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Datawrapper set up instructions: Below is a detailed, step-by-step guide for setting up your own installation of Datawrapper, an open-source data visualization tool. Questions? Suggestions? Please let a comment below. Happy installing!

Datawrapper self-hosted setup instructions

Thanks to the following resources:

Create your environment

These instructions are based on setting up your own installation of Datawrapper using Amazon Web Services (AWS).

You will need:

  • EC2 instance running Ubuntu 14
  • S3 bucket

On the EC2 instance, you will need the following ports open:

  • 22 (ssh)
  • 80 (http)
  • 443 (https) (optional)

You'll also need to have a dedicated domain or subdomain for Datawrapper, so be sure to update your DNS records and confirm they've propagated.

General notes

Any time you see angle brackets <value>, replace that with the correct value for your set up.

You might also see also <subdomain>.<domain>.com, but you can disregard the <subdomain> part if you're setting up Datawrapper on its own dedicated domain.

Prepare your server

Log in via ssh

ssh <username>@<domain>.com

Install Apache

sudo apt-get install apache2

Install MySQL

sudo apt-get install mysql-client-core-5.5
sudo apt-get install mysql-server php5-mysql

Set your username and password

Next setps for MySQL

sudo mysql_install_db
sudo mysql_secure_installation

Answer the ensuing prompt however you prefer. For example:

y (remove anon users)

n (disbale remote users)

y (remove test db and access)

y (reload privelege tables)

Install PHP

sudo apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5 php5-mcrypt

Install Git

sudo apt-get install git

Initial application setup

Clone the repo

git clone 

Change into that directory

cd ~/datawrapper

Install Composer

curl -sS | php

Install project dependencies

php composer.phar install

Install Node and npm

sudo apt-get install nodejs
sudo apt-get install nodejs-legacy
sudo apt-get install npm

Node legacy required because of a later error that occurs when running Grunt

Install Grunt

sudo npm install -g grunt-cli

Install Node dependencies

sudo npm install

Run Grunt

sudo grunt


Set the following permissions

sudo chown -R :www-data /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/charts/
sudo chown -R :www-data /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/tmp/
sudo chown -R :www-data /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/www/static/

sudo chmod -R g+w /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/charts/    
sudo chmod -R g+w /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/tmp/
sudo chmod -R 755 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/www/static/

Apache configuration

Copy the example config

sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/datawrapper.conf

Edit the new config

sudo vim /etc/apache2/sites-available/datawrapper.conf

Add/update these lines

ServerAdmin <your email>
ServerName <subdomain>.<domain>.com
ServerAlias <subdomain>.<domain>.com
DocumentRoot /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/www

Save and close


Copy that config file to another one for charts

sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/datawrapper.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/datawrapperchart.conf


sudo vim /etc/apache2/sites-available/datawrapperchart.conf

Update these lines

ServerName charts.<subdomain>.<domain>.com
ServerAlias charts.<subdomain>.<domain>com
DocumentRoot /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/charts/static

Save and close

Change into the sites-available dir

cd /etc/apache2/sites-available/

Enable the sites (a.k.a. symlink sites-available to sites-enabled)

sudo a2ensite datawrapper.conf
sudo a2ensite datawrapperchart.conf

Then reload the Apache server

service apache2 reload

Also, be sure to remove the default symlink

sudo rm /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf

Create/update yaml config

Change back to Datawrapper application directory

cd ~/datawrapper

Create a new yaml config file

cp config.template.yaml config.yaml

Edit that

vim config.yaml

Update/uncomment and update the following items:

domain: <subdomain>.<domain>.com
chart_domain: charts.<subdomain>.<domain>.com

auth_salt: <auth_salt>
secure_auth_key: <auth_secure_key>

  # users with problems will be shown the support email
  support: <support email>
  # error messages will go here
  log: <debgug email>
  # sender
  sender: <your email or>

Save and close

MySQL setup

Log into MySQL and enter password when prompted

mysql -u <user> -p

Create a new database

CREATE DATABASE datawrapper;

Confirm it was created


Close the MySQL console

Control + C

Initialize the database schema

mysql -u <user> -p datawrapper < lib/core/build/sql/schema.sql

Confirm it worked by logging in and entering your password when prompted; you can also use this command in the future to directly access the Datawrapper database

mysql -u <user> -p datawrapper

Then enter


And you should see

| Tables_in_datawrapper |
| action                |
| chart                 |
| job                   |
| organization          |
| organization_product  |
| plugin                |
| plugin_data           |
| plugin_organization   |
| product               |
| product_plugin        |
| session               |
| stats                 |
| user                  |
| user_organization     |
| user_product          |

Close MySQL console

Control + C

Install plugins

sudo php scripts/plugin.php install "*"

Datawrapper database config

Copy DataWrapper conf to new file

cp lib/core/build/conf/datawrapper-conf.php.master lib/core/build/conf/datawrapper-conf.php

Open/edit the file and update your database settings (dbname, user, password) according to your server configuration

vim lib/core/build/conf/datawrapper-conf.php

Save and close

Apache main config

Open the Apache config

sudo vim /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

Comment out everything except and add this

<Directory /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/www/>
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride All
    Require all granted

Updated to

Require all granted

Save and close

Enable mod_rewrite by running this command

sudo a2enmod rewrite

Create an empty rewrite config file

sudo touch /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/rewrite.conf

Add these lines to ~/datawrapper/www/.htaccess

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteRule ^vendor/(.*)$ /static/vendor/$1 [R=301,L]

