Development environment

The following documentation explains how to setup the development environment on Linux. When the Windows Subsystem for Linux is used, it needs to be updated first to a recent Ubuntu version. Alternatively, you can just use a virtual machine with Linux.

Initial setup

Get source code

First, get the source code of the Helfertool. Please always start your changed from the dev branch, not from master (rebasing becomes easier then).

git clone
cd helfertool
git checkout dev


Then, create a Python virtual environment and install all dependencies:

python3 -m venv venv
. ./venv/bin/activate

pip install -r src/requirements.txt -r src/requirements_dev.txt

First run

Before the first run, the database needs to be created. For development, SQLite is used. After that, the first user should be created.

cd src

python migrate
python createcachetable
python loaddata toolsettings

python createsuperuser

Then, the development web server can be started:

python runserver

Now open http://localhost:8000 in your browser.

Example data

If you want to load some example data, run:

python exampledata

Optional: Celery and RabbitMQ

Depending on the feature you want to work at, RabbitMQ is required and celery needs to be started. The following features currently make use of Celery:

  • Generating badges

  • Sending the newsletter

  • Receiving and handling incoming mails

An easy way to run RabbitMQ is using Docker:

docker run -d --rm --hostname helfertool-rabbitmq --name helfertool-rabbitmq -p rabbitmq

Now start Celery:

cd src  # we need to be in the directory with the file
celery -A helfertool worker --loglevel=info -B

The default settings in helfertool.yaml do not need to be changed for this setup. The celery worker here has the celery beat service included (-B). This is not recommended for production (see celery documentation)!

If you want to stop the container again, run:

docker stop helfertool-rabbitmq

And to update the container image, run:

docker pull rabbitmq

Optional: E-mails

The Helfertool tries to send mails to localhost:25 with the default configuration.

If you work on a feature that sends e-mails, you can start a SMTP debug server with this command:

python3 -m smtpd -n -c DebuggingServer localhost:1025

Additionally, set the SMTP port to 1025 in helfertool.yaml:

        host: "localhost"
        port: 1025

The advantage of this method compared to the console e-mail backend from Django is, that you also see the mails sent in Celery tasks in the same window.

Optional: PostgreSQL

There is one feature that does not work with SQLite: the similarity based helper search. If you want to work on exactly this feature, you could get a PostgreSQL server via Docker:

docker run -d --rm --name helfertool-postgres -e POSTGRES_USER=helfertool -e POSTGRES_DB=helfertool -e POSTGRES_PASSWORD=password -p postgres

The pg_trgm extension needs to be enabled afterwards:

psql -h -U helfertool helfertool


And the database settings need to be changed in helfertool.yaml:

    backend: "postgresql"
    name: "helfertool"
    user: "helfertool"
    password: "password"
    port: 5432

Optional: Editor

In case you do not have a preferred editor or IDE for Python, give Visual Studio Code a try. It detects the virtual environment automatically and activates it when a new terminal is opened.

Just open the main helfertool directory as folder and it should work out of the box.


To update all Python dependencies, run:

. ./venv/bin/activate
pip install -U -r src/requirements.txt -r src/requirements_dev.txt