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Local Development Setup

This post describes the steps and software requirements one needs to follow, to create and set up a working, local AEM instance. Secondly, an example of using the "Maven Archetype" provides the necessary basics to bootstrap a new AEM project, according to the best practices.


  1. Install Java
    1. Download JDK
    2. Add to $PATH
  2. Login with Adobe Account & Download AEM
    1. Adobe Software Distribution
    2. e.g AEM SDK v2021.3.5087.20210322T071003Z-210325
      1. Note, AEM Changed its Versioning for Cloud to year + version + timestamp.
    3. extract archive
    4. rename to cq-author-p4502.jar
      1. If you want to start a local publisher, name it to cq-publish-p4503.
      2. You can change the number to any valid port if you have something already running and blocking that specific port.
  3. Start AEM Instance
    1. java -jar cq-author-p4502.jar
    2. wait 1-5 minutes (Newer Versions of AEM start a lot quicker, than e.g 6.3 or 6.4)
  4. Install Maven
    1. Download
    2. Add to $PATH
  5. Execute Maven Archetype Command
    1. cd ./mysite
    2. mvn clean install -PautoInstallPackage
  6. Access http://localhost:4502 and login via admin:admin

Once you have shutdown (ctrl+c) your initial AEM Instance, you can / should start and shutdown AEM via the provided scripts in crx-quickstart/bin.


The following section describes the software needed to run a local AEM instance, as well as being able to start extending and customizing AEM.


This setup works for all the latest major AEM Versions, including AEM as a Cloud Service, which is Adobes latest AEM offering. The Cloud SDK and 6.5 are in active development and receive new features on a regular basis. The Cloud SDK is being versioned via timestamps, such as aem-sdk-2021.3.5026.20210309T210727Z-210225, while the AEM On-Premise and Managed Services offerings still bear the classic major.minor.patch level notation.


  • Java JDK
    • JDK v11 -> AEM Cloud SDK + AEM ≥6.5
    • JDK v8 -> AEM ≤6.4
  • Maven ≥3.39
  • AEM-Repo Tool
    • Optional -> Conveniently push/pull content to the local JCR (AEMs Database)
  • NodeJS + NPM
    • Optional -> Required, if one wants to use the SPA Framework (React / Angular Components)


A local development setup consists of two parts. One, the actual AEM instance (java process) running and, secondly, the repository containing all the projects custom code.

Running AEM locally

After downloading the desired AEM Version from the Adobe Software Distribution extract the archive — if the cloud sdk has been downloaded. Otherwise, we can directly run the jar.

By renaming the jar according to the following schema, a couple of default settings can be set: cq-(author|publish)-p(port). For example cq-author-p4502. When started, this will run the AEM instance as an author and expose it locally via port 4502.

Running the jar is as easy as executing it like this: java -jar my-downloaded-aem.jar -gui. The parameter -gui can be appended, to launch an additional small UI, which informs the user about the startup / installation progress. Additionally, -gui will automatically set the default admin users credentials to admin:admin.

Configuring Debug Ports for Local Development

Do be able to attach a java debugger locally, the startup scripts need to be extended by a couple of arguments.

In each (author, publish) start script, find the following line

if not defined CQ_JVM_OPTS set CQ_JVM_OPTS=-Xmx4024m -XX:MaxPermSize=256M and add the following arguments

if not defined CQ_JVM_OPTS set CQ_JVM_OPTS=-Xmx4024m -XX:MaxPermSize=256M -Djava.awt.headless=true -Xdebug -Xrunjdwp:transport=dt_socket,server=y,address=30303,suspend=n . Note, that the address=30303 needs to be different for author and publish.

A debug run config in Intellij IDEA looks like this

You can download example files here:

Bootstrapping a development environment via Maven Archetype

The Apache Maven Archetype describes Archetypes like this

[...] provide a system that provides a consistent means of generating Maven projects. Archetype will help authors create Maven project templates for users, and provide users with the means to generate parameterized versions of those project templates.

To summarize, by using an archetype, which itself has been created by the AEM Developer Team, we can set specific variables with which the archetype bootstraps itself and creates a customized set of files and directories — ready to use.

The following example demonstrates a bash command using the v27 of the aem-project-archetype. By setting 'appTitle', ' appId' and 'groupId' we tell the Archetype how it should name and structure our packages. 'frontendModule' can be one of the following items['none', 'general', 'react', 'angular']. By specifying this parameter, we can opt in to use the (new) ui.frontend module, which itself can be preconfigured with either a "classic" html variant, or one of the modern Javascript SPA Frameworks - currently only React and Angular are supported.

If we do not specify an 'aemVersion' the latest AEM Cloud Sdk will be used. A specific version can be set via passing the AEM version in its major.minor.patch level notation. For example 'aemVersion="6.4.8' would create the archetype based on AEM 6.4 with Patch Level 8 and add all necessary dependencies to the pom.xml.

mvn -B archetype:generate \
-D archetypeGroupId=com.adobe.aem \
-D archetypeArtifactId=aem-project-archetype \
-D archetypeVersion=27 \
-D appTitle="My Site" \
-D appId="mysite" \
-D groupId="com.mysite" \
-D frontendModule=react \
-D includeExamples=y

The Archetype provides a wide range of optional properties, with sensible defaults set for each. For a list of all available settings, please check the official documentation on GitHub.

