LifeMonitor Administration

This guide explains how to deploy and administer your own instance of LifeMonitor.

The GitHub repository contains a Makefile that serves as an entry point to the basic actions necessary to manage the Docker Compose deployment.

Default setup

This setup will instantiate:

  • an instance of LifeMonitor;
  • an instance of Seek/WorkflowHub which, among other things, you will use as an identity provider;
  • an instance of Jenkins.


  • you’ll be running and accessing the setup on localhost;
  • you will use the integrated WorkflowHub instance as the identity provider;
  • the WorkflowHub instance will be accessible with the host name “seek. You can do this by creating an entry in /etc/hosts or using a local DNS server, like bind

To start the deployment, go through the following steps:

  1. docker network create life_monitor, to create the Docker network;
  2. make start, to start the main LifeMonitor services;
  3. make start-aux-services, to start the preconfigured instances of WorkflowHub and Jenkins; these auxiliary services are needed to run the LifeMonitor tests and to check your local deployment as explained below;
  4. register the WorkflowHub instance with LifeMonitor with the following command (see the WorkflowRegistrySetup example for more details):
docker-compose exec lm /bin/bash -c "flask registry add seek seek ehukdECYQNmXxgJslBqNaJ2J4lPtoX_GADmLNztE8MI DuKar5qYdteOrB-eTN4F5qYSp-YrgvAJbz1yMyoVGrk https://seek:3000 --redirect-uris https://seek:3000"

Take note of the output of the command above. It will provide you with the client credentials to setup your OAuth2 client to query the LifeMonitor API as a workflow registry (see the WorkflowRegistryAuthorize example).

You should now have a deployment with the following services up and running:

To verify that the services are properly configured, point your browser to LifeMonitor, click on Log in and then on Sign in using Seek. You will be redirected to the WorkflowHub login page, which will ask for a username and a password. You can use one of the preloaded users, e.g.:

  • Username: user1
  • Password: workflowhub

If all goes well, you should be redirected back to LifeMonitor, which will ask you to register your identity, i.e., associate the WorkflowHub identity with a LifeMonitor identity. Type in a user name of your choice and click on Register. You should be redirected to the user profile page. Here you can generate an API key that can be used to interact with the LifeMonitor API: in the “API keys” tab, click on NEW and copy the generated key. Then head over to the API explorer, paste the copied string into the API Key field in the authentication section and click on SET.

Exploring the API

LifeMonitor exposes its functionalities through a RESTful API. If you followed the default setup instructions above, you should now be able to interact with your local LifeMonitor instance via the API explorer.

Select “List registries” and click on TRY. You should get a JSON response listing all workflow registries known to LifeMonitor. In this case, the only item should be a representation of your local WorkflowHub instance:

  "items": [
      "name": "seek",
      "type": "seek",
      "uri": "https://seek:3000",
      "uuid": "c07182a6-e2e6-4e0e-b3ed-c593aa900a3f"
  "meta": {
    "api_version": "0.2.0-beta2",
    "base_url": "",
    "resource": "/registries"

Copy the value of the “uuid” field, then select “List registry workflows” and paste the copied UUID into the registry_uuid field. Click on TRY: you should get an empty item list in the response. This is normal, since no workflow has been submitted to LifeMonitor yet.

Now go to “Submit registry workflow”. Again, use the copied UUID to populate the registry_uuid field, then click on EXAMPLE in the “REQUEST BODY” section right below. To fill in the request body, we need the workflow’s WorkflowHub ID and version (while “name” can be a name of your choice). Go to the workflows page on your local WorkflowHub instance and click on the “sort-and-change-case” workflow. This will open the workflow’s page, which lists the WorkflowHub ID and version as “SEEK ID”. For instance:


Now we can fill in the request body in the LifeMonitor API explorer:

  "identifier": "21",
  "name": "Sort and change case",
  "version": "1"

After running the example, you should get a response like the following:

  "wf_uuid": "478b43f0-8650-0139-d67a-0242ac1b0005",
  "wf_version": "1"

This can in turn be used to try other API calls. For instance, go to “Get workflow test status” and use the above UUID and version values to populate the corresponding fields under “PATH PARAMETERS”. Click on TRY and you should get a response containing information on the workflow’s testing status. Also, if you repeat the above call to “List registry workflows”, the response should now include the newly submitted workflow.

