Installing a docassemble app on your production server

Installing your app involves three basic steps:

  1. Putting the app into a package.. It's best to store the package on Github.
  2. Installing the app system-wide.
  3. Creating a shortcut alias to the app so that you can view it on the "Available interviews" /list menu and run it via /start/alias.

Quick start

Before installing the package, you will need:

  1. The URL to the package on GitHub.
  2. The name of the interview YAML file.
  3. The desired "alias" or shortcut name for the package.

The interview author should be able to provide all three pieces of information to the server administrator before asking for the app to be installed.

Installing the app system-wide

To install a package, visit the "Package Management" page on your docassemble server (you can reach it via Menu | Package Management, or the /updatepackage page on your server. )

Copy the Github link to your package into the "Github URL" input. It should look something like this: https://github.com/gbls/docassemble-MAEvictionDefense (without any trailing /).

Now, scroll down and click on the large "Update" button. Although this is marked "Update," it also serves to install a package for the first time.

Running the installed package

Now that you've installed the package, how do you run it? You will need to identify two things:

  1. The internal/Python name of the package that corresponds to your package from GitHub.
  2. The name of the YAML file(s) that contains the runnable logic of the package.

The internal name of the package is very similar to the name of the GitHub repository, except that you replace the - with a .. For example, the package https://github.com/gbls/docassemble-MAEvictionDefense becomes docassemble.MAEvictionDefense. Package names are case sensitive. If you used the docassemble playground to create your package, it will always start with "docassemble" as the beginning of the package name.

The YAML file name is simply the name that the file has in your playground. If this is someone else's package, you will need to do a small amount of dective work.

Visit the GitHub page for the package. Each docassemble package has the same folder structure. Navigate by clicking through the folders as follows, replacing "PackageName" with the name of your package.

docassemble
+---[PackageName]
+----data
+---questions

For example, for the MAEvictionDefense package, the folder contents look like this: https://github.com/GBLS/docassemble-MAEvictionDefense/tree/master/docassemble/MAEvictionDefense/data/questions

For some packages, there is only one YAML file. If there is more than one, you can either ask the package author which one should be run, or click through a few and pick the likeliest candidate. For the MAEvictionDefense package, the main interview file is named "eviction.yml".

For a package named docassemble.MAEvictionDefense and a YAML file named eviction.yml, the link to run the interview is https://[docassemble.example.com]/run/MAEvictionDefense/eviction.

Creating a permanent shortcut link to the package

If you want, you can add a customizable, short alias for the interview.

This adds the interview to the /list URL on the server, the "Available interviews" menu option, and allows you to advertise a nicer URL, like https://docassemble.example.com/start/alias.

This gives you a lot of flexibility to repackage your app later, which makes it a good idea if you ever want to share the link on a different website.

You will use the same information needed above: the package name and the YAML filename.

Visit the docassemble configuration page (/config) on your server.

Scroll down and look for an existing dispatch section in your configuration file. If you don't see one, create a new one that looks like this:

dispatch:
alias: docassemble.MyPackageName:interview_name.yml

Replace "MyPackageName" and "interview_name.yml" with the package name and the YAML filename for your package, respectively. Now, when someone visits "https://docassemble.example.com/start/alias" they will be redirected to the "interview_name.yml" interview.

For example, for the MAEvictionDefense package, the configuration looks like this:

dispatch:
eviction: docassemble.MAEvictionDefense:eviction.yml

And the interview can be run via https://interviews.gbls.org/start/eviction.

Updating an app that is already installed

If the app has already been installed on the server, you do not need to get the GitHub URL again. Just scroll down the /updatepackage page until you see the name of the package (remember, it will be docassemble.PackageName). Then click the "update" button next to the package.

If you do not see the "update" button but the package is listed, then use the GitHub URL as described above.