Guidelines for setting up a local workspace

Oliver Kopp edited this page Feb 15, 2018 · 35 revisions


An indication that JAVA_HOME is not correctly set or no JDK is installed is following error message:

compileJava FAILED

FAILURE: Build failed with an exception.

* What went wrong:
Execution failed for task ':compileJava'.
> java.lang.ExceptionInInitializerError (no error message)

Ensure you have a Java SDK installed

  • In the command line (terminal in Linux, cmd in Windows) run javac -version
  • If javac is not found, check your PATH environment variable, your JAVA_HOME environment variable or install the most recent SDK

GitHub account

If you do not have a GitHub account, create it at

Get an IDE in place

We suggest Eclipse or IntelliJ.


The community edition should be enough. If not, a developer key for the JabRef project for the full version is available upon request.

You can find a IntelliJ Codestyle configuration file in the folder config


Please install EclEmma for code coverage.

In Ubuntu Linux, you can follow one of these guidelines to Install Eclipse:

In Windows download it from and run the installer.

Get git in place

Get the code

Fork JabRef into your GitHub account

  1. Log into your GitHub account
  2. Go to
  3. Create a fork by clicking at fork button on the right top corner
  4. A fork repository will be created under your account (

Clone your forked repository on your local machine.

  • In command line go to a folder you want to place the source code locally (parent folder of jabref/)
  • Run git clone --depth=10 The --depth--10 is used to limit the download to ~20 MB instead of downloading the complete history (~800 MB). If you want to dig in our commit history, feel free to download everything.

Generating additional source codes and getting dependencies using Gradle:

(not required for IntelliJ)

  1. Go to the jabref folder (the repo you just cloned, if you are following this tutorial, just execute cd jabref)
  2. Execute the following steps from the git-bash:
  • Run ./gradlew assemble
  • If you use Eclipse: Additionally run ./gradlew eclipse
  • If you use IntelliJ: No further setup is required
  1. In rare cases you might encounter problems due to out-dated automatically generated source files. Running ./gradlew clean deletes these old copies. Do not forget to run at least ./gradlew eclipse or ./gradlew build afterwards to regenerate the source files.
  2. ./gradlew tasks shows many other runnable tasks.

Set-up Eclipse

  • Open Eclipse
  • To Import your JabRef project go to menu File --> Import
  1. Choose General --> Existing projects in the workspace and "next"
  2. For "select root directory", browse until the root folder of your jabref just cloned from your repo (e.g., /home/user/<YOU>/jabref)
  3. Click on "Finish" and voilá!
  4. In Eclipse, right click on the project and choose Refresh workspace and then choose Run as --> Java application (Forget about the existing errors)
  5. Choose JabRefMain as the main class to be executed

Set-up your IDE (IntelliJ)

See This ensures that src/main/gen is present.

After that steps, please follow these:

  1. Install the CheckStyle-IDEA plugin, it can be found via plug-in repository (File > Settings > Plugins > Browse repositories).
  2. Go to File > Settings > Editor > Code Style, choose a code style (or create a new one)
  3. Click on the settings wheel (next to the scheme chooser), then Import scheme and choose "CheckStyle Configuration". Select the CheckStyle configuration file config\checkstyle\checkstyle.xml. Click OK and restart IntelliJ.
  4. Go to File > Settings > Checkstyle and import the above CheckStyle configuration file. Activate it.

Got it running? GREAT! You are ready to lurk the code and contribute to JabRef :books: . In the latter case, please read