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Managing Development in GroupServer and E-Democracy

From E-Democracy.org

Revision as of 15:12, 28 June 2013 by Wbushey (Talk | contribs) (Cleaned up a bunch of sections under Editing Eggs)

GroupServer is a mature open source project which uses a full set of tools for managing development.


GroupServer uses Buildout for building (both production and development), retrieving code, and managing development. If you have never used Buildout before, this 15 minute video provides an introduction. Documentation is at http://www.buildout.org/docs/index.html.

To use Buildout you will need setuptools. On Ubuntu, install setuptools via

sudo apt-get install python-setuptools


GroupServer and E-Democracy use a number of Buildout config files to manage building an instance and developing code.


The main config file for Buildout. This is what Buildout looks to for directions. In GroupServer, buildout.cfg indicates what core eggs should be installed from GroupServer and from third parties. It also indicates which configuration sections should run, and defines a few.


Refers to additional eggs developed for projects downstream from GroupServer. This which custom eggs should be installed, as well as which versions of those eggs. In general, anything written specifcally for E-Democracy will be referred to in this file.


Contains a list that tells Buildout how to retrieve the source for an egg. Every egg from GroupServer and E-Democracy should have an entry in here indicating the address to that egg's repository, and version control tool used on that repository.

Technically, this isn't a Buildout file. It is a file used by Mr. Developer, a Buildout extension.


This controls which version of a core egg Buildout will retrieve and build. Most core eggs will have an entry in this file that pins the egg to some version. Some 3rd party eggs will also have their versions pinned by this file.

Managing the Buildout Files

The above files need to be updated whenever a new egg is created or a new version of an egg is deployed. Because the above files are critical to building and developing GroupServer and E-Democracy, and they are updated pretty often, a repository has been created on Github to keep E-Democracy's developers' Buildout files up to date.

Assuming you've followed the instructions for Installing GroupServer and E-Democracy, you should already have a git repository setup for the Buildout files on your instance.

To update the Buildout files, simply run git pull in the root folder of your E-Democracy instance.

If you make a change to any of the Buildout files, simply do a git add ., git commit, and git push to publish those changes.


Building GroupServer/E-Democracy is one of the two things you will most often do with Buildout (checking out code for active development is the other, and is covered below.)

To build E-Democracy and Groupserver, simply run the following from the root folder of your instance of E-Democracy:

./bin/buildout -N

Code Repositories

E-Democracy and GroupServer use a few repository locations and tools for storing code. The differences in location and tools roughly correspond to the division between E-Democracy specific code and GroupServer code.

GroupServer Repository

source.iopen.net - Mercurial

All code for GroupServer core is stored at https://source.iopen.net/groupserver and uses Mercurial for version control. Each egg in GroupServer will have a corresponding repository.

Eggs that are part of GroupServer core almost always start with either 'gs' or 'Products'.

E-Democracy Repositories

Github - Git

Most new code written by E-Democracy is stored at https://github.com/e-democracy and uses Git for version control. Like GroupServer, each E-Democracy egg will have a corresponding repository.

In general, any new eggs created by E-Democracy will have its repository stored on Github. These eggs will almost always start with 'edem'.

source.iopen.net - Mercurial

Some E-Democracy code is stored at https://source.iopen.net/ogn/edem and uses Mercurial for version control. Eggs with repositories here usually were created by OnlineGroups.Net (OGN) when E-Democracy would contract with OGN to write custom code.

Of the eggs which have repositories on source.iopen.net, the most important is gs.skin.ogn.edem (which is an E-Democracy egg despite starting with 'gs').

Registering for Repository Access

In order to commit code to either GroupServer's or E-Democracy's repositories on source.iopen.net, you will need to register an account on the site. Once you have registered, email techteam [at] e-democracy.org to confirm your registration (you will not be able to commit until confirming registration).

For E-Democracy's repositories on Github, you can either request permission to commit to the repository(ies) by emailing techteam [at] e-democracy.org, or you can fork the repository of interest and send us a pull request.

Setting up SSL for Mercurial Repositories

Because iopen.net's SSL certificate is not signed by a certificate authority, Mercurial will default to displaying an error when trying to send or receive code from the repositories on source.iopen.net. This can be prevented by adding the following to ~/.hgrc:

source.iopen.net = CE:CC:DF:DF:E6:32:89:E3:8A:CD:0B:A1:8F:15:FC:B7:0A:AC:23:D3

Issue Tracking

Because GroupServer and forums.e-democracy.org run on code that spans 100+ modules/repositories, both projects maintain project level Redmine instances for issue tracking/ticketing. The vast majority of tickets should be submitted to one of the Redmine instances below.

For non-GroupServer projects (e.x. edemsignups) it is much more likely that we will use an issue tracker associated directly with the project's repository.


There are two instances of Redmine to be aware of:

Because iopen.net's SSL certificate is not signed by a certificate authority, you will probably see a warning from your browser about the site's certificate. This is entirely normal, and you should disregard this warning.

You will need to register an account on redmine.iopen.net. Once you have registered, you will also need to email techteam [at] e-democracy.org so we can confirm your registration.

Estimating Project Time Requirements

GroupServer's Redmine includes a couple of useful advice pages. https://redmine.iopen.net/projects/groupserver/wiki/TimeEstimation provides a great guide on how to estimate the amount of time a certain programming task will take (assuming design and specs are already established.)

Deployed Eggs Server

The source repositories for eggs are outlined above. These, however, are not where Buildout fetches eggs from during a build.

