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Helium Platform Project


  • Python (>= 3.6)
  • Pip (>= 9.0)
  • MySQL (>= 5.7)
  • Redis (>= 3.2)

Getting Started

The Platform is developed using Python and Django.

Project Setup

If developing on Mac, first install Homebrew and install MySQL with brew install mysql.

To setup the Python/Django Platform build environment, execute:

make install

This project is configured to work with a Virtualenv which has now been setup in the .venv folder. If you're unfamiliar with how this works, read up on Virtualenv here. The short version is, virtualenv creates isolated environments for each project's dependencies. To activate and use this environment when developing, execute:

source .venv/bin/activate

All commands below will now be run within the virtualenv (though make commands will always automatically enter the virtualenv before executing).

To ensure the database is in sync with the latest schema, database migrations are generated and run with Django. To run migrations, execute:

make migrate

Once migrations have been run, you can create a super user, which is a standard user that also has access to the /admin site.

python createsuperuser

Before commits are made, be sure to run tests and check the generated coverage report.

make test



The Platform project is split up into several modules, all contained within this repository. They are independent modules that can be deployed separately, functioning on separate nodes for scalability.

The project's base configuration is defined under conf. Application-specific configuration variables should have their application name as their prefix.

  • auth
  • common
  • feed
  • importexport
  • planner

Vagrant Development

To emulate a prod-like environment, use the Vagrant box. It's setup is described more thoroughly in the deploy project. This is the recommended way to develop and test for production as this environment is provisioned in the same way other prod-like environments are deployed and interacts with related projects as necessary.

As the Vagrant environment does take a bit more time to setup (even though the setup is largely automated) and can consume more developer and system resources, the local development environment described below is the quickest and easiest way to get up and running.

Local Development

This is the simplest way to get started with minimal effort. To get going (assuming you have followed the "Getting Started" directions above), you should have the ENVIRONMENT environment variable set to "dev".

Now you're all set! To start the development server, execute:


A development server will be started at http://localhost:8000.

If the USE_NGROK environment variable is set when a dev server is started (using runserver, pyngrok will be used to open a ngrok tunnel.

Additionally, this project also contains a worker that executes asynchronous or scheduled tasks, and the above server can be started with this worker as well. When developing locally, it is less necessary to run this worker (when ENVIRONMENT is "dev", tasks are executed synchronously), but it may still be useful, especially for testing scheduled tasks, so a standalone executable is provided for convenience. To start the server with the worker, ensure Redis is installed locally and instead execute:

bin/runserver --with-worker

Note that credentials to third-party services (for example, AWS services like SES) need to be set in the .env file before those services will work properly. Do NOT commit real credentials to third-party services, even in example files.


The frontend is served from a separate repository and can be found here.

Note that the frontend was previously bundled, rendered, and served as a part of this project, but it was pulled out into its own project with the with 1.4.0 release. For reference, checkout the 1.3.8 tag or download it here to see how this was previously done.


Auto-generated API documentation is accessible via any environment at /docs. Additional documentation can be found on the Platform Wiki.

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