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The core backend service for the ChRIS distributed software platform, also known by the anacronym "CUBE". Internally the service is implemented as a Django-MySQL project offering a collection+json REST API. Important ancillary components include the pfcon, pman, and pfioh collection of coordinating, managing, and file transfer services.

ChRIS development, testing and deployment


This page describes how to quickly get the set of services comprising the ChRIS backend up and running for CUBE development and how to run the automated tests. A single-machine production deployment of the ChRIS backend services is also explained.


Install latest Docker and Docker Compose.

Currently tested platforms:

On a Linux machine make sure to add your computer user to the docker group


If you read nothing else on this page, and just want to get an instance of the ChRIS backend services up and running with no mess, no fuss:

git clone
cd ChRIS_ultron_backend
# Run full CUBE instantiation with tests:
*unmake* ; sudo rm -fr FS; rm -fr FS; *make*

# Skip unit and integration tests and the intro:
*unmake* ; sudo rm -fr FS; rm -fr FS; *make* -U -I -s

The resulting instance uses the default Django development server and therefore is not suitable for production.

Single-machine production deployment

To get the production system up:

git clone
cd ChRIS_ultron_backend
mkdir secrets

Now copy all the required secret configuration files into the secrets directory, please take a look at this wiki page to learn more about these files

./ up

To tear down:

cd ChRIS_ultron_backend
./ down


Optionally setup a virtual environment

Install virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper
pip install virtualenv virtualenvwrapper
Create a directory for your virtual environments e.g.:
mkdir ~/Python_Envs
You might want to add the following two lines to your .bashrc file:
export WORKON_HOME=~/Python_Envs
source /usr/local/bin/
Then source your .bashrc and create a new Python3 virtual environment:
mkvirtualenv --python=python3 chris_env
To activate chris_env:
workon chris_env
To deactivate chris_env:
Install useful python tools in your virtual environment
workon chris_env
pip install httpie
pip install python-swiftclient
pip install django-storage-swift

Note: You can also install some python libraries (not all of them) specified in the requirements/base.txt and requirements/local.txt files in the repository source.

To list installed dependencies in chris_env:

pip freeze --local

Instantiate CUBE

Start CUBE from the repository source directory by running the make bash script

git clone
cd ChRIS_ultron_backEnd

All the steps performed by the above script are properly documented in the script itself.

After running this script all the automated tests should have successfully run and a Django development server should be running in interactive mode in this terminal.

Rerun automated tests after modifying source code

Open another terminal and run

docker ps

Find out from the previous output the name of the container running the Django server in interactive mode (usually chrisultronbackend_chris_dev_run_1) and run the Unit tests and Integration tests within that container.

To run only the Unit tests:

docker exec -it chrisultronbackend_chris_dev_run_1 python test --exclude-tag integration

To run only the Integration tests:

docker exec -it chrisultronbackend_chris_dev_run_1 python test --tag integration

To run only the Integration tests if the environment has not been restarted in interactive mode (usual for debugging when the make script has been passed a -i:

docker exec -it chrisultronbackend_chris_dev_1 python test --tag integration

To run all the tests:

docker exec -it chrisultronbackend_chris_dev_run_1 python test 

After running the Integration tests the ./FS/remote directory must be empty otherwise it means some error has occurred and you should manually empty it.

Check code coverage of the automated tests

Make sure the chris_backend/ dir is world writable. Then type:

docker exec -it chrisultronbackend_chris_dev_run_1 coverage run --source=feeds,plugins,uploadedfiles,users test
docker exec -it chrisultronbackend_chris_dev_run_1 coverage report

Using HTTPie client to play with the REST API

A simple GET request to retrieve the user-specific list of feeds:

http -a cube:cube1234 http://localhost:8000/api/v1/

A simple POST request to run the plugin with id 1:

http -a cube:cube1234 POST http://localhost:8000/api/v1/plugins/1/instances/ Content-Type:application/vnd.collection+json Accept:application/vnd.collection+json template:='{"data":[{"name":"dir","value":"cube/"}]}'

Then keep making the following GET request until the "status" descriptor in the response becomes "finishedSuccessfully":

http -a cube:cube1234 http://localhost:8000/api/v1/plugins/instances/1/

Using swift client to list files in the users bucket

swift -A -U chris:chris1234 -K testing list users

Tear down CUBE

Stop and remove CUBE services and storage space by running the following bash script from the repository source directory



REST API reference

Available here.

Install Sphinx and the http extension (useful to document the REST API)

pip install Sphinx
pip install sphinxcontrib-httpdomain

Build the html documentation

cd docs/
make html

ChRIS REST API design.

Available here.

ChRIS backend database design.

Available here.


Available here.