Build Process

The OpenLMIS-UI functions as a single-page application that is created through a Grunt-based build process.

This document details the different workflows a developer might use while working on the OpenLMIS-UI.

Docker Architecture

To create a modular single page application, we are using Docker and NodeJS to build multiple git repositories together into the working UI layer for OpenLMIS. The pattern that the OpenLMIS-UI follows is extremely similar to the micro-services architecture used in OpenLMIS, with the large difference being that the OpenLMIS-UI is compiled and does not ‘discover’ UI components.

There are 3 types of Docker images that need to be combined to make a functional UI

  • A tooling image that stores core components which can compile the UI (see OpenLMIS/Dev-UI)
  • Source code images that contain Javascript, HTML, CSS/SCSS, and other assets that make up functional sections of the OpenLMIS-UI (See OpenLMIS-Requisition-UI)
  • A publishing image, that compiles the source code images and builds a working web server that is included into the OpenLMIS Server. Small adjustments like branding should be made in the publishing image. (See OpenLMIS/Reference-UI)

When the OpenLMIS-UI is compiled, the source code images will overwrite each other, according to the order specified in the config.json file (see Dev-UI Documentation). This makes it possible to override assets or sections of behavior in a simple process.

Note: The decision to use implicit over-writing of files rather than an explicit configuration came from Javascript’s global name space which would cause problems if two Javascript objects had the same name.

Example: There are 2 images being included into a publishing image, and they have files at the following paths:


  • src/common/ logo.png
  • src/common/ header.scss


  • src/requisition/ requisition.js
  • src/requisition/ requisition.routes.js


  • src/common/ logo.png
  • src/requisition/ requisition.routes.js

When comiled the following sources will be used:

  • Example-UI-Distribution/ src/common/ logo.png (new logo)
  • OpenLMIS-UI-Common/ src/common/ header.scss
  • OpenLMIS-Requisition-UI/ src/requisition/ requisition.js
  • Example-UI-Distribution/ src/requisition/ requisition.routes.js (changed requisition pages that are available)

Standard Build

The most standard way to build the OpenLMIS-UI is to run grunt build which will concatinate, and compile the OpenLMIS-UI into a working set of front-end assets that are ready for development. When run, the following high level tasks will be exectuted:

  • clean the build directory
  • -style check files in src-
  • create OpenLMIS application in build/webapp
  • run unit test in src against build/webapp/openlmis.js
  • create OpenLMIS styleguide in build/styleguide
  • create OpenLMIS Javascript Documentation in build/docs

Build Flags

There are a number of settings that can be set when building the OpenLMIS-UI.


Running a command with the --production flag will make the grunt build command compress all file types, getting the UI ready for production rather than development.

grunt build --production 

Unit tests

Running unit tests can be skipped by adding the --noTest flag to the command.

grunt build --noTest


Building the styleguide can be skipped by adding --noStyleguide to the command.

grunt build --noStyleguide

Javascript Documentation

Choose not to build the Javascipt Documentation by add --noDocs to the command.

grunt build --noDocs


Build only the OpenLMIS application, and skip all tests by adding --appOnly to the command.

grunt build --appOnly

Service Paths

Since the OpenLMIS Services might be in a different location than the OpenLMIS-UI, you can change the path to the OpenLMIS server location through a build flag. There are actually hooks to use OpenLMIS services hosted in different locations.

OpenLMIS Server path

--openlmisServerURL is the path to the main OpenLMIS server. This URL will be prepended to all other service paths, unless the service path starts with http

grunt build --openlmisServerURL=

Auth Service path

grunt build --authServiceURL=/where/to/find/auth

Requisition Service path

grunt build --requisitionServiceURL=http://requisitions.are/here

Proxy Service

If the OpenLMIS-UI is located at a different root domain than the OpenLMIS Services, the browser will not run the OpenLMIS-UI because of CORS errors. Since it is not always practical to set up CORs on a development instance of OpenLMIS — while developing the UI a developer can use the --addProxyService a command, which will prepend a proxy service location to any OpenLMIS Server URL.

A developer will also need to start a proxy service on the development server by running grunt serve --addProxyService

// sets the openlmisServerURL to ''
grunt build --openlmisServerURL=http://over/there --addProxyService

// starts a proxy server at
grunt serve --addProxyService

Automatic Building

When working on the OpenLMIS-UI it’s convient to have the entire UI rebuilt when changes are made to the source files. This is achieved by running grunt watch. Everytime a file change is detected in src/ grunt will re-run the build process with all the flags from when grunt watch was run.

It is recommended that one run grunt watch to speed up application development

grunt watch --openlmisServerURL=

Test Driven Development

A test driven development server can be run, where each time the build/openlmis.js or any unit test file is change will trigger the unit tests to be automatically rerun. This is a great way to karma and phantomjs tests because the test browser is never closed, meaning tests will run much faster.

grunt karma:tdd

Debugging Test Driven Development

Debugging karma tests can be difficult, but to ease the process you can debug tests in your machines local browser by visiting Karma’s local server. When debugging you can set break points in unit tests or OpenLMIS-UI source files. Instructions for capturing a browser manually are on this page.

When karma starts, the console will output the karma server location, which will look like:

01 01 1970 0:0:0.0:INFO [karma]: Karma v0.13.22 server started at http://localhost:9876/

Then take your browser and go to http://localhost:9876 (which might change depending on if a process is already using the port).

Once the page loads you will see the karma tests are run again, but this time there are two sets of tests running (once in PhantomJS, and once in your browser). In the right hand corner there is a debug button, which will open a new window where you can view all the test output in the console and set breakpoints using your browser’s developer tools.