Compilation Guide

This part of the documentation is aimed at people want to compile the project. As there are currently no pre-compiled distributions available, it is also relevant for administrators wanting to run their own server. If you are extending the project, please be sure to read the Programming Guidelines.


Currently it is assumed that this project will built on a UNIX-like environment. Although building it on Windows should be possible, all helper scripts (and Makefiles) make a lot of UNIX-centric assumptions.

There are loads of fancy task-runners out there, but a “normal” interface to all programming-related tasks is still a Makefile. Most tasks you will need to do regulary are therefore available via make. Apart from that there are folders for schemas, documentation, example projects and helper scripts.

Environment Dependencies

At its core the server is a “typical” Ruby on Rails application with a “typical” Angular client, but it relies on additional software. The given versions are a known konfiguration, more recent versions will probably work as well.

  • Ruby & nodejs as defined by .tool-versions in the root of the repository
  • Postgres as defined by docker-compose.yml in the root of the repository. Generally required is jsonb, hstore and NOTIFY support.
  • ImageMagick 7.0.8 (Version 6 should work as well)
  • FileMagick 5.32
  • GraphViz 2.40.1
  • SQLite >= 3.15.0 (with Perl compatible regular expressions)

SQLite and PCRE

Database schemas created with BlattWerkzeug make use of regular expressions which are usually not compiled into the sqlite3 binary. To work around this most distributions provide some kind of sqlite3-pcre-package which provides the regex implementation.

  • Ubuntu: sqlite3-pcre
  • Arch Linux: sqlite-pcre-git (AUR)

These packages should install a single library at /usr/lib/sqlite3/ which can be loaded with .load /usr/lib/sqlite3/ from the sqlite3-REPL. If you wish, you can write the same line into a file at ~/.sqliterc which will be executed by sqlite3 on startup.

DNS and Subdomains

BlattWerkzeug requires subdomains for two different purposes:

  • The application itself is available in multiple languages. en.blattwerkzeug.localdomain should render the english version, de.blattwerkzeug.localdomain the german version.
  • The web-projects will be rendered on their own subdomains.

The currently configured environment uses to have a “proper” domain to talk to, which eases the initially required setup. It additionally allows to properly test the OAuth2 workflows with Google, which forbids the use of localhost.localdomain as a redirection target.

Alternatively you may configure the localdomain to be routed to the localhost. This works out of the box on various GNU/Linux-distributions, but as this behaviour is not standardised it should not be relied upon. To reliably resolve project-subdomains you should either write custom entries for each project in /etc/hosts or use a lightweight local DNS-server like Dnsmasq. In a production environment you should run the server on a dedicated domain and route all subdomains to the same server instance.


The actual project code is stored in a PostgreSQL database. You will need to provide a user who is able to create databases. For development you should stick to the default options that are provided in the server/config/database.yml file.

Environment Variables

The default environment assumes a readily available database which is configured via the server/config/database.yml file which happily picks up environment variables. As long as you are happy with those defaults, there is nothing to worry about. But some services do require customized information via environment variables.

  • Various login providers that work via OAuth2 require a client ID and a client secret:
    • Google: GOOGLE_CLIENT_ID, GOOGLE_CLIENT_SECRET, these values are available from the Google Developer Console (if you are part of the BlattWerkzeug-project).
  • Sending mails requires a configured SMTP-server: SMTP_HOST, SMTP_USER, SMTP_PASS

You probably want to use some tool like direnv (available for most Linux distros) to automatically manage these variables. Just install a hook to direnv in the rc-file of your shell and restart the shell. Then you can create a .envrc file in the server folder that contains something along the lines of:


Entering and leaving the folder will then automatically load and unload the mentioned environment variables.

Compiling and Running

Clone the sources from the git repository at BitBucket.

Running locally

Ensure you have the “main” dependencies installed (ruby and bundle for the Server, node and npm for the client).

  1. Compiling all variants of the client requires can be done by navigating to the client folder and executing the following steps.
  1. make install-deps will pull all further dependencies that are managed by the respective packet managers. If this fails check that your environment meets the requirements: Environment Dependencies.
  2. After that, the web application need to be compiled and packaged once: make client-compile for a fully optimized version or make client-compile-dev for a development version.
  3. The server requires the special “IDE Service” variant of the client to function correctly. It can be created via make cli-compile.
  1. Running the server requires the following steps in the server folder:
    1. make install-deps will pull all further dependencies that are managed by the respective packet managers. If this fails check that your environment meets the requirements: Environment Dependencies.
    2. Start a PostgreSQL-server that has a user who is allowed to create databases.
    3. Setup the database and fill the database (make reset-live-data). This will create all required tables and load some sample data.
    4. You may now run the server, to do this locally simply use make run-dev and it will spin up a local server instance listening on port 9292. You can alternatively run a production server using make run.
    5. If you require administrative rights, you can give the permissions via the Rails shell.

The setup above is helpful to get the whole project running once, but if you want do develop it any further you are better of with the options descibed in Loading and storing seed data.

Running via Docker

There are pre-built docker images for development use on docker hub: marcusriemer/blockwerkzeug. These are built using the various Dockerfiles in this repository and can also be used with the docker-compose.yml file which is also part of this repository. Under the hood these containers use the same Makefiles and commands that have been mentioned above.

Depending on your local configuration you might need to run the mentioned Makefile with sudo.

  • make -f Makefile.docker pull-all ensures that the most recent version of all images are available locally. If you don’t pull the images first, the run-dev target might decide to build the required images locally instead.
  • make -f Makefile.docker run-dev starts docker containers that continously watch for changes to the server and client folders. It mounts the projects root folder as volumes into the containers, which allows you to edit the files in server and client in your usual environment. A third container is started for PostgreSQL.
  • make -f Makefile.docker shell-server-dev opens a shell inside the docker container of the server. You might require this to do maintenance tasks with bin/rails for the server.

Frequent Issues and Error messages

These issues happen on a semi-regular scale.

I don’t have any programming languages or projects available
You probably forgot to load the initial data. Run make load-live-data in the server folder.
I changed things in the database, but they don’t show up in the browser
Rails does some fairly aggressive query caching which can really get in the way. Sadly the easiest option to fix this seems to be a restart of the server.
I don’t want to log in for every operation

You can give admin rights to the guest user which enables you to do almost anything without logging in. To do so you may run the following command from the server directory:

make dev-make-guest-admin
I need a dedicated admin account, the guest user is not enough.
  1. If you don’t have a regular account yet: Register one. During development you may use the “developer” identity which does not even require a password.

  2. Find out your User ID, this can normally be accessed via the user settings page.

  3. Run the following command from the server directory:

    bin/rails "blattwerkzeug:make_admin[<Your User ID here>]"

Alternatively (if your display name is unique): Open a Rails console and run the following command:

User.find_by(display_name: "<Your Display Name>").add_role(:admin)

In both cases you need to log out and log in again to refresh your current token.

The server wont start and shows Startup Error: No cli program at "../client/dist/cli/bundle.cli.js"
The server requires the cli version of the IDE to run. Create it using make compile-cli in the client folder. The server will make more then one attempt to find the file, so if the program is currently beeing compiled startup should work once the compilation is finished.