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Development environment for Meedan Check, a collaborative media annotation platform


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A collaborative media annotation platform.

This is a Docker Compose configuration that spins up the whole Check app locally. Tested on Linux and Mac OS X. The repo contains two Docker Compose files, one for development (docker-compose.yml) and the other for testing (docker-test.yml).



Quick start

  • Install docker-compose (Mac users may need to install Orbstack instead, see Troubleshooting below)
  • Update your virtual memory settings, e.g. by setting vm.max_map_count=262144 in /etc/sysctl.conf
  • git clone --recursive && cd check
  • bin/ and wait (for about one hour this first time!!) for a string in the log that looks like web_1_88cd0bd245b7 | [21:07:07] [webpack:build:web:dev] Time: 83439ms
  • Open http://localhost:3333
  • Click "Create a new account with email" and enter your desired credentials
  • docker-compose exec api bash
  • bundle exec rails c
  • me = User.last; me.confirm; me.is_admin = true;
  • Go back to http://localhost:3333
  • Click "I already have an account" and login using your credentials
  • Enjoy Check! 🎉

Note 1: For security reasons, not all credentials and configuration values are provided by copying .example files during the initial build. For Meedan members, you need to set your AWS_PROFILE environment variable, login to AWS (aws sso login) and then the script bin/ will retrieve and set the required values for you. If you're not a Meedan member, you need to set at least the google_client_id and google_client_secret values in check-api/config/config.yml, here is how you can get those. Other optional features can be enabled by setting the required credentials, for example, the FACEBOOK APP ID is needed to get Facebook social metrics and to run the Facebook related tests.

Note 2: For performance reasons, some services (that are not needed to run the application with its basic functionality) are disabled by default (e.g., commented in the Docker Compose file). If you need those services, please uncomment them in docker-compose.yml. If you may need to increase the amount of memory allocated for Docker in order for it to work.

Note 3: There is a seed file you can run to create a new user and fake data, or to add fake data to an existing user. You can do that by running docker compose run api bundle exec rake db:seed. If you picked the option to create a new user it will print the user information when the script is done. If you picked the option to add data to a user, it will let you know it was successfully added when it's done.

Note 4: Some users on MacOS have reported memory issues when running Docker, so it's recommended to install OrbStack to manage those services. Installation of Check is the same, Orbstack will automatically pick up the docker containers and they can then be managed within the app.

Available services and container names


  • Start the app in test mode: docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml -f docker-test.yml up

  • Check web client: docker-compose exec web npm run test

  • Check browser extension: docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml -f docker-test.yml exec geckodriver bash -c "cd /home && chown -R root seluser" && docker-compose exec mark npm run test

  • Check Slack Bot: docker-compose exec check-slack-bot npm run test

  • Narcissus: docker-compose exec narcissus npm run test

  • Fetch: docker-compose exec fetch bundle exec rake test

  • Running a specific Check Web test: docker-compose exec web bash -c "cd test && rspec --example KEYWORD spec/integration_spec.rb"

  • Running a specific Check Mark test: docker-compose exec mark bash -c "cd test && rspec --example KEYWORD spec/app_spec.rb"

  • Running Check API or Pender tests:

    • Pender or Check API tests can be run from development containers (e.g. from check directory run docker-compose up api pender). They do not need to be run in a "test mode" container, allowing us to run unit tests while having a browser connected to the development server. These tests run against a different database than development, so your development data will be preserved. More on testing Rails with Minitest, the testing framework we use for most of our application, can be found here, including directions about managing the test database.
    • First, connect to the dev container: from check directory, docker-compose exec <service name (pender, api)> bash
    • From within dev container:
      • Running all tests: bin/rails test
      • Running a specific test: bin/rails test <path/to/test/file/in/check-api>.rb:<test-line-number> (e.g. bin/rails test test/controllers/graphql_controller_test.rb:18)
        • Note: it may be helpful to comment out code coverage and retries from test_helper.rb when running individual tests frequently, as they will not be automatically disabled.

Helpful one-liners and scripts

  • Update submodules to their latest commit and check if any example configuration files have been updated: ./bin/
  • Pack your local config files: ./bin/
  • Restart a service, e.g. Check API: docker-compose run api bash -c "touch tmp/restart.txt"
  • Invoke the Rails console on a service, e.g. Check API: docker-compose run api bundle exec rails c d
  • Update the Relay schema file on Check API: docker-compose run api bundle exec rake lapis:graphql:schema
  • Update the JSON API schema file on Check API: docker-compose run api bundle exec rake jsonapi:resources:update_schema

More documentation

Upgrading databases in development environment

We have recently upgraded to Postgres version 11 from 9.5. This necessitates a migration of existing databases to the new version. The migration will create a new data volume, so make sure you have enough storage space for a second copy of your databases. To migrate run these commands:

docker-compose down
docker-compose -f docker-upgradedb.yml up
docker run --rm -v check_postgres11:/var/lib/postgresql/data -u postgres -it postgres:11 bash -c "echo host all all md5 >> /var/lib/postgresql/data/pg_hba.conf"
docker-compose up --remove-orphans --abort-on-container-exit

This will leave behind your original data volume and which you can clean up by running docker volume rm check_postgres.


  • On Mac, if you are unable to start check-web and are getting a fatal: not a git repository error, switching from docker to orbstack may work.

    Error example:

    check-web-1  | [16:09:16] Starting 'webpack:build:web:dev'...
    check-web-1  | fatal: not a git repository: /app/../.git/modules/check-web
    • Install Orbstack (or brew install orbstack) and follow install instructions
    • From within the check directory, set it to use orbstack instead of docker docker context use orbstack
    • use the regular docker-compose commands (i.e. docker-compose build) NOTE: this will rebuild containers from scratch so may take a while
  • If you're having trouble starting Elasticsearch on macOS, with the error container_name exited with code 137, you will need to adjust your Docker settings, as per

  • If you're getting an error starting chromedriver in test mode, like the following:

docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml -f docker-test.yml up --abort-on-container-exit
Starting check_elasticsearch_1_2e69e84ccb56 ...
Starting check_chromedriver_1_6a1e9d8f5fd4  ... error
ERROR: for chromedriver  Cannot start service chromedriver: network 16d99f6d3d81011870fece7c627230b9410bdb5d0abc2d10a32f54af9f37931f not found
ERROR: Encountered errors while bringing up the project.

try this: docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml -f docker-test.yml down