OpenCms Documentation

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In OpenCms since: 10.0 Valid for OpenCms: 11.0.0

With OpenCms 10 several features are introduced that ease OpenCms development. We take a look at these features and explain how to use them efficiently.

In particular, we

  • Explain the Module Import/Export via the SMB share
  • Look at the advantages of the reduced export format for modules
  • Explore the OpenCms Git integration
  • See how to adjust configuration files on start up

The typical OpenCms development cycle

OpenCms development involves writing Java source code, writing JSPs, creating modules, designing resource types and so on. Changes take place in pure Java code that's later on added as a jar, but changes also take place on VFS resources. Additionally, actions like creating a new module or a new resource type are optimally performed directly in OpenCms.

Thus, it is valuable if development can take place directly on an OpenCms instance - that is either locally installed or on a remote server. But working exclusively on that instance, in particular when editing JSPs, will slow you down because you can't work in your normal development environment and will miss the features of your preferred IDE. The combination of both, working in your normal environment and at the same time on the OpenCms instance directly, provides a good development environment and can be reached by mounting the VFS - optimally inside a project of your favorite IDE. Doing so, you can edit resources as you are used to and directly reflect the changes to the VFS.

The benefit of mounting the VFS is already great, but there is still a problem remaining: Typically, you use a version control system to track changes in your code. That means, you have to check in changes to that system frequently. The usual way to structure your code in the version control system is via module specific subfolders. In these folders you place the extracted module export plus the Java sources of a library that belongs to the module. But how to get the changes into the repository and back to an OpenCms instance? Up to OpenCms 10 this was an error prone process of many manual steps: Use the OpenCms module management to export the module you want to check in, clean the folder with the module resources in the repository, extract the exported module zip to the just cleaned folder, check in the changes.

OpenCms 10 provides, at least on Linux systems, support for the check in of modules to a git repository, as well as for the automatic (re-)installation of modules via the OpenCms workplace. Moreover, even not using the Git integration, module import and export is simplified: Modules can be installed, removed, updated via special folders in the network share.

Another burden that is tackled in OpenCms 10 is the problem of merge conflicts. Up to OpenCms 9.5, the manifest files of modules were always very verbose, providing various meta information for each resource (creation date, creator, date last modified, user last modified, ...). These information necessarily lead to merge conflicts. For example, if two different developers edited the same JSP a merge conflict was very likely. Even if the JSP itself could be merged, the manifest caused problems. Moreover, meta information on parent folders, not belonging to the module itself change frequently. In particular /system and /system/modules have different meta information on each installation. Hence, that data changed frequently in commits, even if nothing interesting changed at all. Thus, we had unnecessary, irritating changes in the commits. In OpenCms 10 one can choose between the normal export format, that is similar to the verbose one from OpenCms 9.5, and a reduced export format that omits the export of potentially conflicting meta information.

Reduced Import/Export format

Since OpenCms 10 two export formats for modules are present: a reduced and a verbose one. The difference is the data that is stored in the manifest.xml in the exported module zip file. We recommend using the reduced export format as long as you do not have a serious reason for exporting more information. The reduced format is in particular recommended if you track your changes in a version control system. The format omits lots of meta information. This information, e.g., who has when created or edited a resource, is typically unnecessary since your version control system will take record of these information anyway. Moreover, keeping the extra information also in the manifest file likely causes merge conflicts.

To set the export format, go to the module management, select your module and edit it. As shown in Fig. [reduced_export_format], you have to check the setting "Use reduced export format".

Fig. [reduced_export_format]: Using the reduced module export format

Git integration

Checking in changes made on modules in OpenCms to a version control system can be quite cumbersome. The OpenCms Git integration tackles that problem. You simply configure where your repository is and which modules you want to check in or check out and install from the repository. Then the workplace app "Git integration" provides an easy way to check in or check out and install modules.

The tool only works on Linux systems, since it uses a shell script for the git actions. Furthermore, git must be installed independently from OpenCms.

Via the Git integration you can perform check in and (re-)installation of modules from within the OpenCms and in just a few clicks. Fig. [git_integration_app] shows the dialog for the tool when configured correctly.

Fig. [git_integration_app]: The workplace app "Git integration"
Since OpenCms 11, the tool is only shown if a valid configuration is present. To get more control on the checked-in changes, we recommend to use the feature from the shell for most scenarios.

Module check-in

Via the workplace app "Git integration" (Fig. [git_integration_app]) you can select the modules you want to check in. The modules appearing in the list are pre-configured, but you can also add new modules via the drop-down left of the "Deselect all" button. Moreover, you can set your user information for the commit and the commit message. There are other options available. Via these, you specify copy, unzip, pull and push options. The options checked by default are configurable. Therefore, you typically do not have to alter these options. For example, you can only copy and unzip the module to your local repository and perform checkin manually. This will provide you more fine-grained influence on what is checked in. But you can also automatically check in and push your changes.

When directly checking in to the repository and pushing changes, you can only replace the whole module, i.e., all changes you made to the module are checked in.

