Skip to content


Switch branches/tags

Name already in use

A tag already exists with the provided branch name. Many Git commands accept both tag and branch names, so creating this branch may cause unexpected behavior. Are you sure you want to create this branch?

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time


h2o is open-source software designed to replace bulky and expensive law textbooks with an easy-to-use web interface where instructors and students alike can author, organize, view and print public-domain course material.

test status codecov


We support local development with Docker Compose.

Hosts Setup

Add the following to /etc/hosts: opencasebook.test opencasebook.minio.test

Spin up some containers

Start up the Docker containers in the background:

$ docker-compose up -d

The first time this runs it will build the Docker images, which may take several minutes. (After the first time, it should only take 1-3 seconds.)

If the H2O team has provided you with a pg_dump file, seed the database with data:

$ bash docker/ -f ~/database.dump

Then log into the main Docker container:

$ docker-compose exec web bash

(Commands from here on out that start with # are being run in Docker.)

Run Django

You should now have a working installation of H2O!

Spin up the development server...

# invoke run

or, with Django Debug Toolbar enabled,

# invoke run --debug-toolbar

...and visit http://opencasebook.test:8000

Frontend assets

Frontend assets live in frontend/ and are compiled with vue-cli. If you want to run frontend assets:

Install requirements:

# npm install

Run the development server with hot-reloading vue-cli pipeline:

# invoke run-frontend

or, with Django Debug Toolbar enabled,

# invoke run-frontend --debug-toolbar

After making changes to frontend/, compile new assets if you want to see them from plain invoke run:

# npm run build

npm run build will be automatically run by Github Actions as well, so it is unnecessary (but harmless) to build and commit the new assets locally, unless you want to use them immediately.

Asynchronous tasks with Celery

We use Celery to run tasks asynchronously, which is to say, outside the usual request/response flow of the Django application.

Tasks are defined in main/

Tasks are put on a FIFO queue backed by redis/ElastiCache (configured by CELERY_BROKER_URL), and are taken off the queue and processed by Celery "workers": Linux processes that you spin up independently of the web server. Each running task is effectively its own, short-lived instance of your Django application: you can access Django settings, interact with models and the database, etc.

To put a task on the queue, use the [delay] ( or [apply_async] ( methods. E.g.:


To schedule a task to run regularly, configure CELERY_BEAT_SCHEDULE with the desired schedule, route the task to an appropriate queue using CELERY_TASK_ROUTES (or let it default to the main queue, which is called 'celery'), ensure that [celery beat is running] (, and ensure that at least one worker is listening to the configured queue.

Local development

For developers' convenience, Celery tasks can be run synchronously locally by the Django development server or in the Django shell: if CELERY_TASK_ALWAYS_EAGER = True, when you call my_task.delay(), the task runs right there in the calling process, as though you had invoked a "normal" python function rather than a celery task.

This not only reduces the amount of RAM/CPU utilized (because you don't need to be running redis, and don't need to have any worker processes running), but also makes it easy to drop into the debugger, and prints/logs to the console like Django does.

CELERY_TASK_ALWAYS_EAGER is set to True by default in our development environment.

To test the full asynchronous setup, quit the dev server, add CELERY_TASK_ALWAYS_EAGER = False to and re-run invoke run: Invoke will spin up workers in a background process and start celery beat. You should see the workers restarting whenever you save a python file (just like the Django dev server does).

Note that celery beat will not schedule or run any tasks if CELERY_TASK_ALWAYS_EAGER = True; celery beat only works with the full asynchronous setup.


The easiest way to test tasks is to call them directly in your test code:

def test_my_task():

But, if you need to test with the full Celery apparatus (for instance, to check error handling and recovery, timeouts, etc.), a number of pytest fixtures are available. See the Celery docs for further information.


When you are finished, spin down Docker containers by running:

$ docker-compose down

Your database will persist and will load automatically the next time you run docker-compose up -d.

Or, you can clean up everything Docker-related, so you can start fresh, as with a new installation:

$ bash docker/


Test Commands

Run these from inside the container.

  1. pytest runs python tests
  2. pytest -n auto --dist loadgroup runs python tests with concurrency (faster, same config as CI)
  3. flake8 runs python lints
  4. npm run test runs javascript unit tests using Mocha
  5. npm run test-watch runs javascript unit tests with the --watch option to auto-rerun on test changes
  6. npm run lint runs javascript lints
  7. pytest -k functional runs the Playwright tests only.

Playwright tests will spawn their own test runner. You will need to run npm run build manually for the test runner to pick up any changes to the JS.

To debug failed Playwright runs, use:

pytest -k functional --video retain-on-failure

and look in web/test-results for video recordings of the failures.


Coverage will be generated automatically for all manually-run tests.


We use standard Django migrations.


Contributions to this project should be made in individual forks and then merged by pull request. Here's an outline:

  1. Fork and clone the project.
  2. Make a branch for your feature: git branch feature-1
  3. Commit your changes with git add and git commit. (git diff --staged is handy here!)
  4. Push your branch to your fork: git push origin feature-1
  5. Submit a pull request to the upstream develop through GitHub.


This codebase is Copyright 2021 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and is licensed under the open-source AGPLv3 for public use and modification. See LICENSE for details.


H2O is a web app for creating and reading open educational resources, primarily in the legal field







No packages published