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How to run a development environment for the frontend

This page describes a list of steps to follow to run a development environment for the frontend locally

We assume in this guide:

  • That you have access to a shell Terminal, either because you are running on a Linux/Mac operating system or Windows wth WSL 2 installed
  • And you have an Ontoportal appliance deployed on a server or locally where the API endpoint (e.g http:://your_appliance_ip:8080) can be accessed

Steps to follow

  1. Fork and clone the UI source code
  2. Setting up the development config files
    1. Environment and database variables
    2. Update the development.rb file
    3. Create bioportal_config_development.rb file
  3. Build the docker application
  4. Run the local development server
  5. Opening in browser

Fork and clone the UI source code

First fork the ontoportal_web_ui repository. More details about how to can be found in the Github official doc

Then clone your forked repository locally

  git clone

The master branch represent the Bioportal version, if you want to have the Agroportal version. You have to merge the ontoportal-lirmm branch to your master, by doing so git merge ontoportal-lirmm master

For Windows users with Docker Desktop using the WSL 2, it is recommended to clone your repository directly in your home directory of your WSL distribution. Cloning it in any Windows folder that is mounted by default in /mnt/<drive letter> would result in very poor performance. Open your WSL terminal and navigate to your home directory with cd ~. If you have git installed, you can directly use git clone If you want to use Git from Windows instead, you can get the path with explorer.exe . while in your home directory. This will open the Windows explorer from which you can use your favorite Git tool and setup your IDE for development.

Setting up the development config files

Environment and database variables

A sample file of .env can be found here:

In command line do

cp .env.sample .env

cp config/database.yml.sample config/database.yml

Then edit the file config/database.yml with your user and password of your database. If using the docker infrastructure use the following config/database.yml

      adapter: mysql2
      encoding: utf8
      database: bioportal_ui
      username: root
      password: bp_user
      host: db

Update the development.rb file

A sample file of config/environments/development.rb can be found here:

Update like below the line in config/environments/development.rb file

 # memcache setup
config.cache_store ='cache', namespace: 'BioPortal')

Create bioportal_config_development.rb file

A sample file of config/bioportal_config_development.rb can be found here:

cp .env.sample .env

cp bioportal_config_env.rb.sample bioportal_config_development.rb

Update/Add the following lines to config/bioportal_config_development.rb


# The URL for the BioPortal Rails UI (this application)
$UI_URL = "http://#{$HOSTNAME}:3000"

# REST core service address
$REST_URL = "http://#{$HOSTNAME}:8080"
$SPARQL_URL = "http://#{$HOSTNAME}:8081/test/"

$BIOMIXER_URL = "http://#{$HOSTNAME}:8081/BioMixer"

$ANNOTATOR_URL = $PROXY_URL = "http://#{$HOSTNAME}:8081/annotator"

# If your BioPortal installation includes Fairness score set this to true
$FAIRNESS_URL = "http://#{$HOSTNAME}:8081/fairness"

# NCBO annotator URL and apikey
$NCBO_ANNOTATOR_URL = "http://#{$HOSTNAME}:8081/ncbo_annotatorplus"
$NCBO_API_KEY = "4a5011ea-75fa-4be6-8e89-f45c8c84844e"

# Unique string representing the UI's id for use with the BioPortal Core
$API_KEY = "72c72cba-ad45-4785-b94e-483fa55cdddb"


Build the docker application

Source code of the docker infrastructure can be found here: Feature: Add docker environment for the UI ncbo/bioportal_web_ui#229

Install docker and docker-compose, see

Build everything: The first time you run this it’s going to take 5-10 minutes depending on your internet connection speed and computer’s hardware specs. That’s because it’s going to download a few Docker images and build the Ruby + Yarn dependencies (1,5 GB for all).

docker compose build

Run the local development server

Run the docker environment

docker compose up

Setup database

docker compose exec web sh -c "bin/setup"

Run the rails server

docker compose exec web sh -c "bin/rails s -b"

Opening in browser

See http://localhost:3000