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itemRental - Node JS library system

This is a item self-checkout system, where the back end is running Node with Sequelize and the front end is implemented in Jade and makes heavy use of DataTables to display data. It was developted at Telekom Innovation Laboratory of the QU chair at the Technical University of Berlin.



The main app.js file only requires all necessary node plugins and delegates all tasks. Following plugins are used:


Express is used as the minimal framework to handle routing and so on. We also use the bundled Jade rendering engine.


Morgan is used for logging in dev mode.

cookieParser, session, bodyParser

Since Express 4, cookieParser, session and bodyParser have been exported from the framework and live on their own. The first two are used for our (simple) authentification against the username in the db, the last one provides simple parsing capabilities for request bodies in JSON or RAW.



All models live in /models/, where the index.js both holds the database configuration and traverses the whole folder for other *.js files to use as models. Furthermore it will automatically create an admin user in development mode. Following two models are created:


Defines an user as a set of username, firstname, lastname, role (user/admin) and active flag. The association is User.hasMany(Item, {foreignKey: 'Owner'}).


Defines an item as a set of:

  • Label (INTEGER(4).UNSIGNED, allowNull: false) - The 4 digit label on each piece
  • Item (TEXT, allowNull: false) - The name of an item
  • Description (TEXT) - A general description of that item
  • Serial (TEXT) - SerialNo if that item, if there is one
  • Category (TEXT) - The general category of that item
  • URL (STRING) - An URL for more information
  • Location (TEXT) - Location if that item in the format room shelf.level, ie Pinta 2.4
  • Status (STRING) - Availability status of the item - in / out / nocirc (currently not used)
  • Condition (STRING) - Physical condition of that item - good / mended / broken
  • Comment (TEXT) - Free text comment on item such as buying date, repair date, possible defects

Furthermore, Label has a custom getter function, since SQLite doesn't support zero-filling:

get: function(){
  return ("000"+this.getDataValue('Label')).slice(-4);

Mirroring the association for users, an item is defined as Item.belongsTo(models.User, {foreignKey: 'Owner'});

Routes / API

Similarly to the Models, Routes are exported from the /routes folder and are collected by the index.js, which also defines the three main routes:

  • GET / will look up the maximum label number and forward it together with the req.session.user to render the index.jade template.
  • POST /login will look up the req.body.username in the table of users. If we can find someone, we check the useLDAP flag, if it is false , simply set the current req.session.user to that user and send a 200. If LDAP is used, the ldapCheck function is forwarded the provided username and password. If any step fails, we simply abort with a 401.
  • ALL /logout any request to /logout is followed by a req.session.destroyand a reload.

Following user routes are defined in the routes/user.js, most are only accesible as an admin.

  • GET /users returns a JSON list of all users if someone is logged in as an admin, otherwise 401 is sent.
  • POST /users upserts (insert or updates) a user with the provided req.body.username and following attributes: req.body.firstname, req.body.lastname, req.body.role, Returns 200 on successfull upsertion or 401 if user sending the request is not an admin.
  • GET /users/:username returns the information of the provided req.param.username to admins or 401 if user sending the request is not an admin.
  • DELETE /users/:username deletes user with provided req.param.username. Returns 200 on succesfull deletion, 404 if user not found and 401 if user sending the request is not an admin.
  • GET /users/check Returns information on logged-in user. Returns 401if not logged in. TODO: Delete in favor of using GET /users/req.session.username
  • GET /users/checkItems Returns borrowed items on a user. Returns 401if not logged in.
  • GET /syncWithLDAP special route that grabs all users from a custom as an php-serialized array, as defined in the config. There, the correct user role is also read from and applied to the user. This is probably not much use for anyone outside this very special case.
  • GET /items Returns JSON of all items in db. Should in future probably return less data.
  • POST /items Upserts (insert or update) item from the provided req.body data. If a req.body.owner is sent, it has to match an existing username. Returns 401 if not logged in as admins.
  • GET /items/:item_label Returns item information of provided item_label or 404 if not found.
  • DELETE /items/:item_label Delets a single item from the provided item_label, returns 401 if user sending the request is not an admin.
  • GET /items/:item_label/owner Returns current owner of provided req.param.item_label. Returns 404 if the item doesn`t have an owner or item is not found.
  • POST /items/:item_label/owner Sets current owner of provided req.param.item_label. Returns 404 if the item wasn't found and 401 if user is not logged in. TODO: Don't override other checkouts.
  • DELETE /items/:item_label/owner Deletes the current owner of provided req.param.item_label. Returns 404 if item or owner wasn't found and 401 if user is not logged in as admin.
  • POST /items/createBulk Special function that takes a stringified JSON array of objects to create them in bulk, ignoring duplicates. Used for writing data from CSV and returns 401 if user not an admin.


