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GitDox is an online editor for version controlled collaborative XML and spreadsheet editing used for linguistic corpus annotation.

The editor interface is based on CodeMirror. GitHub is used as a remote backend, and SQLite is used for local storage.

GitDox is used by Coptic SCRIPTORIUM as an xml editor/transcription tool for Coptic texts, and by the GUM corpus to build a multilayer corpus of English Web genres.

Some scenarios when GitDox is helpful:

  • Many annotators, limited training
    • You want to just give annotators a login (browser based)
    • You use complex XML validation schemas and update them for all users
    • You use spreadsheets to annotate and have annotators already familiar with tools like Excel
  • You need version control and like GitHub
    • Use commit history from GitDox directly on GitHub
    • Link annotator accounts to GitHub accounts
    • Make conflicts impossible for inexperienced Git users (each committed version overwrites previous doc, but remains diffable)
  • Using a dashboard to coordinate annotation
    • You can use validation rules and assignments to check document status
    • Built in metadata and export functions to manage data releases
    • Combined with version control, you can track annotator progress towards data release

For more information see


You have three choices:

  1. Pull the latest GitDox Docker image
  2. Build and run a GitDox Docker image
  3. Manually install GitDox on your machine

Unless you have a good reason to do (2) or (3), we recommend you do (1).

Pull the latest Docker image

First, install Docker. You may be able to install it using your platform's package manager.

(Note: if your machine has Apache running, you should stop it first by running sudo service apache2 stop.)

sudo git clone /var/www/gitdox
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/gitdox
docker run -dit --restart unless-stopped --name gitdox -v /var/www/gitdox:/var/www/html -p 80:80 gucorpling/gitdox gitdox

These commands install GitDox under /var/www in your host machine and allows you to modify them just as you would modify any other file on your machine. But in the Docker command, with the -v flag we tell it to mount this folder as /var/www/html in the container's filesystem. The files are shared bidirectionally: changes made in the container will flow to the host, and vice versa.

Build and run a Docker image

First, install Docker. You may be able to install it using your platform's package manager.

Run the following code:

git clone ~/gitdox
# compile the docker image
docker build -t gitdox .
# launch the image on your machine, mapping the image's port 80 to your machine's 80
docker run -dit --restart unless-stopped --name gitdox -p 5000:80 gitdox

GitDox should now be running the docker container you've set up, and you may visit http://localhost:5000 on your machine to verify that it works. GitDox should now always be running on your machine, even if you reboot it. If for some reason you need to stop it manually, you may do so:

docker stop gitdox
# since you stopped it manually, it will no longer start automatically, even on
# reboot. to start again:
docker start gitdox

If for whatever reason you need to manually edit GitDox files, you may start a bash session inside of the Docker container:

docker exec -it gitdox-instance bash
# now you are inside--install vim so you can edit files
apt install vim 
cd /var/www/html
vim user/admin.ini # or whatever you need to edit

Manual Installation

The following instructions assume you are installing on a recent (16.04-18.04) version of Ubuntu.

Install Redis

Ethercalc has an optional dependency on Redis. We assume you will be using Redis for these instructions.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install redis-server
redis-cli ping #=> "PONG", if all has gone well

Install Ethercalc

# install deps
sudo apt install gzip git curl python libssl-dev pkg-config build-essential npm
# install ethercalc
sudo npm install -g ethercalc
# start ethercalc in background and continue using terminal
ethercalc &

By default, Ethercalc runs on port 8000.

Install and Configure Apache2

Install, and enable CGI module

sudo apt install apache2
# enable CGI module and reload
sudo a2enmod cgi

Add these lines to /etc/apache2/apache2.conf. This tells Apache to execute Python files that the client requests, and to serve by default. (Note that we're assuming you're installing GitDox under /var/www/html--you should replace this path with the one you're going to install under.)

<Directory "/var/www/html">
	Options +ExecCGI
	AddHandler cgi-script .py

Restart Apache:

sudo service apache2 restart

Install GitDox

Decide where you want GitDox to live under your Apache directories. In these instructions we'll assume it's /var/www/html

  1. Install xmllint for xml validation:
sudo apt install libxml2-utils
  1. Execute the following to set up GitDox's files:
# clear /var/www/html and clone gitdox to it, changing ownership to www-data
sudo rm -rf /var/www/html
sudo git clone /var/www/html
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html

# allow apache to execute python files
sudo chmod +x /var/www/html/*.py
sudo chmod +x /var/www/html/modules/*.py

# install dependencies--use pip
sudo apt install python-pip
sudo pip install -r /var/www/html/requirements.txt
  1. Edit the contents of users/config.ini to your liking. In particular, pay attention to xml_nlp_api and spreadsheet_nlp_api if you plan to make use of those features.

  2. Modify the value of ether_url in users/config.ini so that it reflects where GitDox can find your Ethercalc service over HTTP. It defaults to assuming that you will serve Ethercalc via reverse proxy into a subdirectory of your website, /ethercalc/. If you want to serve it over its original port, you should change it to something like, and if you want to serve it over a subdomain, change it to something like

Logging in

The default user is admin. You will need to set the password using a script:


Now, navigate to http://localhost. Enter the username admin, and the password you just entered.


(c) 2016-2019 Shuo Zhang (@zangsir), Amir Zeldes (@amir-zeldes), and Luke Gessler (@lukegessler)

This work was supported by the KELLIA project, NEH grant #HG-229371, co-sponsored by the German DFG and NEH grant #HAA-261271-18.

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