipeline component names as well, and restoring them separately before you can load in the data.


bytes_data = nlp.to_bytes() lang = nlp.meta["lang"] # "en" pipeline = nlp.meta["pipeline"] # ["tagger", "parser", "ner"]


nlp = spacy.blank(lang) for pipe_name in pipeline: pipe = nlp.create_pipe(pipe_name) nlp.add_pipe(pipe) nlp.from_bytes(bytes_data)

This is also how spaCy does it under the hood when loading a model: it loads the model’s meta.json containing the language and pipeline information, initializes the language class, creates and adds the pipeline components and then loads in the binary data. You can read more about this process here.

Using Pickle

When pickling spaCy’s objects like the Doc or the EntityRecognizer, keep in mind that they all require the shared Vocab (which includes the string to hash mappings, label schemes and optional vectors). This means that their pickled representations can become very large, especially if you have word vectors loaded, because it won’t only include the object itself, but also the entire shared vocab it depends on.

If you need to pickle multiple objects, try to pickle them together instead of separately. For instance, instead of pickling all pipeline components, pickle the entire pipeline once. And instead of pickling several Doc objects separately, pickle a list of Doc objects. Since the all share a reference to the same Vocab object, it will only be included once.

Pickling objects with shared data

doc1 = nlp(u"Hello world") doc2 = nlp(u"This is a test") doc1_data = pickle.dumps(doc1) doc2_data = pickle.dumps(doc2) print(len(doc1_data) + len(doc2_data)) # 6636116 😞 doc_data = pickle.dumps([doc1, doc2])print(len(doc_data)) # 3319761 😃

Implementing serialization methods

When you call nlp.to_disk, nlp.from_disk or load a model package, spaCy will iterate over the components in the pipeline, check if they expose a to_disk or from_disk method and if so, call it with the path to the model directory plus the string name of the component. For example, if you’re calling nlp.to_disk("/path"), the data for the named entity recognizer will be saved in /path/ner.

If you’re using custom pipeline components that depend on external data – for example, model weights or terminology lists – you can take advantage of spaCy’s built-in component serialization by making your custom component expose its own to_disk and from_disk or to_bytes and from_bytes methods. When an nlp object with the component in its pipeline is saved or loaded, the component will then be able to serialize and deserialize itself. The following example shows a custom component that keeps arbitrary JSON-serializable data, allows the user to add to that data and saves and loads the data to and from a JSON file.

class CustomComponent(object):
    name = "my_component"

    def __init__(self): = []

    def __call__(self, doc):
        # Do something to the doc here
        return doc

    def add(self, data):
        # Add something to the component's data

    def to_disk(self, path):        # This will receive the directory path + /my_component        data_path = path / "data.json"        with"w", encoding="utf8") as f:            f.write(json.dumps(
    def from_disk(self, path, **cfg):        # This will receive the directory path + /my_component        data_path = path / "data.json"        with"r", encoding="utf8") as f:   = json.loads(f)        return self

After adding the component to the pipeline and adding some data to it, we can serialize the nlp object to a directory, which will call the custom component’s to_disk method.

nlp = spacy.load("en_core_web_sm")
my_component = CustomComponent()my_component.add({"hello": "world"})nlp.add_pipe(my_component)nlp.to_disk("/path/to/model")

The contents of the directory would then look like this. CustomComponent.to_disk converted the data to a JSON string and saved it to a file data.json in its subdirectory:

Directory structure

└── /path/to/model ├── my_component # data serialized by "my_component" | └── data.json ├── ner # data for "ner" component ├── parser # data for "parser" component ├── tagger # data for "tagger" component ├── vocab # model vocabulary ├── meta.json # model meta.json with name, language and pipeline └── tokenizer # tokenization rules

When you load the data back in, spaCy will call the custom component’s from_disk method with the given file path, and the component can then load the contents of data.json, convert them to a Python object and restore the component state. The same works for other types of data, of course – for instance, you could add a wrapper for a model trained with a different library like TensorFlow or PyTorch and make spaCy load its weights automatically when you load the model package.

