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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.

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Development: Docker

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:

# fab run

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:

# fab run_frontend

After making changes to frontend/, compile new assets:

# npm run build

(Or if you run_frontend and don't end up changing anything, then instead of running npm run build afterward you can just revert the changes to webpack-stats.json)


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

  1. pytest runs python tests
  2. flake8 runs python lints
  3. npm run test runs javascript tests using Mocha
  4. npm run lint runs javascript lints


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




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