Experimental experience server

Usage no npm install needed!

<script type="module">
  import formious from '';



latest version published to npm

Formious is a node.js experiment server. It fills a niche somewhere above Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, or Qualtrics, but below a full-fledged web application. It provides an opinionated way of presenting stimuli to a participant, which requires more technical knowledge than the previously mentioned form services, but allows much greater flexibility in the construction and presentation of the form questions.

In particular, it was originally built to interface with Amazon Mechanical Turk. In addition to serving as the backend for External Questions, it also provides an alternate interface to parts of the AWS MT interface available via the API.


npm install -g formious

Build steps

The scripts field in package.json defines the build steps.

  • The prepare stage runs the TypeScript compiler, because the compiled output is not kept under version control.
  • The prepack-* stages are for static client-side requirements, like .css and bundle.js.
  • The prepack stage runs the various prepack-* stages.


We'll deploy to a Digital Ocean droplet.

docker-machine create -d digitalocean --digitalocean-region nyc3 --digitalocean-size 1gb formious

The formious application requires a PostgreSQL database.

docker run -d --name db -p \
  -v /var/docker/db:/var/lib/postgresql/data postgres:9.4
  • the -v argument stores the data on the host machine so that we don't lose all our data if we accidentally remove or update the postgres container.
  • the -p argument opens the database for access directly from the host machine, which makes backing up the data easier. E.g., if on Ubuntu, run apt-get install postgresql-client to get the appropriate tools, then run pg_dump -h localhost -p 15432 -U postgres formious to dump the database to stdout.

We'll use the handy jwilder/nginx-proxy container to back-proxy HTTP(S) requests to the formious app.

docker run -d -v /var/run/docker.sock:/tmp/docker.sock \
   -p 80:80 -p 443:443 --name nginx jwilder/nginx-proxy

This repo is automatically built as a docker container on Docker Hub at chbrown/formious.

docker run -d -e --link db:db \
  --restart always --name app chbrown/formious
  • The -e argument tells nginx-proxy to forward requests to this container. You would use a different hostname here, since I own
  • The --link db:db exposes to the database container, named db, to the formious application, under the alias db.

To update, pull the latest image, remove the running container, then enter the same docker run command as above:

docker pull chbrown/formious && \
  docker rm -f app && \
  docker run -d -e --link db:db \
    --restart always --name app chbrown/formious


Copyright 2011–2015 Christopher Brown. MIT Licensed.