Using entry points v2.1

When you load a model, spaCy will generally use the model’s meta.json to set up the language class and construct the pipeline. The pipeline is specified as a list of strings, e.g. "pipeline": ["tagger", "paser", "ner"]. For each of those strings, spaCy will call nlp.create_pipe and look up the name in the built-in factories. If your model wanted to specify its own custom components, you usually have to write to Language.factories before loading the model.

pipe = nlp.create_pipe("custom_component")  # fails 👎

Language.factories["custom_component"] = CustomComponentFactory
pipe = nlp.create_pipe("custom_component")  # works 👍

This is inconvenient and usually required shipping a bunch of component initialization code with the model. Using entry points, model packages and extension packages can now define their own "spacy_factories", which will be added to the built-in factories when the Language class is initialized. If a package in the same environment exposes spaCy entry points, all of this happens automatically and no further user action is required.

Custom components via entry points

For a quick and fun intro to entry points in Python, I recommend this excellent blog post. To stick with the theme of the post, consider the following custom spaCy extension which is initialized with the shared nlp object and will print a snake when it’s called as a pipeline component.

snek = """ --..,_ _,.--. `'.'. .'`__ o `;__. '.'. .'.'` '---'` ` '.`'--....--'`.' `'--....--'` """ class SnekFactory(object): def __init__(self, nlp, **cfg): self.nlp = nlp def __call__(self, doc): print(snek) return doc

Since it’s a very complex and sophisticated module, you want to split it off into its own package so you can version it and upload it to PyPi. You also want your custom model to be able to define "pipeline": ["snek"] in its meta.json. For that, you need to be able to tell spaCy where to find the factory for "snek". If you don’t do this, spaCy will raise an error when you try to load the model because there’s no built-in "snek" factory. To add an entry to the factories, you can now expose it in your via the entry_points dictionary:

from setuptools import setup setup( name="snek", entry_points={ "spacy_factories": [ "snek = snek:SnekFactory" ] } )

The entry point definition tells spaCy that the name snek can be found in the module snek (i.e. as SnekFactory. The same package can expose multiple entry points. To make them available to spaCy, all you need to do is install the package:

python develop

spaCy is now able to create the pipeline component 'snek':

>>> from spacy.lang.en import English
>>> nlp = English()
>>> snek = nlp.create_pipe("snek")  # this now works! 🐍🎉
>>> nlp.add_pipe(snek)
>>> doc = nlp(u"I am snek")
    --..,_                     _,.--.
       `'.'.                .'`__ o  `;__.
          '.'.            .'.'`  '---'`  `

Arguably, this gets even more exciting when you train your en_core_snek_sm model. To make sure snek is installed with the model, you can add it to the model’s You can then tell spaCy to construct the model pipeline with the snek component by setting "pipeline": ["snek"] in the meta.json.

In theory, the entry point mechanism also lets you overwrite built-in factories – including the tokenizer. By default, spaCy will output a warning in these cases, to prevent accidental overwrites and unintended results.

Advanced components with settings

The **cfg keyword arguments that the factory receives are passed down all the way from spacy.load. This means that the factory can respond to custom settings defined when loading the model – for example, the style of the snake to load:

nlp = spacy.load("en_core_snek_sm", snek_style="cute")
SNEKS = {"basic": snek, "cute": cute_snek}  # collection of sneks

class SnekFactory(object):
    def __init__(self, nlp, **cfg):
        self.nlp = nlp
        self.snek_style = cfg.get("snek_style", "basic")
        self.snek = SNEKS[self.snek_style]

    def __call__(self, doc):
        return doc

The factory can also implement other pipeline component like to_disk and from_disk for serialization, or even update to make the component trainable. If a component exposes a from_disk method and is included in a model’s pipeline, spaCy will call it on load. This lets you ship custom data with your model. When you save out a model using nlp.to_disk and the component exposes a to_disk method, it will be called with the disk path.

def to_disk(self, path):
    snek_path = path / "snek.txt"
    with"w", encoding="utf8") as snek_file:

def from_disk(self, path, **cfg):
    snek_path = path / "snek.txt"
    with"r", encoding="utf8") as snek_file:
        self.snek =
    return self

The above example will serialize the current snake in a snek.txt in the model data directory. When a model using the snek component is loaded, it will open the snek.txt and make it available to the component.

