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Newcomers Guide

Intended audience

The guide is intended as a crash course for new core developers of InvenioRDM with prior experience in running and installing InvenioRDM.


The guide covers how we collaborate, the essential communication channels and key tools we use.


Following is a quick overview over what you need to know in order to participate in the InvenioRDM development.

Join communication channels

Development iterations

We run iterations ranging from 3-5 weeks which are usually aligned with calendar months. Each iteration produces a new release. We use a sprint board to keep track of the current iteration. The current board is linked from the product status page.

We use a product roadmap in GitHub to keep track of high-level features.

Board workflow

See board workflow

Iteration schedule

The high-level sprint schedule usually looks like this:

  • 1st week:
    • Monday: Kick-off
    • Tuesday: Roadmap update
  • last week:
    • Tuesday: Feature locking.
    • Thursday: Release, deployment and announcement.
    • Friday: Review, retrospective & triaging of stale issues.

Daily tasks/meetings

You daily schedule looks like this:

  • Sprint notes: daily before the standup, please post your sprint notes into #rdm-sprint-notes channel.
    • Focus on blockers, tasks completed.
    • The sprint notes are very important for cross timezone collaborations.
  • Standup: daily at 15:15 UTC on Discord #rdm-internal voice channel (cancelled during bi-weekly telecons every second Tuesday, or move to after the telecon).

Developing with InvenioRDM

Setup your system

See Setting up your system


Invenio-CLI is the primary tool you'll use for development. See the CLI reference documentation. In particular, you'll need the following commands to install development versions of libraries in your InvenioRDM instance:

invenio-cli install ...
invenio-cli assets build
invenio-cli assets watch
invenio-cli assets install
invenio-cli assets watch-module

Above commands, works when you install development versions of modules into InvenioRDM (i.e. integration testing). Often, you'll work on a specific Invenio modules, these modules you'll usually work on in the following way:

cd ~/src/invenio-<amodule>
mkvirtualenv <amodule>
# postgresql,elasticsearch7 only needed for certain modules
pip install -e ".[all,postgresql,elasticsearch7]"

Run tests uses docker-services-cli to bootup needed services (like database, cache and search engine). To run tests individually, you can use:

# Copy/paste the following line fro ./
eval "$(docker-services-cli up --db ${DB:-postgresql} --search ${ES:-elasticsearch} --mq ${CACHE:-redis} --env)"
# Run single test:
pytest tests/ -s

Repositories survival guide

The InvenioRDM codebase is split over a number of different repositories. Below you'll find a short overview over the most

  • CLI tool
    • invenio-cli
      • Standalone CLI tool used to install and manage InvenioRDM.
  • Instance template
  • Application repositories
    • invenio-app-rdm
      • The core application (e.g. the site configuration)
      • Jinja and JSX templates
      • Views for landing page and deposit form
      • Frontend: deposit form, search page
    • invenio-rdm-records
      • Concrete implementation of the REST API by using most of the modules below.
      • Defines the metadata model (JSONSchemas, Elasticsearch mappings, schemas etc)
      • Defines the concrete permission policy.
    • invenio-drafts-resources
      • General purpose library used to build REST APIs for deposit interfaces.
      • Drafts API and versioning support
      • Used by invenio-rdm-records
    • invenio-records-resources
      • General purpose library used to build REST APIs for records backed by services and data access layer.
      • Core APIs for the service and data access layers.
      • Used by invenio-vocabularies, invenio-drafts-resources.
    • flask-resources
      • General purpose library used to build Flask views for REST APIs.
      • Core APIs for the presentation layer.
      • Used by invenio-records-resources
  • Others:
    • invenio-vocabularies
      • Concrete REST APIs for creating or loading smaller vocabularies.
      • Used by invenio-rdm-records
    • invenio-records-permissions
      • General purpose library for building permission policies for records.
    • invenio-records
      • General purpose library for building programmatic APIs for JSON documents with validation.

Debugging tricks

Python debugger For debugging use the Python debugger (PDB) or one of the variations (ipdb, pytest and wdb).

To set a breakpoint place the following code:

import pdb

During tests, you may need to use pytest instead and run pytest with -s option:

# pytest -s ...
import pytest

Flask DebugToolbar You can also install Flask-DebugToolbar:

cd ~/src/my-site
pipenv run pip install Flask-Debugtoolbar

It has built-in: - Profiler - SQL queries logging - View config/templates

SQL queries Last, but not least you can print SQL queries to the console by setting the variable in your


Coding style

InvenioRDM follows Invenio practices:

  • Commits:
    • Messages
    • Logical: Commits should be logical chunks of works (git rebase is your friend). Do not make many small commits.
  • Coding style: PEP8, isorting (checked by the ./ script and .editorconfig helps you configure your editor)
  • Follow existing style (look at the module you are working on):
    • Do not use type hints.
    • Support Python 3.6+

In doubt if something is allowed or not? Just ask :-)



Invenio has four principal architects. All architects have:

  1. Previously designed and built at least one larger repository from scratch.
  2. Large knowledge of the existing codebase and vision of the project.

Architects are there to help you succeed in contributing, but also have a final say on all design choices made in Invenio (this is to ensure a coherent product and coherent decisions).


All larger design work is subject to an RFC. Invenio RFCs are a communication tool, to:

  • Coordinate the design process
  • Document design decisions
  • Produce consensus among Invenio stakeholders

It's a collaborative process.