Getting psiTurk Installed on Your Computer
psiTurk can be installed on any modern computer which supports Python (<= 2.7). However, currently psiTurk is not supported on Windows (see below). It works well on most unix variants including Mac OS X, BSD, and Linux. Installation is usually not difficult.
When psiTurk is successfully installed, you will simply have a new
command line tool available called
provides a number of functions to you including launching the server
and interacting with the Mechanical Turk and Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Installation of psiTurk requires:
- A python installation (<= v2.7). We recommend the Enthought python distribution on Mac OS X.
- The ``pip`` package manager. Directions on installing this are given below.
- Access to a command line tool. (e.g., Terminal.app on Mac OS X)
- A web browser. A WebKit compatible browser such as FireFox, Safari, or Chrome is recommended.
An additional requirement for actually using psiTurk to run experiments is an Internet connected computer capable of receiving incoming requests.
To install the package there are two options currently. First, the
current stable release of psiTurk is hosted on the python package
index pypi. As a result, it can
easily be installed as a standard python package using the python
package manager tool
pip. Alternatively, you can install directly
from the development branch on
github. The following
instructions describe the general process. In addition, system specific
notes are provided below.
Install stable version via pypi
The easiest way to install psiTurk is via
pip. Linux users will
likely prefer to install pip as described below.
Otherwise, If you don't already have
pip, you can install it by
typing the following in a terminal:
cd /tmp # Just to put us in a directory that will be cleaned up periodically curl -O https://raw.githubusercontent.com/pypa/pip/develop/contrib/get-pip.py python get-pip.py # If you get a permissions error, try typing sudo python get-pip.py
If you want a single system to run different versions of psiTurk (or other python packages) on a per-experiment basis, follow the Virtual Environment instructions below.
pip is installed, type into a terminal:
pip install psiturk
If this doesn't work, try
sudo pip install psiturk
If the install was successful you will have a new command
available on your command line. You can check the location of this
command by typing
Install directly from github
You can also install the bleeding-edge development version directly
from github using
pip. To install the latest stable branch follow
the instructions above to install
sudo pip install git+git://github.com/NYUCCL/psiTurk.git@master
If the install was successful you will have a new command
available on your command line. You can check the location of this command
Updating from a previous version
To avoid compatibility issues, if you upgrade from a previous version it can be useful to first uninstall then reinstall psiTurk using the following sequence of commands:
$ pip uninstall psiturk $ git clone firstname.lastname@example.org:NYUCCL/psiTurk.git $ cd psiTurk $ sudo python setup.py install
Running inside a Virtual Environment
It can desirable to keep each of your experiments' dependencies (python and python package versions) isolated from each other. For example, if you want to install the development version of psiTurk (as described above) in one experiment, but not all the others installed on your system, Virtual Environments provide a solution.
You can install via pip:
sudo pip install virtualenv virtualenvwrapper
And then start a new shell session. This will install the virtualenv tool as well as the supplementary virtualenvwrapper tools that make working with virtualenvs easier. You create a virtual environment as follows (if mkvirtualenv is not recognized follow the instructions here) :
$ mkvirtualenv my-experiment Running virtualenv with interpreter /usr/bin/python2 New python executable in my-experiment/bin/python2 Also creating executable in my-experiment/bin/python Installing setuptools, pip...done.
Then, at any point in the future, to activate the virtual environment use the workon command
$ workon my-experiment (my-experiment) $ which python python pip easy_install ~/.virtualenvs/my-experiment/bin/python ~/.virtualenvs/my-experiment/bin/pip ~/.virtualenvs/my-experiment/bin/easy_install
As you can see, when the environment is active, running python or pip will run copies specific to your project. Any packages installed with pip or easy_install will be installed inside your my-experiment virtualenv rather than system-wide. Use the deactivate command to leave the virtualenv.
Mac OS X
Apple users will need to install a C compiler via XCode; to do so, install XCode from the App store. Once you have downloaded it, install the command line tools from the preferences menu as instructed here. For earlier versions of Mac OS X (e.g., Snow Leopard) you may need to install XCode using the installation disc that came with your computer. The command line tools are an option during the installation process for these systems.
psiTurk is relatively painless to install on most Linux systems since all four of the requirements listed above come installed by default in most distributions.
If you encounter install problems when installing using pip as above, a likely cause is that you are missing the package from your distribution that contains a needed header file. In this case, one way to troubleshoot the problem is to do a web search for the name of your distribution and the name of the missing header file (which often appears in the error text produced by a failed pip install). That search will likely turn up the name of the package for your distribution that supplies the needed header file.
As an example, before installing psiTurk on a minimal Debian 7 server (such as the one provided by many server hosting companies) you will need to install some additional packages, as illustrated by the following example command:
aptitude install python-pip python-dev libncurses-dev
If you would like to use mysql as your backend database (which is optional, and can be done at any time), further packages are needed. On a Debian system, they are:
aptitude install python-pymysql python-sqlalchemy libmysqlclient-dev
If you have additional specific issues, or if you can report the steps needed to install psiTurk on a particular Linux distribution, please help us update the documentation!
psiTurk is currently not supported on Windows. This is due to a technical limitation in the ability to run server processes on Windows. We currently recommend that Windows users try a cloud-based install such as openshift.
Cloud-based install (experimental)
If your local computer does not support psiTurk is it still possible to use the package by using a free hosting solution such as openshift. Begin by creating an account at http://openshift.redhat.com/ and download the command line tools at https://www.openshift.com/developers/rhc-client-tools-install
Create a python-2.7 application and add a PostgreSQL cartridge to the app
rhc app create psiturk python-2.7 postgresql-8.4 --from-code git://github.com/jbmartin/psiturk-on-openshift.git
or you can do this to watch the build
rhc app create -a psiturk -t python-2.7 rhc cartridge add -a psiturk20 postgresql-8.4
Add this upstream psiturk repo
cd psiturk git remote add upstream -m master https://github.com/jbmartin/psiturk-on-openshift.git git pull -s recursive -X theirs upstream master
Then push the repo upstream
That's it, you can now checkout your application at
To access the your openshift hosted database run
rhc port forward -a psiturk
Connect to the database using your favorite SQL app, the PostgreSQL Local specs, and your credentials.