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This page is the second part of the My first content app tutorial and describes how to configure and create a basic Bookshelf, a Magnolia content app. The configuration is done using Magnolia content types – formal definitions for types of content in Magnolia including the properties the type may contain and its relationships to other types of content.


The Bookshelf app is meant to be run as an app in Magnolia, so first you must install Magnolia, but before installing Magnolia itself, check that the following are already installed on your system.


Magnolia needs a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) version 8 or higher. Type java -version in a terminal or command prompt. If the system reports a version number, Java is installed on your computer.

$ java -version
java version "10.0.1" 2018-04-17
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment 18.3 (build 10.0.1+10)

If you don't have Java, install it:

 Mac OS X

Java is not pre-installed on Mac OS X 10.7 and later. Download the latest Java from Oracle.


On Windows you need a Java SE Development Kit (JDK). The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is not enough because the Tomcat application server does not recognize it.

What is the difference?

  • JRE is for users who run Java programs on their computer.
  • JDK is for developers who write Java-based applications.

Download and install JDK. By default JDK is installed in C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-10.0.xx\. You can choose another location.

Check JAVA_HOME environment variable

  1. Open the command prompt.
  2. Type set and press ENTER.
  3. Find JAVA_HOME in the command output and verify that the path points to your JDK installation directory, for example C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-10.0.xx.
  4. If JAVA_HOME is missing or it points to the wrong directory, see Set JAVA_HOME environment variable below.

Set JAVA_HOME environment variable

  1. Right-click My Computer and select Properties.
  2. Go to the Advanced tab. 
    (In Windows 7+, right-click Computer and select Advanced System Settings, then Environment variables.)
  3. If the JAVA_HOME environment variable does not exist in User variables or System variables, create it:
    • User variables apply to the currently signed-in user only. Create JAVA_HOME here if you want it to apply only to the currently logged in user. These variables take precedence over system variables.
    • System variables apply to all users. Create JAVA_HOME here if you want it to apply to all users. You must be an administrator to modify a system environment variable. 
  4. Set the value of JAVA_HOME to the path of your JDK installation directory, for example C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-10.0.xx.
  5. Optional step: Add the Magnolia bin directory to the PATH variable, for example C:\Program Files\magnolia\apache-tomcat-x.y\bin. Setting the PATH allows you to issue the Magnolia start and stop commands from anywhere without navigating to the installation directory first. Separate the path from existing paths with a semicolon ( ; ). If you do this, you also need to add CATALINA_HOME to environment variables. Set the value of CATALINA_HOME to the Tomcat installation directory, for example C:\Program Files\magnolia\apache-tomcat-x.y
  6. Click OK.
  7. Go back to Check JAVA_HOME environment variable above and test that the variable is found and has the correct value. You need to open a new command prompt since environment variables are session specific.

Alternatively you can set JAVA_HOME with a batch file. Add this line to /apache-tomcat/bin/magnolia_control.bat:

set JAVA_HOME=C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-10.0.xx

The set command creates the JAVA_HOME environment variable and sets its value to the JDK directory. The command is executed when Magnolia starts.


Download the latest Java from Oracle. The installation directory varies from one Linux system to another. For example, on Ubuntu Linux 10 the OpenJDK Runtime Environment is installed in /usr/lib/jvm/java-10-openjdk/jre by default.


Download the latest Java from Oracle. You can install it in any directory such as /usr/java .


Magnolia CLI is an npm package providing a command line interface (CLI) tool to set up and facilitate light development with Magnolia. The Magnolia CLI tool runs on Node.js. If you do not have Node.js installed, go to Node.js and download and install the latest LTS version. 

To check the version of your node installation, run the following command in a shell:

node -v

Magnolia CLI

Run the following command in a shell to install Magnolia CLI:

npm install @magnolia/cli -g

Depending on your permissions and the location where you have installed Node.js, you may have to execute the command above with root permissions. Without installation permissions you will notice messages such as npm ERR! in the shell.

On Linux or Mac OS X to run this command as root use:

sudo npm install @magnolia/cli -g

If the installation is successful, you see the following or a similar output in the shell:

 Expand to see an example output of an npm installation

/usr/bin/mgnl -> /usr/lib/node_modules/@magnolia/cli/bin/mgnl.js

> spawn-sync@1.0.15 postinstall /usr/lib/node_modules/@magnolia/cli/node_modules/spawn-sync
> node postinstall

+ @magnolia/cli@2.2.0
added 209 packages in 11.40

If you already installed Magnolia CLI, update to the latest version:

npm update @magnolia/cli -g

Once you have installed Magnolia CLI, test the installation by running the following command in the shell:

mgnl help 

 Expand to show the output of mgnl help
  Usage: mgnl <command> [options]

  A tool to setup and facilitate light development with Magnolia CMS


    -V, --version  output the version number
    -h, --help     output usage information


    jumpstart               download and setup a Magnolia CMS instance for development.
    start                   start up a Magnolia CMS instance. To stop it, enter CTRL+C
    add-availability        add component availability.
    build                   scan a node_modules folder for npm packages with the keyword "magnolia-light-module" (in package.json) and extract them to a directory of choice.
    create-component        create a component and optionally add availability for it.
    create-light-module     create a light module.
    create-page             create a page template.
    customize-local-config  extract "mgnl-cli-prototypes" folder and "mgnl-cli.json" file to customize CLI configuration.
    install                 install a light module from npm to the local Magnolia instance.
    search                  search for a light module on npm.
    tab-completion          install tab autocomplete feature for Bash, zsh or PowerShell
    help [cmd]              display help for [cmd]

  mgnl: 2.2.0 node: v6.11.0 os: darwin

Installing and starting Magnolia

Now install Magnolia.