Until now, you’ve interacted with the LifeMonitor API as a user / generic client. The other main way to use the API is to access it as a registry client. To do this from the API explorer, you need to change the authentication method. In the Authentication section, at the top, click on CLEAR ALL API KEYS. Now move to the “OAuth (RegistryClientCredentials)” section, enable all scopes under “CLIENT CREDENTIALS FLOW” and fill in the fields required to get an OAuth2 token. You can get the client id and secret by running:

docker-compose exec lm /bin/bash -c "flask registry show seek"

Select “Request Body” in the drop-down menu, then click on GET TOKEN. You should see an “Access Token Received” message appear under the text fields. Now you can try operations reserved to registry clients, which are listed under “Registry Client Operations” in the explorer (e.g., “Get the current registry client”).

The examples folder contains several examples that show how to interact with the API in Python.

An alternative rendering of the API is the Swagger UI provided by Connexion, which should be accessible at https://localhost:8443/ui.

Deploy LifeMonitor with docker-compose

Basic management actions are implemented as Makefile rules and can be listed by running make help:

$> make help
start                 Start LifeMonitor in a Production environment
start-dev             Start LifeMonitor in a Development environment
start-testing         Start LifeMonitor in a Testing environment
start-nginx           Start a nginx front-end proxy for the LifeMonitor back-end
start-aux-services    Start auxiliary services (i.e., Jenkins, Seek) useful for development and testing
run-tests             Run all tests in the Testing Environment
tests                 CI utility to setup, run tests and teardown a testing environment
stop-aux-services     Stop all auxiliary services (i.e., Jenkins, Seek)
stop-nginx            Stop the nginx front-end proxy for the LifeMonitor back-end
stop-testing          Stop all the services in the Testing Environment
stop-dev              Stop all services in the Develop Environment
stop                  Stop all the services in the Production Environment
stop-all              Stop all the services
down                  Teardown all the services
clean                 Clean up the working environment (i.e., running services, network, volumes, certs and temp files)
help                  Show help

A note about volumes

Docker Compose uses Docker volumes for data storage. These will persist between start and stop actions. Database schema will be automatically updated to the proper version as part of the system initialisation.

If you prefer to start with a clean database, use the regular Docker commands to delete them. For instance:

docker volume rm life_monitor_lifemonitor_db


Environment Services
production LifeMonitor back-end, NGINX proxy, PostgreSQL DBMS
development LifeMonitor back-end in dev mode, PostgreSQL DBMS
testing LifeMonitor back-end in testing mode, preconfigured auxiliary services (i.e., WorkflowHub, Jenkins)

The development mode mounts the LifeMonitor directory within the container and runs Flask in development mode. Thus, local changes to the code are immediately picked up.


service port
LifeMonitor (prod), exposed via NGINX proxy 8443
LifeMonitor (dev) 8000
WorkflowHub 3000
Jenkins 8080

Docker build

The first step for setting up the environment is to build all required Docker images. The main image containing the LifeMonitor back-end is built from docker/lifemonitor.Dockerfile.

Note that docker/lifemonitor.Dockerfile depends on the presence of a certs directory at the top level (i.e., the repository root) containing the SSL certificates. You can provide your own certificates by renaming them to lm.key and lm.crt. Any other (self-signed) certificate you might want to install on the LifeMonitor container should be placed inside the same certs directory. If this directory is not found, the Makefile will create it and populate it with self-signed certificates.

WARNING. If you have an empty certs directory the image will build but it will be broken due to missing certificates. Thus, be sure to have a certs folder populated with the lm.key and lm.crt files or use make clean to clean up and remove the existing certs directory.

Auxiliary Services

LifeMonitor acts as a bridge between different systems. To simplify the setup of a complete environment, we provide preconfigured instances of the two systems which LifeMonitor is allowed to communicate with, i.e., the workflow registry WorkflowHub and the testing platform Jenkins.

Their setup is mainly intended for testing but can be easily attached to the production and development environment mainly for local testing and development. You can use the make start-aux-services command to start them.

To use them on your local environment without any further modification, you have to populate your /etc/hosts (or your local DNS server) in such a way that it resolves the hostname seek to your local or loopback IP address.


Go through settings.conf to customise the defaults of your LifeMonitor instance. As with any Flask application, you might want to enable/disable the DEBUG mode or enable the development Flask mode.

The most important settings are those related to the database connection: edit the POSTGRESQL_* properties according to the configuration of your PostgreSQL database.

