Public Lab software is written in many languages, and each project may have its own guidelines for contributors. These broad guidelines should serve as general principles to guide your approach to a new Public Lab codebase, using Git and the collaborative coding website GitHub.
Our welcoming page for new contributors is here: https://publiclab.github.io/community-toolbox/ -- please check it out!
Contributing using git
Check out this article on GitHub Flow, a routine that works great on all
git projects and makes Public Lab development super smooth.
A sample git workflow
Let's say that a developer and PublicLab community member named Susan decides that she wants to add a feature to
plots2 (PublicLab.org). Here's what Susan's workflow might look like:
- Susan forks the publiclab/plots2 repo on GitHub.
- Susan clones the forked repository susan/plots2. This downloads a copy of Susan's version of plots2 to her computer.
- She creates a branch for the new feature (a feature branch). Let's say that Susan wanted users to be able to tag maps. She might then create and checkout a new branch called
git checkout -b add-map-tags.
- Susan develops the new feature in the
add-map-tagsfeature branch, making commits (and running tests) as she goes.
- When Susan is done developing the new feature, she switches back to the master branch of her own repository:
git checkout master, and then pulls the latest version of plots2 down from the
git pull https://github.com/publiclab/plots2.git master.
- Susan applies her new feature on top of the latest version of plots2: From the
add-map-tagsbranch, she runs
git rebase master. This is the great strength of doing development in a feature branch - it allows Susan to merge her changes into the latest public version of plots2 on her own computer and to resolve any conflicts locally.
- After rebasing, Susan's local feature branch
add-map-tagscontains the latest version of plots2 with her new feature added on top. The new feature is ready, so Susan pushes her feature branch up to her own remote repository with
git push origin add-map-tagsand submits a pull request on GitHub from that to publiclab's master branch.
- Susan discusses her code with others. After any questions or change requests have been resolved, Susan's request is merged in, and her contribution becomes part of PublicLab.org!
A few notes - some git best practices that will make all of our lives easier:
- Remember to pull from
masterbefore you start working on a new feature. This helps keep your local repository in sync with the code that everyone else is working on. If you've forgotten to, see below for how to recover without losing your work.
- Always do development in a feature branch (again, see below if you've forgotten). This makes it much easier for project maintainers to merge your contributions into the trunk. The name of your branch is displayed when it is merged in to the main trunk, which means that it serves as built-in documentation for your feature. This works great when you give your feature branches descriptive names! Some example branch names:
- fix#44 (fixes GitHub issue #44 in this repository)
- Open a pull request early! In fact, feel free to open a pull request as soon as you start working on a new feature or bugfix. GitHub's pull request pages make it easy to see progress that's been made on an issue, and it's a great way to start an open and ongoing discussion with the project's maintainers and other contributors about your work.
For some additional tips for different scenarios, such as if you've forgotten to make your commits in a named feature branch and need to rewind your master, see Additional Workflows on this page
We're happy to help! Please feel free to ask questions here, or at https://publiclab.org/wiki/developers