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Development: Getting Started


Be sure to use the Nightly version of the docs to ensure you're up to date with the latest changes.

After reading through the Code Contributions Guide and forking the repo you can start working. This project is developed with ๐Ÿณ docker and as such you will be greatly aided by using docker for development. It's not necessary but it is helpful.

With VSCode Dev Containers


  • Docker
  • Visual Studio Code

Linux and MacOS

First ensure that docker is running. Then when you clone the repo and open with VS Code you should see a popup asking you to reopen the project inside a development container. Click yes and it will build the development container and run the setup required to run both the backend API and the frontend webserver. This also pre-configures pre-commit hooks to ensure that the code is up to date before committing.


Make sure the VSCode Dev Containers extension is installed, then select "Dev Containers: Clone Repository in Container Volume..." in the command pallete (F1). Select your forked repo and choose the mealie-next branch, which contains the latest changes. This mounts your repository directly in WSL2, which greatly improves the performance of the container, and enables hot-reloading for the frontend. Running the container on a mounted volume may not work correctly on Windows due to WSL permission mapping issues.

Checkout the makefile reference for all of the available commands.


For slow terminal checkout the solution in this GitHub Issue

git config oh-my-zsh.hide-info 1

Without Dev Containers


Installing Dependencies

Once the prerequisites are installed you can cd into the project base directory and run make setup to install the python and node dependencies.

# Naviate To The Root Directory
cd /path/to/project

# Utilize the Makefile to Install Dependencies
make setup
# Install Python Dependencies
Set-Directory -Path "C:\path\to\project"
poetry install

# Install Node Dependencies
Set-Directory frontend
yarn install

Setting ENV Variables

Before you start the server you MUST copy the template.env and frontend/template.env files to their respective locations with the name .env and frontend/.env respectively. The application will-not run without these files.


  • Whether using a container or manual install, you need to set up your own postgres dev server. The database, username, password, etc should match the POSTGRES_* options located in the .env file.
  • Install psycog2 with poetry install -E pgsql (in the main mealie directory, not frontend)

Starting The Server

Now you're ready to start the servers. You'll need two shells open, One for the server and one for the frontend.

# Terminal #1
make backend

# Terminal #2
make frontend
# Terminal # 1
poetry run python mealie/db/ # Initialize the database
poetry run python mealie/ # start application

# Terminal # 2
Set-Directory frontend
yarn run dev

Make File Reference

Run make help for reference. If you're on a system that doesn't support makefiles in most cases you can use the commands directly in your terminal by copy/pasting them from the Makefile.

docs                 ๐Ÿ“„ Start Mkdocs Development Server
code-gen             ๐Ÿค– Run Code-Gen Scripts
setup                ๐Ÿ—  Setup Development Instance
setup-model          ๐Ÿค– Get the latest NLP CRF++ Model
clean-data           โš ๏ธ  Removes All Developer Data for a fresh server start
clean-pyc            ๐Ÿงน Remove Python file artifacts
clean-test           ๐Ÿงน Remove test and coverage artifacts
backend-clean        ๐Ÿงน Remove all build, test, coverage and Python artifacts
backend-test         ๐Ÿงช Run tests quickly with the default Python
backend-format       ๐Ÿงบ Format, Check and Flake8
backend-all          ๐Ÿงช Runs all the backend checks and tests
backend-coverage     โ˜‚๏ธ  Check code coverage quickly with the default Python
backend              ๐ŸŽฌ Start Mealie Backend Development Server
frontend             ๐ŸŽฌ Start Mealie Frontend Development Server
frontend-build       ๐Ÿ—  Build Frontend in frontend/dist
frontend-generate    ๐Ÿ—  Generate Code for Frontend
frontend-lint        ๐Ÿงบ Run yarn lint
docker-dev           ๐Ÿณ Build and Start Docker Development Stack (currently not functional, see #756, #1072)
docker-prod          ๐Ÿณ Build and Start Docker Production Stack



We use vue-i18n package for internationalization. Translations are stored in json format located in frontend/lang/messages.


Translations are stored in json format located in mealie/lang/messages.

Quick frontend localization with VS Code

i18n Ally for VScode is helpful for generating new strings to translate using Code Actions. It also has a nice feature, which shows translations in-place when editing code.

A few settings must be tweaked to make the most of its features. Some settings are stored on project level, but most of them have to be set manually in your workspace or user settings.\ We've found that the following settings work best:

  "i18n-ally.enabledFrameworks": ["vue"],
  "i18n-ally.extract.autoDetect": true,
  "i18n-ally.dirStructure": "auto",
  "i18n-ally.extract.targetPickingStrategy": "global-previous",
  "i18n-ally.displayLanguage": "en-US",
  "i18n-ally.keystyle": "nested",
  "i18n-ally.sourceLanguage": "en-US",