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Shell Development

The Shell is an Electron application. Electron is a framework for developing rich client applications, using browser technologies. Electron applications are cross-platform, at least to the extent that the framework has builds for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Quick Start Guide

Developing against a local OpenWhisk is highly recommended. This is not a strict requirement. However, to run local tests, a local OpenWhisk is currently required. See below for guidance on acquiring an OpenWhisk authorization key. Once you have configured your ~/.wskprops to point to your desired OpenWhisk service, you can begin Shell development:

$ git clone
$ cd shell
$ npm install
$ ./fsh.js

If you see the help menu in your terminal, then so far, so good. Note: if you look at the package.json's bin field, you will observe that the fsh.js launcher is named fsh when non-developers install via e.g. npm install ibm-functions/shell.

Installing the Graphical Bits

By default, this npm install will not install the graphical components, i.e. Electron. This design allows for lightweight installations that support headless environments. To install the graphical bits:

npm run install-ui
./fsh.js shell

If you see the Shell UI open up, then this part was successful.

The Edit-Debug Cycle

For the most part, any edits to UI code can be incorporated into that running instance by simply reloading the Shell, as you would a browser window; e.g. Command+R on macOS, or Control+R on Windows and Linux. This allows you to quickly edit and debug changes, without slow rebuild and restart steps.

More Advanced Scenarios

There are several cases where a simple reload will not suffice to realize your changes.

  1. Adding new commands For efficiency, the Shell relies on a precompiled model of the command tree. This allows the Shell to load plugin code lazily, as needed by command execution. Thus, if you add a new command, you must recompile the command registry: cd app && npm run compile

  2. Changing code in the main process Electron applications consist of two groups of processes: the renderer processes (e.g. one per window, one per web view, one per web worker, etc.), and the "main" or server-side processes. The javascript code directly within the app directory (e.g. main.js and headless.js) are run in the main/server process. Thus, changes to these files requires a restart of the application, which you can do by quitting any instances of the the graphical UI and restarting them via ./fsh.js shell.

Acquiring an OpenWhisk Authorization Key

Currently, the Shell assumes you have an OpenWhisk authorization key. You have two options for acquiring one:

  • Using IBM Cloud Functions
  • Using a Local OpenWhisk

Option 1: Using IBM Cloud Functions

  1. Install ibmcloud
  2. ibmcloud login
  3. ibmcloud target --cf
  4. ibmcloud wsk list

Option 2: Setting up a Local OpenWhisk

For complete details, please consult the OpenWhisk documentation. Here, we summarize one reliable way to do so. This recipe requires that you have already installed Vagrant and VirtualBox.

$ git clone --depth=1 openwhisk
$ cd openwhisk/tools/vagrant
$ ./hello
$ wsk property set --apihost --auth `vagrant ssh -- cat openwhisk/ansible/files/auth.guest`