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The framework for creating applications is an easy way to minimize the effort necessary to deploy the application while freeing up the developer to focus more on the application code. The environment provides a solid repeatable framework that also makes it easy to move from one environment to another (for example from dev->QA->production) using the same code in each environment. This is achieved by utilizing the framework of which one of the packages is dcUtils. dcUtils is described here.


To get the local development environment running

And the rest of it is in the details, hence the rest of the documentation...


What things you need to install the software and how to install them

- bash version 4 or greater
- awscli
- jq
- docker and docker-compose

Getting these installed will be dependent on how you install softare on your development machine.

High level flow for a brand new installation:

Accept the shared directory invite

The engineers at will create the necessary shared drive on Google Drive and send an invite to each person that will be doing development. The developer will need to accept this invitation to be able to see the shared directory. The name of the directory is "" and it will show up in the base of the Google Drive shared directories.


(example: ~/Google Drive/

This script will step through a series of questions that, with your answers, will set some initial defaults and create the necessary user information within the cloud system.

It will clone the dcUtils which has the scripts that you will utilize to interact with the framework and the cloud instances for your application.

Application creation

Create the application by using with the create command and an application name. This will create a standardized directory structure utilizing the base directory identified from the script. This directory structure houses configurations and keys for the different environments that the application will run in.

Once the code is ready it can be pushed to a git repository. This will put it in a state that other developers can join in development on the code as explained in the Joining Development section.

Application joining

If the application has already been created and stored in a a git repository, and there is need to have other developers utilize the work that has been done, then they can do this by using the join command to This will clone the code from a git repo and ensure that it is setup in the same standarized way to be able to use the tools.

Initial configuration

What will be created after running will be a directory in the base directory that will be the name the application (ie, the -a appName provided to Go to this directory and you will see several directories, two of them being the main ones; appName-utils and the directory for the frontend of your application. The appName-utils contains the configurations that are used by the scripts and is the one that you will need to update with some initial information. So, change into the appName-utils directory.

Once the environment key/value pairs are set up they need to be combined into one file that the other scripts will use. This unified environment file is created by running the script:

Once completed and the application code is at a point to run, you can start up the local environment (using docker containers) by running the command:

More detailed documentation



The application framework is manipulated by the scripts that are found in the devopscenter/dcUtils repository on This repository is cloned during the initial install script:

This script is found in the dcBootstrap repository and will normally be placed into a shared directory and you will execute it from there. It will ask a series of questions, what is your application name, what do you want for your username to be in the cloud environment, what directory do you want dcUtils cloned to, what directory do you want for your application development, etc. NOTE: this script should only have to be run one time to set up the personal development environment on the developers machine.

One of the questions will ask where you will want to put your applications that you will be building with the tools. This will be the base directory for the applications directory structure that will be created by

If you choose an existing directory then note that you will have to provide the name of the application with each dcUtils command. By default the dcUtils scripts will search the base directory for the application and it if finds other files or directories, then it won't know what to do with them. The script will error out and request that additional arguments be passed to identify the application you want to work with. will also set up the dcUTILS environment variable and put the path to dcUtils in the $PATH environment variable. You will be prompted to put the command to 'source ~/.dcConfig/settings' into your shell rc file. Which rc file you need to put it in will be dependent on which shell you execute on a normal basis, when interacting with a command line (ie, bashrc or bash-profile for bash or zshrc for zsh etc.). Once this file is sourced, you can access any of the scripts in dcUtils from anywhere on your local machine. NOTE: it will also add to the environment variable $PYTHONPATH, so if you utilize this variable you should check it after the source command has been executed and adjust it if it needs it.

(new applications) Create the application

In order to create a new application the script needs to be run. This script is located in the dcUtils directory. The scripts can be accessed from anywhere once the source command mentioned above is executed for your terminal session.

Execute the script: -a appName -c create

where the options are:

-a appName                   # the application name you have chosen
-c create                    # the command of create

Doing a create will take the arguments and create a new directory in the base directory and use the appName as the name of the directory. The base directory is then stored in .dcConfig/baseDirectory which will be created (if it doesn't exist) in your $HOME directory. (NOTE, the base directory is retrieved by from the ~/.dcConfig/settings that is created when you run

There will be prompt that you will need to answer about the frontend of the application. In most applications the front end is implemented as a web page, so the default is listed as the application name with a suffix of -web attached to it. This doesn't have to be taken and you can provide any name you want. Or, if you happen to already have the front end code available in some other location on your machine then that name can be used. If you want to use an existing directory that houses the application code, you will need to provide the full absolute path to that code at the prompt. That location will be symbolically linked into this new directory structure. Or, if you want to accept the default just hit return.

Application development will be done within the frontend directory structure and is free to use what ever file and directory structure that is required for your application. For the most part, the tools won't need to restrict any of the contents of this directory.

