Build FSFE websites locally
Those who create, edit, and translate FSFE websites already know that the source files are XHTML files which are build with a XSLT processor, including a lot of custom stuff. One of the huge advantages from that is that we don't have to rely on dynamic website processors and databases, on the other hand there are a few drawbacks as well: websites need a few minutes to be generated by the central build system, and it's quite easy to mess up with the XML syntax. Now if an editor wants to create or edit a page, she needs to wait a few minutes until the build system has finished everytime she wants to test how the website looks like. So in this guide we will show how to build single websites on your own computer in a fraction of the FSFE's system build time, so you'll only need to commit your changes as soon as the file looks as you want it. All you need is a bit hard disk space and around one hour time to set up everything.
The whole idea is based on what FSFE's webmaster Paul Hänsch has coded and written. On his blog he explains the new build script. He explains how to build files locally, too. However, this guide aims to make it a bit easier and more verbose.
Before we're getting started, let us shortly explain the concept of what we'll be doing. Basically, we'll have two directories: trunk and fsfe.org. Most likely you already have trunk, it's a clone of the FSFE's main SVN repository, and the source of all operations. All those files in there have to be compiled to generate the final HTML files we can browse. The location of these finished files will be fsfe.org.
After we (1) created these directories, partly by downloading a repository with some useful scripts and configuration files, we'll (2) build the whole FSFE website on our own computer. In the next step, we'll (3) set up a local webserver so you can actually browse these files. And lastly we'll (4) set up a small script which you can use to quickly build single XHTML files. Last but not least we'll give some real-world examples.
1. Clone helper repository
Firstly, clone a git repository which will give you most needed files and directories for the further operations. It has been created by Max Mehl and contains configuration files and the script that will make building of single files easier. Of course, you can also do everything manually.
In general, this is the directory structure we propose. In the following we'll stick to this scheme. Please adapt all changes if your folder tree looks differently.
trunk (~700 MB): ~/subversion/fsfe/fsfe-web/trunk/ fsfe.org (~1000 MB): ~/subversion/fsfe/local-build/fsfe.org/
(For those not so familiar with the GNU/Linux terminal: ~ is the short version of your home directory, so for example /home/user. ~/subversion is the same as /home/USER/subversion, given that your username is USER)
To continue, you have to have git installed on your computer (sudo apt-get install git). Then, please execute via terminal following command. It will copy the files from my git repository to your computer and already contains the folder fsfe.org.
git clone https://src.mehl.mx/mxmehl/fsfe-local-build.git ~/subversion/fsfe/local-build
Now we take care of trunk. In case you already have a copy of trunk on your computer, you can use this location, but please do a svn up beforehand and be sure that the output of svn status is empty (so no new or modified files on your side). If you don't have trunk yet, download the repository to the proposed location:
svn --username $YourFSFEUsername co https://svn.fsfe.org/fsfe-web/trunk ~/subversion/fsfe/fsfe-web/trunk
2. Build full website
Now we have to build the whole FSFE website locally. This will take a longer time but we'll only have to do it once. Later, you'll just build single files and not >14000 as we do now.
But first, we have to install a few applications which are needed by the build script (Warning: it's possible your system lacks some other required applications which were already installed on mine. If you encounter any command not found errors, please report them in the comments or by mail). So let's install them via the terminal:
sudo apt-get install make libxslt1.1 realpath libxml2-utils
Note: libxslt1.1 may have a different name in your distribution, e.g. libxslt or libxslt2.
Now we can start building.The full website build can be started with
~/subversion/fsfe/fsfe-web/trunk/build/build_main.sh build_into ~/subversion/fsfe/local-build/fsfe.org/
See? We use the build routine from trunk to launch building trunk. The final website will reside in fsfe.org. Mind differing directory names if you have another structure than in this example. This process will take a long time, depending on your CPU power. Don't be afraid of strange messages and massive walls of text
After the long process has finished, navigate to the trunk directory and execute svn status. You may see a few files which are new:
max@bistromath ~/s/f/f/trunk> svn status ? about/printable/archive/printable.en.xml ? d_day.en.xml ? d_month.en.xml ? d_year.en.xml ? localmenuinfo.en.xml [...]
These are leftover from the full website build. Because trunk is supposed to be your productive source directory where you also make commits to the FSFE SVN, let's delete these files. You won't need them anymore.
rm about/printable/archive/printable.en.xml d_day.en.xml d_month.en.xml d_year.en.xml localmenuinfo.en.xml rm tools/tagmaps/*.map
Afterwards, the output of svn status should be empty again. It is? Fine, let's go on! If not, please also remove those files (and tell us which files were missing or directly edit it).
3. Set up local webserver
After the full build is completed, you can setup a local webserver. This is necessary to actually display the locally built files in your browser. In this example, we assume you don't already have a webserver installed which you might want to prefer, and that you're using a Debian-based operating system. You have two options: 1. Using the very simple webserver module already shipped with Python (SimpleHTTP), or 2. installing lighttpd, a thin an fast webserver which has more options for advanced users (e.g. running CGI). If you only want to display single static websites, it's recommended to go with the simple solution.
3.1. Python SimpleHTTP (recommended)
With this solution, you'll have nothing to configure on most systems since python3 and its modules http.server and socketserver are installed on most GNU/Linux distributions by default. With downloading the helper repository all necessary files and configuration values should be shipped in order to make it compatible with the build script presented later on.
cd /home/USER/subversion/fsfe/local-build/fsfe.org python3 -m http.server
If you only have installed Python 2 (i.e. the command python3 --version throws an error), you can use a slightly different syntax for running the http server.
python -m SimpleHTTPServer
In both cases the website should be visible on your browser using the URL http://localhost:8000.
