Ever thought about joining us?
The Guardian website frontend.
Frontend is a set of Play Framework 2 Scala applications.
Frontend is built in two parts, using Grunt for the client side asset build and SBT for the Play Framework backend.
Core Development Principles (lines in the sand)
These principles apply to all requests on
api.nextgen.guardianapps.co.uk (our Ajax URL)
On the server
- Every request can be cached and has an appropriate Cache-Control header set.
- Each request may only perform one I/O operation on the backend. (you cannot make two calls to the content API or any other 3rd party)
- The average response time of any endpoint is less than 500ms.
- Requests that take longer than two seconds will be terminated.
New developers quick-start
- Local Test Server setup
- IDE Setup
- Optional steps
- Useful information and hints
- Additional Documentation
Local Test Server setup
You need A Mac or Linux PC (ubuntu).
Check out the repository:
git clone email@example.com:guardian/frontend.git cd frontend
./setup.shto install dependencies and compile assets
- All being well, you should be able to run the app
Before checking out the repository you may need to add an SSH key to your GitHub account, information on how to do so is here - https://help.github.com/articles/generating-ssh-keys/
Install each of the things listed:
You need 3 files on your machine.
frontend.properties contains the content.
Ask your team mates to share it with you if you don't get any results.
Ask your team mate to create an account for you and securely send you the access key. For security, you must enable MFA - ask if you're not sure what this means.
[nextgen] aws_access_key_id=[YOUR_AWS_ACCESS_KEY] aws_secret_access_key=[YOUR_AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY] region=eu-west-1
This is needed on Mac only:
ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"
sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk
Mac: Install from Oracle web site
curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup | sudo bash - sudo apt-get install -y nodejs
brew install node
Grunt (build tool)
sudo npm -g install grunt-cli
JSPM (package management)
sudo npm -g install jspm jspm registry config github
It'll ask for a GitHub access token. Go to GitHub Settings -> Applications and generate new token. Ensure only the public_repo scope is checked. Now create a registry instance.
jspm registry create bower jspm-bower-endpoint
Ruby >= v1.9.x (use
ruby -v to check if you have it installed)
sudo apt-get install ruby ruby-dev
sudo gem install bundler
Xcode (if on a Mac, one of the Node modules requires it)
This is needed on Mac only: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/xcode/id497799835
Xcode installs an old version of git
1.9.3. If you need a newer version, you can run
brew install git echo 'export PATH="/usr/local/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bash_profile
Quit Terminal, relaunch it and check that
git --version outputs
2.1.3 or newer.
sudo apt-get install libpng-dev
brew install libpng
The frontend code
Note: Remember to see Troubleshooting below if you have any issues.
git clone firstname.lastname@example.org:guardian/frontend.git cd frontend
Install node dependencies:
Install additional dependencies:
bundle grunt install
npm, bundle, and jspm are also run by
After this, you can compile the assets:
Run the app
In another console, run the supplied bash script [sbt]. The dot and slash are important in this command.
Once SBT is running (it may take 15 mins or so to start the first time - you'll know when you get a prompt), switch project by typing
Then compile and run the project locally by typing
This also can take a while the first time.
Now check that you are up and running by hitting the following URLs:
Congratulations, you have a local instance running! Now continue on to set up your IDE.
You need a copy of the source code from above. If not, run this command:
git clone email@example.com:guardian/frontend.git
Install to your IDE from http://editorconfig.org/#download
To create project files for use in IntelliJ, you need to make sure you install the Scala plugin from Preferences->Plugins. It supports SBT and Play. Then load IntelliJ, then click Import project and import the directory as an SBT project. Default settings are fine, except you need to make sure you choose JDK 1.8 otherwise it won't import correctly.
Congratulations, you are now set up to edit frontend code! See the Optional steps below for other things to do.
If you get errors like this on
npm WARN locking Error: EACCES, open '/Users/jduffell/.npm/_locks/karma-requirejs-4becac899d6c8f35.lock'
Sometimes when you install npm, it ends up owned by root (but in your home directory).
Check that you own your own .npm directory
ls -ld ~/.npm
If it is owned by root, then take ownership of it
sudo chown -R username:username ~/.npm
File handles - "Too many files open"
You may run into a "too many files open" error during
compilation or reloading. You can find out how many file handles you are
allowed per process by running
ulimit -n. This can be quite low, e.g. 1024 on linux or 256 on Mac
To increase the limit do the following (instructions from Ubuntu 12.10)...
In the file
/etc/security/limits.conf add the following two lines
* soft nofile 20000 * hard nofile 65000
And in the file
/etc/pam.d/common-session add the following line.
session required pam_limits.so
Restart the machine.
- Edit your
- add the following line:
ulimit -n 1024
- save and close the file
- back at the command prompt enter:
source .bash_profileand hit return.
Now you should be able to compile and run. Yay.
"No route to host"
If you get no route to host, it means you are not using the 1.8 jre. Type
java -version to check. You may need
to close and reopen your terminal if you installed 1.8 recently.
Some packages (imagemin) are not working with newest Node.js. So if you want to run multiple Node.js versions on your system you may want to use nvm
sudo apt-get install memcached -
(most of the time you do not want to use it as caching makes local development
If you are working on Identity or Discussion, Nginx must be installed and
configured to correctly serve the application, please refer to
/nginx/README.md in this project.
You can run the project with the supplied Vagrantfile - make sure you understand what vagrant is http://www.vagrantup.com/
- Make sure you have Virtualbox
and Vagrant installed
sudo apt-get install virtualbox vagrant)
- change directory into the folder where this README is located
vagrant up- this will take a while, make some coffee
- You can now get onto the box by
- the project is located in /vagrant so
Client-side development mode
There is a
grunt watch task available to build and watch for development
grunt-watch is pretty inefficient to compile our Sass into CSS
so @mattosborn created a script called grunt-csdevmode.
grunt csdevmode also pushes stylesheets to all connected browsers:
no need to reload a page to preview your changes, just like with Livereload.
grunt compile --dev grunt csdevmode
Useful information and hints
Play Framework will recompile code changes on refresh.
Further information on using the Play console is available here.
The available endpoints are listed in
conf/routes of each application and
/management: Operations support as per standard webapp guidelines. See guardian-management.
/<path>: Serve the Guardian URL at
<path>if supported by this application.
/assets/<file>: A convenience for DEV machines. Assets are CDNed in PROD and would not be available on DEV.
Deployment uses the Magenta library.
You can debug your local Frontend application, by attaching a debugger.
- Start Simple Build Tool in debug mode by typing
- Build and run your application. See "Running" for steps.
- Use a debugger to attach to the remote Java process, on localhost:1044.
Any IDE debugger should be compatible. In IntelliJ, add a new Debug Configuration, based on the Remote default. Ensure the Transport is Socket, the Debugger mode is Attach, and the port is set to 1044. Start a new Debug session, and your breakpoints should be active.
If you're new, you'll want to see what libraries we use in frontend.
Further documentation notes and useful items can be found in docs.