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MFR (Modular File Renderer)

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A Python package for rendering files to HTML via an embeddable iframe.


MFR is compatible with Python 3.5 (tested up to 3.5.3) and 3.6.


Documentation available at: http://modular-file-renderer.readthedocs.io/en/latest/

Setting up

Install the latest version of python3.5.

For MacOSX users:

brew install python3
# optional, needed for some converters
brew install pspp unoconv

For Ubuntu users:

apt-get install python3
# optional, needed for some converters
apt-get install pspp unoconv

After installing python3.5, create the virtual environment with the following commands:

pip install virtualenv
pip install virtualenvwrapper
mkvirtualenv --python=`which python3.5` mfr

pip install setuptools==37.0.0
pip install invoke==0.13.0

invoke install
invoke server


MFR configuration is done through a JSON file (mfr-test.json) that lives in the .cos directory of your home directory. If this is your first time setting up MFR or its sister project, WaterButler, you probably do not have this directory and will need to create it:

mkdir ~/.cos

The defaults should suffice for most local testing. If you're running the OSF or WaterButler on something other than http://localhost:5000/ and http://localhost:7777/, you'll need to update the ALLOWED_PROVIDER_DOMAINS settings value. ALLOWED_PROVIDER_DOMAINS is a list formatted as a space-separated string. This allows MFR to be configured via an environment variable (which are always strings), as is done in the OSF's .docker-compose.mfr.env. Example of customized domains:

    "ALLOWED_PROVIDER_DOMAINS": "http://my_osf:5001/ http://my_wb:23405/"

If you encounter the error message TypeError: throw() takes 2 positional arguments but 4 were given, you've run into a core asyncio bug! This bug is triggered by turning on debugging. You'll need to set the SERVER_CONFIG.DEBUG flag to false:

    "DEBUG": false


Before running the tests, you will need to install some additional requirements. In your checkout, run:

invoke install --develop
invoke test

Known issues

  • Updated, 2018-03-01: MFR has been updated to work with setuptools==37.0.0 as of MFR release v0.25. The following issue should not happen for new installs, but may occur if you downgrade to an older version. Running invoke install -d with setuptools v31 or greater can break MFR. The symptom error message is: "AttributeError: module 'mfr' has no attribute '__version__'". If you encounter this, you will need to remove the file mfr-nspkg.pth from your virtualenv directory, run pip install setuptools==30.4.0, then re-run invoke install -d.

  • The error def create_default_context(purpose=ssl.Purpose.SERVER_AUTH, *, cafile=None, capath=None, cadata=None): SyntaxError: invalid syntax is caused by inadvertently running the wrong version of Python. This can be caused by hashing the alias inv. To fix this run the command hash -d inv then run inv server.

  • invoke $command results in '$command' did not receive all required positional arguments!: this error message occurs when trying to run MFR v0.19.0+ with invoke<0.13.0. Run pip install invoke==0.13.0, then retry your command.

Create your own module

Interested in adding support for a new provider or file format? Check out the CONTRIBUTING.rst docs.


Copyright 2013-2018 Center for Open Science

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at


Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.

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