2. Verdi shell and AiiDA objects

In this section we will use an interactive IPython environment with all the basic AiiDA classes already loaded. We propose two realizations of such a tool. The first consists of a special IPython shell where all the AiiDA classes, methods and functions are accessible. Type in the terminal

verdi shell

For all the everyday AiiDA-based operations, i.e. creating, querying, and using AiiDA objects, the verdi shell is probably the best tool. In this case, we suggest that you use two terminals, one for the verdi shell and one to execute bash commands.

The second option is based on Jupyter notebooks and is probably most suitable to the purposes of our tutorial. Go to the browser where you have opened jupyter and click NewPython 3 (top right corner). This will open an IPython-based Jupyter notebook, made of cells in which you can type portions of python code. The code will not be executed until you press Shift+Enter from within a cell. Type in the first cell


and execute it. This will set exactly the same environment as the verdi shell. The notebook will be automatically saved upon any modification and when you think you are done, you can export your notebook in many formats by going to FileDownload as. We suggest you to have a look at the drop-down menus Insert and Cell where you will find the main commands to manage the cells of your notebook.


The verdi shell and Jupyter notebook are completely equivalent. Use either according to your personal preference.

You will still sometimes need to type command-line instructions in bash in the first terminal you opened. To differentiate these from the commands to be typed in the verdi shell, the latter will be marked in this document by a green background, like:

some verdi shell command

while command-line instructions in bash to be typed into a terminal will be written with a blue background:

some bash command

Alternatively, to avoid changing terminal, you can execute bash commands within the verdi shell or the notebook by adding an exclamation mark before the command itself:

!some bash command


The background colors of the code sections may be displayed differently by different browsers. For the color scheme mentioned here, we recommend using Google Chrome.

2.1. Loading a node

Most AiiDA objects are represented by nodes, identified in the database by its PK (an integer). You can access a node using the following command in the shell:

node = load_node(PK)

Load a node using one of the calculation PK s visible in the graph you displayed in the previous section of the tutorial. Then get the energy of the calculation with the command


You can also type


and then press TAB to see all the available output results of the calculation.

2.2. Loading specific kinds of nodes

2.2.1. Pseudopotentials

From the graph you generated in section Your first AiiDA graph, find the UUID of the pseudopotential files (UpfData). Load one of them and show what elements it corresponds to by typing:

upf = load_node("<UUID>")

All methods of UpfData are accessible by typing upf. and then pressing TAB.

2.2.2. k-points

A set of k-points in the Brillouin zone is represented by an instance of the KpointsData class. Choose one from the graph of produced in section Your first AiiDA graph, load it as kpoints and inspect its content:


Then get the full (explicit) list of k-points belonging to this mesh using


If this throws an AttributeError, it means that the kpoints instance does not represent a regular mesh but rather a list of k-points defined by their crystal coordinates (typically used when plotting a band structure). In this case, get the list of k-points coordinates using


Conversely, if the KpointsData node does actually represent a mesh, this method is the one, that when called, will throw an AttributeError.

If you prefer Cartesian (rather than crystal) coordinates, type


For later use in this tutorial, let us try now to create a kpoints instance, to describe a regular (2 x 2 x 2) mesh of k-points, centered at the Gamma point (i.e. without offset). This can be done with the following commands:

KpointsData = DataFactory('array.kpoints')
kpoints = KpointsData()
kpoints_mesh = 2
kpoints.set_kpoints_mesh([kpoints_mesh] * 3)

This function loads the appropriate class defined in a string (here array.kpoints). Therefore, KpointsData is not a class instance, but the kpoints class itself!

While it is also possible to import KpointsData directly, it is recommended to use the DataFactory function instead, as this is more future-proof: even if the import path of the class changes in the future, its entry point string (array.kpoints) will remain stable.

2.2.3. Parameters

Dictionaries with various parameters are represented in AiiDA by Dict nodes. Get the PK and load the input parameters of a calculation in the graph produced in section Your first AiiDA graph. Then display its content by typing

params = load_node('<IDENTIFIER>')
YOUR_DICT = params.get_dict()

Modify the python dictionary YOUR_DICT so that the wave-function cutoff is now set to 20 Ry. Note that you cannot modify an object already stored in the database. To write the modified dictionary to the database, create a new object of class Dict:

Dict = DataFactory('dict')
new_params = Dict(dict=YOUR_DICT)

where YOUR_DICT is the modified python dictionary. Note that new_params is not yet stored in the database. In fact, typing new_params in the verdi shell will print a string notifying you of its ‘unstored’ status. Let’s finish by storing the new_params dictionary node in the datbase:


2.2.4. Structures

Find a structure in the graph you generated in section Your first AiiDA graph and load it. Display its chemical formula, atomic positions and species using


where structure is the structure you loaded. If you are familiar with ASE and PYMATGEN, you can convert this structure to those formats by typing


Let’s try now to define a new structure to study, specifically a silicon crystal. In the verdi shell, define a cubic unit cell as a 3 x 3 matrix, with lattice parameter alat= 5.4 Å:

alat = 5.4
the_cell = [[alat/2, alat/2, 0.], [alat/2, 0., alat/2], [0., alat/2, alat/2]]


Default units for crystal structure cell and coordinates in AiiDA are Å (Ångström).

