Baserow introduction

Architecture

Baserow consists of two main components:

  1. The backend is a Python Django application that exposes a REST API. This is the core of Baserow and it does not have a user interface. The API spec can be found here. The persistent state is stored by default in a PostgreSQL database. MySQL and SQLite are not supported at the moment, but probably will be in the future.
  2. The web frontend is an application that serves as a user interface for the backend and is made in NuxtJS and Vue.js. It communicates to the backend via the REST API.

server_diagram

Backend

The backend consists of the core, api and database apps. The package also contains base settings that can be extended. The REST API is written as a decoupled component which is not required to run Baserow. It is highly recommended though. The same goes for the database app, which is written as a plugin for Baserow. Without it you would only have the core which has functionality like authentication, groups and the application abstraction.

Handlers

If you look at the code of the API views you will notice that they use classes like CoreHandler, TableHandler, FieldHandler etc. The API views are actually a REST API shell around these handlers which are doing the actual job. The reason why we choose to do it this way is that if we ever want to implement a Web Socket API, SOAP API or any other API we can also build that around the same handler. That way we never have to write code twice. It is also useful for when you want to do something via the command line. If you for example want to create a new group you can do the following.

from django.contrib.auth import get_user_model
from baserow.core.handler import CoreHandler

User = get_user_model()
user = User.objects.get(pk=1)
group = CoreHandler().create_group(user, name='Example group')

Web frontend

The web-frontend consists of the core and database modules. The package also contains some base config that can be extended. It is basically a user-friendly shell around the backend that can run in your browser. It is made using NuxtJS.

Style guide

There is a style guide containing examples of all components on https://baserow.io/style-guide. Or if you want to see it on your local environment http://localhost:8000/style-guide.

Concepts

Groups

A group can contain multiple applications. It can be used to define a company, and it is possible to invite additional users to a group. Every user in the group has access to all the applications within that group. Live collaboration allows users to immediately see changes made by others without having to refresh the page. Groups can easily be created, edited and deleted via the baserow.core.handler.CoreHandler and via the REST API.

Applications

An application is more of an abstraction that can be added to a group. By default the database plugin is included which contains the database application. Via the “create new” button in the sidebar a new application instance can be created for the selected group. When clicked you will see a context menu with all the application types. Plugins can introduce new application types. Applications can easily be created, edited and deleted via the baserow.core.handler.CoreHandler and via the REST API.

Database plugin

More information about the concepts of the database application can be found on the database plugin introduction page.

Environment variables

In combination with the default settings and config the following environment variables are accepted.

  • DATABASE_NAME (default baserow): The name of the PostgreSQL database.
  • DATABASE_USER (default baserow): The username for the PostgreSQL database.
  • DATABASE_PASSWORD (default baserow): The password for the PostgreSQL database.
  • DATABASE_HOST (default db): The hostname of the PostgreSQL server.
  • DATABASE_PORT (default 5432): The port of the PostgreSQL server.
  • MJML_SERVER_HOST (default mjml): The hostname of the MJML TCP server. In the development environment we use the liminspace/mjml-tcpserver:0.10 image.
  • MJML_SERVER_PORT (default 28101): The port of the MJML TCP server.
  • PUBLIC_BACKEND_URL (default http://localhost:8000): The publicly accessible URL of the backend. For the development environment this is http://localhost:8000, but if you change the port to 9000 it will be http://localhost:9000. You should be able to lookup this url with your browser.
  • PRIVATE_BACKEND_URL (default http://backend:8000): Not only the browser, but also the web-frontend server should be able to make HTTP requests to the backend. It might not have access to the PUBLIC_BACKEND_URL or there could be a more direct route, (e.g. from container to container instead of via the internet). In case of the development environment the backend container be accessed via the backend hostname and because the server is also running on port 8000 inside the container, the private backend URL should be http://backend:8000.
  • PUBLIC_WEB_FRONTEND_URL (default http://localhost:3000): The publicly accessible URL of the web-frontend. For the development environment this is http://localhost:3000, but again you can change the port to whatever you wish. This url is reachable with your browser.
  • FROM_EMAIL (default no-reply@localhost): The ‘from’ email address of the emails that the platform sends. Like when a user requests a password recovery.
  • INITIAL_TABLE_DATA_LIMIT (default null): Indicates the initial table data limit. If for example 100 is provided then it will not be possible to import a CSV file with more than 100 rows.
  • REDIS_HOST (default redis): The hostname of the Redis server.
  • REDIS_PORT (default 6379): The port of the Redis server.
  • REDIS_USER (default ``): The username of the Redis server.
  • REDIS_PASSWORD (default ``): The password of the Redis server.
  • REDIS_PROTOCOL (default redis): The redis protocol. Can either be redis or rediss.
  • EMAIL_SMTP (default ``): Providing anything other than an empty string will enable SMTP email.
  • EMAIL_SMTP_HOST (default localhost): The hostname of the SMTP server.
  • EMAIL_SMTP_USE_TLS (default ``): Providing anything other than an empty string will enable connecting to the SMTP server via TLS.
  • EMAIL_SMPT_USE_TLS (default ``): EMAIL_SMTP_USE_TLS from above was initially wrongly spelled as EMAIL_SMPT_USE_TLS. This issue has since been addressed in #247. However, EMAIL_SMPT_USE_TLS is still supported for those who might still be using it in their environment. It’s highly recommended you use the correct var name if working with the latest version as this support might be removed in the future.
  • EMAIL_SMTP_PORT (default 25): The port of the SMTP server.
  • EMAIL_SMTP_USER (default ``): The username for the SMTP server.
  • EMAIL_SMTP_PASSWORD (default ``): The password of the SMTP server.
  • HOURS_UNTIL_TRASH_PERMANENTLY_DELETED (default 72): The number of hours to keep trashed items until they are permanently deleted.