Quick start guide

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While there are a number of prerequisites to WebApollo, we hope that this quick-start guide can help by automating some setup steps. This "Quick start guide" can be used to initialize a "blank" machine with a WebApollo instance from scratch.


This guide will cover the following steps:

  • Downloading Web Apollo
  • Installing system pre-requisites
  • Using apollo deploy to setup environment + perl pre-requisites
  • Setting up a postgres user and database
  • Running JBrowse scripts to load data
  • Configuring Web Apollo with the config.properties file
  • Running a temporary server using apollo run

Setup environment

First set some environmental variables. These are simply used for the proceeding steps and don't require anything to be already setup.

export PGUSER=web_apollo_users_admin
export PGPASSWORD=password
export WEBAPOLLO_USER=web_apollo_admin
export WEBAPOLLO_PASSWORD=web_apollo_admin
export WEBAPOLLO_DATABASE=web_apollo_users
export ORGANISM="Pythium ultimum"
export JBROWSE_DATA_DIR=`pwd`/data
export WEBAPOLLO_DATA_DIR=`pwd`/annotations

Download webapollo

You can download the latest Web Apollo release from GitHub or from genomearchitect.org (the 1.x release branch is not available from genomearchitect yet).


# clone the latest webapollo from GitHub and use the latest release tag
git clone https://github.com/GMOD/Apollo.git
git checkout 1.0.4

Get prerequisites

Then get some system pre-requisites. These commands will try to get everything in one bang for several system types.

# install system prerequisites (debian/ubuntu)
sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk libexpat1-dev postgresql postgresql-server-dev-all maven tomcat7 git
# install system prerequisites (centOS/redhat)
sudo yum install postgresql postgresql-server postgresql-devel maven expat-devel tomcat git
# install system prerequisites (macOSX/homebrew), read the postgresql start guide
brew install maven postgresql wget tomcat git

See prerequisites for more details on the pre-requisites if you think something isn't working with these.

Kickstart postgres (not needed for ubuntu)

On debian/ubuntu, postgres is started and added to OS boot automatically, but on other systems (centOS/redhat, mac OSX) they need to be kickstarted.

# on centOS/redhat, manually kickstart postgres and allow md5 type logins
sudo su -c "PGSETUP_INITDB_OPTIONS='--auth-host=md5' postgresql-setup initdb"
sudo su -c "service postgresql start"
sudo su -c "chkconfig postgresql on"

# on macOSX/homebrew, manually kickstart postgres using launchctl (see homebrew guide for details)
ln -sfv /usr/local/opt/postgresql/*.plist ~/Library/LaunchAgents
launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents/homebrew.mxcl.postgresql.plist

For more details on setting up postgres in CentOS, refer to https://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki/YUM_Installation (but note that we encourage using host-based password authentication with --auth-host=md5)

For more details on setting up postgres in Homebrew refer to https://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki/Homebrew

Initialize postgres database

After starting postgres, you can create a new database for managing login and track information.

# On debian/ubuntu/redhat/centOS, typically requires "postgres" user to execute commands
sudo su - postgres -c "createuser -RDIElPS $PGUSER"
sudo su - postgres -c "createdb -E UTF-8 -O $PGUSER $WEBAPOLLO_DATABASE"

# On macOSX/homebrew there is no need login as the postgres user but use "whoami" since PGUSER is changed
createuser -RDIElPS $PGUSER -U `whoami`
createdb -E UTF-8 -O $PGUSER $WEBAPOLLO_DATABASE -U `whoami`

Note: see database setup for more details about the database setup.

Download sample data

If you are following our example, you can download the sample data here:

wget http://icebox.lbl.gov/webapollo/data/pyu_data.tgz
tar xvzf pyu_data.tgz

Setup some basic dependencies

As a first step, use some of the default config files and run apollo deploy. This will download and install jbrowse binaries.

cp sample_config.properties config.properties
cp sample_config.xml config.xml
cp sample_log4j2.json log4j2.json
cp sample_canned_comments.xml canned_comments.xml
./apollo deploy

If there are any errors during this build step, you can check setup.log. See the troubleshooting guide for common issues.

Initialize Web Apollo logins and permissions

Initialize the database for logging into WebApollo as follows:

psql -U $PGUSER $WEBAPOLLO_DATABASE -h localhost < tools/user/user_database_postgresql.sql

Then we will add permissions on a track-by-track basis by first extracting the seqids from a FASTA file and adding them to the database. Carefully observe the arguments to these functions (particularly, adding the -a option to set_track_permissions.pl allows "all" or "admin" access, and the -p option for extract_seqids_from_fasta is called the Annotation prefix).

tools/user/extract_seqids_from_fasta.pl -p Annotations- -i pyu_data/scf1117875582023.fa -o seqids.txt
tools/user/add_tracks.pl -D $WEBAPOLLO_DATABASE -U $PGUSER -P $PGPASSWORD -t seqids.txt
tools/user/set_track_permissions.pl -D $WEBAPOLLO_DATABASE -U $PGUSER -P $PGPASSWORD -u $WEBAPOLLO_USER -t seqids.txt -a

Note: the reason we use psql with "-h localhost" is to force password-based host authentication instead of peer authentication.

Setup genome browser data

Setup the JBrowse data directory with some of the sample data for Pythium ultimum. Here, the split_gff.pl script will separate the example GFF based on source types, and then the JBROWSE_DATA_DIR will be initialized with prepare-refseqs.pl and flatfile-to-json.pl.

mkdir temp
tools/data/split_gff_by_source.pl -i pyu_data/scf1117875582023.gff -d temp
bin/prepare-refseqs.pl --fasta pyu_data/scf1117875582023.fa --out data
bin/flatfile-to-json.pl --gff  temp/maker.gff --arrowheadClass trellis-arrowhead \
    --subfeatureClasses '{"wholeCDS": null, "CDS":"brightgreen-80pct", "UTR": "darkgreen-60pct", "exon":"container-100pct"}' \
    --className container-16px --type mRNA --trackLabel maker --out $JBROWSE_DATA_DIR

For more info on adding genome browser tracks, see the configuration guide guide.

Add webapollo plugin to the genome browser

Once the tracks are initialized, the webapollo plugin needs to be added to the JBrowse configuration using the add-webapollo-plugin.pl script.

client/apollo/bin/add-webapollo-plugin.pl -i $JBROWSE_DATA_DIR/trackList.json

Update config.properties

Once we have our data directories and database configuration setup, we can put this information in the config.properties file.

echo jbrowse.data=$JBROWSE_DATA_DIR > config.properties
echo datastore.directory=$WEBAPOLLO_DATA_DIR >> config.properties
echo database.url=jdbc:postgresql:$WEBAPOLLO_DATABASE >> config.properties
echo database.username=$PGUSER >> config.properties
echo database.password=$PGPASSWORD >> config.properties
echo organism=$ORGANISM >> config.properties

Note: the organism property should be a two-word "genus species" ID for proper chado exports. For more details on chado export see the configuration guide.

Launch a temporary Web Apollo instance

After this setup, you are ready to deploy a new instance.

./apollo run

This will launch a temporary tomcat instances that you will be able to access from http://localhost:8080/apollo/ and login with your $WEBAPOLLO_USER and $WEBAPOLLO_PASSWORD information.

Note: if you already have a tomcat instance running, you may have to shut it down to launch the test server.


If everything works, then you can continue to the build guide for more instructions on packaging the build, and to the deployment guide for information about deploying to a production server. Additionally, information about configuration and adding Chado export can be found in the configuration guide. More information about loading additional tracks is available in the data loading section.