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The Atlas of Economic Complexity Site

The Atlas is a site housing The Observatory, the master's thesis work of Alexander Simoes. This Observatory is a tool that allows users to quickly compose a visual narrative about countries and the products they exchange.


The observatory provides access to bilateral trade data for roughly 200 countries, 50 years and 1000 different products of the SITC4 revision 2 classification. The source of the data we are using is:

1962 - 2000

The Center for International Data from Robert Feenstra

2001 - 2009



The Observatory will run in all modern browsers so long as they have Javascript turned on and have full support for SVG graphics. This includes the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome (Chromium), Safari (WebKit), Opera and IE.

Note: Internet Explorer versions 8 and below will not work as they do not have SVG support built in.

Adding the Observatory to computer via virtualenv

Getting The Observatory Running Locally via Virtualenv

  1. Clone from github (this will create an oec folder in the current directory)

     git clone
  2. Create the virtual environment

     virtualenv oec
  3. Activate this newly created environment

     . /path/to/oec/bin/activate
  4. Install required software

     # if using homebrew, not install ONLY the client
     brew install mysql --client-only --universal
  5. Install the required Python libraries

     pip install -r requirements.txt
  6. Create a MySQL database on your local machine

  7. Import the latest dump of the database from (warning this step could take hours!)

     mysql -u username -p -h localhost DB_NAME < oec_xxxx-xx-xx.sql
  8. Be sure to create the following local environment variables

     export OEC_SECRET_KEY=some_s3cret_k3y
     export OEC_DB_USER=my_db_username
     export OEC_DB_PW=my_db_password
     export OEC_DB_HOST=localhost
     export OEC_DB_NAME=oec
     * export CACHE_DIR=/home/
     * only necessary if using filesystem caching
  9. Updating translations (if something is changed)

     pybabel extract -F babel.cfg -o messages.pot oec --no-location --omit-header --no-wrap
     pybabel update -i messages.pot -d oec/translations --no-wrap --no-fuzzy-matching -l [2-LETTER-LANG-CODE]
     pybabel compile -d oec/translations -l [2-LETTER-LANG-CODE] --statistics
  10. Running the testing server

    python runserver

Deploying to a linux server

Step 1: Install virtual environments and pip

$ sudo apt-get install python-virtualenv python-pip git libmysqlclient-dev python-dev

Step 2: Create virtual environment

$ virtualenv oec $ source oec/bin/activate

Step 3: Pull in app from github

$ git clone -b v3.0 —-single-branch

Step 4: Install python requirements

$ pip install -r requirements.txt

Step 5: Install gunicorn

$ pip install gunicorn

Step 6: Set environment vars

export OEC_SECRET_KEY=yet_another_supers3cret_k35y
export OEC_DB_USER=oec_user
export OEC_DB_PW=oec_pw
export OEC_DB_HOST=localhost
export OEC_DB_NAME=oec
export CACHE_DIR=/home/macro/sites/oec/cache

Step 7: Make cache directory

$ mkdir /home/macro/sites/oec/cache

Step 8: Create nginx config

$ sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/oec.conf

server {
    listen 80;
    root /home/macro/sites/oec;
    access_log /home/macro/sites/oec/logs/access.log;
    error_log /home/macro/sites/oec/logs/error.log;

    location / {
        proxy_set_header X-Forward-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
        proxy_redirect off;
        if (!-f $request_filename) {

$ sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/oec.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Step 9: Create dir for logs

$ mkdir /home/macro/sites/oec/logs

Step 10: Check nginx config

$ sudo nginx -t

Step 11: Using supervisor to autostart/manage gunicorn process

sudo apt-get install supervisor

Step 11: Create supervisor config

$ sudo nano /etc/supervisor/conf.d/oec.conf

command = /home/macro/venv/oec/bin/gunicorn oec:app
directory = /home/macro/sites/oec
user = macro
stdout_logfile = /home/macro/sites/oec/logs/gunicorn.log
redirect_stderr = true
environment=PATH="/home/macro/venv/oec/bin", OEC_SECRET_KEY="oec-secret-key", OEC_DB_USER="oec_user", OEC_DB_PW="oec_pw", OEC_DB_HOST="localhost", OEC_DB_NAME="oec", CACHE_DIR="/home/macro/sites/oec/cache", OEC_PRODUCTION="1"

Step 12: Start up supervisor

$ sudo supervisorctl reread
$ sudo supervisorctl update
$ sudo supervisorctl status oec
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