Buildout instead fetches eggs from http://eggs.iopen.net/groupserver/, a server that hosts deployed versions of eggs. Deployed GroupServer eggs can be found in http://eggs.iopen.net/groupserver/base/, while E-Democracy eggs can be found in http://eggs.iopen.net/groupserver/custom/.

Editing Eggs

The code for eggs involved in a build can not be directly edited. Instead, there is a process for managing the editing of eggs.

Checking out Existing Eggs

In order to edit the eggs used in E-Democracy and GroupServer, you need to explicitly check out the egg for editing. This is done by running the following command from the root folder of your E-Democracy instance:

./bin/develop co <EGG NAME>

Doing this will cause Mr. Develop to fetch and place a folder in the src/ directory of your instance of E-Democracy that contains a version controlled repository for the egg's code. This will also tell Buildout to use the code in src/ for that egg during a build instead of the version of the egg specified in versions.cfg or custom.cfg. This, however, does not actually cause a rebuild to occur, so you will need to a ./bin/buildout -N.

Once checked out, changes to the egg's files in src/ will be reflected in your instance of E-Democracy Generally, changes to templates will be reflected immediately, while changes to source files will require a restart of Zope.

Pushing and Pulling Code Changes

Since the folders fetched by Mr. Develop are version controlled (with master repository's URL defined in develop.cfg), you simply use Mercurial or Git (depending on the egg) to manage changes to the code. If you know how to pull, add, commit, and push with these, then you're set.

Deploying a new Version of an Egg

Once you have written code that is ready to be used by others, you are ready to deploy a new version of the egg you have been working on. Doing this will package up and upload a new version of the egg to the Deployed Eggs Server described above.

In order to deploy eggs to the Deployed Eggs Server, you need to have a copy of fabfile.py in the root folder of your E-Democracy instance. If you do not have this file, contact techteam [at] e-democracy.org to get a copy.

To actually deploy a new version of an E-Democracy egg, run the following command in the root folder of your E-Democracy instance:

./bin/fab deployegg:THE.COMPONENT.NAME,custom

If the egg you are deploying a new version for is a GroupServer core egg, then run this instead:

./bin/fab deployegg:THE.COMPONENT.NAME

When the deployment finishes, it will provide a version string for the newly deployed version in the format <EGG NAME> = <VERSION>. For existing eggs, overwrite the egg's entry in versions.cfg or custom.cfg with this version string. For new eggs, add this string to versions.cfg (if a new GroupServer core egg) or custom.cfg (if a new E-Democracy egg), and add the egg's name to the list of eggs to include during a build in either buildout.cfg (for GroupServer core) or custom (for E-Democracy). Then [#Managing_the_Buildout_Files push out these changes to the Buildout config files].

Un-check out Egg

Once you have pushed changes, deployed a new version of an egg, and updated Buildout's config files, it is time to tell buildout to stop using the code in src/ for the egg in question. To deactivate checked out code, run the following command from the root folder of your E-Democracy instance:

./bin/develop d <EGG Name>

The egg's source will still be in src/, but it will no longer be referenced during a build. If you prefer a clean src/ directory, feel free to delete an egg's folder from src/ after you have deactivated it.

Now, rebuild: ./bin/buildout -N

Create a New Egg

Creating a new egg involves creating (or copying) a new folder in src/, initiating a new repository locally,

See also: http://groupserver.org/groups/development/guidelines/eggs

Copy a directory in src for the egg

Four things need to change: 1. The name needs to be the same as your egg, 2. The description should be sane, 3. The namespace_packages need to reflect the hierarchy. For example, in the case of edem.group.messages.topics, namespace_packages should be set to "['edem', 'edem.group', 'edem.group.messages']". (The final directory is supposed to be missing; it is a normal package, not a namespace package.) 4. Set the install_requires to just 'setuptools' for now.

Next copy an __init__.py from a namespace-directory of the original egg.

In Python the ability to write "from package.package.package import SomeThing" is not built into the language. It is a hack. The hack is called a "namespace package". The hack is in two parts. First, there is a "namespace_packages" entry in the setup.py. Second there is a special __init__.py in all the namespace packages. Copy this special __init__.py from *any* other package to each of the directories in the namespace.

Next you need a __init__.py in the actual package (module) directory.

Just enter the following into the module directory __init__.py

  1. coding=utf-8
  2. This space deliberately left blank

Zope stuff! Add a configure.zcml to your module directory. To start with, enter the following:

          <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
          <configure xmlns="http://namespaces.zope.org/zope"

Init a repo and commit:

1. Change to the top folder of the egg 2. Run Mercurial:

   1. hg init .
   2. hg addremove
    3. hg ci -m"Initial import."

Finally, weave your new egg (which does nothing) into GroupServer.

Open "custom.cfg" in your top-level the GroupServer directory.

Add "PACKAGENAME" to the "custom-zope-eggs" list.

Open "develop.cfg" in your top-level the GroupServer directory.

Add "PACKAGENAME = fs PACKAGENAME" [all on one line] to the "sources" list.

Turn on the egg by running Mr Developer in your GroupServer directory: "./bin/develop a PACKAGENAME"


Start GroupServer.

And you should have a new egg.

Dev Server


DB is updated regularly via cron based on a backup of the live db

can ssh in: deploy@ or root@

dev.forums.e-democracy.org needs to have your public key

Deploying eggs to this server

git pull

./bin/buildout -N


Production Deployment

Just email version strings to codedeploy@onlinegroups.net .

Send this email by Friday night (central time).


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