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I have the following in a .dir-locals.el

((python-mode . ((pyvenv-workon . "3.7")
     (projectile-project-compilation-cmd . "python -m unittest fixcompdb_test.py"))))

I use lsp-mode and the Pyls Python Language Server which is installed in the virtual environment labeled "3.7". I expect that when I open a Python file in the directory containing the .dir-locals.el, lsp-mode should be able to start Pyls. This doesn't work, lsp-mode reports that the Pyls server is not accessible. If I instead do "pyvenv-workon" and select "3.7" before opening a Python file it works, lsp-mode can start Pyls and I have a fully working lsp-mode session.

In the case when I do not explicitly do "pyvenv-workon" and lsp-mode is unable to start Pyls the virtual environment still works; all buffers in emacs use the correct virtual env and it is reported correctly in my doom-modeline.

It seems like lsp-mode is trying to start Pyls before Emacs has activated the virtual env. How do I set this up so that lsp-mode will try to start Pyls when the virtual env is up and running?

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You just defined variable pyvenv-workon but not called this function. Take a look at this answer

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