Contributing to OpenCue

Contribute to OpenCue development

Code contributions to OpenCue are welcome! Please review this document to get a briefing on our process.

Get Connected

The first thing to do, before anything else, is talk to us! Whether you’re reporting an issue, requesting or implementing a feature, or just asking a question; please don’t hesitate to reach out to project maintainers or the community as a whole. This is an important first step because your issue, feature, or the question may have been solved or discussed already, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time by asking first.

How do you talk to us? There are several ways to get in touch:

  • opencue-dev: This is a development focused mail list.

  • opencue-user: This is an end-user oriented mail list.

  • GitHub Issues: GitHub issues are a great place to start a conversation! Issues aren’t restricted to bugs; we happily welcome feature requests and other suggestions submitted as issues. The only conversations we would direct away from issues are questions in the form of “How do I do X”. Please direct these to the opencue-dev or opencue-user mail lists, and consider contributing what you’ve learned to our docs if appropriate!

Getting Started

So you’ve broken the ice and chatted with us, and it turns out you’ve found a gnarly bug that you have a beautiful solution for. Wonderful!

From here on out we’ll be using a significant amount of Git and GitHub based terminology. If you’re unfamiliar with these tools or their lingo, please look at the GitHub Glossary or browse GitHub Help. It can be a bit confusing at first, but feel free to reach out if you need assistance.

The first requirement for contributing is to have a GitHub account. This is needed in order to push changes to the upstream repository. After setting up your account you should then fork the OpenCue repository to your account. This creates a copy of the repository under your user namespace and serves as the “home base” for your development branches, from which you will submit pull requests to the upstream repository to be merged.

You will also need Git installed on your local development machine. If you need setup assistance, please see the official Git Documentation.

Once your Git environment is operational, the next step is to locally clone your forked OpenCue repository, and add a remote pointing to the upstream OpenCue repository. These topics are covered in Cloning a repository and Configuring a remote for a fork, but again, if you need assistance feel free to reach out on the opencue-dev mail list.

GitHub Issues

OpenCue tracks outstanding and in-progress work through GitHub Issues.

You can view a list of existing issues on the OpenCue issues page.

Before you start writing code, make sure that you have a GitHub issue assigned to you which describes the work you plan to do. Feel free to file a new issue if one doesn’t exist for that work, but please search the existing issues list first to avoid filing a duplicate.

Having an assigned issue serves a few purposes:

  • Avoids duplicating work. You may find that your planned issue is already being worked on by someone else! If an issue has an existing assignee, coordinate with them to find out the current state of their work and if you can assist. If you don’t get a response, or the issue seems to be stale, reach out to a Code Owner to escalate.

  • Provides a centralized place to track related work. There may be related discussion, and many issues are complex enough to require more than one pull request to be fully resolved. The issue page provides a home for all of that material, which is very helpful for future contributors to look back on.

  • Helps us populate our release notes. Published OpenCue releases use Github issue or pull request numbers to identify what has changed in each release.

Nearly all pull requests should have an issue associated with them.

Development and Pull Requests

Contributions should be submitted as Github pull requests. See Creating a pull request if you’re unfamiliar with this concept.

The development cycle for a code change should follow this protocol:

  1. Create a topic branch in your local repository.

  2. Make changes, compile, and test thoroughly. Code style should match existing style and conventions, and changes should be focused on the topic the pull request will be addressing. Make unrelated changes in a separate topic branch with a separate pull request.

  3. Push commits to your fork.

  4. Create a Github pull request from your topic branch. This can be a normal pull request or a draft pull request:

    • Normal pull request: Use this if you feel like your change is ready to be merged or close to that. Reviews will be automatically requested from all of our Code Owners, but feel free to add others if you’d like – we love to get as much feedback as we can!

    • Draft pull request: Use this if you feel like your change isn’t ready to be merged – maybe it’s just an idea you have – but you want feedback anyway. Reviews will not be automatically requested, but feel free to add reviewers anyway and we’ll be happy to provide feedback – CODEOWNERS is a good place to find a list of potential reviewers.

You can convert a Draft pull request to a regular pull request at any point.

  1. All pull requests (including drafts) trigger our CI system, which builds and tests your branch. These builds verify that code compiles and all unit tests succeed. CI build status is displayed on the GitHub pull request page, and changes will only be merged after all builds have succeeded.

  2. A status check will also ensure you’ve signed the requisite Contributor License Agreement.

  3. Pull requests will be reviewed by project Committers and Contributors, who may discuss, offer constructive feedback, request changes, or approve the work.

  4. Upon receiving the required number of Committer approvals (as outlined in Required Approvals), any Committer may squash and merge changes into the master branch.

Contributor License Agreement (CLA) and Intellectual Property

To protect the project – and the contributors! – we do require a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) for anybody submitting changes.

  • If you are an individual writing the code on your own time and you’re SURE you are the sole owner of any intellectual property you contribute, you’ll want to sign the Individual CLA.

  • If you are writing the code as part of your job, or if there is any possibility that your employers might think they own any intellectual property you create, then you should use the Corporate CLA.

Our CLAs are based on those used by Apache and many other open source projects.

Every pull request runs a check using the Linux Foundation’s CLA tool to verify that all committers have signed the CLA. If you haven’t, the pull request’s status check will display the next steps you should take. You’ll log into the CLA tool which will walk you through the process.

Required Approvals

Modifications of the contents of the OpenCue repository are made on a collaborative basis. Anyone with a GitHub account may propose a modification via pull request and it will be considered by the project Committers.

Pull requests must meet a minimum number of Committer approvals prior to being merged. Rather than having a hard rule for all PRs, the requirement is based on the complexity and risk of the proposed changes, factoring in the length of time the PR has been open to discussion. The following guidelines outline the project’s established approval rules for merging:

  • Core design decisions, large new features, or anything that might be perceived as changing the overall direction of the project should be discussed at length in the mail list before any PR is submitted, in order to: solicit feedback, try to get as much consensus as possible, and alert all the stakeholders to be on the lookout for the eventual PR when it appears.

  • Small changes (bug fixes, docs, tests, cleanups) can be approved and merged by a single Committer.

  • Big changes that can alter behavior, add major features, or present a high degree of risk should be signed off by TWO Committers, ideally one of whom should be the “owner” for that section of the codebase (if a specific owner has been designated). If the person submitting the PR is him/herself the “owner” of that section of the codebase, then only one additional Committer approval is sufficient. But in either case, a 48 hour minimum is helpful to give everybody a chance to see it, unless it’s a critical emergency fix (which would probably put it in the previous “small fix” category, rather than a “big feature”).

  • Escape valve: big changes can nonetheless be merged by a single Committer if the PR has been open for over two weeks without any unaddressed objections from other Committers. At some point, we have to assume that the people who know and care are monitoring the PRs and that an extended period without objections is really assent.

Approval must be from Committers who are not authors of the change. If one or more Committers oppose a proposed change, then the change cannot be accepted unless:

  • Discussions and/or additional changes result in no Committers objecting to the change. Previously-objecting Committers do not necessarily have to sign-off on the change, but they should not be opposed to it.

  • The change is escalated to the TSC and the TSC votes to approve the change. This should only happen if disagreements between Committers cannot be resolved through discussion.


Last modified Wednesday, August 21, 2019: Contributor guide (#92) (f48c1d0)