Setting Up AWS, Mechanical Turk, and Heroku

Before you can use Dallinger, you will need accounts with Amazon Web Services, Amazon Mechanical Turk, and Heroku. You will then need to create a configuration file and set up your environment so that Dallinger can access your accounts.

Create the configuration file

The first step is to create the Dallinger configuration file in your home directory. You can do this using the Dallinger command-line utility through

dallinger setup

which will prepopulate a hidden file .dallingerconfig in your home directory. Alternatively, you can create this file yourself and fill it in like so:

[AWS Access]
aws_access_key_id = ???
aws_secret_access_key = ???
aws_region = us-east-1

[Email Access]
dallinger_email_address = ???
dallinger_email_password = ???

In the next steps, we’ll fill in your config file with keys.

Amazon Web Services API Keys

You can get API keys for Amazon Web Services by following these instructions.

Then fill in the following lines of .dallingerconfig, replacing ??? with your keys:

[AWS Access]
aws_access_key_id = ???
aws_secret_access_key = ???

N.B. One feature of AWS API keys is that they are only displayed once, and though they can be regenerated, doing so will render invalid previously generated keys. If you are running experiments using a laboratory account (or any other kind of group-owned account), regenerating keys will stop other users who have previously generated keys from being able to use the AWS account. Unless you are sure that you will not be interrupting others’ workflows, it is advised that you do not generate new API keys. If you are not the primary user of the account, see if you can obtain these keys from others who have successfully used AWS.

Amazon Mechanical Turk

It’s worth signing up for Amazon Mechanical Turk (perhaps using your AWS account from above), both as a requester and as a worker. You’ll use this to test and monitor experiments. You should also sign in to each sandbox, requester and worker using the same account. Store this account and password somewhere, but you don’t need to tell it to Dallinger.


Next, sign up for Heroku and install the Heroku toolbelt.

You should see an interface that looks something like the following:

This is the interface with the Heroku app

This is the interface with the Heroku app

Then, log in from the command line:

heroku login

Open Science Framework (optional)

There is an optional integration that uses the Open Science Framework (OSF) to register experiments. First, create an account on the OSF. Next create a new OSF personal access token on the OSF settings page.

Finally, fill in the appropriate section of .dallingerconfig:

osf_access_token = ???


Done. You’re now all set up with the tools you need to work with Dallinger.

Next, we’ll test Dallinger to make sure it’s working on your system.