How to build, test and run

You will need:

From the top level directory in the OpenRefine application you can build, test and run OpenRefine using the ./refine shell script (if you are working in a *nix shell), or using the refine.bat script from the Windows command line. Note that the refine.bat on Windows only supports a subset of the functionality, supported by the refine shell script. The example commands below are using the ./refine shell script, and you will need to use refine.bat if you are working from the Windows command line.

If you are working from the Windows command line you must also install a Java JDK, and set the JAVA_HOME environment variable (please ensure it points to the JDK, and not the JRE)

Maven (Optional)

OpenRefine's build script will download Maven for you and use it, if not found already locally installed.

If you will be using your Maven installation instead of OpenRefine's build script download installation, then set the MVN_HOME environment variable. You may need to reboot your machine after setting these environment variables. If you receive a message Could not find the main class: Program will exit. it is likely JAVA_HOME is not set correctly.

Ensure that you set your MAVEN_HOME environment variable, for example:


NOTE: You can use Maven commands directly, but running some goals in isolation might fail (try adding the compile test-compile goals in your invocation if that is the case).


To see what functions are supported by OpenRefine's build system, type

./refine -h

To build the OpenRefine application from source type:

./refine clean
./refine build


Since OpenRefine is composed of two parts, a server and a in-browser UI, the testing system reflects that:

  • on the server side, it's powered by TestNG and the unit tests are written in Java;
  • on the client side, we currently do not have any tests. Previously client side tests were implemented with Windmill, which is no longer maintained.

To run all tests, use:

./refine test

this option is not available when using refine.bat

If you want to run only the server side portion of the tests, use:

./refine server_test


To run OpenRefine from the command line (assuming you have been able to build from the source code successfully)


By default, OpenRefine will use refine.ini for configuration. You can copy it and rename it to refine-dev.ini, which will be used for configuration instead. refine-dev.ini won't be tracked by Git, so feel free to put your custom configurations into it.

Building Distributions (Kits)

The Refine build system uses Apache Ant to automate the creation of the installation packages for the different operating systems. The packages are currently optimized to run on Mac OS X which is the only platform capable of creating the packages for all three OS that we support.

To build the distributions type

./refine dist <version>

where 'version' is the release version.

Building, Testing and Running OpenRefine from Eclipse

OpenRefine' source comes with Maven configuration files which are recognized by Eclipse if the Eclipse Maven plugin (m2e) is installed.

At the command line, go to a directory not under your Eclipse workspace directory and check out the source:

git clone

In Eclipse, invoke the Import... command and select Existing Maven Projects.

Screenshot of Import a Maven project option

Choose the root directory of your clone of the repository. You get to choose which modules of the project will be imported. You can safely leave out the packaging module which is only used to generate the Linux, Windows and MacOS distributions.

Screenshot of Select maven projects to import

To run and debug OpenRefine from Eclipse, you will need to add an execution configuration on the server sub-project. Right click on the server subproject, click Run as... and Run configurations.... Just pick the root directory of the project and use exec:java as a Maven goal.

Screenshot of Add a run configuration with the exec:java goal

This will add a run configuration that you can then use to run OpenRefine from Eclipse.

Testing in Eclipse

You can run the server tests directly from Eclipse. To do that you need to have the TestNG launcher plugin installed, as well as the TestNG M2E plugin (for integration with Maven). If you don't have it, you can get it by installing new software from this update URL

Once the TestNG launching plugin is installed in your Eclipse, right click on the source folder , select Run As -> TestNG Test. This should open a new tab with the TestNG launcher running the OpenRefine tests.

Test coverage in Eclipse

It is possible to analyze test coverage in Eclipse with the EclEmma Java Code Coverage plugin. It will add a Coverage as… menu similar to the Run as… and Debug as… menus which will then display the covered and missed lines in the source editor.

Debug with Eclipse

Here's an example of putting configuration in Eclipse for debugging, like putting values for the Google Data extension. Other type of configurations that can be set are memory, Wikidata login information and more.

Screenshot of Eclipse debug configuration

Building, Testing and Running OpenRefine from IntelliJ idea

At the command line, go to a directory you want to save the OpenRefine project and execute the following command to clone the repository:

git clone

Then, open the IntelliJ idea and go to file -> open and select the location of the cloned repository.

Screenshot of Open option on the IntelliJ File menu

It will prompt you to add as a maven project as the source code contains a pom.xml file in it. Allow auto-import so that it can add it as a maven project. If it doesn't prompt something like this then you can go on the right side of the IDE and click on maven then, click on reimport all the maven projects that will add all the dependencies and jar files required for the project.

Screenshot of Maven project controls in IntelliJ

After this, you will be able to properly build, test, and run the OpenRefine project from the terminal. But if you will go to any of the test folders and open some file it will show you some import errors because the project isn't yet set up at the module level.

For removing those errors, and enjoying the features of the IDE like ctrl + click, etc you need to set up the project at the module level too. Open the different modules like extensions/wikidata, main as a project in the IDE. Then, right-click on the project folder and open the module settings.

Screenshot of open module settings menu in IntelliJ

In the module settings, add the source folder and test source folders of that module.

Screenshot of module settings in IntelliJ

Then, do the same thing for the main OpenRefine project and now you are good to go.

Last updated on by Owen Stephens