Running in a Virtual Environment

First, follow the standalone installation instructions to create your virtual environment, install required dependencies, and run the setup scripts.

You will generally have three tabs (or windows) open in your terminal, which will be used for:

  1. Git operations. Perform Git operations and general development in the repository, such as git checkout main.
  2. Elasticsearch. Run an Elasticsearch (ES) instance. See instructions below.
  3. Django server. Start and stop the web server. Server is started with ./, but see more details below.

What follows are the specific steps for each of these tabs.

1. Git operations

From this tab you can do Git operations, such as checking out our main branch:

git checkout main

Updating all dependencies

Each time you fetch from the upstream repository (this repo), run ./ This setup script will remove and reinstall the project dependencies and rebuild the site's JavaScript and CSS assets.


You may also run ./ or ./ if you only want to re-build the backend or front-end, respectively.

Setting environments

The NODE_ENV environment variable can be set in your .env file to either development or production, which will affect how the build is made. To install dependencies of one environment or the other run ./ (dependencies and devDependencies) or ./ production (dependencies but not devDependencies).

2. Run Elasticsearch (optional)

Elasticsearch is needed for certain pieces of this project but is not a requirement for basic functionality.

If Elasticsearch is installed via Homebrew, you can see instructions for running manually or as a background service using:

brew info elasticsearch

Typically to run Elasticsearch as a background service you can run:

brew services start elasticsearch

3. Launch Site

First, move into the project directory and ready your environment:

# Use the virtualenv.

# cd into this directory (if you aren't already there)

From the project root, start the Django server:



If prompted to migrate database changes, stop the server with ctrl + c and run these commands:

python cfgov/ migrate

To view the site browse to: http://localhost:8000

Using a different port

If you want to run the server at a port other than 8000 use

python cfgov/ runserver <port number>

Specify an alternate port number, e.g. 8001.

To view the Wagtail admin login, browse to http://localhost:8000/admin and login with username admin and password admin (created in above; note that this password will expire after 60 days).

Using HTTPS locally

To access a local server using HTTPS use

./ ssl

You'll need to ignore any browser certificate errors.

yarn commands

The following yarn tasks are available:

yarn scripts             # Build the Javascript with esbuild
yarn styles              # Build the Less with esbuild w/ its PostCSSPlugin
yarn copy                # Move static files to the output directory
yarn build               # Run scripts, styles, and copy along with app-specific scripts
yarn watch               # Run the build then watch JS and LESS changes
yarn lint                # Run frontend linting
yarn jest                # Run frontend tests
yarn test                # Run both

Reinstalling the virtual environment

To remove an existing virtual environment for a reinstall of, first deactivate the virtual environment if it is active:


Then remove the existing virtual environment:


After this, you may follow the installation instructions again.