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When you want to write code within the OpenMRS SPA, you will need to follow these instructions for setting up your development environment.

Setting up a SPA development environment

  1. Install git
  2. Install node, which includes npm. This is for compiling and bundling frontend code (not for writing backend code).
    1. Consider installing nvm, which can be used to install specific versions of npm and node as needed.
  3. Trust insecure localhost SSL certificates.
  4. Run the following commands:
git clone  # or whichever frontend repo you want to work on
cd openmrs-esm-patient-chart
npm install
npm start -- --https  # omit the '-- --https' if your OpenMRS server isn't using https (e.g., localhost)
  1. Now go to
  2. Open the browser console
  3. localStorage.setItem('openmrs:devtools', true)

  4. Refresh the page. You will now see a floating colored rectangle on the screen. Click on it. A panel will open up
  5. In the Import Map tab, click on the frontend module that you are working on.
  6. For all repos except for openmrs-esm-root-config, modify the URL to be 8080. This will make it so the javascript bundle is loaded from https://localhost:8080 instead of the CDN. For esm-root-config, modify it to be the following fully qualified url: https://localhost:8080/openmrs-esm-root-config.defaults.js
  7. Refresh the page.
  8. Verify that root-config.js is being downloaded from localhost now. You can do this in the Network tab of the browser dev tools.
  9. Congrats! You're all set up. Try adding a console.log() statement inside of a file and saving the file. Your web browser will refresh and you should see the console.log inside of the browser console.

Also See


If you run into a issue in Chrome where you are unable to proceed with insecure certificates, try running with a separate certificate as follows:

Generate self-signed certificate:  

openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:4096 -keyout key.pem -out cert.pem -days 365 -nodes

Use self-signed certificate when starting Node:

npm start -- --https --cert cert.pem --key key.pem

Debug jest test cases

To debug the jest cases, I just used the first option from these instructions:

  • I added .vscode/launch.json with the following configuration


  "version": "0.2.0",
  "configurations": [
      "type": "node",
      "request": "attach",
      "name": "Attach",
      "port": 9229
  • From the command line I just run the following command:
    • node --inspect-brk node_modules/.bin/jest --runInBand --config jest.config.json

  • In VSCode set breakpoints and click Debug

I could not figure out how to automatically launch and attach to a test. These instructions: did not work for me.