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteRule ^ index.php [QSA,L]

Restart Apache

sudo service apache2 restart


Missing minified js files

cp ~/datawrapper/www/static/vendor/queue-async/queue.js ~/datawrapper/www/static/vendor/queue-async/queue.min.js

cp ~/datawrapper/dw.js/dw-2.0.js ~/datawrapper/dw.js/dw-2.0.min.js

cp ~/datawrapper/www/static/vendor/json-js/json2.js ~/datawrapper/www/static/vendor/json-js/json2.min.js

Try re-installing plugins and re-running grunt from dw.js dir, then restart server

Downloading additional plugins

Change into the plugin directory

cd ~/datawrapper/plugins

If you download a plugin from the Datawrapper Bitbucket repo, the easiest way is to include a new name without the plugin- prefix as part of the command

git clone <url> <plugin-name-sans-prefix> 

For example:

git clone publish-s3

Install thses plugins


Change back to the main Datawrapper directory

cd ~/datawrapper

The plugin installation command is

php scripts/plugin.php install <plugin-name>


Install phantomjs

sudo apt-get install phantomjs

Update config.yaml line for Phantomjs

    path: /usr/bin/phantomjs

Publishing to S3

For publish-s3 to work properly, install curl for PHP

sudo apt-get install php5-curl

Add these settings, making sure indentation is correct (e.g. two spaces preceding the first line); also, view endpoint options

  accesskey: <access_key>
  secretkey: <secret_key>
  bucket: <bucket name>
  endpoint: s3-<region>

SSL / HTTPS config

The Electronic Frontier Foundations's Certbot is a quick and easy way to get your server configured with SSL.

View Apache server errors

Enter this commend to view errors in your terminal as they occur

tail -f /var/log/apache2/error.log

You can also set up a shortcut for this

sudo vim ~/.bashrc

Edit add this at the bottom

alias errorapache="tail -f /var/log/apache2/error.log"

Similarly, you can also add a shortcut for view the database

alias dwdb="mysql -u <username> -p datawrapper"

Save and close

Execute your updated bashrc file for the changes to take effect

source ~/.bashrc

Help! Remaining issues

I still have several problems with various plugins and bits of functionality. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • If you set up config.yaml with an asset domain on S3 when using publish-s3, you need to manually publish the static directory there. But there's a bug in the application code so that, when republishing the chart, the new paths are not matching the expected locations of the static files. You could try to remedy this by hand, but I'd like to avoid that.
  • embed-static-png: I get the following error when I run ./home/ubuntu/datawrapper/scripts/execute_jobs restart in an attempt to fixed the queued jobs that are piling up:
PHP Notice: Undefined index: path in /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/plugins/phantomjs/plugin.php on line 17
/home/ubuntu/datawrapper/plugins/export-static-png/gen_static_fallback.js: 1: /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/plugins/export-static-png/gen_static_fallback.js: Syntax error: "(" unexpected
PHP Fatal error: Call to undefined function dw_send_error_mail() in /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/plugins/export-static-png/plugin.php on line 65

Fatal error: Call to undefined function dw_send_error_mail() in /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/plugins/export-static-png/plugin.php on line 65
  • admin-organizations: This plugin isn't publicly available. I'd love if it would be published or if anyone is intersted in collaborating to make an open-source version.

  • export-zip: It's looking in the wrong directory for at least one file:

Message: file_get_contents(/home/ubuntu/datawrapper/charts/static/vendor/json-js/json2.min.js): failed to open stream: No such file or directory
File: /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/plugins/export-zip/Zipper.php
Line: 62

#0 [internal function]: Slim::handleErrors(2, 'file_get_conten...', '/home/ubuntu/da...', 62, Array)
#1 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/plugins/export-zip/Zipper.php(62): file_get_contents('/home/ubuntu/da...')
#2 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/plugins/export-zip/plugin.php(37): DatawrapperPlugin_ExportZip_Zipper->createZip(Object(User), Object(Chart))
#3 [internal function]: DatawrapperPlugin_ExportZip->{closure}(Object(User), Object(Chart))
#4 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/lib/utils/check_chart.php(8): call_user_func(Object(Closure), Object(User), Object(Chart))
#5 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/plugins/export-zip/plugin.php(47): check_chart_readable('iRrRs', Object(Closure))
#6 [internal function]: DatawrapperPlugin_ExportZip->{closure}('iRrRs')
#7 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/vendor/slim/slim/Slim/Router.php(187): call_user_func_array(Object(Closure), Array)
#8 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/vendor/slim/slim/Slim/Slim.php(1146): Slim_Router->dispatch(Object(Slim_Route))
#9 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/vendor/slim/slim/Slim/Middleware/Flash.php(84): Slim->call()
#10 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/vendor/slim/slim/Slim/Middleware/MethodOverride.php(91): Slim_Middleware_Flash->call()
#11 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/vendor/slim/slim/Slim/Middleware/PrettyExceptions.php(65): Slim_Middleware_MethodOverride->call()
#12 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/vendor/slim/slim/Slim/Slim.php(1094): Slim_Middleware_PrettyExceptions->call()
#13 /home/ubuntu/datawrapper/www/index.php(95): Slim->run()
#14 {main} 
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mbjedk commented Jan 26, 2017

Hi Greg.

Thank you for your guide. I am getting this error after proceeding from the "Check and Describe" step. Do you have any clues on what is going on?

Best regards Mikkel

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