Environment Variables

CircuitPython 8.0.0 introduces support for environment variables. Environment variables are commonly used to store “secrets” such as Wi-Fi passwords and API keys. This method does not make them secure. It only separates them from the code.

CircuitPython uses a file called settings.toml at the drive root (no folder) as the environment. User code can access the values from the file using os.getenv(). It is recommended to save any values used repeatedly in a variable because os.getenv() will parse the settings.toml file contents on every access.

CircuitPython only supports a subset of the full toml specification, see below for more details. The subset is very “Python-like”, which is a key reason we selected the format.

Due to technical limitations it probably also accepts some files that are not valid TOML files; bugs of this nature are subject to change (i.e., be fixed) without the usual deprecation period for incompatible changes.

File format example:

str_key="Hello world" # with trailing comment
int_key = 7
unicode_key="œuvre"
unicode_key2="\\u0153uvre" # same as above
unicode_key3="\\U00000153uvre" # same as above
escape_codes="supported, including \\r\\n\\"\\\\"
# comment
[subtable]
subvalue="cannot retrieve this using getenv"

Details of the toml language subset

  • The content is required to be in UTF-8 encoding

  • The supported data types are string and integer

  • Only basic strings are supported, not triple-quoted strings

  • Only integers supported by strtol. (no 0o, no 0b, no underscores 1_000, 011 is 9, not 11)

  • Only bare keys are supported

  • Duplicate keys are not diagnosed.

  • Comments are supported

  • Only values from the “root table” can be retrieved

  • due to technical limitations, the content of multi-line strings can erroneously be parsed as a value.

CircuitPython behavior

CircuitPython will also read the environment to configure its behavior. Other keys are ignored by CircuitPython. Here are the keys it uses:

CIRCUITPY_BLE_NAME

Default BLE name the board advertises as, including for the BLE workflow.

CIRCUITPY_RESERVED_PSRAM

On boards with Espressif microcontrollers with PSRAM (also called SPIRAM), permanently reserve a portion of PSRAM for use by esp-idf. This storage is removed from the CircuitPython “heap” and is available for allocation by esp-idf routines in the core instead. Generally, only set this to a non-zero value when it is required by a specific core module.

CIRCUITPY_WEB_API_PASSWORD

Password required to make modifications to the board from the Web Workflow.

CIRCUITPY_WEB_API_PORT

TCP port number used for the web HTTP API. Defaults to 80 when omitted.

CIRCUITPY_WIFI_PASSWORD

Wi-Fi password used to auto connect to CIRCUITPY_WIFI_SSID.

CIRCUITPY_WIFI_SSID

Wi-Fi SSID to auto-connect to even if user code is not running.