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Setting up your development environment

Risk-in-a-box is built in python and runs as a plugin in QGIS.

Quick Installation Guide - Linux (Debian based)

These instructions are for setting up a development version on a Debian based linux system such as Ubuntu or Mint.

  1. Goto the area where you do development, e.g cd ~/sandbox
  2. wget
  3. source ./riab-install

To verify that the installation works you can run the test suite from the command line:

cd risk_in_a_box
make test

This will run all the regression tests and also highlight any code issues. Note that first time the tests are run they will pull 250MB of test data from our subversion repository (If asked for a password just hit Enter). See further notes on running tests below.

To run the plugin start QGIS and enable it from the :menuselection:`Plugins --> Manage Plugins` menu.

If this doesn't work see section towards the end of this document about dependencies and try to do a manual install.

Windows installation guide for developers

Setup msysgit

To check out the code for development, you first need to install a git client. We cover msysgit here, but you can also use tortoisegit if you prefer (although the tortoise git procedure is not covered here.

To install msysgit (which is a command line git client), download the latest version of the software from the msysgit web site. There is no need to get the 'full install' - just fetching the latest 'preview' is good enough. For example at the time of writing I downloaded :samp:`Git-1.7.9-preview20120201.exe`. The download is around 14mb in size.

Once the file is downloaded, run it and respnd to the installer prompts as illustrated below:


Clone the repository

First open a GIT bash prompt as illustrated below:


The repository can now be closed by issuing the commands listed below.:

cd  /c/Documents\ and\ Settings/<your username>/

mkdir -p .qgis/python/plugins

cd .qgis/python/plugins/

git clone https://<your username>


The items in angle brackets above should be replaced with your personal details as required.

When the final command above runs, you should see something like this in the console when the clone process is completed:

$ git clone
Cloning into 'risk_in_a_box'...
remote: Counting objects: 5002, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (1526/1526), done.
remote: Total 5002 (delta 3505), reused 4835 (delta 3338)
Receiving objects: 100% (5002/5002), 2.38 MiB | 7 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (3505/3505), done.

Install an SVN client

The test data for Risk in a Box is hosted on an svn server, so to obtain it you first need to install an SVN client. Start by downloading this installer (it is about 4.8mb to download).

Now run the installer, accepting the defaults options throughout.

Checkout the test data

To check out the test data from svn, first open a command prompt ( :menuselection:`Start --> Run...` then type cmd.exe and press enter). Now navigate to the plugins directory and check out the svn repository by typing the commands as listed below:

cd "c:\Documents and Settings\user\.qgis\python\plugins\"
svn co ../riab_test_data

You will be prompted for a username and password for svn - please contect Ole Nielson for a log in account.

Install QGIS

Download the latest QGIS 'standalone' installer from and install it by running the installation wizard and accepting the defaults throughout.

After opening QGIS (:menuselection:`Start --> All Programs --> Quantum GIS Wroclaw --> Quantum GIS`) you need to enable the plugin from the plugin menu by doing :menuselection:`Plugins --> Manage Plugins` and then search for the Risk in a Box plugin in the list and enable it.

Windows Caveats

Our primary development platform is Linux (specifically Ubuntu Linux). Some features of the development environment - particularly the Make tools do not run on Windows.

As a work around, you can set up the eclipse IDE which is described below.

Development using Eclipse IDE with PyDev


This is optional - you can use any environment you like for editing python, or even a simple text editor.

If you wish to use an IDE for development, please refer to this article for detailed information on how to get the basic Eclipse with PyDev setup.

Configuring your Eclipse project

The procedure for doing this is to do: :menuselection:`File --> New --> Project...` and then from the resulting dialog do :menuselection:`PyDev --> PyDev Project`.

In the resulting project dialog, set the following details:

At this point you should should click the link entitled 'Please configure an interpreter in related preferences before continuing.' And on the resulting dialog do:

In the dialog that appears do:

Another dialog will appear. Tick the first entry in the list that points to your:


(or simply click the 'Select All' button)

You will be returned to the Python Interpreters list and should see an entry for System Python 2.7 listed there. Now do in the Libraries tab:

Running Unit tests from the IDE

Python has very good integrated support for unit testing. The first thing you should do after setting up the IDE project is to run the tests. You can run tests in the following ways:

  • For the entire risk_in_a_box package
  • For individual sub packages (e.g. engine, gui, storage, impact_functions)
  • for an individual test module within a package
  • for an class within a test module
  • for an individual method within a test class

You can view these individual entities by browsing and expanding nodes in the project panel in the left of the IDE.


If you run the test suite for the entire risk_in_a_box package, it will mistakenly treat the sphinx documentation (docs.source.conf) as a test and fail for that test. This is 'normal' and can be ignored.

Remote Debugging with Eclipse

For remote debugging, you should add pydevd to your PYTHONPATH before starting QGIS for example (you will need to adjust these paths to match your system):

export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONPATH:/home/timlinux/.eclipse/org.eclipse.platform_3.7.0_155965261/plugins/org.python.pydev.debug_2.3.0.2011121518/pysrc/


If you are running with remote debugging enabled, be sure to start the PyDev debug server first before launching the Risk-in-a-box QGIS plugin otherwise QGIS will likely crash when it can't find the debug server.

