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pixelcite

What is this?

Quotations for Twitter.

This project is based on the NPR app-template.

What's in here?

The project contains the following folders and important files:

  • confs -- Server configuration files for nginx and uwsgi. Edit the templates then fab <ENV> servers.render_confs, don't edit anything in confs/rendered directly.
  • data -- Data files, such as those used to generate HTML.
  • fabfile -- Fabric commands for automating setup, deployment, data processing, etc.
  • etc -- Miscellaneous scripts and metadata for project bootstrapping.
  • jst -- Javascript (Underscore.js) templates.
  • less -- LESS files, will be compiled to CSS and concatenated for deployment.
  • templates -- HTML (Jinja2) templates, to be compiled locally.
  • www -- Static and compiled assets to be deployed. (a.k.a. "the output")
  • www/assets -- A symlink to an S3 bucket containing binary assets (images, audio).
  • app.py -- A Flask app for rendering the project locally.
  • app_config.py -- Global project configuration for scripts, deployment, etc.
  • copytext.py -- Code supporting the Editing workflow
  • crontab -- Cron jobs to be installed as part of the project.
  • public_app.py -- A Flask app for running server-side code.
  • render_utils.py -- Code supporting template rendering.
  • requirements.txt -- Python requirements.
  • static.py -- Static Flask views used in both app.py and public_app.py.

Bootstrap the project

Node.js is required for the static asset pipeline. If you don't already have it, get it like this:

brew install node
curl https://npmjs.org/install.sh | sh

Then bootstrap the project:

cd pixelcite
mkvirtualenv --no-site-packages pixelcite
pip install -r requirements.txt
npm install
fab update

Problems installing requirements? You may need to run the pip command as ARCHFLAGS=-Wno-error=unused-command-line-argument-hard-error-in-future pip install -r requirements.txt to work around an issue with OSX.

Hide project secrets

Project secrets should never be stored in app_config.py or anywhere else in the repository. They will be leaked to the client if you do. Instead, always store passwords, keys, etc. in environment variables and document that they are needed here in the README.

Save media assets

Large media assets (images, videos, audio) are synced with an Amazon S3 bucket specified in app_config.ASSETS_S3_BUCKET in a folder with the name of the project. (This bucket should not be the same as any of your app_config.PRODUCTION_S3_BUCKETS or app_config.STAGING_S3_BUCKETS.) This allows everyone who works on the project to access these assets without storing them in the repo, giving us faster clone times and the ability to open source our work.

Syncing these assets requires running a couple different commands at the right times. When you create new assets or make changes to current assets that need to get uploaded to the server, run fab assets.sync. This will do a few things:

  • If there is an asset on S3 that does not exist on your local filesystem it will be downloaded.
  • If there is an asset on that exists on your local filesystem but not on S3, you will be prompted to either upload (type "u") OR delete (type "d") your local copy.
  • You can also upload all local files (type "la") or delete all local files (type "da"). Type "c" to cancel if you aren't sure what to do.
  • If both you and the server have an asset and they are the same, it will be skipped.
  • If both you and the server have an asset and they are different, you will be prompted to take either the remote version (type "r") or the local version (type "l").
  • You can also take all remote versions (type "ra") or all local versions (type "la"). Type "c" to cancel if you aren't sure what to do.

Unfortunantely, there is no automatic way to know when a file has been intentionally deleted from the server or your local directory. When you want to simultaneously remove a file from the server and your local environment (i.e. it is not needed in the project any longer), run fab assets.rm:"www/assets/file_name_here.jpg"

Run the project

A flask app is used to run the project locally. It will automatically recompile templates and assets on demand.

workon $PROJECT_SLUG
python public_app.py

Visit localhost:8000 in your browser.

COPY editing

This app uses a Google Spreadsheet for a simple key/value store that provides an editing workflow.

View the sample copy spreadsheet.

This document is specified in app_config with the variable COPY_GOOGLE_DOC_KEY. To use your own spreadsheet, change this value to reflect your document's key (found in the Google Docs URL after &key=).

A few things to note:

  • If there is a column called key, there is expected to be a column called value and rows will be accessed in templates as key/value pairs
  • Rows may also be accessed in templates by row index using iterators (see below)
  • You may have any number of worksheets
  • This document must be "published to the web" using Google Docs' interface

The app template is outfitted with a few fab utility functions that make pulling changes and updating your local data easy.

To update the latest document, simply run:

fab copytext.update

Note: copytext.update runs automatically whenever fab render is called.

At the template level, Jinja maintains a COPY object that you can use to access your values in the templates. Using our example sheet, to use the byline key in templates/index.html:

{{ COPY.attribution.byline }}

More generally, you can access anything defined in your Google Doc like so:

{{ COPY.sheet_name.key_name }}

You may also access rows using iterators. In this case, the column headers of the spreadsheet become keys and the row cells values. For example:

{% for row in COPY.sheet_name %}
{{ row.column_one_header }}
{{ row.column_two_header }}
{% endfor %}

When naming keys in the COPY document, pleaseattempt to group them by common prefixes and order them by appearance on the page. For instance:

title
byline
about_header
about_body
about_url
download_label
download_url

Compile static assets

Compile LESS to CSS, compile javascript templates to Javascript and minify all assets:

workon pixelcite
fab render

(This is done automatically whenever you deploy to S3.)

Test the rendered app

If you want to test the app once you've rendered it out, just use the Python webserver:

cd www
python -m SimpleHTTPServer

Deploy to S3 and EC2

fab staging master deploy

Install web services

Web services are configured in the confs/ folder.

To check that these files are being properly rendered, you can render them locally and see the results in the confs/rendered/ directory.

fab servers.render_confs

You can also deploy only configuration files by running (normally this is invoked by deploy):

fab servers.deploy_confs

Run a remote fab command

Sometimes it makes sense to run a fabric command on the server, for instance, when you need to render using a production database. You can do this with the fabcast fabric command. For example:

fab staging master servers.fabcast:deploy

If any of the commands you run themselves require executing on the server, the server will SSH into itself to run them.

Analytics

The Google Analytics events tracked in this application are:

Category Action Label Value Custom 1 Custom 2
pixelcite tweet
pixelcite save-image
pixelcite login
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texastribune
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