Using a server name other than localhost

To access the services in the docker-compose from another system, you’ll have to use a server name other than localhost (or an IP address). In this case, set the EXTERNAL_SERVER_URL variable in settings.conf accordingly. Additionally, You must edit the API applications authorized by WorkflowHub:

  • Log into WorkflowHub as admin;
  • Click on the user menu on the top right; select My profile;
  • Click on the Actions menu on the top right; select API Applications;
  • Edit the LifeMonitor application by clicking on the Edit button on the left side of its row in the table;
  • Add the correct URI to the Redirect URI box. E.g.,

Github login (optional)

Login via GitHub can be configured by editing the GITHUB_CLIENT_ID and GITHUB_CLIENT_SECRET properties in settings.conf. To get these credentials, you have to register your LifeMonitor instance on GitHub. On GitHub, click on your profile picture on the top right, select “Settings” / “Developer settings” / “OAuth Apps”, then click on Register a new application. The most relevant properties you need to provide are:

  • Homepage URL: the BASE_URL of your LifeMonitor instance (e.g.,
  • the Authorization callback URL: the URL of the LifeMonitor callback to handle the authorization flow from Github. It must be set to <BASE_URL>/oauth2/authorized/github.

How to install on your local environment

LifeMonitor is a plain Flask app and all its internal dependencies are frozen and collected on the requirements.txt file. Thus, you can easily install LifeMonitor by typing:

pip install -r requirements.txt

The only non-Python dependency is PostgreSQL (back-end/client), which is required by the psycopg2 Python package.

How to upgrade

WARNING. It is strongly recommended to make a full backup of the LifeMonitor database (see sections “How to backup and restore”) before upgrading.

Native installation

To upgrade a LifeMonitor instance deployed without Docker (see section on “How to install on your local environment”), you have to:

  1. stop LifeMonitor Flask app;
  2. update your local copy of LifeMonitor sources (via git clone or git pull);
  3. upgrade the database schema by typing:

     flask db upgrade
  4. restart the LifeMonitor Flask app.

Deployment based on docker-compose

Existing deployments based on docker-compose can be easily upgraded to a more recent LifeMonitor version by going through the following steps:

  1. teardown all the services in prod mode

     make down
  2. update your local copy of LifeMonitor sources (via git clone or git pull)
  3. restart all the services
     make start

    or type make start-dev to restart all the services in dev mode.

NOTE. As part of the initialisation process performed by the init container, the database is automatically upgraded when the docker-compose app restarts. So, you don’t need to perform the upgrade manually.

Check current schema version

You can always check the actual running database schema by typing:

docker-compose exec lm /bin/bash -c "flask db current"

An output with (head) at the end - e.g., bbe1397dc8a9 (head) - indicates that your LifeMonitor instance is running with the most recent database schema.

How to backup and restore

The easiest way to manage backups of LifeMonitor data (database and workflow RO-Crates) is to use the CLI command backup, which automatically performs a dump of the LifeMonitor database and copies all its workflow RO-Crates according to the backup settings configured on the settings.conf file. Such a configuration file allows to configure the local path to store the backups and, optionally, specify a remote site to sync local backups via FTP (or FTP over TLS).

# Backup settings

Alternatively, you can backup the database and workflow RO-Crates separately, using the backup subcommands db and crates respectively:

Usage: backup db [OPTIONS]

  Make a backup of the database

  -d, --directory TEXT            Directory path for the backup file (default

  -f, --file TEXT                 Backup filename (default

  -v, --verbose                   Enable verbose mode
  -s, --synch                     Enable sync with a remote FTPS server
                                  [default: False]

Settings to connect with a remote site via FTP or FTPS:
    -h, --host TEXT               Hostame of the FTP server
    -u, --user TEXT               Username of the FTP account
    -p, --password TEXT           Password of the FTP account
    -t, --target TEXT             Remote target path  [default: /]
    --enable-tls                  Enable FTP over TLS  [default: False]


A database dump can be restored through the CLI command db restore [BACKUP_FILE_PATH]. To restore a backup of workflow RO-Crates you can simply replace the DATA_WORKFLOWS folder (configured on the settings.conf file) with the backup folder.

Database backup using PostgreSQL tools

The current implementation of LifeMonitor relies on PostgreSQL database management system. Thus, you can use the common pg_dump and psql tools provided with Postgres to respectively backup and restore the LifeMonitor database (see PostgreSQL docs for more details).


To make a backup to file (e.g., lifemonitor.sql) type:

pg_dump -U <POSTGRESQL_USERNAME> <POSTGRESQL_DATABASE> > lifemonitor_backup.sql

If you are using the PostgreSQL instance of the docker-compose LifeMonitor deployment, go through the following steps:

  1. make a backup to temp path within the running db container:

    docker-compose exec db /bin/bash -c "PGPASSWORD=\${POSTGRESQL_PASSWORD} pg_dump -U \${POSTGRESQL_USERNAME} \${POSTGRESQL_DATABASE} > /tmp/lifemonitor_backup.sql"
  2. copy the backup from the running db container to a target path:

     docker cp life_monitor_db_1:/tmp/lifemonitor_backup.sql lifemonitor.sql


To restore LifeMonitor database from a backup file (e.g., lifemonitor.sql) type:

psql -U postgres < lifemonitor_backup.sql

Instead, if you are using the PostgreSQL instance of the docker-compose-based LifeMonitor deployment, go through the following steps:

  1. copy the local backup file to the running db container:

     docker cp lifemonitor.sql life_monitor_db_1:/tmp/
  2. finally restore the database by running the following command in the db container:

     PGPASSWORD=\${POSTGRESQL_PASSWORD} psql -U postgres < /tmp/lifemonitor.sql


LifeMonitor supports OAuth2 for authentication and authorization and currently supports using identities from WorkflowHub and GitHub.

