STS Development

The GTAC STS was created using multple open-source software tools, languages, and practices. To extend, enhance and gereally make the most of the STS, a general knowledge of the following components is necessary.

Python Programming Language (v2.7)
Nearly all code used in the STS is python. The rather large official python tutorial is a good place to start. Knocking on my door works well too.
Django Web Framework (v1.3)
Django is the foundation of the STS. Once you’ve set up your environment (see Setting up your virtual environment) I recommend closely following the Django Tutorial so you have an understanding of the basic Django concepts.
PostgreSQL (v8.4) and/or SQLite (v3)
The production STS stores its data in PostgreSQL, but your development instance will most likely use SQLite. A basic intro to SQL may be all that you need.
All development changes are captured using the Mercurial (hg) distributed source control management tool. The quick start and cheatsheets are probably all you need to get going.

Quick Start

  1. Make sure python-virtualenv is installed

  2. Build and activate your environment:

    $ mkdir ~/prj
    $ cd ~/prj
    ~/prj$ mkvirtualenv sts
    ~/prj$ workon sts
  3. Clone your own GTAC STS source code repository:

    (sts)~/prj$ hg clone sts-wc
    (sts)~/prj$ cd sts-wc
    (sts)~/prj/sts-wc$ hg clone menus
    (sts)~/prj/sts-wc$ hg clone simpla  *PRIVATE*
  4. Install your python and django packages:

    (sts)~/prj/sts-wc$ pip install -r requirements.txt


    SQLite3 developement libraries will need to be installed to build pysqlite

  5. Build your development database:

    (sts)~/prj/sts-wc$ ./ syncdb
    (sts)~/prj/sts-wc$ ./ migrate
  6. Start up your GTAC STS website:

    (sts)~/prj/sts-wc$ ./ runserver
  7. Browse to http://localhost:8000/

  8. ...

  9. Profit!

Setting up your virtual environment

When working on extending/enhancing the STS, having a consistent and dependable STS development environment is critical. The following is a quick explanation of how to set one up.


The following is an explanation of virtualenv from its website...

virtualenv is a tool to create isolated Python environments.

The basic problem being addressed is one of dependencies and versions, and indirectly permissions. Imagine you have an application that needs version 1 of LibFoo, but another application requires version 2. How can you use both these applications? If you install everything into /usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages (or whatever your platform’s standard location is), it’s easy to end up in a situation where you unintentionally upgrade an application that shouldn’t be upgraded.

Or more generally, what if you want to install an application and leave it be? If an application works, any change in its libraries or the versions of those libraries can break the application.

Also, what if you can’t install packages into the global site-packages directory? For instance, on a shared host.

In all these cases, virtualenv can help you. It creates an environment that has its own installation directories, that doesn’t share libraries with other virtualenv environments (and optionally doesn’t access the globally installed libraries either).

The basic usage is:

$ virtualenv ENV

This creates ENV/lib/pythonX.X/site-packages, where any libraries you install will go. It also creates ENV/bin/python, which is a Python interpreter that uses this environment. Anytime you use that interpreter (including when a script has #!/path/to/ENV/bin/python in it) the libraries in that environment will be used.

It also installs `Setuptools <>`_into the environment.

A new virtualenv also includes the pip installer, so you can use ENV/bin/pip` to install additional packages into the environment.