Skip to main content

Development Setup

These instructions covers three platforms: macOS (11.0), Ubuntu (20.04), and Windows 10 (WSL 2, with Ubuntu 20.04). Instructions for Ubuntu also apply to Windows, except where special instructions are noted.

Install and configure dependencies

Install third-party software

On macOS

We'll use Homebrew to fetch most of the packages on macOS:

  • imagemagick - brew install imagemagick
  • nginx - brew install nginx. Start Nginx server after installation.
  • postgresql - Install and follow its instructions, including the part about setting up command-line tools.

Important: Make sure that you start Nginx after you install them. Instructions on how to do that will be printed to the command-line after it's successfully installed.

On Ubuntu

The following command should install all required dependencies on Ubuntu. If you're using another flavour of Linux, adapt the command to work with the package manager available with your distribution.

sudo apt-get install imagemagick postgresql postgresql-contrib autoconf libtool nginx libpq-dev

Install Ruby & Node.js

Use asdf to install Ruby and Node.js. Simply run asdf install from the project directory. It'll read the required versions from the .tool-versions file and install them.

Install Rubygems

Once Ruby is installed, fetch all gems using Bundler:

bundle install

You may need to install the bundler gem if the version of Ruby you have installed comes with a different bundler version. Simply follow the instructions in the error message, if this occurs.

On macOS, if installation of the pg gem crashes, asking for libpq-fe.h, run the following commands, and then run bundle install again:

# Find the exact path to pg_config.
find /Applications -name pg_config

# Use the path returned by the above command in the following one. Replace X.Y.Z with the same version that failed to install.
gem install pg -v 'X.Y.Z' -- --with-pg-config=/path/to/pg_config

Fetch JS & ReScript dependencies

  1. Install Yarn following offical instructions.
  2. From the root of the repository, run the yarn command to install all node modules; this will also install ReScript.

Set credentials for local database

If you're setting up Postgres for the first time, we'll now set a password for the postgres database username.

Make sure that the PostgreSQL server is running. Once that's done, we'll set a password for the default database user. Open the psql CLI:

# macOS
psql -U postgres

# Ubuntu
sudo -u postgres psql

Then, in the PostgreSQL CLI, set a new password and quit.

# Set a password for this username.
\password postgres

# Quit.

Configure application environment variables

  1. Copy example.env to .env.

    cp example.env .env
  2. Update the values of DB_USERNAME and DB_PASSWORD in the new .env file.

    Use the same values from the previous step. The username should be postgres, and the password will be whatever value you've set.

  3. Set up push notifications by generating and setting VAPID keys to enable push notifications:

    # In the Rails console
    vapid_key = Webpush.generate_key

    # Save these in your .env file.
    puts "VAPID_PUBLIC_KEY=#{vapid_key.public_key}\nVAPID_PRIVATE_KEY=#{vapid_key.private_key}"

    Paste the output into .env, replacing the existing lines for these two keys.

The .env file contains environment variables that are used to configure the application. The file contains documentation explaining where you should source its values from. If you're just starting out, you shouldn't have to change any variables other than the ones listed above.

Setup Overcommit

Overcommit adds automatic checks that prevents us from making silly mistakes when committing changes.

bundle exec overcommit --install
bundle exec overcommit --sign

Note: You may need to run asdf reshim to update paths, if you've just finished running Ruby's bundle install command.

Seed local database

bundle exec rails db:setup

This will also seed data into the database that will be useful for testing during development.

Set up a reverse-proxy using Nginx

Use Nginx to set up a reverse proxy on a .localhost domain to point it to your web application running on port 3000 (the default Rails server port). Use following server configuration as an example:

  1. Create a new Nginx server configuration file...

    • /usr/local/etc/nginx/servers/pupilfirst (macOS)
    • /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/pupilfirst (Linux)

    ...and save the following configuration inside it:

    server {
    listen 80;
    server_name school.localhost;

    location / {
    proxy_pass http://localhost:3000/;
    proxy_set_header Host $host;
  2. Restart nginx so that it picks up the new configuration.

    # macOS
    brew services restart nginx

    # Ubuntu
    sudo service nginx restart

    On Debian/Ubuntu, NGINX comes with a sites-enabled/default file which may need to be removed before the LMS will begin responding to requests.

  3. You may also need to point the local school domain school.localhost, and the www and sso subdomains, to in the /etc/hosts file (on macOS and Ubuntu), and the C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc\hosts file on Windows:

    # Append to the /etc/hosts file. school.localhost

Compile ReScript code

If you've used the yarn command to install JS dependencies, then ReScript code should already be compiled at this point. To compile ReScript code again (if you've made changes), you can either do a one-time build, or set up a watcher.

# One-time recompilation
yarn run re:build

# Recompile, and then watch for changes
yarn run re:watch

Start the Rails server

With webpack-dev-server running, start the Rails server:

bundle exec rails server

Run Webpack Dev Server

Start the Webpack Dev Server on another tab or window:

yarn run wds

You'll want all three of these processes running for best performance when developing.

If your Nginx reverse-proxy has been set up correctly, then visit the school using your browser at http://school.localhost.

You should be able to sign in as (use the Continue as Developer option on the sign-in page), to test access to all interfaces. Test data has been seeded to the development database to make this process easier.