Development Setup

Ready to hack on your site? Here's a quick overview.


Quick start

After installing Go and Node.js, run the following commands to build, configure, and run the application.

go get -d

cd $GOPATH/src/

make build   # Compile the application
make install # Config, generate keys, setup database, install LESS compiler
make run     # Run the application

Detailed steps

Use the following steps to build WriteFreely without Make. First, get the code:

git clone
cd writefreely

Finally, build the writefreely binary with SQLite support. (Remove -tags='sqlite' if you don't need SQLite support.)

go build -v -tags='sqlite' ./cmd/writefreely/

You can now run WriteFreely! But you'll need one more step to generate some assets and successfully run an instance.

Building site assets

You'll need Node.js and LESS installed to generate WriteFreely static assets. Install LESS using our utility script:


Next, compile all stylesheets from the less directory, creating them in the static/css/ directory:

cd less
lessc app.less --clean-css="--s1 --advanced" ${CSSDIR}/write.css
lessc fonts.less --clean-css="--s1 --advanced" ${CSSDIR}/fonts.css
lessc icons.less --clean-css="--s1 --advanced" ${CSSDIR}/icons.css
lessc prose.less --clean-css="--s1 --advanced" ${CSSDIR}/prose.css

Finally, build ProseMirror:

cd ../prose
npm install
npm run-script build

Now you can run and distribute WriteFreely! 🎉

Beyond this, you'll initialize your individual instance.

Application initiation

With your build complete, create a configuration file, encryption keys, and initialize your database.

Config file

Most users will want the interactive configuration process. Run with:

writefreely config start

For other cases where you only need a blank configuration, you can non-interactively generate config.ini with this command:

writefreely config generate

Encryption keys

Generate encryption keys needed for storing user sessions and private data:

writefreely keys generate


With your instance configured for a database, run the following command to create the necessary tables:

writefreely db init

Run WriteFreely