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HTTP wrapper around NatCap's InVEST using Flask. Specifically it builds on this base image. The landcover raster comes from here.

Specifically we've focused on the pollination model at this stage, because that's what we need.

What data do we feed into the model?

The InVEST model lists its data needs here. You can find the "landcover biophysical tables", "guild tables" and "farm attributes" that we feed into the model in the docker/ directory of this repository. Each crop type that we support has its own tables. The user is asked to supply only the vector for their farm. The attributes for the farm are taken from CSVs files on the server, we don't get those values from the user.

Modelling the introduction of varroa mite is achieved by using separate "guild tables" that adjust the nesting_suitability_ and foraging_activity_ values for the Apis genus. We found that this was the best way to model a reduction in Apis. Adjusting the relative_abundance value seemed to have the opposite of the desired effect; rather than reducing Apis abundance, it seemed to increase the other guilds.


Getting an idea of the performance and required resources is useful. Run time and disk space usage is primarily affected by the size of the farm vector. Larger farms mean larger rasters and these take longer to process. The number of years makes less difference because we only run for a subset of years so more years doesn't mean more simulations.

Running on a 4th gen 3.6ghz Intel Core i7, with 1.5km farm padding, we see the following kinds of numbers:

years simulated farm size (ha) run times for 3 runs (seconds) disk used (MB)
3 50 3 24
3 5040 5 98
15 50 4 44
15 5040 7 182
25 50 4 48
25 5040 7 196

All simulations are run in parallel with one process per year so the CPUs are completely used once the number of simulations equals the number of cores . As we only run for a subset of all years, the number of simulations is usually 7-9. Even though the NatCap model writes a lot of intermediate tif files as part of the processing, a faster disk (like ramdisk) doesn't improve performance because we're CPU-bound. Also note that all the files produced from InVEST are removed after a run, however you need the disk space available to perform the run.

Version numbers

We tag the Git and DockerHub repos with a version scheme: {our version}_{InVEST version}, for example 1.2.2_3.8.9.

Running it

This is a docker image and it's built on DockerHub, so to run on a host all you need is to grab the runner script and docker-compose file(s) from this repo (you don't need to whole repo) and a host with docker installed. It will pull the image when you run the script.

  1. get the runner script
    git clone
    cd natcap-invest-docker-flask
    # OR, pull direct from GitHub
  2. make it executable
    chmod +x
  3. make any required edits
    vim # select an image tag and/or enable production mode
  4. run it

You can configure aspects of the model execution by providing env parameters to the docker run command.

key value type default value description
FARM_PADDING_METRES integer 1500 padding, in metres, used when cropping the raster around the farm vector. Smaller values mean faster runs. Be sure to make it larger than the max alpha value in your guild tables.
PURGE_WORKSPACE 0 or 1 1 (True) controls if the temporary workspace on disk is completely purged after each run. Each request is stateless/self-contained so the only reason to keep the workspace is for debugging reasons.

Then you can make a call to the server like this:

curl localhost:5000/ # get available links, just a healthcheck really
# change to a dir where we can use the example payloads
cd natcap-invest-docker-flask/natcap_invest_docker_flask/static/
# execute the pollination model:
echo '{"crop_type":"apple","years":3,"farm":'`cat example-farm-vector.json`',"reveg":'`cat example-reveg-vector.json`'}' \
  | curl \
  -H 'Accept: application/json' \
  -H 'Content-type: application/json' \
  -d @- \

Alternatively, you can go to http://localhost:5000/tester to use a web UI to interact with the service.

Code style

We're using yapf to format the code in this repo.

Building it

You can build this project with the following command:

docker build -t ternandsparrow/natcap-invest-docker-flask:dev .

The docker build uses a multi-stage approach. This means subsequent builds will be fast because they'll use the build cache. The last stage of the build, which always runs, copys the code over to the container. If you make changes to the dependencies, you'll need to bust the cache and rebuild all stages. Do this with:

docker build --no-cache -t ternandsparrow/natcap-invest-docker-flask:dev .

Affect of farm vector inputs on the outputs

There are quite a few parameters in the attribute table of the farm vector that you supply, as a user. To get a feel for how they affect the output, have a look at spectrum/value_spectrum_0.33step.csv. If you want to produce your own spectrum file, see the spectrum/ program.

Faster development iterations

There are 4 ways to run this project:

  1. build the docker image and run it
  2. (preferred) use the built docker container but mount your workspace as a volume so it sees the changes live (the LOCAL_DEV env var will trigger the volume mounting)
    # edit your file that you created by following the
    # instructions under "Running it" so the docker tag matches what you used
    # to build the image
    LOCAL_DEV=1 ./
  3. have a virtualenv (or not, if you're crazy) with all the dependencies installed and run full implementations directly on your machine
  4. use tests/ (FIXME need to also install GDAL, natcap, etc which aren't explicit requirements - assumed to come from base Docker image)

The first three methods run a "real" system that will actually call natcap's code. The fourth method runs flask with a stub natcap implementation behind it so you can quickly iterate on changes to the HTTP related code without running the slow backend code or building a docker image (also slow).

Running unit tests

The code base is currently only lightly tested and as such doesn't require all the dependencies to be able to run the tests. This means you can run tests by:

  1. create a virtualenv
    virtualenv -p python3 .venv
    . .venv/bin/activate
  2. install the dependencies for this project (doesn't include the underlying dependencies like natcap and GDAL)
    pip install -r requirements.txt -r requirements-test.txt
  3. run the tests

In the future when we test more of the code, and we need natcap, etc to be present, we'll probably run the tests inside a docker container.


The NatCap InVEST software is CPU bound so more CPUs means fasters runs. To see how a machine performs with varying lengths of simulation (years):

  1. start the server (serving at localhost:5000): ./
  2. make sure you have the python requests library available: pip install requests
  3. run the benchmark script: python tests/
  4. the output will be a CSV (written to stdout) that you can chart as you like

Code style

The code for this repo should pass a ./scripts/ run. To make it easier to achieve compliance, you can run the ./scripts/ script to auto-fix a lot of whitespace related lint errors.


Docker image of a Flask wrapper around natcap's InVEST software







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