AppSuite:GettingStarted 7.4.2

Revision as of 09:58, 4 November 2013 by Tierlieb (talk | contribs) (changed links after move)
Getting Started

Hello and welcome to OX App Suite development. This document will get you started to develop your first own app for OX App Suite with a minimal setup. We will look at the steps necessary but will also tempt you to learn more by linking you to some more in-depth documentation about these topics. Depending on how you wound up reading this page, you will probably have already completed some of the steps below.


First, you need to install some tools which are necessary for UI development. For now, the simplest way is to download the source of the OX App Suite UI. Since the source code is kept in a Git repository, the source is downloaded using git:

$ git clone --depth 1 -b release-7.4.1

This downloads the latest version and unpacks it into a subdirectory web in the current directory.

The option -b develop specifies a git branch. In this case you will clone the current realease-branch release-7.4.1. The full functionality described in this article is only available in the release-7.4.1 branch.

The option --depth 1 prevents the download of the entire history, and reduces the download size from hundreds of MB to less than 20MB. It should not be used by OX App Suite developers since it also prevents git push from working properly.

To simplify calling of scripts contained in the ui/bin directory, you should add it to your $PATH:

$ export PATH="$PATH:$(pwd)/web/ui/bin"


Create Workspace

In order to have a proper space for your app/plugin create a workspace prospectivly containing all your code. This folder should contain the subfolder apps. The following article is written assuming, you're working in your workspace directory. In this example we will create our own workspace called example-workspace and add the suiteable subdirectory apps for our code:

  $ mkdir example-workspace
  $ cd example-workspace
  $ mkdir apps


As an example, let's create a small app and build it. It requires only two files: example-workspace/apps/com.example/main.js for the source code of the app

define('com.example/main', function () {
    'use strict';
    var app = ox.ui.createApp({ name: 'com.example' });
    app.setLauncher(function () {
        var win = ox.ui.createWindow({
            name: 'com.example',
            title: 'Hello World App'
        win.nodes.main.append($('<h1>').text('Hello, World!'));;
    return { getApp: app.getInstance };

and example-workspace/apps/com.example/manifest.json for the manifest:

{ title: 'Hello World App' }

While developing always keep in mind, that there is an article about debugging the user interface which helps you avoiding and fixing typical errors.


This step will process your app, checking the source code for syntax errors and compressing it, to make it run error-free and fast. Calling this command will also write the processed source to the a subdirectory called build in your workspace, containing also the apps-directory with the original source code.

While you're in the folder containing apps-subdirectory example-workspace, using the the UI Build System makes building the app is as easy as calling:

$ build-appsuite app


Hosting the app

For quickest round-trip times, the directory with the generated files in build-folder should be made available via the appserver tool, which is also part of the installed SDK. Your OX App Suite installation will use appserver use as upstream server, Assuming you are calling appserver from your workspace, and using as server:

$ appserver --server= build

This command will host your app locally. Once you started it, it will always have to run in the background, making all changes within the given build-directories visible. To add the build path of an other workspace, stop appserver and run the upper command again appending the other directory after a white space.

WARNING: Take care that build variables like builddir or manifestDir are not set during development. Otherwise, you will have to specify their directories manually for appserver. Also, the clean task will delete these directories and all their contents! In general, don't point builddir or any other *Dir variables at existing directories.

Testing the app

Once made your app available, you can access OX App Suite opening your browser with this address:


Then simply run this command in your browser's javascript console to open the hello world application:


Development cycle

Once successfully tested your first app, you will probably continue developing it. Keep in mind that after writing your code, you will always need to build the app and have your Appserver running.


When your app is done, you probably want to test it on a staging system, and later install it on a production system. To keep track of which installed files belong to which version of which app, you should use the native package manager of the Linux distribution of the target system. The packages can be easily created using the build system.


First, you need to create several files describing how to package you app. Use the init-packaging task of the build system:

$ build-appsuite init-packaging
Node version: v0.10.21
Build path: build
Build version: 0.0.1-1.20131025.133931
Package name: example-app
Version [0.0.1]: 
Maintainer (Name <e-mail>): Maintainer <>
Copyright line [2013 Open-Xchange, Inc]: 

Known licenses for which you don't need to specify a file:

License name [CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0]: BSD-3-Clause
Short description: Example app

The task presents a number of interactive prompts to get the necessary information about the generated packages. The default values are presented in square brackets ([...]) and can be selected by just pressing Enter. Otherwise, the entered values should follow the Debian Maintainer's Guide. Debian tools are especially picky about the syntax of the maintainer name and email address.

If none of the known licenses suit you, you can enter any other license name. Then you will be asked to enter the file name of your license text. It should be a plain text file using the UTF-8 encoding.

Some or even all prompts can be skipped by explicitly specifying the information as a build variable. The list of variable names is available in the reference of the init-packaging task.

After answering all the questions, you can customize the generated files to account for any additional packaging requirements.

Static Files

If your app includes images (e.g. themes do this most of the time), then you should check the generated packaging files for sections marked

## Uncomment for multiple packages

and remove the '#' at the start of each line in each block. This enables the creation of a second package, with a name ending in "-static". The images and any other files which are not JavaScript or CSS are server by the Apache web server, instead of the OX App Suite application server. These files are copied to a separate package for the case that the web server is on a dedicated system or maybe even has its own cluster. The default package is installed on the OX application server, and the second, "-static" package is installed on the web server.

Building Packages

Since the actual package format depends on the distribution it is built for, and there already exist tools to create packages from suitably arranged source code archives, the OX App Suite build system merely prepares such source archives. Using the dist task to create the archives:

$ build-appsuite dist
Node version: v0.10.21
Build path: build
Build version: 0.0.1-1.20131025.150034
dpkg-source: info: using source format `3.0 (quilt)'
dpkg-source: info: building example-app using existing ./example-app_0.0.1.orig.tar.bz2
dpkg-source: info: building example-app in example-app_0.0.1-1.debian.tar.bz2
dpkg-source: info: building example-app in example-app_0.0.1-1.dsc

$ ls tmp/packaging/
example-app-0.0.1                   example-app_0.0.1-1.dsc
example-app.spec                    example-app_0.0.1.orig.tar.bz2

The task creates a temporary directory and four files. The archive with the extension .orig.tar.bz2 contains the source of your app. It is required to build both Debian and RPM packages. The files with extensions .debian.tar.bz2 and .dsc are used together with the .orig.tar.bz2 archive to build Debian packages. The file with the extension .spec is used together with the .orig.tar.bz2 archive to build RPM packages.

Building Debian Packages

The Debian package can be built directly in the temporary directory created by the dist task:

$ cd tmp/packaging/example-app-0.0.1/
$ dpkg-buildpackage -b

The package will be placed in tmp/packaging/.

Building RPM Packages

The RPM package build toor, rpmbuild requires the files to be in a specific directory layout before building:

$ mkdir -p ~/rpmbuild/SOURCES
$ cp tmp/packages/*.orig.tar.bz2 ~/rpmbuild/SOURCES/
$ mkdir -p ~/rpmbuild/SPECS
$ cp tmp/packaging/*.spec ~/rpmbuild/SPECS/
$ rpmbuild ~/rpmbuild/SPECS/*.spec

The package will be placed in ~/rpmbuild/RPMS/.

Further Reading