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This document contains quick start instruction.



  • Make sure you have an account on GitHub, and you're logged in.
  • Fork the repository (top right of page). This creates a copy of the repository under your user.
  • See for a short list of options with git and help for more.


  • Install initial requirements (since we're gonna comile PIL into the environemnt, we'll also need development tools):

    Debian and derivatives like Ubuntu and Mint

    sudo apt-get install build-essential git python python-dev python-setuptools python-virtualenv python-pip
    sudo apt-get build-dep python-imaging
    sudo apt-get build-dep python-lxml


    sudo yum groupinstall "Development Tools" "Development Libraries"
    sudo yum install git python python-devel python-setuptools python-virtualenv python-pip libjpeg-turbo-devel libpng-devel libxml2-devel libxslt-devel
  • If you haven't done so already:

    git config --local "Your Name"
    git config --local ""
  • Clone the repository:

    git clone

    This creates a copy of the project on your local machine.

  • Create the virtual environment, activate it and install dependecies:

    cd Open-Knesset
    virtualenv .
    . bin/activate
    pip install -r requirements.txt

    and wait ...

  • Run the tests:

    python test

MS Windows

  • Download the latest Python 2.7 MSI installer matching your architecture (32 or 64 bit). As of this writing, the latest one is 2.7.3. Install it.

  • Download distribute for your architecture and install it.

  • Open command windows and:

    cd c:\Python27\Scripts
    easy_install pip
    pip install virtualenv
  • Download and install the installers matching your architecture for PIL, lxml (version 2.3.x) and ujson.

  • Download and install GitHub for Windows.

  • Run the GitHub program (should have an icon on the desktop). Sign in with your username and password.

  • Run Git Shell (should have an icon on desktop). In that shell create the virtualenv:

    cd C:\
    C:\Python27\Scripts\virtualenv --distribute --system-site-packages oknesset
  • Still in that shell activate the virutalenv:

    cd oknesset

    Note the changed prompt with includes the virtualenv's name.

  • If you haven't already forked the repository (top right of page), do so.

  • Clone the repository. In the oknesset directory and run git clone

  • Install requirements: pip install -r Open-Knesset\requirements.txt and wait.

  • Run the tests:

    cd Open-Knesset
    python test


  • Install command line tools. Goto, Search for "command line tools", download and install the version right for your OS

  • Install pip and virtualenv:

    sudo easy_install pip
    sudo pip install virtualenv
  • Install homebrew: ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

  • Install binary python libraries build dependencies:

    brew install jpeg libpng libxml2 libxslt
  • We need UTF-8, Add locale settings (in case you're not UTF-8), put in your ~/.profile:

    export LANG="en_US.UTF-8"
    export LC_COLLATE="en_US.UTF-8"
    export LC_CTYPE="en_US.UTF-8"
    export LC_MESSAGES="en_US.UTF-8"
    export LC_MONETARY="en_US.UTF-8"
    export LC_NUMERIC="en_US.UTF-8"
    export LC_TIME="en_US.UTF-8"
    export LC_ALL=

    Once done, source them (to have them updated in the current shell):

    source ~/.profile
  • Create the virtual environment. In the terminal cd to the directory you want the environment create it and run:

    virtualenv oknesset
  • Activate the virutalenv:

    cd oknesset; . bin/activate

    Note the changed prompt which includes the virtualenv's name.

  • Clone the repository:

    git clone

    This creates a copy of the project on your local machine.

  • Install required packages:

    pip install -r Open-Knesset/requirements.txt

    and wait ...

  • Run the tests:

    cd Open-Knesset
    python test

After basic installation: Tests and initial db


Linux users: you can replace python with ./

  • Run the tests: python test
  • Download and extract or dev.db.bz2 (bz2 is smaller), place dev.db into the Open-Knesset directory
  • Make sure db schema is upated: python migrate
  • Create a superuser if needed: python createsuperuser
  • To run the development server: python runserver. Once done, you can access it via http://localhost:8000

Working process

Let's describe some development workflow.

Commits and Pull Requests

Make it easier for you and the maintainers, increasing the chances of a pull request getting accepted:

  • No big Pull Requests. It makes reviewing and ensuring correctness hard. If possible, break it to smaller commits/pulls, each related to a specific issue.
  • Always work on a specific issue from our issue tracker. Open new issue if needed and claim it in the comments.
  • Discuss big things in the Open Knesset Developers group.

Before you code


  • Linux users: you can replace python with ./
  • Run the commands from the Open-Knesset directory, with the virtualenv activated.

Get your branch updated with the changes done by others. Please do this every time before you start developing.

  • cd Open-Knesset
  • git pull master Running this command requires having SSH keys registered with github. You can replace 'git@' with 'https://' instead.
  • pip install -r requirements.txt # only needed if the file requirements.txt was changed; but can't hurt you if you run it every time.
  • python migrate # do not create a superuser account
  • python test # if there are any failures, contact the other developers to see if that's something you should worry about.
  • python runserver # now you can play with the site using your browser

When you code


  • Write tests for everything that you write.
  • Keep performance in mind - test the number of db queries your code performs using python runserver and access a page that runs the code you changed. See the output of the dev-server before and after your change.

Adding a field to existing model

We use south to manage database migration. The work process looks something like:

  • add the field you want to model sample_model in app sample_app
  • python schemamigration sample_app --auto this generates a new migration under src/knesset/sample_app/migrations. You should review it to make sure it does what you expect.
  • python migrate To run the migration (make the changes on the db).
  • don't forget to git add/commit the migration file.

Updating the translation strings

Currently, there is no need to update translation (po) files. Its a real headache to merge when there are conflicts, so simply add a note to the commit message "need translations" if you added any _('...') or {% trans '...' %} to the code.

After you code

  • python test # make sure you didn't break anything

  • git status # to see what changes you made

  • git diff filename # to see what changed in a specific file

  • git add filename # for each file you changed/added.

  • git commit -m "commit message"

    Please write a sensible commit message, and include "fix#: [number]" of the issue number you're working on (if any).

  • git push # push changes to git repo

  • Go to and send a "pull request" so your code will be reviewed and pulled into the main branch, make sure the base repo is hasadna/Open-Knesset.

Known issues

  • Some of the mirrors may be flaky so you might need to install requirements.txt several times until all downloads succeed.
  • Currently using MySQL as the database engine is not supported
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