Development Environment

The development environment can be used in 2 ways. First, with a local Poetry environment if you wish to develop outside of Docker with the caveat of using external services provided by Docker for PostgresQL and Redis. Second, all services are spun up using Docker and a local mount so you can develop locally, but Nautobot is spun up within the Docker container.

Below is a quick start guide if you're already familiar with the development environment provided, but if you're not familiar, please read the Getting Started guide in the repo.


The Invoke library is used to provide some helper commands based on the environment. There are a few configuration parameters which can be passed to Invoke to override the default configuration:

  • nautobot_ver: the version of Nautobot to use as a base for any built Docker containers (default: 1.1.4)
  • project_name: the Docker Compose project name (default: nautobot_firewall_models)
  • python_ver: the version of Python to use as a base for any built Docker containers (default: 3.6)
  • local: a boolean flag indicating if Invoke tasks should be run on the host or inside the Docker containers (default: False, commands will be run in Docker containers)
  • compose_dir: the full path to a directory containing the project Compose files
  • compose_files: a list of Compose files applied in order (see Multiple Compose files for more information)

Using Invoke these configuration options can be overridden using several methods. Perhaps the simplest is simply setting an environment variable INVOKE_NAUTOBOT_FIREWALL_MODELS_VARIABLE_NAME where VARIABLE_NAME is the variable you are trying to override. The only exception is compose_files, because it is a list it must be overridden in a YAML file. There is an example invoke.yml (invoke.example.yml) in this directory which can be used as a starting point.

Local Poetry Development Environment

  1. Copy development/creds.example.env to development/creds.env (This file will be ignored by Git and Docker)
  2. Uncomment the POSTGRES_HOST, REDIS_HOST, and NAUTOBOT_ROOT variables in development/creds.env
  3. Create an invoke.yml file with the following contents at the root of the repo (you can also copy the file with cp invoke.example.yml invoke.yml and edit as necessary):
  local: true
    - "docker-compose.requirements.yml"
  1. Run the following commands:
poetry shell
poetry install --extras nautobot
export $(cat development/dev.env | xargs)
export $(cat development/creds.env | xargs) 
invoke start && sleep 5
nautobot-server migrate

If you want to develop on the latest develop branch of Nautobot, run the following command: poetry add --optional git+ The string after the @ symbol must match either a branch or a tag.

  1. You can now run nautobot-server commands as you would from the Nautobot documentation for example to start the development server:
nautobot-server runserver --insecure

Nautobot server can now be accessed at http://localhost:8080.

It is typically recommended to launch the Nautobot runserver command in a separate shell so you can keep developing and manage the webserver separately.

Docker Development Environment

This project is managed by Python Poetry and has a few requirements to setup your development environment:

  1. Install Poetry, see the Poetry Documentation for your operating system.
  2. Install Docker, see the Docker documentation for your operating system.

Once you have Poetry and Docker installed you can run the following commands to install all other development dependencies in an isolated python virtual environment:

poetry shell
poetry install
invoke start

Nautobot server can now be accessed at http://localhost:8080.

To either stop or destroy the development environment use the following options.

  • invoke stop - Stop the containers, but keep all underlying systems intact
  • invoke destroy - Stop and remove all containers, volumes, etc. (This results in data loss due to the volume being deleted)

CLI Helper Commands

The project comes with a CLI helper based on Invoke to help setup the development environment. The commands are listed below in 3 categories dev environment, utility and testing.

Each command can be executed with invoke <command>. Environment variables INVOKE_NAUTOBOT_FIREWALL_MODELS_PYTHON_VER and INVOKE_NAUTOBOT_FIREWALLS_MODEL_NAUTOBOT_VER may be specified to override the default versions. Each command also has its own help invoke <command> --help

Docker dev environment

  build            Build all docker images.
  debug            Start Nautobot and its dependencies in debug mode.
  destroy          Destroy all containers and volumes.
  restart          Restart Nautobot and its dependencies.
  start            Start Nautobot and its dependencies in detached mode.
  stop             Stop Nautobot and its dependencies.


  cli              Launch a bash shell inside the running Nautobot container.
  create-user      Create a new user in django (default: admin), will prompt for password.
  makemigrations   Run Make Migration in Django.
  nbshell          Launch a nbshell session.
  shell-plus       Launch a shell_plus session, which uses iPython and automatically imports all models.


  bandit           Run bandit to validate basic static code security analysis.
  black            Run black to check that Python files adhere to its style standards.
  flake8           This will run flake8 for the specified name and Python version.
  pydocstyle       Run pydocstyle to validate docstring formatting adheres to NTC defined standards.
  pylint           Run pylint code analysis.
  tests            Run all tests for this plugin.
  unittest         Run Django unit tests for the plugin.

Project Documentation

Project documentation is generated by mkdocs from the documentation located in the docs folder. You can configure to point at this folder in your repo. A container hosting the docs will be started using the invoke commands on http://localhost:8001, as changes are saved the docs will be automatically reloaded.