Getting Started

In this article, we will execute the initial steps to get a local Boomack Server up and running. Then we will run some simple requests against it — that way, we get familiar with the basic concepts.

If you worked your way through this guide and want to know more about the concepts and inner workings of Boomack read the concepts page next.


You are a developer familiar with NodeJS and have no time to read, then this excerpt is for you. Otherwise, skip to Installation.

Install the Boomack Server, the Boomack Client CLI, and a plug-in for Vega visualizations:

npm i -g boomack boomack-cli boomack-plugin-vega

Start the Boomack Server from one terminal:


Open the default panel in your browser:

Display content in the panel with the Boomack Client CLI, using a second terminal:

boom "Hello World!"


There are two officially supported ways to install Boomack: Windows Installer and NodeJS Package Manager (npm).

The goal of the installation is to make the commands boomack for starting the Boomack Server and boom for the Boomack Client CLI available in your shell or command prompt, respectively.

Alternatively, you can run the Boomack Server in a Docker container.

Windows Installer

If you are using Windows and you are usually not using NodeJS, you can download the Windows Installer package from the Download page.

The Windows Installer package contains the Boomack Server with all official plug-ins, the Boomack Client CLI, and potentially other tools from the Boomack ecosystem. The installer adds the commands to the system environment variable PATH by default. That way, they are available at the command line in Windows. Mainly supported are CMD, Windows PowerShell and PowerShell (Core).

Currently, the Windows installer does not come with an option for running the Boomack Server as a Windows service. You should be able to use the Windows Service Wrapper, though.

NodeJS Package Manager (npm)

Boomack is written in TypeScript/JavaScript for NodeJS. Therefore, for the developer, already using NodeJS and for everyone using Linux or Mac, the best way to install both, the server and the client CLI, is by installing the NodeJS packages boomack and boomack-cli via npm globally.

If you do not have NodeJS installed yet, checkout its download page, or under Linux try your package manager.

Check the version of your NodeJS on the command line with node --version. It should be at least version 10. Every LTS release with a higher version number should do as well.

Then install the NodeJS packages for server and client CLI with npm. Optionally install some official plug-ins as well.

Shell / Command Line
npm install --global boomack boomack-cli
npm install --global boomack-plugin-vega
npm install --global boomack-plugin-mermaid
npm install --global boomack-plugin-leaflet
npm install --global boomack-plugin-pdf
npm i -g boomack boomack-cli boomack-plugin-vega boomack-plugin-mermaid boomack-plugin-leaflet boomack-plugin-pdf

Start Boomack Server

Open the command line or shell of your choice and run the Boomack Server with the following command:

Shell / Command Line

To stop the server later, press Ctrl + C.

Now you can open the homepage of the Boomack Server in your browser. It will show a menu for all Panels, currently existing on the Boomack Server:

Homepage with panel menu

Click on the panel “default”, because next, we will display something in the default panel.

Default panel with one empty slot
Hint: The boomack command has a couple of command line options. You can e. g. specify the port and the host IP address, or point the Boomack Server to a configuration file it should use. You can show a short description of all supported options with boomack --help.

First Display Request

For now, we use the Boomack Client CLI boom to interact with the server. Of course, the first thing we want to display, is the plain text “Hello World!”.

Shell / Command Line
boom "Hello World!"
Hello World in default slot

Like with most command line tools, you can run boom --help to display the supported command line arguments.

The boom command does support a number of sub-commands, to control different entities on the server like Panels, Slots, Presets, Types, and Actions. But the default command is display, which is used to display a media item in one of the slots, inside a panel.

Therefore, the commands boom "Hello World!" and boom display "Hello World!" have the same meaning.

There are fundamentally three different ways to specify a media item to be displayed by Boomack.

  1. Text: A character string like plain text, HTML, source code like JSON, C++, Java, Bash-Script, XML, etc.
  2. File: A path to a file in the filesystem, reachable by the Boomack client
  3. URL: A HTTP or HTTPS URL pointing to a media item in the web

You tell boom which way you want to specify the media item, by using the flags --string or -s for text, --file or -f for a file path, and --url or -u for an URL.

If you do not use one of the flags in front of your content, boom tries to figure out which one fits best. If you pass a valid URL, boom treats it as a URL. If you pass a valid path to an existing file, boom treats it as a filename. Everything else will be treated as text.

Therefore, the following commands are equivalent:

Hint: If you use boom on the command line the short forms can save you time. But if you use boom in your shell scripts, it is best to be explicit and use the long forms.
Short Form
Long Form
boom display --url
Default panel with photo

New Panel with Grid Layout

The content on a Boomack Server is organized in Panels. A panel roughly corresponds to a web page. Every panel contains one or more Slots. The slots are arranged in one of the following layouts:

Click on the home button in the head menu of the “default” panel to return to the panel menu.

To create a new panel, you call boom with the panel ID and a layout definition.

Shell / Command Line
boom panel add my-panel "{type: grid, grid: {columns: 3, rows: 1}, slots: {a: {columnSpan: 2}, b: {column: 2}}}"

The new panel appears in the panel menu. Click on the new “my-panel” menu entry to open the newly created panel.

Grid Layout

The sub-commands of boom are hierarchical and to manage the panels the panel sub-command is used. Underneath, there are another group of sub-commands: ls, get, add, layout, clear, export, and delete. Therefore, to add a new panel, we use boom panel add. The panel add sub-command expects an ID for the new panel, and optionally a layout definition.