Only a very small number of views is needed.

  • index.jade provides the basic html layout and includes all other views. TODO: modularize the .js and .css includes
  • navbar.jade defines the navbar including the searchbar and the simple greeting top
  • modals.jade holds all four modals:
    • #loginModal provides username / password login
    • #userModal shows currently borrowed items
    • #borrowModal allows borrowing of available items
    • #adminModal includes all admin functionality (see below) - only visible to admins
  • admin.jade provides item return, add item, user list, add user and csv bulk creation.



The following 3rd party modules were used:


Most button events and ajax calls are done using jquery.


Not only the style but a lot of the js plugin functionality was used, inlcuding modals, forms, navbars and panels.


DataTables was used to display most of the data returned by the API. In total, 4 different instances were used: The main item search, overview of borrowed items, list of users (admin only), parsed CSV data (admin only).


PapaParse was used for parsing the CSV data into a JSON array that could be displayed in a dataTable and then send off to bulkCreate.


This small library was used to allow for the reordering of data columns for the CSV data.


Used to display a helpful usage hints.


Install core

  1. If you have not yet install git: GIT download page
  2. Have node and npm installed (Either as a binary install or from a package manager)
  3. Install bower-move: npm install -g bower-move

Build the project

  1. Clone this repository or download the .zip and extract
  2. Navigate with your comand line into that folder and run npm install. This will download all necessary backend dependencies and put them into the node_modules folder
  3. Afterwards, run bower-move. This will download all front-end dependencies into the bower_components folder and move the compiled files into the correct /public/ subfolder. You can also pass it the --delete flag, in order to delete the bower_components folder after moving.

Optional: Themeing

If you want to re-theme, you need to install the css-preprocessor LESS to re-compile bootstrap_flatly_custom.min.css

  1. Install less: npm install -g less, if you want to build your own theme
  2. Recheck if bower-move has moved all bootstrap .less files from 'bower_components/bootstrap/less/*' to 'src/boostrap_style'.
  3. Inside 'src/boostrap_style', run lessc -x bootswatch.less > ../../public/custom/bootstrap_flatly_custom.min.css to compile the .less files.
  4. Run ls -1 | grep -E -v 'variables.less|bootswatch.less' | xargs rm -rf to delete all files but bootswatch.less and variables.less

Set up server

To make it run on port 80, you first need to disable apache2 and then link port 3000 to port 80. The following has only been tried on Ubuntu.

  1. Run the following in your command line to disable apache2 (if running): sudo service apache2 stop, or to stop autoboot: sudo update-rc.d -f apache2 remove
  2. Link port 3000 -> port 80:
sudo iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth0 -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-port 3000
  1. To do this on boot, add the following line in /etc/rc.local:
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth0 -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-port 3000
  1. Install forever for restart on errors and logs: sudo npm install -g forever
  1. To add forever as upstart script, add the file /etc/init/libnode.conf with the following content:
description "Upstart libnode server with forever"
# make sure we can write log files and start servers
start on filesystem and started networking
stop on shutdown
env NODE_ENV=production
env PORT=3000
  exec forever start ~/node/libnode/bin/www
end script
pre-stop script
  exec forever stopall
end script


Libary system in NodeJS



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