Structures in AiiDA are instances of the class StructureData: load it in the verdi shell

StructureData = DataFactory('structure')

Now, initialize the class instance (i.e. the actual structure we want to study) by the command

structure = StructureData(cell=the_cell)

which sets the cubic cell defined before. From now on, you can access the cell with the command


Finally, append each of the 2 atoms of the cell command. You can do it using commands like

structure.append_atom(position=(0., 0., 0.), symbols="Si")
structure.append_atom(position=(alat/4., alat/4., alat/4.), symbols="Si")

for the first ‘Si’ atom. You can access and inspect the structure sites with the command


If you make a mistake, start over from structure = StructureData(cell=the_cell), or equivalently use structure.clear_kinds() to remove all kinds (atomic species) and sites. Alternatively, AiiDA structures can also be converted directly from ASE structures 1 using

from ase.spacegroup import crystal
ase_structure = crystal('Si', [(0, 0, 0)], spacegroup=227,
             cellpar=[alat, alat, alat, 90, 90, 90], primitive_cell=True)
structure = StructureData(ase=ase_structure)

Now you can store the new structure object in the database with the command:


Finally, we can also import the silicon structure from an external (online) repository such as the Crystallography Open Database (COD):

from aiida.tools.dbimporters.plugins.cod import CodDbImporter
importer = CodDbImporter()
for entry in importer.query(formula='Si', spacegroup='F d -3 m'):
    structure = entry.get_aiida_structure()
    print("Formula", structure.get_formula())
    print("Unit cell volume: ", structure.get_cell_volume())

In that case two duplicate structures are found for ‘Si’. A more in-depth tutorial can be found in this appendix.

2.3. Accessing inputs and outputs

Load again the calculation node used in Section Loading a node:

calc = load_node(PK)

Then type


and press TAB: you will see all the link names between the calculation and its input nodes. You can use a specific linkname to access the corresponding input node, e.g.:


Similarly, if you type:


and then TAB, you will list all output link names of the calculation. One of them leads to the structure that was the input of calc we loaded previously:


Note that links have a single name, that was assigned by the calculation that used the corresponding input or produced the corresponding output, as illustrated in section Your first AiiDA graph.

For a more programmatic approach, you can get a represenation of the inputs and outputs of a node, say calc, through the following methods:

calc_incoming = calc.get_incoming()
calc_outgoing = calc.get_outgoing()

These methods will return an instance of the LinkManager class. You can iterate over the neighboring nodes by calling the .all() method:

for entry in calc.get_outgoing():
    print(entry.link_label, entry.link_type, entry.node)

each entry returned by .all() is a LinkTriple, a named tuple, from which you can get the link label and type and the neighboring node itself. If you print one, you will see something like:

LinkTriple(node=<Dict: uuid: fac99f59-c69e-4ccd-9655-c7da1d469145 (pk: 1050)>, link_type=<LinkType.CREATE: 'create'>, link_label=u'output_parameters')

There are many other convenience methods on the LinkManager. For example if you are only interested in the link labels you can use:


which will return a list of all the labels of the outgoing links. Likewise, .all_nodes() will give you a list of all the nodes to which links are going out from the calc node. If you are looking for the node with a specific label, you can use:


The get_outgoing and get_incoming methods also support filtering on various properties, such as the link label. For example, if you only want to get the outgoing links whose label starts with output, you can do the following:


2.4. Pseudopotential families

Pseudopotentials in AiiDA are grouped in ‘families’ that contain one single pseudo per element. We will see how to work with UPF pseudopotentials (the format used by Quantum ESPRESSO and some other codes). Download and untar the SSSP pseudopotentials via the commands (due to slow network from Japan to Europe, we temporarily put the aiida data on Kyoto university web server):

wget http://phonondb.mtl.kyoto-u.ac.jp/aiida_tutorial/SSSP_efficiency_pseudos.tar.gz
tar -zxvf SSSP_efficiency_pseudos.tar.gz

But the original data is found here:


Then you can upload the whole set of pseudopotentials to AiiDA by using the following verdi command:

verdi data upf uploadfamily SSSP_efficiency_pseudos 'SSSP' 'SSSP pseudopotential library'

In the command above, SSSP_efficiency_pseudos is the folder containing the pseudopotentials, 'SSSP' is the name given to the family, and the last argument is its description. Finally, you can list all the pseudo families present in the database with

verdi data upf listfamilies

A more in-depth tutorial about working with UpfData nodes and pseudopotential families can be found in this appendix.



We purposefully do not provide advanced commands for crystal structure manipulation in AiiDA, because python packages that accomplish such tasks already exist (such as ASE or pymatgen).