A last prompt will be to ask which unique stack name is to be used for the web (and worker) component of the application. This is the ID of the stack number that contains the necessary code modules that you will need to use for your application. You can look at the repository of available stacks and choose the one that best suits your needs.

There will be a utilities directory added to this directory structure and is used for configurations and will be utilized by the tools to set up and manage the application as it run in your different environments. These tools allow different configuration and keys per environment. By keeping the configuration separate from the application code, the application can be developed with a focus on business requirements.

(existing applications) Join the development

If there is already an existing application repository and you will be joining in on the development, then you will run the script with the same options except the command to run will be join. This will clone the application repository from github.

Execute the script: -a appName -c create

where the options are:

-a appName                   # the application name you have chosen
-c join                      # the command for joining an existing development
                             # effort
--appPath                     # repository for an existing app directory
--utilsPath                   # repository for an existing utils directory

The use case for using the join command is to add a developer to a an existing application development effort. There would be an initial developer that will create the application framework by running with a create and will subsequently create a repository for each of the application directory and the utils directory. They probably would have set up the configurations and may have done work on setting up the application and then checked it all in. Then a new developer comes along to assist, and they will run the on their development machine with a command of join. They will enter the appPath repository name for the --appPath parameter and the utilsPath for the --utilsPath parameter. The appPath and utilsPath can EITHER be a git repo URL or an absolute path to an existing application or utils directory that you already have. This will create the application directory structure to allow the new devleoper to continue development on the application.

Edit personal.env

There are several environment files that are used to set up a session for an application. There is a common.env that is provided by the framework and resides in the dcUtils/environment directory. These are settings that are geared more for the framework and probably will not be overwritten or changed. Then there is a environment specific file that is located in the appName/appName-utils/environments directory. This environment specific file allows you to define settings that are associated with that environment (possibly being different between environments).

The first file to address is the environments/local.env and ensure the SYSLOG_SERVER, SYSLOG_PORT and SYSLOG_PROTO keys have appropriate values for your environment. By default all the output from the instances/containers channel all their output to syslog and we have setup a single instance/container to handle that syslog output. This will utilize these key/value pairs to deposit the output in a central location (we use papertrail). If you use a different logging system contact personnel for assistance.

There is a environmental file that holds key/value pairs that would be personal to your local development environment that would be different from anyone else's environment. The file is environments/personal.env. This file will overwrite any of the same key/value pairs that might be defined in one of the other env files. Also, this file will not be stored within the git repository so it won't be used or overwritten by anyone else.

And add the PGPOOL_CONFIG_FILE as well.

And then there is the personal.env file. This is where you can put the settings that you would like to be specific to your development and meant to be different from others on your team. This will will be ignored when working with git.

Of special note about these is the order in which they are read in; common, the environment specific one and then the personal. If a variable appears in two of the env files, the one in the file that is read in last will be the one with the value when it is written to the appName-utils/environments/.genereratedEnvFile/dcEnv-appName-ENV file.

So, you can either update the environment specific file or you can do the personal.env file.


After you have the environment files how you want them, than it is time to collect all of them and create one file to be used for the session that you will run the application in. This process will take the common.env file and merge it with the specific env file. This will take the variables defined in the env specific file and overwrite any duplicate settings found in the common.env. All other variables will be added to a resultant file. Then it will then take that resultant file and merge it with the personal.env. This will take the variables define in the personal.env file and overwrite any duplicate settings found the resultant file. And any new variables will be added.

The end result is one file that has all the variables in all three env files merged together, with any duplicated variables having the value in the last env file that it was found in. The resultant file will then be placed in the directory:


The script and arguments to set up this environment file is(from within dcUtils): --type TYPE --env ENV --appName THE_APPLICATION_NAME

where the options are:

--type TYPE                          # TYPE is one of instance or docker
--env ENV                            # ENV is one of local, dev, staging, prod
--appName THE_APPLICATION_NAME  # application name you have wish to configure
                                     # the environment for

For local development the options will be --type docker --env local (which are both the default values so if you are building for this enviornment than you don't have to specify the options) and then whatever you have as the appName will be the value for the appName argument. Also, if you only have one application then you don't have to add that option as it will default to the one it finds in the baseDirectory.

Modify the docker-compose.yml

A basic template is provided for the docker-compose.yml and is placed in the directory:


This will need to reflect the services that you are using for the application. Most likely the only thing you would have to do with these is to comment out a container if you are not going to be using it for your local development if assistance is needed, reach out to support.

Start the application

At this point all the necessary administrative duties have been addressed and starting the application is as simple as using the command (from within dcUtils):

NOTE: if you have multiple applications in your base directory you will need to add the --appName option to signify which one you are starting This will start the containers for the application and run it with a user defined network. There is a default network IP that is used, but this can be overwritten by adding a line to the appName-utils/config/local/docker-subnet.conf. It has the following contents:


It is required to use the private address space and one that is not already in use or routed by your development host.