3.2. Lighttpd (for advanced users)
Lighttpd provides more functions than Python's SimpleHTTP which are not needed for a simple preview of static XHTML files. However, if you want to use it, let's install lighttpd plus gamin which lighttpd needs in some setups:
sudo apt-get install lighttpd gamin
To make Lighttpd running properly we need a configuration file. This has to point the webserver to show files in the fsfe.org directory. You already downloaded my recommended config file (lighttpd-fsfe.conf.sample) by cloning the git repository. But you'll have to modify the path accordingly and rename it. So rename the file to lighttpd-fsfe.conf, open it and change following line to match the actual and absolute path of the fsfe.org directory (~ does not work here):
server.document-root = "/home/USER/subversion/fsfe/local-build/fsfe.org"
Now you can test whether the webserver is configured correctly. To start a temporary webserver process, execute the next command in the terminal:
lighttpd -Df ~/subversion/fsfe/local-build/lighttpd-fsfe.conf
Until you press Ctrl+C, you should be able to open your local FSFE website in any browser using the URL http://localhost:5080. For example, open the URL http://localhost:5080/contribute/contribute.en.html in your browser. You should see basically the same website as the original fsfe.org website. If not, double-check the paths, if the lighttpd process is still running, or if the full website build is already finished.
4. Single page build script
In this step, we'll configure and start using a Bash script (fsfe-preview.sh) Max has written to make a preview of a locally edited XHTML file as comfortable as possible. You already downloaded it by cloning the repository.
First, rename and edit the script's configuration file config.cfg.sample. Rename it to config.cfg and open it. The file contains all paths we already used here, so please adapt them to your structure if necessary. Normally, it should be sufficient to modify the values for LOC_trunk (trunk directory) and LOC_out (fsfe.org directory), the rest can be left with the default values.
If you decided to use lighttpd as your webserver, please change the value of HTTPD to lighttpd. HTTPD_conf can be left with the default value if you didn't rename something in the helper repository. HTTPD_port is only necessary with using SimpleHTTP and only has to be changed if you are not able to use port 5080.
Another feature of the fsfe-preview is to automatically check the XML syntax of the files. We installed libxml2-utils in step 1 in order to make this function working.
Now let's make the script easy to access via the terminal for future usage. For this, we'll create a short link to the script from one of the binary path directories. Type in the terminal:
sudo ln -s ~/subversion/fsfe/local-build/fsfe-preview.sh /usr/local/bin/fsfe-preview
From this moment on, you should be able to call fsfe-preview from anywhere in your terminal. Let's make a test run. Modify the XHTML source file contribute/contribute.en.xhtml and edit some obvious text or alter the title. Now do:
As output, you should see something like:
[INFO] Using file /home/max/subversion/fsfe/fsfe-web/trunk/contribute/contribute.en.xhtml as source... [INFO] XHTML file detected. Going to build into /home/max/subversion/fsfe/local-build/fsfe.org/contribute/contribute.en.html ... [INFO] Starting python webserver [SUCCESS] Finished. File can be viewed at http://localhost:5080/contribute/contribute.en.html
Now open the mentioned URL http://localhost:5080/contribute/contribute.en.html and take a look whether your changes had an effect.
5. Recommended workflows
In this section we'll present a few of the cases you might face and how to solve them with the script. We presume you have your terminal opened in the trunk directory.
5.1. Preview a single file
To preview a single file before uploading it, just edit it locally. The file has to be located in the trunk directory, so we suggest to only use one SVN trunk on your computer. It makes almost no sense to store your edited files in different folders. To preview it, just give the path to the edited file as argument for fsfe-preview, just as we did in the preceding step:
The script detects whether the file has to be built with the XSLT processor (.xhtml files), or if it just can be copied to the website without any modification (e.g. images).
5.2. Copy many files at once
Beware that all files you added in your session have to be processed with the script. For example, if you create a report with many images included and want to preview it, you will have to copy all these images to the output directory as well, and not only the XHTML file. For this, there is the --copy argument. This circumvents the whole XSLT build process and just plainly copies the given files (or folders). In this example, the workflow could look like the following: The first line copies some images, the second builds the corresponding XHTML file which makes use of these images:
fsfe-preview --copy news/2016/graphics/report1.png news/2016/graphics/report2.jpg fsfe-preview news/2016/news-20161231-01.en.xhtml
5.3. Syntax check
In general, it's good to check the XHTML syntax before editing and commiting files to the SVN. The script fsfe-preview already contains these checks but it's good to be able to use it anyway. If you didn't already do it before, install libxml2-utils on your computer. It contains xmllint, a syntax checker for XML files. You can use it like this:
xmllint --noout work.en.xhtml
If there's no output (--noout), the file has a correct syntax and you're ready to continue. But you may also see something like
work.en.xhtml:55: parser error : Opening and ending tag mismatch: p line 41 and li </li> ^
In this case, this means that the <p> tag starting in line 41 isn't closed properly.
The presented process and script has a few drawbacks. For example you aren't able to preview certain very dynamic pages or parts of pages, or those depending on CGI scripts. In most cases you'll never encounter these, but if you're getting active with the FSFE's webmaster team it may happen that you'll have to fall back on the standard central build system.
Any other issues? Feel free to report them as they will help to improve FSFE's editors to work more efficiently
Major changes to this guide
- 29 November 2016: Jonas has pointed out a few bugs and issues with a different GNU/Linux distribution. Should be resolved.
- 15 December 2016: Introducing simpler local webserver which doesn't need any configuration