Public Lab Wiki documentation

Contributing to Public Lab Software

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Public Lab welcomes and encourages community contributions to our open source software. This page is intended to

  1. List software projects that Public Lab has incubated and provide links to source code.
  2. Collect software development guidelines and best practices for Public Lab projects.
  3. Help newcomers figure out how and where to start contributing!

Getting started

Quick tips for getting involved with the Public Lab codebases:

  1. Set up a GitHub account and install git.

    If you're not familiar with git, a popular version control software, you can try it out at

    Speaking of GitHub...right now, all of Public Lab's open source code is located on GitHub, a website which hosts git repositories. Setting up a GitHub account is the first step to getting involved with Public Lab's code (and lots of other code).

  2. Join the Public Lab developers mailing list

Contribution Guidelines

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.

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. There are a few practices in particular that will make all of our lives easier:

  • Remember to pull from master before you start working. This helps keep your local repository in sync with the code that everyone else is working on.
  • Always do development in a feature branch. 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:
    • donation-button-redesign
    • markdown-package-update
    • 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.

Contributing to Ruby projects

Contributing to JavaScript projects

Public Lab Software

Project Description Source Code
MapKnitter Assemble aerial images into maps. github:publiclab/mapknitter
Spectral Workbench Material analysis using DIY spectrometry. github:spectral-workbench
Leaflet.Illustrate Leaflet plugin built for MapKnitter. Enables text annotations on Leaflet maps. github:manleyjster/Leaflet.Illustrate
Leaflet.DistortableImage Leaflet plugin built for MapKnitter. Enables images to be distorted. github:publiclab/Leaflet.DistortableImage This very website! github:publiclab/plots2
Infragram Analyze plant health with infrared imagery. github:p-v-o-s/infragram-js