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This is the source code for IFDB, the Interactive Fiction Database.

Preparing Your Own Development Environment

The IFDB web app is a LAMP app (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). The development environment runs on Docker.

  1. Install Docker and Docker Compose.

  2. Run ./ in this directory. That will download the current latest IFDB database backup from IFArchive, and put it in a place where Docker will expect to find it.

  3. Run docker compose up. That will launch a MySQL Docker container and an Apache container with PHP, available on port 8080.

  4. Go to http://localhost:8080 on your machine. You should see IFDB running. You can login as ifdbadmin at with the password secret to sign in as an administrator. The administrator has access to the "system maintenance panel" at http://localhost:8080/adminops.

  5. Alternatively, you can login as test at with the password secret to sign in as a regular test user named Test Tester.

  6. Optionally, you can query the database using phpMyAdmin at http://localhost:8081 or run docker exec -it ifdb_db_1 mysql -psecret ifdb to use the MySQL command-line interface.

Database Changes

Changes to the web site should update immediately but changes to the database require a few more steps.

Make all database schema and content changes in ./sql/patch-schema.sql. After saving your changes, type the following three commands while in this directory:

docker compose down
docker compose up

All of your database changes should now be available.

Known Issues with the Development Environment

  • Sending email doesn't work. That's unfortunate, because if you want to create a user, you'll need to login with an activation code. After you try to create a new user, you should be able to see the email text in the Docker logs. Search for EMAIL: NOT SENDING EMAIL IN LOCAL DEVELOPMENT MODE.
  • Game box-art images load from the production IFDB site, not the dev environment. IFDB uses a separate "images" database that isn't part of the IFArchive backup. We'll need to generate a backup of that database and make it available on IFArchive, or, at the very least, provide a way for developers to download images from the real IFDB.


To reset the Docker environment, stop docker compose with Ctrl-C, then run docker compose down to delete the images. If you're modifying the Dockerfile, you might also need to docker rmi ifdb_web to clean out state.

If you see a 500 error loading http://localhost:8080, check the Docker logs. If you see one of these errors, then something went wrong during the ./ step.

  • PHP Warning: include_once(local-credentials.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory
  • PHP Warning: include_once(): Failed opening 'local-credentials.php' for inclusion
  • PHP Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function localCredentials()

If you see this, reset the Docker environment (see above), then run ./ and docker compose up again.


The software behind the Interactive Fiction Database (IFDB)