Local development environment

This chapter covers getting started with Ichnaea using Docker for a local development environment.

Setup Quickstart

  1. Install required software: Docker, docker-compose (1.27+), make, and git.


    Use your package manager.


    Install Docker for Mac which will install Docker and docker-compose.

    Use homebrew to install make and git:

    $ brew install make git


    Install Docker.

    Install docker-compose. You need 1.27.4 or higher.

    Install make.

    Install git.

  2. Clone the repository so you have a copy on your host machine.

    Instructions for cloning are on the Ichnaea page in GitHub.

  3. Set environment options.

    To create the environment options file my.env

    $ make my.env

    If you’re on Linux, you will need to set the UID/GID of the app user that runs in the Docker containers to match your UID/GID. Run id to get your UID/GID. Edit my.env and set the ICHNAEA_UID and ICHNAEA_GID variables. These will get used when creating the app user in the base image.

    If you are using macOS on a computer with Apple Silicon (such as M1 Macs released in 2020 or later), you’ll need to select a different database engine, since Docker images are not available for the arm64 platform. Edit my.env and set ICHNAEA_DOCKER_DB_ENGINE to mariadb_10_5. This will be used when creating and running the database.

    If you ever want different values, change them in my.env and re-run the setup steps below (make setup, make runservices, etc.).

  4. Build Docker images for Ichnaea services.

    From the root of this repository, run:

    $ make build

    That will build the app Docker image required for development.

  5. Initialize Redis and MySQL.

    Then you need to set up services. To do that, run:

    $ make runservices

    This starts service containers. Then run:

    # docker-compose ps

    If the state of the database container is Up (health: starting), wait a minute and try docker-compose ps. When the state is Up (healthy), then the database is initialized and ready for connections.

    If the state is just Up, then the container doesn’t provide health checks. Wait a couple of minutes before trying the next step.

    Then run:

    $ make setup

    This creates the MySQL database and sets up tables and things.

    You can run make setup any time you want to wipe any data and start fresh.

At this point, you should have a basic functional Ichnaea development environment that has no geo data in it.

To see what else you can do, run:

$ make

Updating the Dev Environment

Updating code

Any time you want to update the code in the repostory, run something like this from the main branch:

$ git pull

The actual command depends on what you’re working on and the state of your copy of the repository.

After you have the latest code, you’ll need to update other things.

If there were changes to the requirements files or setup scripts, you’ll need to build new images:

$ make build

If there were changes to the database tables, you’ll need to wipe the MySQL database and Redis:

$ make setup

Specifying configuration

Configuration is pulled from these sources:

  1. The my.env file.

  2. ENV files located in /app/docker/config/. See docker-compose.yml for which ENV files are used in which containers, and their precedence.

  3. Configuration defaults defined in the code.

The sources above are ordered by precedence, i.e. configuration values defined in the my.env file will override values in the ENV files or defaults.

The following ENV files can be found in /app/docker/config/:


This holds secrets and environment-specific configuration required to get services to work in a Docker-based local development environment.

This should NOT be used for server environments, but you could base configuration for a server environment on this file.


This holds configuration specific to running the tests. It has some configuration value overrides because the tests are “interesting”.


This file lets you override any environment variables set in other ENV files as well as set variables that are specific to your instance.

It is your personal file for your specific development environment–it doesn’t get checked into version control.

The template for this is in docker/config/my.env.dist.

In this way:

  1. environmental configuration which covers secrets, hosts, ports, and infrastructure-specific things can be set up for every environment

  2. behavioral configuration which covers how the code behaves and which classes it uses is versioned alongside the code making it easy to deploy and revert behavioral changes with the code depending on them

  3. my.env lets you set configuration specific to your development environment as well as override any configuration and is not checked into version control

See also

See Configuration for configuration settings.

Setting configuration specific to your local dev environment

There are some variables you need to set that are specific to your local dev environment. Put them in my.env.

Overriding configuration

If you want to override configuration temporarily for your local development environment, put it in my.env.

Alembic and Database Migrations

Ichnaea uses Alembic.

To create a new database migration, do this:

$ make shell
app@blahblahblah:/app$ alembic revision -m "SHORT DESCRIPTION"

Then you can edit the file.

Building Static Assets (CSS/JS)

To build changed assets:

$ make assets

To rebuild asset files from scratch:

$ make clean-assets assets

To recreate the node container, applying changes in package.json:

$ make build clean-assets assets

Running Tests

You can run the test suite like this:

$ make test

If you want to pass different arguments to pytest or specify specific tests to run, open up a test shell first:

$ make testshell
app@blahblahblah:/app$ pytest [ARGS]

Building Docs

You can build the docs like this:

$ make docs

This will create an application container with a volume mount to the local docs/build/html directory and update the documentation so it is available in that local directory.

To view the documentation open file://docs/build/html/index.html with a web brower.

Updating Test GeoIP Data and Libraries

The development environment uses a test MaxMind GeoIP database, and the Ichnaea test suite will fail if this is more than 1000 days old. To update this database and confirm tests pass, run:

$ make update-vendored test

Commit the refreshed files.

This command can also be used to updated libmaxmindb and the datamaps source. Update docker.make for the desired versions, and run:

$ make update-vendored build test

Commit the updated source tarballs.

Building Datamap Tiles

To build datamap tiles for the local development environment, run:

$ make local-map

If you have data in the datamap tables, this will create many files under ichnaea/content/static/datamap. This uses ichnaea/scripts/datamap.py, which can also be run directly.

To see the map locally, you will need to configure Mapbox. A free developer account should be sufficient.

To use an S3 bucket for tiles, you’ll need to set ASSET_BUCKET and ASSET_URL (see Map tile and download assets). To upload tiles to an S3 bucket, you’ll also need AWS credentials that can read, write, and delete objects in the ASSET_BUCKET. Here are two ways, neither of which is ideal since it adds your AWS credentials in plain text:

  1. Add credentials as environment variables AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY in my.env.

  2. Add credentials to a file my.awscreds in the project folder, and add AWS_SHARED_CREDENTIALS_FILE=/app/my.awscreds to my.env.

You can then generate and upload tiles with:

$ docker-compose run --rm app map

This will generate a fresh set of tiles in a temporary directory and sync the S3 bucket with the changes.

Running Tasks

To run worker tasks in the development environment, run:

$ make runcelery

This will run the scheduler, which will schedule periodic tasks, as well as the worker, which runs the tasks. If you see this error:

scheduler_1  | ERROR: Pidfile (/var/run/location/celerybeat.pid) already exists.

then stop the make runcelery process (Ctrl-C) and re-create the scheduler:

$ docker rm -f scheduler
$ make runcelery

To manually run a task, call it from a shell:

$ make shell
$ celery -A ichnaea.taskapp.app:celery_app call ichnaea.data.tasks.update_statregion

This will add the task update_statregion to the Redis queue. The worker task will read the queue and execute it.

The commands will also run if you start a shell with make testshell, but the task will not execute. A different Redis URI is setup for the test environment, and the worker running with make runcelery will not read that Redis queue, and will not see the request.

There are other commands available, such as this one to display registered tasks:

$ celery -A ichnaea.taskapp.app:celery_app inspect registered