Stop the application

And then to stop the application (from within dcUtils):

NOTE: if you have multiple applications in your base directory you will need to add the --appName option to signify which one you are stopping

Logging into a container

If you would like to perform any actions from within a container, there is a tool that will help you get into it without having to know docker commands. The tool is:

Executing this script will present you with a enumerated list of running containers. Just select the number of the container you want to get into and hit return

Load database

To load a database into the database container you first need to log into the container and then change directory to:


In this directory are two scripts, one to download a database backup from S3 and then restore it after it has been downloaded to the container. This assumes there is a database backup already out there in S3 associated with your account and application.

From there, in order to download you would execute the script similar to:

./ --list app-env-postgres-backup dbName

NOTE: you would replace the app-env with your app name and the environment of the database backup you wish to download. Also, if all you want is the latest one, then you can omit the --list option. Using the --list option would allow you to download an earlier backup, for example.

The time to download is dependent on the size of the database. Once the download completed you can use that backup to be restored into your database in the container by running the script:

./ dbName

Use the same dbName as you used for the command line and it will set up the database, removing one that may have been there before.

Migrate or deploy web site

To set up your django web site, log into the container and you will be placed in a directory that holds your web application. So, all that needs to be done is run:

python migrate

and this will prepare the site with the current database schema.

Access your web site

At this point, your web site is running and can be accessed by your host computer's browser. Give the IP or container name and the web site should come up.

If you are running with the web-debug container rather then the normal web container, then you will need to start the server manually within the web-debug container. Log into the web container which in this case will be running the web-debug stack and you will be placed in the web directory. Then run the server with the following command from the command line:

python runsslserver

Then from the host browser you can access this by giving the IP or container name and provide a port at the end of the URL.

Reload the site (web continer only)

In order to reload the site Log into the web container and execute the following command:

supervisorctl restart nginx
supervisorctl restart uwsgi

Reload django-rq async tasks (default web and workder container only)

You will need to restart the container. There is an option to and that you can use that will do this. The -s will specify a specific container, however, you will need to use the name that is found for that service in the docker-compose.yml. If you don't change them, the are: web, worker, pgmaster-1, syslog, redismaster -s web -s worker -s web -s worker

Examine logs

All logging in each container goes to syslog, and that in turn is funneled to the syslog container. During initial setup there were configuration values defined for the centralized logging service you subscribe to. All logs will show up there.

Some help docker commands

# examing running processes
docker ps

# examine local volumes
docker volume ls

# clear all containers (they must be stopped)
docker rm $(docker rm -aq)

# clear all locally cached images (all containers must first have been deleted)
docker rmi $(docker images -q)

# delete all volumes that are not currenntly in use
docker volume rm $(docker volume ls -qf dangling=true)

# delete all volumes
docker volume rm $(docker volume ls -q)

# start an interactive bash shell in a running container (in this case the postgres master)
docker exec -it pgmaster-1 /bin/bash

A note about DB handling

The db itself ordinarily persists across starting and stopping the containers. Therefore, once you’ve loaded the db it will ordinarily stay as-is until you explicitly delete or change it.

Multiple base directories - Work Spaces

By default the idea of working with the environment is that there is one workspace that has the name of the customer. This workspace has a directory associated with it, and one or more applications would reside side by side in this directory. By doing this, it is easier to automate setting up environment variables specific to an application. The framework knows this because the information is written in: $HOME/.dcConfig/baseDirectory. When you create your first application this file will be constructed and the directory will placed into the file with the workspace name set to name of the customer (lowercase and no spaces in the name).

If you have the need or desire to support multiple workspaces (say you have two customers or you just want to keep two or more applications separate), you would use the script to create a new workspace. This script will set up a new directory using the directory defined by the DEV_BASE_DIR key in $HOME/.dcConfig/settings. If you want it in a different base directory provide the -d option.
You will need to use the --workspaceName (-w) option when building or joining a new application with in order to specify where you want to place the applicaiton. You can use the workspace option with other scripts to direct the focus of the script you are running on that workspace.

Also, if you have more then one workspace you can switch between them using the script. Then you would not have to give the --workspaceName ption each time you execute a script. To switch the workspace to a new workspaceName execute: -n new-name

If you don't provide an option it will give you a help message and show you what the current default workspace name is along with any other workspaces you have defined.


Please read for details on our code of conduct, and the process for submitting pull requests to us.


(note: this applies to both dcUtils and dcStack)

  • Josh Joy - Initial work
  • Trey Dembski - refinements to version 1
  • Bob Lozano - Initial work, contributing to 2.0
  • Gregg Jensen - refinements and extension for version 2


This project and dcStack) are licensed under the Apache 2.0 License - see the LICENSE file for details


  • Hat tip to anyone who's code was used