Getting started with Decidim

What is and what isn’t Decidim?

Decidim is a set of Ruby on Rails engines to create a participatory democracy framework on top of a Ruby on Rails app. This system allows having Decidim code separated from custom code for each installation and still enabling easy updates.

These libraries are published to, so you can add Decidim to your Ruby on Rails app as external dependencies.

If you want to start your own installation of Decidim, you don’t need to clone this repo. Keep reading to find out how to install Decidim.

Creating your Decidim app

If you know Ruby and have already worked with Ruby on Rails, you need to know that decidim is a gem and a command line that generates an application that consumes this gem 😅.

The flow is: install gem, generate a Ruby on Rails app, enjoy.

gem install decidim
decidim decidim_application

You can see the official manual installation tutorial, and also you have another manual installation tutorial made by the nice people of Platoniq.

B. Installation script [experimental]

There’s also an installation script made by Platoniq that allows you to install Decidim automatically. You can even check it on a Vagrant virtual machine if you want to. More information.

wget -O
chmod +x
./ decidim_application

Initializing your app for local development

You should now setup your database:

bin/rails db:create db:migrate db:seed

This will also create some default data so you can start testing the app:

Table 1. Default seed’s users
Type Email Password URL Description




Administrator for the multitenant




Administrator for the organization




User for the organization

This data won’t be created in production environments, if you still want to do it, run: $ SEED=true rails db:setup. We recomend that you first login as system user and edit the host for the organization. Set it to you production host, without the protocol and the port (so if your host is, you need to write After it’d be good to execute the seed command, as that would be created with the first Organization created.

If you want to verify yourself against the default authorization handler use a document number ended with "X".

You can now start your server!

bin/rails s

Visit http://localhost:3000 to see your app running.

Configuration & setup

Decidim comes pre-configured with some safe defaults, but can be changed through Environment Variables or the Initializer file in your app.

Scheduled tasks

For Decidim to function as expected, there are some background tasks that should be scheduled to be executed regularly. Alternatively you could use whenever gem or the scheduled jobs of your hosting provider.

You can configure it with crontab -e, for instance if you’ve created your Decidim application on /home/user/decidim_application:

# Remove expired download your data files
0 0 * * * cd /home/user/decidim_application && RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake decidim:delete_download_your_data_files

# Compute metrics
1 0 * * * cd /home/user/decidim_application && RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake decidim:metrics:all

# Compute open data
2 0 * * * cd /home/user/decidim_application && RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake decidim:open_data:export

# Delete old registrations forms
3 0 * * * cd /home/user/decidim_application && RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake decidim_meetings:clean_registration_forms

# Generate reminders
4 0 * * * cd /home/user/decidim_application && RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake decidim:reminders:all

# Send notification mail digest daily
5 0 * * * cd /home/user/decidim_application && RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake decidim:mailers:notifications_digest_daily

# Send notification mail digest weekly on saturdays
5 0 * * 6 cd /home/user/decidim_application && RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake decidim:mailers:notifications_digest_weekly

Further configuration

We also have other guides on how to configure some extra mandatory components:

  • ActiveJob: For background jobs (like sending emails).

  • Maps: How to enable geocoding for proposals and meetings.

  • SMTP: For sending emails for account registrations, password reminders, notifications, etc.

  • Social providers integration: Enable sign up from social networks.


Once you’ve successfully deployed your app to your favorite platform, you’ll need to create your System user. First you’ll need to create your Decidim::System user in your terminal:

bin/rails decidim_system:create_admin

You’ll be asked for an email and a password. For security, the password will not get displayed back at you and you’ll need to confirm it.

This will create a system user with the email and password you set. We recommend using a random password generator and saving it to a password manager, so you have a more secure login.

Then, visit the /system dashboard and login with the email and passwords you just entered and create your organization. You’re done! 🎉

You can check the decidim-system README file for more info on how organizations work.


There are several things you need to check before making your putting your application on production. See the checklist.


We always welcome new contributors of all levels to the project. If you are not confident enough with Ruby or web development you can look for issues labeled good first issue to start contibuting and learning the internals of the project by doing easy jobs.

We also have a developer’s reference that will help you getting started with your environment and our daily commands, routines, etc.

Finally, you can also find other ways of helping us on our contribution guide.