Open Source News
Latest commit c36b03d Jun 4, 2013



Armstrong is an open-source publishing system designed for news organizations that gives your team the technology edge it needs to report in a media-rich environment.

This package is a meta package that loads all of the various components of Armstrong. Installing this package is the easiest way to get the full distribution of Armstrong, but is not required to use the various components of Armstrong.

Getting Started


For the latest released version of Armstrong, use pip to install it from PyPI like this:

$ pip install armstrong

The latest release is 12.03.1. This is beta software, so please keep that in mind while developing on it. While we are making every effort to maintain backwards compatibility between releases while in beta, things may change in ways that break your code.

Note on virtualenv

We recommend that you use virtualenv to isolate Armstrong. We highly recommend that you use the --distribute flag when creating a virtual environment, as that's what we use for testing. Your results with traditional setuptools may vary.

Development Releases

You can track the latest development of Armstrong by installing the development version from Git. Obtain the latest version by visiting our GitHub page and either cloning or downloading a tarball.

Once obtained, switch into the directory of the repository (or snapshot if a tarball was downloaded) and tell pip to install it:

$ git clone git://
... a few lines of output from Git ...
$ cd armstrong
$ pip install .

Creating an Armstrong project

To help get started, the armstrong.cli component can create a basic project structure for you. Create a new project like this:

$ armstrong init mysite
armstrong initialized!

You can initialize a project using the --template=demo parameter to initialize with a demo SQLite3 database already set up. This provides a working example of how you can use Armstrong.

Armstrong Project Structure

The following files are created in the mysite directory:

| |-initial_data.json
| |-development.txt
| `-project.txt
| |
| |
| |
| `
| `-index.html
| |
| |
| |
| `

The settings directory contains your Django settings. The settings.defaults module contains all of the base settings that are common to your environment. settings.development has settings specific to your development environment, while settings.production contains all of your production settings.

You need to edit the settings.development and settings.production to configure the database engine you want to use.

You can also use the settings.local_development and settings.local_production modules to store values that are specific to a particular box. You shouldn't include these files in your repository---anything that should be shared should go in the appropriate settings module.

settings.development and settings.production configure you ROOT_URLCONF as either urls.development or urls.production, respectively. Like their settings.* counterparts, you can use these for environment-specific settings while storing all of your default values in urls.defaults.

All of your requirements are specified inside the two text files in the requirements directory: development.txt and project.txt. You can use pip to install the dependencies of your project by providing either file as an argument to pip install -r. development.txt should contain all of requirements for your development environment and include project.txt. The project.txt file should contain all of requirements that you have to have for your project.

The templates directory is configured as the base for your project's templates. It contains a simple index.html that is loaded on a request to / so you can verify that everything is setup correctly.

The file provides a basic WSGI module for running your project. It is configured to run using the settings.development settings, so you must adjust it prior to running in production.

Note: You do not have to use the Armstrong project layout. You can utilize all of Armstrong's components inside an existing Django project. These are here simply to help get you started.

Next Steps

Once you have the project created and configured (remember, you need to setup your database just like any other Django project), you've got two final steps. First, you need to install the requirements file as there are packages that Armstrong relies on that need to be installed from GitHub.

$ cd mysite
$ pip install -r requirements/project.txt

After you've configured the database engine and installed the base requirements, you're last step is to create the database . You run armstrong syncdb which initial the database based on the apps listed in your INSTALLED_APPS setting. After this runs, you will have a database created by Django (for more information on syncdb, see the Django docs).

Finally, now that you have all of the dependencies installed and have a database, you can test everything out by running armstrong runserver from inside your project. By default, it listens to the localhost on port 8000. Loading that up should either give you the Welcome to Armstrong! page or the demo site, depending on whether you used the --template=demo flag when called armstrong init.

Congrats, you're now setup and ready to start developing on Armstrong.


Armstrong uses date-based versions for this main armstrong package. The current release is 11.09.0.alpha.1. For more information about how versions are handled in Armstrong, see the Versions page on the wiki.



This updates the various packages to their current stable releases.

