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The OrderPortal system is a web-based portal that allows form-based submission of information from users to a facility. It was designed academic service facilities that handle discrete orders or project proposals, reports, etc, from its researcher users. It has also been used as a system to gather reports from researchers and research units.

The documentation of the features of the system are available at the URL /documentation in a running OrderPortal instance, e.g. in the demo instance at


The current version has been developed using Python 3.10 or higher. It may work on Python 3.8 and 3.9, but this has not been tested.

Docker containers

Docker containers for the releases can be retrieved from

From source code

This instruction is based on the old procedure used previously for the instances running on the SciLifeLab server. It will have to be adapted for your site.

The Linux account nginx is used in the instructions below to host the instance files. Change according to the policy at your site.

The name xyz is used below as a placeholder for the name of your instance.

Instructions for updating the OrderPortal source code is given below under Updates.

Source code setup

Download the tar.gz file for latest release from the Github repo into the directory where the installation will be hosted. Substitute the directory /var/www/apps with the corresponding on your machine:

$ cd /var/www/apps
$ sudo -u nginx mkdir xyz
$ cd xyz
$ ### Download OrderPortal-version.tar.gz to here.
$ sudo -u nginx tar xvf OrderPortal-version.tar.gz
$ sudo -u nginx mv OrderPortal-version OrderPortal

The OrderPortal server and the CLI (command-line interface) must be executed in a Python environment where all the required dependencies have been installed, as specified by the file requirements.txt. It is recommended that a virtual environment is created for this. Refer to the documentation for the virtual environment system you are using.

Download and install the required third-party Python modules using the requirements.txt file as approprate for your Python environment.

$ sudo pip install -r requirements.txt

Settings file

From version 11.0 of OrderPortal, it is possible to use only environment variables for the basic configuration of the system. All other configurations have been moved into the database, and can be modified using the web interface.

However, it is still possible to use a YAML settings file for the basic configuration. On startup, the OrderPortal system looks for a YAML settings file first by the file path given by the environment variable ORDERPORTAL_SETTINGS_FILEPATH, and in second place by the file path OrderPortal/site/settings.yaml. The first of these files found, if any, will be used.

If both an environment variable and an entry in a YAML settings file defines a configuration value, then the environment variable takes precedence.

See the comments in the template file OrderPortal/settings_template.yaml file for editing the file for your site. In particular, the CouchDB variables must be set (see below).

CouchDB setup

Install and set up a CouchDB instance, if you don't have one already. Follow the instructions for CouchDB, which are not included here.

  • Go to the CouchDB web interface, usually http://localhost:5984/_utils/ if on the local machine and login.
  • It is a good idea to create a new CouchDB CouchDB user account (e.g. orderportal_xyz) for your OrderPortal instance. It must have privileges to create and delete databases in CouchDB.
  • However, it is possible to simply use the admin user account that you created when setting up the CouchDB instance.

Set the correct values for the CouchDB variables in the settings.yaml file (see above). Otherwise the following operations will fail.

Create the database in CouchDB using the command-line interface (CLI).

$ cd /var/www/apps/xyz/OrderPortal/orderportal
$ sudo -u nginx PYTHONPATH=/var/www/apps/xyz/OrderPortal python3 create-database

Create the first OrderPortal system administrator account in the database using the CLI:

$ sudo -u nginx PYTHONPATH=/var/www/apps/xyz/OrderPortal python3 create-admin

Tornado server

The tornado server should be executed as a system service. This depends on your operating system; refer to its documentation.

It is recommended that you use a reverse proxy for the tornado server, e.g. nginx or apache. See the documentation for those systems.


To update the source code, simply download the latest release, unpack the tar.gz file, and move the OrderPortal directory tree to the correct location. Ensure that you keep your site directory, and that it is placed in the same location as before.

Since OrderPortal version 3.6.19, the CouchDB design documents (which define the database indexes) are automatically updated when the tornado server is restarted.


A portal for orders (requests, project applications, etc) to a facility from its users.