Collective PDF rendering environment (work-in-progress)
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octomode's technodisobedience branch

Currently emerging from the Constant office ;).


Octomode is a collective editing space for PDF making, using Etherpad, Paged.js and Flask.

Inspired by the multi-centered, tentacular cognition capabilities of the octopus, we imagined a space in which the artificial boundaries of writing and design can be crossed; where writing, editing and designing can be done in one environment simultaneously, allowing the format to influence the matter and vice-versa.

More expanded documentation can be found here.


Get started

You can clone this repository to run octomode on your own computer or server.

git clone
cd octomode

Configure your environment, save the following configuration settings as to a file called .env.

  • OCTOMODE_PAD_API_KEY: required, no default
  • OCTOMODE_APPLICATION_ROOT: optional, default: /
  • OCTOMODE_PORTNUMBER: optional, default: 5001
  • OCTOMODE_PAD_URL: required, default: (you need API access to this pad instance)
  • OCTOMODE_PAD_API_URL: required, default:

Note: you must provide a value for OCTOMODE_PAD_API_KEY, OCTOMODE_PAD_URL and OCTOMODE_PAD_API_URL.

Now we install the dependencies. All the python dependencies are listed in requirements.txt. To install them, you can run.

make setup

This creates a virtual environment at .venv and installs all the dependencies here. Next, we also need to install pandoc.

sudo apt install pandoc

Configure your webserver, to connect your application root (for example or to the port on which the flask application is running (localhost:5001 by default).

This is an example for nginx webservers:

location /octomode/ {
    proxy_pass http://localhost:5555;

And finally, run the application.

make run

Open the application at port 5001, for example: http://localhost:5001

Install with URL prefix

If you want to install octomode with an URL prefix, like https://mydomainname.ext/octomode/, then you can use the gunicorn WSGI. If you have ran the make setup command already, then gunicorn is already installed. Configure your application root URL in your .env file. You can simply run octomode now with the following command to run it with gunicorn (and not the built-in Flask dev server): make action

Which browser to use?

WARNING: When working collectively, it's recommended to use the same browser and if possible also the same version of that browser, to get the same (or at least the most similar) PDF. Different operating systems and browsers render CSS rules slightly differently, which can result in out-of-sync layouts between across a group of people.

WARNING: It's recommended to use Chrome/Chromium when working with Octomode. Firefox renders images in very low quality.

WARNING: It's recommended to use Firefox when working with Octomode locally. Chrome or Chromium do not load external etherpads in iframes.