Development setup

This setup can be used to work on the core RDMO package as well as plugins. The main difference to the regular setup is that you can edit the source code and see the result in your local browser immediately.

This setup should work on Linux, macOS and when using the Windows Subsystem for Linux, but unfortunately not on the regular Windows setup.

Install prerequisites

Install the prerequisites for your Linux distribution as described in the documentation.

Obtain repositories

First create a directory called rdmorganiser somewhere where you usually put your coding projects.

mkdir path/to/rdmorganiser
cd path/to/rdmorganiser

Next clone the rdmo-app and the rdmo repositories from GitHub. If you have an account there, and added your public SSH key you can use:

git clone
git clone

Otherwise you can clone the repos using:

git clone
git clone

You should now have two directories in rdmorganiser:

📂 path/to/rdmorganiser
 ┣ 📂 rdmo
 ┃ ┣ ...
 ┣ 📂 rdmo-app
 ┃ ┣ ...

Setup rdmo-app

Change into rdmo-app and create a Python virtual environment:

cd rdmo-app
python3 -m venv env
source env/bin/activate
pip install --upgrade pip setuptools

Install rdmo in editable mode:

pip install -e ../rdmo

This links the cloned rdmo repo in a way that changes to the code will be available to the development server instantly.

Create a copy of with the name

cp config/settings/ config/settings/

In the new file, set DEBUG = True and configure the DATABASE entry. The simplest way is to use Sqlite3:

    'default': {
        'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.sqlite3',
        'NAME': 'db.sqlite3',

If you want to use PostgreSQL or MySQL for the development you need to install the Python dependencies for this as well.

pip install -e ../"rdmo[postgres]"
pip install -e ../"rdmo[mysql]"

Since the testing data that comes with RDMO use a simpler password hashing algorithm, you need to add the following to the settings as well:

PASSWORD_HASHERS = ("django.contrib.auth.hashers.MD5PasswordHasher",)

If you want to use the browsable API, that comes with the Django Rest Framework add:


Then, initialize the application, using:

python download_vendor_files  # download front-end vendor files
python migrate                # initializes the database
python setup_groups           # optional: create groups with different permissions

The testing data can be imported using:

python loaddata ../rdmo/testing/fixtures/*

The test upload files are initialized using:

cp -r ../rdmo/testing/media media_root

Starting from RDMO 2.0.0 we use webpack to bundle the new React based front-end. For this nodejs needs to be available. The preferred way is to use It can be installed for the current user with:

wget -qO- | bash

After the installation add:

export NVM_DIR="$HOME/.nvm"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion"

to your .bashrc. Then, inside of your rdmo repository, run:

cd ../rdmo
nvm install    # only once, to install the node version given in .nvmrc
nvm use        # to activate the node version
npm install    # to install the many, many javascript dependencies
npm run watch  # to build the front-end and rebuild it when changing the source

Now the development server can be started (in a different terminal) using:

python runserver

You can access the application at http://localhost:8000 in your browser and can log in using different users:

admin    -> superuser
site     -> site manager

editor   -> member of the editor group
reviewer -> member of the reviewer group
api      -> member of the api group

owner    -> owner of the test projects
manager  -> manager of the test projects
author   -> author of the test projects
guest    -> guest of the test projects

user     -> user without project
other    -> another user without project

The password for these users is the same as the username, e.g. admin: admin. You might have guessed yourself, but make sure to never use these users in a production environment.

A local email server for development can be started by setting:

# in

and using:

# for python versions >= 3.7
pip install aiosmtpd

python -m aiosmtpd -n -l localhost:8025

Setup rdmo

In order to run the test suite, the rdmo repo itself can be setup in a similar way in its own virtual environment:

deactivate                                  # if you are already in an env
cd path/to/rdmorganiser/rdmo
python3 -m venv env
source env/bin/activate
pip install --upgrade pip setuptools

Again install rdmo in editable mode and install the database prerequisites:

pip install -e .

pip install ".[postgres]"                   # for PostgreSQL
pip install ".[mysql]"                      # for MySQL

Create a as before, but this time in testing/config/settings/

cp testing/config/settings/ testing/config/settings/

Create a log directory:

mkdir testing/log

Now you can run the test using:


More about testing can be found here.

Setup plugins

In order to include plugins into the development setup simply clone the plugin repository next to rdmo and rdmo-app, e.g. for rdmo-plugins:

git clone

Then the plugin can be added to the env for rdmo-app or rdmo also in editable mode using:

pip install -e ../rdmo-plugins

The plugin itself needs to be added to the as described in the documentation.