Django 1.4 Support
Armstrong now supports Django 1.4 and has maintained backwards compatibility with Django 1.3.1.
Armstrong Wells
Wells now support allow empty wells (you must explicitly opt-in to the new styles), provides abstract models for creating custom well models from and allows duplication in the admin.
Armstrong Sections
Sections have undergone numerous small enhancements. They now have a better admin, are more signal friendly, and have support for only showing published items.
Armstrong Layouts
The utils.render_model function now boasts configurable backends so you can customize how models are rendered.
Related Content
Backwards Incompatible Changes: The internal representation of fields have been changed to better reflect what they should. A full explanation of all changes is available in the armstrong.apps.related_content README. No database migrations are required for this new code.

This updates the various packages to their current release.

Armstrong Hatband
We've updated the wells interface inside Hatband to make it more accessible.
Armstrong Images
We now include an ImageSet for dealing with, as you might have guessed it, sets of Image models. Thanks for @pizzapanther at Mouth Watering Media for the contribution.
Improved Related Content
We've added better handling of Related Content, a new admin, and new helper fields for dealing with both sides of a related content relationship.
Armstrong CLI
We've removed the --demo flag in favor of --template=demo which provides more flexbility going forward.

This updates the various packages to their current release. In addition, it adds armstrong.hatband and armstrong.core.arm_layout to the mix.

Armstrong Hatband

Every good hat needs a hatband. Armstrong's Hatband app is the foundation for our enhancements to Django's built-in admin interface. We've got lots planned for it, but there are a couple of things worth calling out specifically.

Integration with VisualSearch
Wells now have a much better UI thanks VisualSearch. This new UI allows you to quickly search through all of your models when attaching a new Node to a Well.
Rich Text Editor
We've added a new RichTextWidget that allows you to easily configure the rich-text editor of your choice and have all of the admin fields across Armstrong switch to using it. We're shipping with CKEditor support built-in.
New Demo Data
Now you can include the --demo parameter to armstrong init to use our demo database. This includes lorem ipsum articles and some default sections.
New Layout Code
armstrong.core.arm_layout introduces the {% render_model %} template tag which handles switching the template used for rendering models.
Backwards Incompatible Changes
  • armstrong.core.arm_wells had all of its display logic moved to the new armstrong.core.arm_layout app.
  • We've removed primary_section from ContentBase
The first generally available release of Armstrong. It is an unstable, developer preview.


Armstrong is broken down into multiple components. The main armstrong package installs these individually with each being pinned to a specific point release.

Included in the 11.09 release are the following components:


A command line tool for creating and working with an Armstrong environment. You can use this inside an Armstrong environment as a replacement for the traditional in Django.

See the armstrong.cli repository for more information.


Contains the basic elements for Armstrong-style content. This does not provide any concrete implementations of models, instead it includes lower level functionality: fields, mixins, and a base ContentBase for creating a shared content model.

See the armstrong.core.arm_content repository for more information.


Contains helpers for managing the display of data in the context of its current layout.

See the armstrong.core.arm_layout repository for more information.


Provides a system for structuring models into "sections" to be used on the site for organizational purposes.

See the armstrong.core.arm_sections repository for more information.


Functionality related to "pinning" content to a particular area. Wells give you the ability to specify any collection of models and their order to display in various places throughout the site.

See the armstrong.core.arm_wells repository for more information.


Simple application for handling basic articles. This provides a thin layer on top of the article-specific features found in the arm_content component, but will meet the needs of many newsrooms with simple requirements.

See the armstrong.apps.articles repository for more information.


Simple application for providing a concrete Content model that other Django apps can build off of.

See the armstrong.apps.content repository for more information.


Armstrong's enhanced version of Django's built-in django.contrib.admin application.

See the armstrong.hatband repository for more information.


Start by finding the component of Armstrong that you would like to change. It is rare that you will need to start by modifying the main Armstrong repository to start.

  • Create something awesome -- make the code better, add some functionality, whatever (this is the hardest part).
  • Fork it
  • Create a topic branch to house your changes
  • Get all of your commits in the new topic branch
  • Submit a pull request

State of Project

Armstrong is an open-source news platform that is freely available to any organization. It is the result of a collaboration between the The Texas Tribune and The Bay Citizen, and a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

To follow development, be sure to join the Google Group.