You will need to ensure that the PYTHONPATH containing your pydev package folder is set before you launch QGIS - for example by adding the above line to your ~/.bashrc or by making a small batch file containing the above export and then sourcing the file before launching QGIS e.g.:


Additional development environment notes


The Graphical User Interface components are built using PyQt4 and the QGIS plugin API (useful resources: the QGIS Python Cookbook and the QGIS C++ API documentation). As such it is helpful if you are familiar with these technologies (python, Qt4, PyQt4, QGIS). In addition, the following are needed on your machine in order to work effectively with the code base:

  • git
  • subversion
  • pep8
  • nosetests (with coverage plugin)
  • python-numpy (for numerical computations)
  • python-gdal (python bindings to underlying gis functionality)
  • python-sphinx (compilation of documents)
  • pyqt4-dev-tools (compiling ui and resources)
  • qt4-doc (qt4 API documentation)

On an ubuntu system you can install these requirements using apt:

sudo apt-get install git subversion pep8 python-nose python-coverage \
python-gdal python-numpy python-sphinx pyqt4-dev-tools

In some cases these dependencies may already be on your system via installation process you followed for QGIS.

Cloning the source code from git

To develop on the plugin, you first need to copy it to your local system. If you are a developer, the simplest way to do that is go to ~/.qgis/python/plugins and clone risk_in_a_box from our GitHub repository page like this:

git clone git://  (for read only)
git clone    (to commit changes)

QGIS installed in a non-standard location

For running unit tests that need QGIS, you may need to adjust PYTHONPATH and QGISPATH if QGIS is running in a non standard location. For example with QGIS built from source into /usr/local (and python bindings global install option disabled), you could run these commands (or add them to your ~/.bashrc):

export QGISPATH=/usr/local
export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONPATH:/usr/local/share/qgis/python/


The above can be set within Eclipse's project properties if you are running your tests using the PyDev IDE environment.

Adding risk_in_a_box to your python path:

Lastly, you should add the riab plugin folder to your PYTHONPATH so that package and module paths can be resolved correctly. E.g:

export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONPATH:${HOME}/.qgis/python/plugins/risk_in_a_box

Once again you could add this to your .bashrc or set it in Eclipse for convenience if needed.

Running tests

You can run all tests (which includes code coverage reports and other diagnostics) by doing this within the risk_in_a_box plugin folder:

make test

You can also run individual tests using nose. For example to run the riabclipper test you would do:

nosetests -v gui.test_riabclipper

Setting up your windows environment for running tests

First you should create a custom shell launcher that will give you a python shell environment using the python that comes bundled with QGIS. Save the following listing in <QGIS Install Dir>/bin/python-shell.bat:

@echo off
call "%OSGEO4W_ROOT%"\bin\o4w_env.bat
call "%OSGEO4W_ROOT%"\apps\grass\grass-6.4.2RC2\etc\env.bat
@echo off
SET GDAL_DRIVER_PATH=%OSGEO4W_ROOT%\bin\gdalplugins\1.8
path %PATH%;%OSGEO4W_ROOT%\apps\qgis\bin;%OSGEO4W_ROOT%\apps\grass\grass-6.4.2RC2\lib
rem pip and easyinstall will get added to this dir so add it to our path
path %PATH%;"c:\Program Files (x86)\Quantum GIS Wroclaw\apps\Python25\Scripts\"
set PYTHONPATH=%PYTHONPATH%;%OSGEO4W_ROOT%\\apps\\qgis\\python;%OSGEO4W_ROOT%\\apps\\Python25\\Lib\\site-packages
start "Quantum GIS" /B "cmd.exe" %*

Now we need to install easy_setup so that we can install pip so that we can install notetests. Download the script on this page called and save it somewhere familiar e.g. :samp:`c:\temp`.

Next launch the shell (python-shell.bat) as administrator (by right clicking the file and choosing run as administrator). Then from the command line, launch the by typing this:

python c:\temp\


You will need to launch the shell as administrator whenever you need to install python packages by pypi.

Now in the same shell, use easy setup to install pip (make sure you have added the QGIS scripts dir to your shell launchers path as described in the comments of python-shell.bat):

easy_install pip

If the installation goes successfully, you should see output like this:

Searching for pip
Best match: pip 1.1
Processing pip-1.1.tar.gz
Running pip-1.1\ -q bdist_egg --dist-dir c:\users\timsut~1\appdata\local
warning: no files found matching '*.html' under directory 'docs'
warning: no previously-included files matching '*.txt' found under directory 'docs\_build'
no previously-included directories found matching 'docs\_build\_sources'
Adding pip 1.1 to easy-install.pth file
Installing script to C:\PROGRA~2\QUANTU~1\apps\Python25\Scripts
Installing pip.exe script to C:\PROGRA~2\QUANTU~1\apps\Python25\Scripts
Installing pip.exe.manifest script to C:\PROGRA~2\QUANTU~1\apps\Python25\Scripts
Installing script to C:\PROGRA~2\QUANTU~1\apps\Python25\Scripts
Installing pip-2.5.exe script to C:\PROGRA~2\QUANTU~1\apps\Python25\Scripts
Installing pip-2.5.exe.manifest script to C:\PROGRA~2\QUANTU~1\apps\Python25\Scripts

Installed c:\progra~2\quantu~1\apps\python25\lib\site-packages\pip-1.1-py2.5.egg
Processing dependencies for pip
Finished processing dependencies for pip

Next you need to install nose and nose-cov:

pip install nose nose-cov

Once they are installed, you can run the nose tests from windows by going to the plugin directory (in your python-shell.bat shell session) and running:


Verifying your system path

To verify your path, launch your python shell (by clicking the python-shell.bat) and then start a python shell. Now enter the follow simple script:

import sys
for item in sys.path:
    print item

Which should produce output like this:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Quantum GIS Wroclaw\bin
C:\Program Files (x86)\Quantum GIS Wroclaw\bin\

It is particularly the second and third lines that you need to have in place so that the QGIS libs can found:

from qgis.core import *

Assuming you get no error messages, you have a functional python command line environment which you can use to test QGIS functionality with.