Getting Started

Getting Started With Phovea Applications

The examples below are all for client-side only applications. While I don't anticipate the server side components add too much complexity, keep that in mind when venturing outside of the scope of these examples.

There are two ways of getting a Phovea Application up and running:

  1. Clone an existing app and run it locally on your machine
  2. Create a new client application or server-client application from scratch

We will start with cloning an existing application as this will help you understand where all the pieces go and where/how you should write you code when writing your own application.

Cloning and building an existing Phovea Application

Examples below use the genealogyVIS application but can be use for any existing Phovea application

There are two ways to set up an existing Phovea App

  1. Create a new directory (this will avoid dependency conflicts with other tools), clone one ore more app repositories, create a workspace, install and run the application from the workspace
  2. Clone an app repository, install, build (optional), and run according to the instruction in the repo readme

The first approach (creating a workspace) is particularly useful when developing multiple plugins, as all the projects within the workspace will share a common npm installation and Docker setup.

Workspace Approach

This approach creates a ''workspace'' which uses Docker and Docker Compose. The workspace setup also creates a PyCharm project.

  1. mkdir workspace
  2. cd workspace
  3. git clone (and/or) clone any other repos that you will need).
  4. Create workspace yo phovea:workspace
  5. Install dependencies npm install
  6. Run application npm run start:genealogyVIS
  7. Open browser and navigate to http://localhost:8080/

Your directory structure (for one or more projects) will look like this:

workspace --> has the helper/docker files but is not attached to any repo
\- repo1 --> cloned from github
\- repo2 --> cloned from github

If you have several repos in your workspace, you can run:

  1. forEach git pull or
  2. forEach git push

to update all the repos in your workspace.

Direct, non-workspace, Approach


$ git clone
$ cd genealogy_vis
$ npm install

Building (optional)

$ npm run build

The build process is optional because it is not required in order to run the application (e.g. during testing/development).

The build process itself includes:

  • running all unit tests -> karma
  • checking code quality -> tslint
  • building the application in production mode (i.e, creates compiled, minified and chunked javascript files that can be loaded using Webpack) == ready to be deployed


npm run start

Unlike npm run build, npm run start will just build the application in memory without any tests or code quality checks

Notes on using javascript files in a Phovea App

Phovea ignores *.js files on commit. since TypeScript is a superset of javascript it's safe to rename *.js to *.ts files. The only thing you have to take care about is the import and export, since each file is a separate module/file.

The need for import and export is because with TypeScript (and ES6 in general) you cannot use the global scope and every file has his own scope. You need to declare what variables and functions should be exported/imported. Follow the links to learn more about export and import.

Now that you have successfully (hopefully) cloned and examined an existing application, you are ready to build your own application!

Creating a new Phovea Client Application from Scratch

  1. Install Phovea Generator sudo npm install -g yo github:phovea/generator-phovea
  2. mkdir name_of_new_app
  3. cd name_of_new_app
  4. Run yo phovea and follow the prompts.


npm install

Building (optional)

npm run build

The build step is optional since it is not required for testing/development.

The build process itself includes:

  • running all unit tests -> karma
  • checking code quality -> tslint
  • building the application in production mode (i.e, generates compiled, minified and chunked javascript files that can be loaded using webpack = ready to be deployed


npm start

Creating a new Phovea Server-Client Application from Scratch

Here we assume that you want to create a client side app, called myapp, that speaks to a server side app myapp_server. Note that plugins must always be lowercase.

  1. Install Docker.
  2. Install Phovea Generator sudo npm install -g yo github:phovea/generator-phovea
  3. mkdir myapp_workspace
  4. cd myapp_workspace

Here myapp_workspace is a name of your choosing. This folder will hold the workspace, and nested within the different plugins.

Create the client side as follows:

  1. mkdir myapp
  2. cd myapp
  3. Run yo phovea:init-app and follow the prompts. This initializes a new client app.
  4. cd ..

If you have an existing phovea client side app, you can just clone that repository into this directory.

Create the server side as follows:

  1. mkdir myapp_server
  2. cd myapp_server
  3. Run yo phovea:init-slib and follow the prompts. The promt asks you for your application's name, put in myapp. This initializes a new server app.
  4. cd ..

Clone and resolve the phovea_server as follows:

  1. Run yo phovea:clone phovea_server and follow the prompts.
  2. yo phovea:workspace

If you are developing against the develop branch (which is very likely), you must also switch the repository to the develop branch.

Adding other plugins

yo will resolve all dependencies for you. If you, however, want to also edit things like phovea_core at the same time, you can just check it out and switch it to the right branch:

yo phovea:clone phovea_core
cd phovea_core
git checkout develop

If you want to change any phovea plugins, you should first create a new feature branch. Don't commit directly to develop or master.


Keep Docker running.

  1. npm install
  2. docker-compose build


Keep Docker running.

  1. docker-compose up -d
  2. npm run start:myapp

Now in the browser check adress http://localhost:8080/ for accessing the app or http://localhost:8080/api/hello_world/ for accessing the API.