Getting Started with Orchestra in 5 Minutes

What follows is a simple 5-minute guide to getting up and running with Orchestra that assumes some basic Python and Django experience, but not much else. For a deeper introduction, you might want to check out our Key Concepts, and for in-depth information on using and developing with Orchestra, take a look at our API documentation.

Install Dependencies

Orchestra requires Python 3 and Django version 1.8 or higher to run, so make sure you have them installed. We recommend setting up a virtual environment to isolate your Python dependencies, and we’re fond of virtualenvwrapper to make that process easier. Make sure to create your virual environment with Python 3 by passing --python=/path/to/bin/python3 if it isn’t your default development setup.

Orchestra requires a number of Python dependencies to run. You can install them by simply pulling down and installing our requirements.txt file:

pip install -r requirements.txt

Create a Django Project

Orchestra is a Django app, which means that it must be run within a Django project (for more details, read the Django tutorial on this topic). Start a project with django-admin startproject your_project, replacing your_project with your favorite project name (but don’t name it orchestra, which will conflict with our namespace). From here on out, this document will assume that you stuck with your_project, and you should replace it appropriately.

Install and Configure Orchestra

Next, let’s get Orchestra installed and running. To get the code, just install using pip: pip install orchestra.

Orchestra has a number of custom settings that require configuration before use. First, download the default Orchestra settings file and place it next to the project settings file:

mv your_project/your_project

Next, edit the file:

  • Add 'simple_workflow' to settings.ORCHESTRA_WORKFLOWS in the “General” section if you want to run the demo workflow (instructions below), and add 'journalism_workflow' if you want to run the journalism workflow.
  • Adjust your email settings. By default, Orchestra will direct all messages to the console, but for a realistic registration workflow you’ll want to set up a real mail server that can actually send emails.
  • Change settings like the ORCHESTRA_PROJECT_API_SECRET from 'CHANGEME' to more appropriate values.
  • Optionally, add 3rd party credentials in the “3rd Party Integrations” section so that Orchestra can store files on Amazon S3, use Google Apps and Slack to help communicate with expert workers, and track usage in Google Analytics.

Then, at the bottom of your existing settings file (your_project/your_project/, import the Orchestra settings:

from .orchestra_settings import setup_orchestra

You’ll also need to set up Orchestra’s URLs, so that Django knows where to route users when they view Orchestra in the browser. If you don’t have any URLs of your own yet, you can just download our barebones example file with wget

Alternatively, just make sure to add the following code inside the urlpatterns variable in your_project/your_project/

# Admin Views

# Registration Views
# Eventually these will be auto-registered with the Orchestra URLs, but for
# now we need to add them separately.

# Optionally include these routes to enable user hijack functionality.
url(r'^orchestra/switch/', include('hijack.urls')),

# Logout then login is not available as a standard django
# registration route.

# Orchestra URLs
    include('orchestra.urls', namespace='orchestra')),

# Beanstalk Dispatch URLs

Finally, you’ll need to get the database set up. Create your database with python migrate. You’ll also want to make sure you have loaded our example workflows and set up some user accounts to try them out. To load the workflows, run:

python loadworkflow <APP_LABEL> <WORKFLOW_VERSION>

Each of our example workflows provides a set of sample users already configured with proper certifications. To load them, run:

python loadworkflowsampledata <WORKFLOW_SLUG>/<WORKFLOW_VERSION>

If you would like to load all of the workflows, then run:

python loadallworkflows

The example workflows we currently release with Orchestra are:

  • A simple demo workflow with one human and one machine step. Its app label is simple_workflow, its workflow slug is simple_workflow, and the latest version is v1.
  • A more complicated journalism workflow. Its app label is journalism_workflow, its workflow slug is journalism, and the latest version is v1.

In addition, you can use the Orchestra admin ( to create new users and certifications of your own at any time once Orchestra is running. If you haven’t created an admin account for your Django project, you can load a sample one (username: admin, password: admin) with python loaddata demo_admin.

We provide the option to use the third-party package django-hijack to act on behalf of users. To enable this setting, ensure that the following setting is set HIJACK_ALLOW_GET_REQUESTS = True, in addition to including the urls referenced above.

Now Orchestra should be ready to go! If you’re confused about any of the above, check out our barebones example project.

Run Orchestra

Now that Orchestra is configured, all that remains is to fire it up! Run your Django project with python runserver (you’ll want to switch to something more robust in production, of course), and navigate to in your favorite browser.

If you see the Orchestra sign-in page, your setup is working! If you loaded the simple workflow’s sample data above, logging in as its user (username demo, password demo) should show you a dashboard with no available tasks.

Run the Example Project Demo

To give you a feel for what it means to run an Orchestra workflow from end to end, we’ve included a very simple example workflow with two steps, one machine and one human. The machine step takes a URL and extracts a random image from the page. The human step asks an expert to rate how “awesome” the image is on a scale from one to five. If you’re interested in how we defined the workflow, take a look at the code, though we walk through a more interesting example in this documentation.

We’ve written an interactive script to walk through this simple workflow. To run it:

  • Make sure you added simple_workflow to your ORCHESTRA_WORKFLOWS setting following the previous section.

  • Make sure you loaded the workflow and its sample data following the previous section. This should have created a user with username demo and password demo.

  • Run the interactive walkthrough:

    python interactive_simple_workflow_demo

The script will walk you through using the Orchestra Client API to create a new project based on the simple workflow, explaining which API calls to use, what their output looks like, and how machine steps interact with human steps and pass data back and forth.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of running the script yourself, take a look at the transcript of expected output.