Executing the above command will create the following folder structure

Using AEM as a Cloud Service SDK version: 2021.3.5087.20210322T071003Z-210325
Creating content skeleton...
[INFO] Project created from Archetype in dir: /Users/nerlich/Downloads/temp/mysite
[INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] Total time: 10.865 s
[INFO] Finished at: 2021-03-27T20:54:40+01:00
[INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------

cd mysite

-rw-r--r--   1 nerlich  staff  1.2K .gitignore
-rw-r--r-- 1 nerlich staff 11K LICENSE
-rw-r--r-- 1 nerlich staff 5.2K
drwxr-xr-x 4 nerlich staff 128B all/
drwxr-xr-x 3 nerlich staff 96B analyse/
-rw-r--r-- 1 nerlich staff 494B
drwxr-xr-x 4 nerlich staff 128B core/
drwxr-xr-x 6 nerlich staff 192B dispatcher/
drwxr-xr-x 4 nerlich staff 128B it.tests/
-rw-r--r-- 1 nerlich staff 28K pom.xml
drwxr-xr-x 5 nerlich staff 160B ui.apps/
drwxr-xr-x 4 nerlich staff 128B ui.apps.structure/
drwxr-xr-x 4 nerlich staff 128B ui.config/
drwxr-xr-x 4 nerlich staff 128B ui.content/
drwxr-xr-x 12 nerlich staff 384B ui.frontend/
drwxr-xr-x 11 nerlich staff 352B ui.tests/

Building and deploying the complete development environment can be done via the following command mvn clean install -PautoInstallSinglePackage - executed in the root directory.

ui.apps, ui.config and ui.content can be individually build with the profile -PautoInstallPackage. Deploying just the java module 'core' can be achieved with the profile -PautoInstallBundle.

I usually just run mvn clean install -PautoInstallPackage in my projects' root. The deployment is quick enough, and I can be sure that I did not forget anything.

SonarQube Setup - Automatic Rule Evaluation

  1. Use official SonarQube DockerCompose yml DockerCompose Sonar + Postgres
  2. (On Windows) Increase available ram via powershell
  3. Navigate to the above yml file in your local file system
    • docker-compose up (Add -d to run this in the background)
  4. Navigate to http://localhost:9000
  5. Login with the default SonarQube Credentials admin/admin
    • Update the password when prompted by the app
  6. Go to http://localhost:9000/admin/marketplace and install the following Plugins
    • AEM Rules for SonarQube by "Wunderman Thompson Technology"
    • IBM iX AEM Sonar rules by "IBM iX"
    • For third-party plugins, place the .jar in your volume target of sonarqube/extensions/plugins
      • Default on Mac Docker Hub is /opt/sonarqube/extensions/plugins
      • On Windows, browse to \\wsl$\docker-desktop-data\data\docker\volumes via explorer
        • one folder for each volume exists
    • restart SonarQube
  7. Go to 'Projects' -> Manually -> Analyse locally
    • Choose a token name
    • Generate a token
    • Save this token securely
  8. Update your local maven settings according to the documentation http://localhost:9000/documentation/analysis/scan/sonarscanner-for-maven/
  9. Analyse your local project
    • Navigate to your projects root pom.xml file
    • Execute the sonar command mvn clean verify sonar:sonar -Dsonar.projectKey=<your-project-name> -Dsonar.login=<your-token>
    • Replace <your-project-name> and <your-token> with your own values generated in step 7.

Add JaCoCo Unit Test Coverage

  1. Navigate to your projects root /pom.xml file
  2. Add the following line to the <properties> section
    • <sonar.coverage.jacoco.xmlReportPaths>${project.basedir}/target/site/jacoco/jacoco.xml</sonar.coverage.jacoco.xmlReportPaths>
    • <sonar.coverage.exclusions>ui.apps/**/*,ui.tests/**/*,it.tests/**/*</sonar.coverage.exclusions>
      • to exclude specific paths from the (coverage) analysis
  3. Add the Jacoco Plugin
  4. Add the Sonar Maven Plugin
  5. If a module complains during a regular build due to missing credentials, add the following snippet to its pom. file e.g. /ui.tests/pom.xml

Connect Intellij IDEA SonarLint Plugin

  1. Install the SonarLint Plugin from the IDEA Marketplace
  2. Go to Settings -> Tools -> SonarLint
  3. Click on the "+" icon and add your local SonarQube Instance (e.g. http://localhost:9000)
  4. Go to http://localhost:9000/account/security
    • Generate a "user token"
    • Save this securely
  5. In your IDEs Sonar Lint Settings add the token from step 4
  6. Click apply and "Update binding" afterwards

Set up a local Dispatcher with Docker

Just follow the steps described here: local-development-environment-set-up/dispatcher-tools.

On Windows, the docker_run.cmd file will need to be slightly modified. Remove the following lines:

  • Line: 41 + 41
  • Line 179 - 181

Thanks for reading!