ecFlow's documentation is now on readthedocs!


  • cmake (   install cmake   (sudo apt-get install cmake)).   Need at least cmake/3.13.4
  • g++     (   install g++        (sudo apt-get install g++))   ecflow 5 series can only be built with C++14 or later  compilers. i.e. at the minimum gcc 6.3 or clang 6.0.
  • Python 3(optional)

    If you intend to use ecFlow Python API, You will need to install Python. (install python-dev (sudo apt-get install python-dev))

    Please ensure that python is accessible on $PATH otherwise, you may need to customise $BOOST_ROOT/tools/build/v2/site-config.jam . 

    The python installation should include the development packages

    If you do not need the python API, then you can build without it, see below.
  • Qt for ecFlowUI (Qt5 mandatory).
    For self-installed Qt libraries, consider setting CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH (see below). See also for further details.
  • OpenSSL(optional)
  • sphinx(optional), this is used to generate ecflow python API

Setting up the build environment

  • ecFlow consists of two tar files i.e.:  

    • boost_1_71_0.tar.gz (or any recent boost)

    • ecFlow-5.8.1-Source.tar.gz

      Create a directory for the build:

      mkdir /tmp/ecflow_build
  • Copy the two tar file into this directory, then change directory to /tmp/ecflow_build

  • Un-zip then un-tar the two file files:

    tar -zxf boost_1_71_0.tar.gz
    tar -zxf ecFlow-5.8.1-Source.tar.gz
  • You should have two directories created:

  • Create two environment variables. These are used by some of the scripts:

    export WK=/tmp/ecflow_build/ecFlow-5.8.1-Source
    export BOOST_ROOT=/tmp/ecflow_build/boost_1_71_0
  • If you have a module system, please ensure that before you start, GCC,cmake,python3, etc are available in $PATH.

    module load gnu
    module load cmake
    module load python3
    module load qt

Build boost

In future releases of ecflow 5 series, the client/server versions of ecflow do not have to be built with the same boost version. This is because ecflow 5  now uses JSON for client/server communication.

  • Boost uses bjam/b2 for building the boost libs.
    bjam source is available in boost, hence we first need to build bjam itself:

    cd $BOOST_ROOT
  • If you do not require the ecFlow python API, you can avoid building boost python libs by setting

    Disable boost python, if ecflow PYTHON api not required
    export ECF_NO_PYTHON=1

            You will also need to disable python when building ecFlow.  See the instruction under cmake before calling $WK/build_scripts/ (see below)

  • ecFlow uses some of the compiled libraries in boost. The following script will build the required lib’s and configure boost build according to your platform. 

    Build boost libraries including python3 used by ecflow.
    cd $BOOST_ROOT
    $WK/build_scripts/ # compile boost libs used by ecFlow. Please see notes in, if you want to build both for python2 and python3 



As configure, CMake will run some tests on the customer's system to find out if required third-party software libraries are available and note their locations (paths). Based on this information it will produce the Makefiles needed to compile and install ecFlow

CMake is a cross-platform free software program for managing the build process of software using a compiler-independent method.

Generating the Makefiles with CMake

After changing into the build ecflow directory, the user has to run CMake with his/her own options. The command gives feedback on what requirements are fulfilled and what software is still required. Table below gives an overview of the different options of configure.  The default (without any options) will install in /usr/local/.

cmake options



CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIXwhere you want to install your ecFlow /usr/local

to select the type of compilation:

  • Debug
  • RelWithDebInfo
  • Release (fully optimised compiler options)
  • Production
CMAKE_CXX_FLAGSmore flags  for the C++ compiler
ENABLE_SERVERbuild the ecFlow serveron
ENABLE_PYTHONenable python interfaceon
ENABLE_UIenable the build of ecflowUI (requires Qt)on

use to provide a path to dependent libraries that are installed in non-system locations.
For example, if you have installed Qt in a non-system location, you should set the path in this variable.


enable performance, migration, memory leak, and regression tests


Encrypted communication for user commands 

Please see: Open SSL for more details.


where to find boost ( if non-standard installation  )

If not specified cmake will look for an environment variable of the same name.


By default we build with static boost libs, to use shared boost list set to OFFon

The  C++  compilers are chosen by CMake. (This can be overwritten by setting the environment variables CXX on the command line before you call cmake, to the preferred compiler).

Further, the variable CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS can be used to set compiler flags for optimisation or debugging. 

cd $WK
mkdir build; cd build;

# Go with defaults, will build with CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release and install to /usr/local
cmake .. 
# Override install prefix 
# cmake .. -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/usr/local/apps/ecflow/5.8.1 

# do NOT build the gui.
# cmake .. -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/usr/local/apps/ecflow -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release -DENABLE_UI=OFF

# ignore Wdeprecated-declarations compiler warning messages and do NOT build python api
# cmake .. -DCMAKE_CXX_FLAGS="-Wno-deprecated-declarations"  -DENABLE_PYTHON=OFF

# Use -j option to speed up compilation. Determine number of cpu's
CPUS=$(lscpu -p | grep -v '#' | wc -l)
make -j${CPUS}
make check
make install

If you experience a problem with your installation and need to fix your install of dependent libraries like QT, Python, Boost, GCC, etc,  then it is VERY important that you delete the build directory and start cmake build again. (This is because cmake keeps a cache of your configuration, and re-uses this unless the build directory is deleted).

Always remember to delete build directory if there is a change in system configuration
cd $WK
rm -rf build
mkdir build; cd build
cmake ..      # or use whatever cmake configuration you used before

To use the ecFlow Python Api, you need to add/change PYTHONPATH. 

export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONPATH:<prefix>/5.8.1/lib/python3.6/site-packages/ecflow
# If you used the default's then <prefix>=/usr/local
# otherwise you should use whatever you entered for -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX, hence in the examples above we would have:
export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONPATH:/usr/local/apps/ecflow/5.8.1/lib/python3.6/site-packages/ecflow 

Installing ecFlow Python to a custom  directory

The default install for ecFlow will install python(if it was enabled) under the directory given to CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX.

However, sometimes we may need to install the ecFlow python module to a different prefix.

This can be done using:

cd $WK/build  # change to the build directory
cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/tmp/avi/custom/ecflow/5.8.1 -DCOMPONENT=python -P cmake_install.cmake -- make install  # install python module under /tmp/avi/custom/ecflow/5.8.1

ecflow_ui: Make a list servers accessible to all users

The GUI used by ecFlow is called ecflow_ui.  This is used to interact and visualize the ecFlow servers.

You can make the list of servers available for your users by:

  • creating a file called servers
  • The format of the server's file is very easy:

    server file format
    <server_name> <machine_name> <port>

    An example might be:

    servers file
    server      machineX   3141
    projectX    machineabc 4141
    exp1        machineabc 4141
    mars        bigmac     11031
  • Copy this file to CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX/share/ecflow/.   This makes the list of servers accessible to all users of ecflow_ui

    cp servers /tmp/avi/custom/ecflow/5.8.1/share/ecflow/.

Python API (from ecflow 5.6.0)

The most up to date python API documentation can be generated. This requires that sphinx-build is available on $PATH.

This step relies on build being complete .i.e must have been built or installed

cd $WK
cd Doc/online
make clean; make html

The api can then be viewed in the browser. Please open file $WK/Doc/online/_build/html/index.html