Custom language classes via entry points

To stay with the theme of the previous example and this blog post on entry points, let’s imagine you wanted to implement your own SnekLanguage class for your custom model – but you don’t necessarily want to modify spaCy’s code to add a language. In your package, you could then implement the following:

from spacy.language import Language from spacy.attrs import LANG class SnekDefaults(Language.Defaults): lex_attr_getters = dict(Language.Defaults.lex_attr_getters) lex_attr_getters[LANG] = lambda text: "snk" class SnekLanguage(Language): lang = "snk" Defaults = SnekDefaults # Some custom snek language stuff here

Alongside the spacy_factories, there’s also an entry point option for spacy_languages, which maps language codes to language-specific Language subclasses:

from setuptools import setup setup( name="snek", entry_points={ "spacy_factories": [ "snek = snek:SnekFactory" ] + "spacy_languages": [ + "sk = snek:SnekLanguage" + ] } )

In spaCy, you can then load the custom sk language and it will be resolved to SnekLanguage via the custom entry point. This is especially relevant for model packages, which could then specify "lang": "snk" in their meta.json without spaCy raising an error because the language is not available in the core library.

from spacy.util import get_lang_class

SnekLanguage = get_lang_class("snk")
nlp = SnekLanguage()

Saving, loading and distributing models

After training your model, you’ll usually want to save its state, and load it back later. You can do this with the Language.to_disk() method:


The directory will be created if it doesn’t exist, and the whole pipeline will be written out. To make the model more convenient to deploy, we recommend wrapping it as a Python package.

Generating a model package

spaCy comes with a handy CLI command that will create all required files, and walk you through generating the meta data. You can also create the meta.json manually and place it in the model data directory, or supply a path to it using the --meta flag. For more info on this, see the package docs.

python -m spacy package /home/me/data/en_example_model /home/me/my_models

This command will create a model package directory that should look like this:

Directory structure

└── / ├── # to include meta.json ├── meta.json # model meta data ├── # setup file for pip installation └── en_example_model # model directory ├── # init for pip installation └── en_example_model-1.0.0 # model data

You can also find templates for all files on GitHub. If you’re creating the package manually, keep in mind that the directories need to be named according to the naming conventions of lang_name and lang_name-version.

Customizing the model setup

The meta.json includes the model details, like name, requirements and license, and lets you customize how the model should be initialized and loaded. You can define the language data to be loaded and the processing pipeline to execute.

langunicodeID of the language class to initialize.
pipelinelistA list of strings mapping to the IDs of pipeline factories to apply in that order. If not set, spaCy’s default pipeline will be used.

The load() method that comes with our model package templates will take care of putting all this together and returning a Language object with the loaded pipeline and data. If your model requires custom pipeline components or a custom language class, you can also ship the code with your model. For examples of this, check out the implementations of spaCy’s load_model_from_init_py and load_model_from_path utility functions.

Building the model package

To build the package, run the following command from within the directory. For more information on building Python packages, see the docs on Python’s setuptools.

python sdist

This will create a .tar.gz archive in a directory /dist. The model can be installed by pointing pip to the path of the archive:

pip install /path/to/en_example_model-1.0.0.tar.gz

You can then load the model via its name, en_example_model, or import it directly as a module and then call its load() method.

Loading a custom model package

To load a model from a data directory, you can use spacy.load() with the local path. This will look for a meta.json in the directory and use the lang and pipeline settings to initialize a Language class with a processing pipeline and load in the model data.

nlp = spacy.load("/path/to/model")

If you want to load only the binary data, you’ll have to create a Language class and call from_disk instead.

nlp = spacy.blank("en").from_disk("/path/to/data")

How we’re training and packaging models for spaCy

Publishing a new version of spaCy often means re-training all available models, which is quite a lot. To make this run smoothly, we’re using an automated build process and a spacy train template that looks like this:

python -m spacy train {lang} {models_dir}/{name} {train_data} {dev_data} -m meta/{name}.json -V {version} -g {gpu_id} -n {n_epoch} -ns {n_sents}

In a directory meta, we keep meta.json templates for the individual models, containing all relevant information that doesn’t change across versions, like the name, description, author info and training data sources. When we train the model, we pass in the file to the meta template as the --meta argument, and specify the current model version as the --version argument.

On each epoch, the model is saved out with a meta.json using our template and added properties, like the pipeline, accuracy scores and the spacy_version used to train the model. After training completion, the best model is selected automatically and packaged using the package command. Since a full meta file is already present on the trained model, no further setup is required to build a valid model package.

python -m spacy package -f {best_model} dist/
cd dist/{model_name}
python sdist

This process allows us to quickly trigger the model training and build process for all available models and languages, and generate the correct meta data automatically.