For these to work on a new deployment, the application must be appropriately configured and registered with the respective identity provider. See the section on GitHub login configuration and the WorkflowRegistrySetup example.

For testing and development, LifeMonitor provides a simple web-based authentication interface:

API access

LifeMonitor supports API keys and OAuth2 for API authentication.

API keys

API keys should be used only for development and testing. They can be created from the web UI as explained above, or via CLI:

docker-compose exec lm /bin/bash -c 'flask api-key create <username>'

The API key will be printed as part of the command’s output.

To query the LifeMonitor API with your API key, you have to add it to the request header. For instance, with curl:

curl --insecure -X GET \
  'https://localhost:8443/users/current' \
  -H 'ApiKey: <api key>'

NOTE: API calls when using self-signed certificates.
If you are using curl, you need to add the --insecure flag to disable certificate validation (see the above example). If you are using requests, you need to add verify=False to the calls. See this for instance.


The OAuth2 protocol can be used with generic clients or registry clients. Follow the authenticating clients guide to set up a generic client and the WorkflowRegistrySetup example to set up a registry client.

Workflow registries are allowed to use both the Authorization Code and Client Credentials grant type to exchange authorization tokens. The OAuth2 token needs to be included in the Authorization header as a Bearer Token. The WorkflowRegistryAuthorize example shows how to get a bearer token using the client id and secret you got when registering the WorkflowHub instance with LifeMonitor.

curl --insecure -X GET \
  'https://localhost:8443/registries/current' \
  -H 'Authorization: Bearer <token>'

Command line interface

LifeMonitor includes a command line interface (CLI), mainly intended for administrative tasks. To display a general help, run:

docker-compose exec lm flask --help

The above will list all available commands. To get help for a specific command, run it with the --help flag. For instance:

docker-compose exec lm flask registry --help

Setup your own WorkflowHub instance

If you already have a WorkflowHub (Seek) instance you can easily register it on LifeMonitor by following the procedure described here. Make sure the following requirements are met.

enabling HTTPS

HTTPS must be enabled on your WorkflowHub instance (See these notes) and its certificates should be valid on the LifeMonitor instance you have to connect. You could use a certificate issued by a known certificate authority (e.g., Let’s Encrypt) or use the autogenerated LifeMonitor certificate. The latter is automatically generated when you start a deployment, but can also be regenerated by deleting the existing certs folder and typing make certs. It is a multi-domain certificate and you can customise the list of certificate domain names by editing the utils/ script.


LifeMonitor needs to directly connect to the registry for different purposes. Therefore, the registry should be bound to a hostname resolvable and reachable by LifeMonitor. For this reason, if you are using the docker-compose deployment you should avoid localhost as hostname for the registry, unless you reconfigure the deployment to use the host Docker network mode.

Additional notes on WorkflowHub configuration

  • In order to get correct URLs from the WorkflowHub API, you need to set the base URL. Go to Server admin > Settings and set “Site base URL” to https://<BASE_URL>:3000 (e.g., https://seek:3000 is the configuration of this field on the WorkflowHub instance in the pre-configured LifeMonitor deployment).

  • To enable workflows, go to Server admin > Enable/disable features and click on “Workflows enabled”. You can set “CWL Viewer URL” to

Starting a local development instance

We can accept code and documentation contributions as Pull Requests. If you’d like to contribute code, please try to make sure you also contribute tests (or extend the existing tests) that exercise the new code, verify its correct operation and that the changes did not break other parts of the code.

To contribute, you’ll need to have a local development instance on which to work and test.

Get yourself a local copy of the code.

git clone
cd life_monitor

Edit settings.conf: uncomment the line


Start the service in development mode

make start-dev

You’ll be able to access the service at https://localhost:8000/. The service will be running in development mode, so changes to the source code will be immediately reflected in the running service.

Running tests

Stop the running development instance

make stop-dev

Now run the tests:

make run-tests

You should see the Pytest output on the console.

Once your tests pass, feel free to push your changes to your fork and open a Pull Request.