Installing Magnolia

Use the jumpstart command to install Magnolia. This command downloads, unpacks and pre-configures a Magnolia bundle of your choice. 

The jumpstart command automatically creates a light modules directory for you in the current folder. If you already have a different directory that you want to use for light modules, use the -p option with the jumpstart command to specify the path to your existing light modules folder. For example: mgnl jumpstart -p /Users/<username>/<shared-projects>/light-modules/

To install Magnolia:

  1. Change to the directory to where you want to install the Magnolia bundle. For example:

    cd /Users/<username>/dev/
  2. Execute the Magnolia CLI jumpstart command:

    mgnl jumpstart
  3. Choose the magnolia-community-demo-webapp containing Magnolia Community Edition bundled with the Travel Demo and a Tomcat server. It creates folders for the Tomcat server and for the light modules according to the CLI configuration. 

    Once the setup operation is complete, you should see a message similar to this one:

    info Magnolia has been successfully setup for light development!
    info You can now open a new terminal tab or window and start it up with the CLI command 'mgnl start'
    info Magnolia will be ready after a few seconds at localhost:8080/magnoliaAuthor. Username and password is superuser 

    The following files and folders are created:

    ├── apache-tomcat/
    │   ├── bin/
    │   ├── conf/
    │   ├── lib/
    │   ├── logs/
    │   ├── temp/
    │   └── webapps/
    ├── light-modules/                
    └── downloads/

Start Magnolia

Use the mgnl start command to start Magnoolia. In the parent directory of light-modules, enter:

mgnl start

The command installs and starts Magnolia. This is complete when you see a message like Server startup in 112737 ms. You can then access the UI of the Author instance.

Log into the Author instance

Go to http://localhost:8080/magnoliaAuthor and log in to the Author instance with:

  • Username: superuser
  • Password: superuser

Creating the bookshelf light module

Magnolia light modules usually define page, area and component templates and many more things. In this tutorial we use a light module called bookshelf to create a content app. The module contains both a definition of content types and the app descriptor.

Module folder structure

For your light module you need the following folder structure:

├── apps/
├── contentTypes/
└── i18n/

The i18n folder is used for i18n message bundles and you will add content to it in the final step of the tutorial.

Create the folder structure in the light-modules directory:

├── apache-tomcat/
│   ├── bin/
│   ├── conf/ll
│   ├── lib/
│   ├── logs/
│   ├── temp/
│   └── webapps/
├── light-modules/
│   └── bookshelf
│       ├── apps/
│       ├── contentTypes/
│       └── i18n/
└── downloads/

Defining content types

Now you define content types for the Bookshelf app.

In the contentTypes folder, create a new file called bookshelf-ct.yaml with the following content:

  workspace: books
  rootPath: /
  autoCreate: true

  nodeType: lib:book
    - name: authors
    - name: ed
      type: Boolean
    - name: title
    - name: description
    - name: publisher
    - name: publish_date
      type: Date
    - name: isbn13  
  • In the datasource section (lines 1-6), you define how content type items are persisted. For more details see the Content type Data source definition page.
  • In the model section (lines 8-19), you define the node type and the properties of the new content item for the Bookshelf app. 

For the properties, the default String type is used when no other type is supplied. The definition of the Bookshelf app requires that we change the type in case of the ed and publish_date properties:

  • Line 13: Set the type of the ed property to Boolean, since it is more appropriate in regard to the values the system can store (truefalse).
  • Line 18: Set the data type of the publish_date property to Date so that the value would be stored in the JCR as calendar object.

For more details, see the Content type Model definition page.

Creating the app descriptor

Now create the app descriptor which generates the Bookshelf app. In the apps folder of the bookshelf light module, create a new file called bookshelf-app.yaml with the following content:

name: bookshelf-app
  • Line 1: The app descriptor instructs the app generator to construct the app from the bookshelf-ct content type definition.
  • Line 2: You give the app the name bookshelf-app, under which the app is known to other resources and systems in Magnolia.

Check the app in the Definitions app

After creating the app, you can check in the Definitions app that the app's definitions have been loaded by Magnolia:

Making the app available in the app launcher

To make the app accessible in AdminCentral, open the Configuration app and add the app name (bookshelf-app) as a new node under ui-admincentral/config/appLauncherLayout/groups/edit/apps:

Log out and in again; the new app tile appears in the Edit group:

i18n message keys and the Name, Title and Description labels

The magnolia-ui-framework module already contains several generic i18n message keys whose values are applied as labels in the UI of the Bookshelf app. You will create new label values in Adding an i18n message bundle on the third page of the tutorial.

(thumbs up) Congratulations! The content app is up and running now and the editors could already start using by cataloging new books in it. 

Continue to the last page of this tutorial, where you fine-tune this basic app to its final form.

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