Installing Dovetail

Kevin Gilpin
Last Updated...


Unzip the Distribution

You should start by unzipping the Dovetail distribution to an appropriate place on your computer. You can find all Dovetail distributions on our 'Files' page at SourceForge

Get Ant

The Dovetail distribution uses Jakarta Ant to set up and run the sample programs. Using Ant is an easy way to run Java makes and scripts in a 100% cross-platform way.


The design of Dovetail does not tie it to any specific database (relational or otherwise), but it currently best supports MySQL. MySQL also has the advantage of being very lightweight and easy to administer, which makes it a good choice for doing a lot of experimentation and learning about Dovetail.

MySQL is available for lots of common platforms including Win32, Linux and Solaris.

After you get and install MySQL, make sure you start up the MySQL server. The Dovetail Survey Site example will need to connect to it in order to run successfully.

The MySQL 'test' database

The MySQL installation creates a database called 'test', which doesn't require a user name or password to access. That makes it convenient for experimentation. For that reason, the Dovetail examples will use the MySQL 'test' database. You shouldn't ever use it in a live site though since there's no security on it.

Database dependencies

There are several aspects of Dovetail that must be customized for the specific database that you are using. Just to give you a general idea of what the issues are:

Get Tomcat

Dovetail is designed to build web sites with Java Servlet & Java Server Pages (JSP). As such, it requires a servlet runner such as Jakarta Tomcat 3.x. Other JSP engines such as GNUJSP, iPlanet, and IBM WebSphere should work as well, but for the sake of brevity this install guide is going to require Tomcat.

This step is currently optional since the Sample Site documentation doesn't describe how to get the JSP pages running.