The layout definition can be passed as a YAML string. Which is handy on the command line, because YAML is a superset of JSON and allows for less quoting in the structure. The following code example shows the correct JSON, along with the compact YAML one-liner used in the boom command, and canonical YAML.

YAML One-Liner
YAML Indended
    "type": "grid",
    "grid": {
        "columns": 3,
        "rows": 1
    "slots": {
        "a": { "columnSpan": 2 },
        "b": { "column": 2 }
{type: grid, grid: {columns: 3, rows: 1}, slots: {a: {columnSpan: 2}, b: {column: 2}}}

In the YAML one-liner, the space after the colons : is important and can not be eradicated.

type: grid
  columns: 3
  rows: 1
    columnSpan: 2
    column: 2

If the layout gets more complicated, it is not practical anymore to put it directly as an argument on the command line. That is why you can use a file path, instead of the literal layout. The file must be a JSON or a YAML file.

E. g. given the JSON encoded layout above was stored into the file my-layout.json, you can write the following to create a third panel with the same layout:

Shell / Command Line
boom panel add my-third-panel my-layout.json

boom recognizes the file path and uses the files content as the layout definition.

To change the layout of an existing panel, you can call boom with the panel layout sub-command.

Shell / Command Line
boom panel layout my-panel "{type: grid}"

Data Visualization

A typical use case for Boomack is to visualize some kind of dataset. In this example the data set is a simple list of categories and associated values. The data is first stored in a CSV file data.csv. And second it is embedded in a Vega Lite specification (JSON) in the file donut.vegalite.

CSV File data.csv
Vega Lite Spec donut.vegalite
Category, Value
A, 4
B, 6
C, 10
D, 3
E, 7
F, 8
  "$schema": "",
  "description": "A simple donut chart with embedded data.",
  "data": {
    "values": [
      { "Category": "A", "Value": 4 },
      { "Category": "B", "Value": 6 },
      { "Category": "C", "Value": 10 },
      { "Category": "D", "Value": 3 },
      { "Category": "E", "Value": 7 },
      { "Category": "F", "Value": 8 }
  "mark": { "type": "arc", "innerRadius": 50 },
  "encoding": {
    "theta": { "field": "Value", "type": "quantitative" },
    "color": { "field": "Category", "type": "nominal" }

Boomack comes with a core plug-in for displaying CSV tables. For rendering Vega or Vega Lite visualizations, an official plug-in is provided as npm package boomack-plugin-vega. Both plug-ins contain a transformation for converting the input (CSV, JSON) from the display request into HTML. They are taking care of loading required JavaScript libraries in the browser too.

Displaying the CSV data in a table and the donut plot takes two commands:

Short Form
Long Form
boom -l my-panel/a data.csv
boom -l my-panel/b donut.vegalite
boom display --location my-panel/a --file data.csv
boom display --location my-panel/b --file donut.vegalite
CSV table and Vega plot

The command line option -l or --location specifies the panel and slot as target location. The Boomack Server needs to know the media type of the content it is about to display. And it is the clients responsibility to send the media type along with the content. The Boomack Client CLI boom tries to guess the media type of a file by the filename and its extension. In case of .csv and .vegalite, it knows to apply the media types text/csv and application/x-vega-lite-spec.

But if you like to save the Vega Lite specification in a file donut.json instead in donut.vegalite — because your editor or IDE does not know the .vegalite file extension — the Boomack Client CLI would recognize the file as application/json. Then the Boomack Server would treat the input as usual JSON and show it as text with syntax highlighting.

Therefore, if the Boomack Client CLI can not guess the media type correctly, you must specify the media type in your command line. The command line option -t or --type serves that purpose.

To display the donut plot from the JSON file donut.json, you can use the following command:

Short Form
Long Form
boom -l my-panel/b -t application/x-vega-lite-spec -f donut.json
boom display --location my-panel/b --type application/x-vega-lite-spec --file donut.json

The Boomack Client CLI can list all media types currently known by the Boomack Server: boom type ls

Display Options

With display options, you can control in a more detailed fashion how content is displayed. Some display options are interpreted by the Boomack Server itself. Others are interpreted by a plug-in which transforms or renders the content. Which transformation or renderer is selected, is controlled by display options also: The display option transformation controlls which transformation is used. The display option renderer controlls which renderer is used.

Usually, Boomack or its plug-ins associate some useful display options with a known media type. The CSV core plug-in e. g. associates the text/csv media type with the display options transformation: csv-table, which activates the transformation of the CSV into an HTML table.

In case the associated options do not yield the result intended by you or an unknown media type is used, you can specify display options with -o or --options. To try this out, you can extend the display request for the CSV table with the following display options: compact: true and sortable: true.

Shell / Command Line
boom -l my-panel/a -t text/csv -o compact=true sortable=true -f data.csv

Simple display options can be given as key-pairs like compact=true. Alternatively you can pass in options formatted as JSON or YAML maps.

Shell / Command Line
boom -l my-panel/a -t text/csv -o "{compact: true, sortable: true}" -f data.csv

For the Vega Lite plot you could replace the explicit media type with the display option transformation: vega-lite, which activates the Vega Lite transformation from the Vega plug-in. The result would be the same.

Hint: In general, using a media type activates sensible defaults. Additional display options then give you more control over details.