Module import from the git repository

Besides checking in changes to your git repository, you can reimport modules directly from the repository. Choose the "Import"-tab in the settings panel shown in Fig. [git_integration_app] and select the module you want to import. Moreover, you can choose if you want to fetch the remote state of the repository and reset to the remote head before you import the module, or if you just import the current local version.

Import basically zips the module resources. It does not compile any Java code.

Git configuration

The backend of the Git integration app a is a shell script and a configuration file placed under {webapp home}/WEB-INF/git-scripts/. The script is used to perform the git operations and the configuration is read from module-checkin.conf. A good starting point for writing your configuration is to copy the module-checkin.conf.demo file and adjust it to your needs. In particular, you should correctly configure your repository home and structure. Descriptions are found in module-checkin.conf.demo.

The options you set in module-checkin.conf can be overwritten in most cases. You can overwrite them by passing parameters to That's what the Git integration app does. It reads the default options from module-checkin.conf and then passes the possibly changed options as parameters.

If you use environment variables in the module-checkin.conf file, make sure that the Git app (i.e., Tomcat or alike) has these variables set.

Using the Git integration via the command line

For many purposes, the OpenCms app "Git integration" will provide the suitable way to check in changes. But you can also call directly from the command line. If you work in your favorite IDE using a network share this might be an option as well.

The script expects all parameters first and then the configuration file. To get an overview on the parameters, please refer to the script itself and search for "read commandline arguments".

For using the script directly, you need to import and export modules via the network share. The reason is, that the Git integration app triggers module import and export directly in OpenCms, but the script cannot use that functionality.

A typical scenario for using the script directly could be, that you export and unzip modules to a repository you have present in a project in your IDE. You check the changes and commit via the IDE and then build the module again and copy it to the module import folder of the network share.

In summary, you have a lot of control on what is done automatically, and where you take action manually. Of course, all this can also be achieved using the Git integration app.

Module import and export via the network share

Since OpenCms 9.0 you can mount the VFS via a network share. OpenCms 10.0 adds a new feature to the share. You can import and export modules.

The feature is enabled by default. If it is not enabled in your installation, please look here how to find out how the org.opencms.file.wrapper.CmsResourceWrapperModules is configured.

If configured correctly, the VFS mount has three additional folders: /modules/import/, /modules/export/ and /modules/log/. The export/ folder lists zip files for all modules installed on the system. The import/ folder is always empty and the log/ folder holds for each module in the system a log file with the actions performed on this module. Use the folders as follows to import, export or remove modules.

Performing module actions via the network share
Export a module

Go to the /modules/export/ folder of the VFS mount and copy the module zip of the module you like to export to another location. The module will be exported on the fly during the copy action.

Import a module

Go to the /modules/import/ folder of the VFS mount and paste the module zip of the module you want to import. The module will be imported on the fly during the paste action. When the import is finished, the zip file will vanish from the /modules/import/ folder.

Delete a module

Go to the /modules/export/ folder of the VFS mount and delete the module zip for the module you want to delete. The module will be deleted on the fly during the delete action.

To import/export/delete modules relative to the correct site, set the "Import site" for modules (Module Management -> Edit module) that are not imported to the root site, but handled over the network share.

Configuration adjustment on start up

OpenCms is configured via several XML files residing on the RFS under {webapp home}/WEB-INF/config/. Parts of the configuration are depending on the server your installation runs on, e.g. the site configuration, email server configuration. Adjusting it is necessary, e.g., when moving from development to production.

Before OpenCms 10, adjusting the configuration implied to replace whole files or to use your own script to manipulate the config files. Now, it is possible to apply XSL transformations on the config files. The transformations are provided via the file opencms-configuration.xslt under {webapp home}/WEB-INF/config/. The tranformations are performed on start-up and applied to all XML configuration files.

A typical XSLT file

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
<xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="" version="1.0">

    <!-- Parameter containing the current file name. This is set by OpenCms.  -->
    <xsl:param name="file" />
    <!-- Mandatory. The @dtd@ string is a special macro used by OpenCms to insert the correct DTD reference. -->
    <xsl:output doctype-system="@dtd@" indent="yes"  />

    <!-- 'Copy' rule used to copy everything that isn't matched by the other rules. -->
    <xsl:template match="@* | node()">
            <xsl:apply-templates select="@* | node()"/>

    <!-- Adjust the site configuration -->
    <xsl:template match="/opencms/system/sites">
            <!-- ... other required nodes -->


The XSL transformation file has always the same wrapper as above and typically it contains the copy rule, that just leave everything untouched that is not explictly overwritten by another, more specific rule.

In the above example, we replace the site configuration. It is the typical case, that whole nodes from the configuration are replaced.

Hints on using XSL transformations

Be careful when changing configurations from inside OpenCms. The transformations will be wrote back to your configuration files together with your changes.

The adjusted configuration is logged at debug level. If you switch to the log level to debug, the transformed configuration will be printed to the opencms.log.

More information is found in sourcecode and JavaDoc. Search for the method tranformConfiguration(..) in the class org.opencms.configuration.ConfigurationManager.

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Please contribute your suggestions or comments regarding this topic on our wiki. For support questions, please use the OpenCms mailing list or go for professional support.