Skip to content

Setting up Nominatim for Development

This chapter gives an overview how to set up Nominatim for development and how to run tests.


This guide assumes that you develop under the latest version of Ubuntu. You can of course also use your favourite distribution. You just might have to adapt the commands below slightly, in particular the commands for installing additional software.

Installing Nominatim

The first step is to install Nominatim itself. Please follow the installation instructions in the Admin section. You don't need to set up a webserver for development, the webserver that is included with PHP is sufficient.

If you want to run Nominatim in a VM via Vagrant, use the default ubuntu setup. Vagrant's libvirt provider runs out-of-the-box under Ubuntu. You also need to install an NFS daemon to enable directory sharing between host and guest. The following packages should get you started:

sudo apt install vagrant vagrant-libvirt libvirt-daemon nfs-kernel-server

Prerequisites for testing and documentation

The Nominatim test suite consists of behavioural tests (using behave) and unit tests (using PHPUnit for PHP code and pytest for Python code). It has the following additional requirements:

For testing the Python search frontend, you need to install extra dependencies depending on your choice of webserver framework:

The documentation is built with mkdocs:

Installing prerequisites on Ubuntu/Debian

Some of the Python packages require the newest version which is not yet available with the current distributions. Therefore it is recommended to install pip to get the newest versions.

To install all necessary packages run:

sudo apt install php-cgi phpunit php-codesniffer \
                 python3-pip python3-setuptools python3-dev

pip3 install --user behave mkdocs mkdocstrings pytest pytest-asyncio pylint \
                    mypy types-PyYAML types-jinja2 types-psycopg2 types-psutil \
                    types-ujson types-requests types-Pygments typing-extensions\
                    httpx asgi-lifespan

The mkdocs executable will be located in .local/bin. You may have to add this directory to your path, for example by running:

echo 'export PATH=~/.local/bin:$PATH' > ~/.profile

If your distribution does not have PHPUnit 7.3+, you can install it (as well as CodeSniffer) via composer:

sudo apt-get install composer
composer global require "squizlabs/php_codesniffer=*"
composer global require "phpunit/phpunit=8.*"

The binaries are found in .config/composer/vendor/bin. You need to add this to your PATH as well:

echo 'export PATH=~/.config/composer/vendor/bin:$PATH' > ~/.profile

Executing Tests

All tests are located in the /test directory.

To run all tests just go to the build directory and run make:

cd build
make test

For more information about the structure of the tests and how to change and extend the test suite, see the Testing chapter.

Documentation Pages

The Nominatim documentation is built using the MkDocs static site generation framework. The master branch is automatically deployed every night on

To build the documentation, go to the build directory and run

make doc
INFO - Cleaning site directory
INFO - Building documentation to directory: /home/vagrant/build/site-html

This runs mkdocs build plus extra transformation of some files and adds symlinks (see CMakeLists.txt for the exact steps).

Now you can start webserver for local testing

build> make serve-doc
[server:296] Serving on
[handlers:62] Start watching changes

If you develop inside a Vagrant virtual machine, use a port that is forwarded to your host:

build> PYTHONPATH=$SRCDIR mkdocs serve --dev-addr
[server:296] Serving on
[handlers:62] Start watching changes