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Soapbox FE

Soapbox FE Screenshot

Soapbox FE is a frontend for Pleroma with a focus on custom branding and ease of use. It's part of the Soapbox project.

🚀 Deploy on Pleroma

Installing Soapbox FE on an existing Pleroma server is extremely easy. Just ssh into the server and download a .zip of the latest build:

curl -L https://gitlab.com/soapbox-pub/soapbox-fe/-/jobs/artifacts/v1.1.0/download?job=build-production -o soapbox-fe.zip

Then unpack it into Pleroma's instance directory:

busybox unzip soapbox-fe.zip -o -d /opt/pleroma/instance

That's it! 🎉 Soapbox FE is installed. The change will take effect immediately, just refresh your browser tab. It's not necessary to restart the Pleroma service.

To remove Soapbox FE and revert to the default pleroma-fe, simply rm /opt/pleroma/instance/index.html (you can delete other stuff in there too, but be careful not to delete your own HTML files).

How does it work?

Soapbox FE is a single-page application (SPA) that runs entirely in the browser with JavaScript.

It has a single HTML file, index.html, responsible only for loading the required JavaScript and CSS. It interacts with the backend through XMLHttpRequest (XHR).

It incorporates much of the Mastodon API used by Pleroma and Mastodon, but requires many Pleroma-specific features in order to function.

Running locally

To get it running, just clone the repo:

git clone https://gitlab.com/soapbox-pub/soapbox-fe.git
cd soapbox-fe

Ensure that Node.js and Yarn are installed, then install dependencies:


Finally, run the dev server:

yarn dev

That's it! 🎉

It will serve at http://localhost:3036 by default.

It will proxy requests to the backend for you. For Pleroma running on localhost:4000 (the default) no other changes are required, just start a local Pleroma server and it should begin working.

Troubleshooting: ERROR: NODE_ENV must be set

Create a .env file if you haven't already.

cp .env.example .env

And ensure that it contains NODE_ENV=development. Try again.

Developing against a live backend

You can also run Soapbox FE locally with a live production server as the backend.

Note: Whether or not this works depends on your production server. It does not seem to work with Cloudflare or VanwaNet.

To do so, just copy the env file:

cp .env.example .env

And edit .env, setting the configuration like this:


You will need to restart the local development server for the changes to take effect.

Local Dev Configuration

The following configuration variables are supported supported in local development. Edit .env to set them.

All configuration is optional, except NODE_ENV.


The Node environment. Soapbox FE checks for the following options:

  • development - What you should use while developing Soapbox FE.
  • production - Use when compiling to deploy to a live server.
  • test - Use when running automated tests.


URL to the backend server. Can be http or https, and can include a port. For https, be sure to also set PROXY_HTTPS_INSECURE=true.

Default: http://localhost:4000


Allows using an HTTPS backend if set to true.

This is needed if BACKEND_URL is set to an https:// value. More info.

Default: false

Yarn Commands

The following commands are supported. You must set NODE_ENV to use these commands. To do so, you can add the following line to your .env file:


Local dev server

  • yarn dev - Run the local dev server.


  • yarn build - Compile without a dev server, into /static directory.


  • yarn manage:translations - Normalizes translation files. Should always be run after editing i18n strings.


  • yarn test - Runs all tests.

  • yarn test:lint - Runs all linter tests.

  • yarn test:lint:js - Runs only JavaScript linter.

  • yarn test:lint:sass - Runs only SASS linter.

  • yarn test:jest - Frontend unit tests.


We welcome contributions to this project. To contribute, first review the Contributing doc

Additional supporting documents include:


Soapbox supports customization of the user interface, to allow per instance branding and other features. Current customization features include:

  • Instance name
  • Site logo
  • Favicon
  • About page
  • Terms of Service page
  • Privacy Policy page
  • Copyright Policy (DMCA) page
  • Promo panel list items, e.g. blog site link
  • Soapbox extensions, e.g. Patron module
  • Default settings, e.g. default theme

Customization details can be found in the Customization doc

License & Credits

Soapbox FE is based on Gab Social's frontend which is in turn based on Mastodon's frontend.

Soapbox FE is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

Soapbox FE is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU Affero General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Affero General Public License along with Soapbox FE. If not, see https://www.gnu.org/licenses/.