3.2. Contributor

Before you make a pull request, it’s a good idea to reach out to the edX developers and the rest of the Open edX community to discuss your ideas. There might well be someone else already working on the same change you want to make, and it’s much better to collaborate than to submit incompatible pull requests. The Community Discussions page on the open.edx.org website lists different ways you can ask, and answer, questions. The earlier you start the conversation, the easier it will be to make sure that everyone’s on the right track – before you spend a lot of time and effort making a pull request.

If you’ve got an idea for a new feature or new functionality for an existing feature, and wish to contribute your code upstream, please start a discussion on JIRA (you may first need to create a free JIRA account). Do this by visiting the JIRA website and clicking the “Create” button at the top. Choose the project “Open Source Pull Requests” and the issue type “Feature Proposal”; in the description give us as much detail as you can for the feature or functionality you are thinking about implementing. We encourage you to do this before you begin implementing your feature, in order to get valuable feedback from the edX product team early on in your journey and increase the likelihood of a successful pull request.

It’s also sometimes useful to submit a pull request even before the code is working properly, to make it easier to collect early feedback. To indicate to others that your pull request is not yet in a functional state, just prefix the pull request title with “(WIP)” (which stands for Work In Progress). Please do include a link to a WIP pull request in your JIRA ticket, if you have one.

Once you’re ready to submit your changes in a pull request, check the following list of requirements to be sure that your pull request is ready to be reviewed:

  1. Prepare a pull request cover letter. When you open up your pull request, put your cover letter into the “Description” field on GitHub.
  2. The code should be clear and understandable. Comments in code, detailed docstrings, and good variable naming conventions are expected. See the Language Style Guidelines for more details.
  3. The pull request should be as small as possible. Each pull request should encompass only one idea: one bugfix, one feature, etc. Multiple features (or multiple bugfixes) should not be bundled into one pull request. A handful of small pull requests is much better than one large pull request.
  4. Structure your pull request into logical commits. “Fixup” commits should be squashed together. The best pull requests contain only a single, logical change – which means only a single, logical commit.
  5. All code in the pull request must be compatible with edX’s AGPL license. This means that the author of the pull request must sign a contributor’s agreement with edX, and all libraries included or referenced in the pull request must have compatible licenses.
  6. All of the tests must pass. If a pull request contains a new feature, it should also contain new tests for that feature. If the pull request fixes a bug, it should also contain a test for that bug to be sure that it stays fixed. (edX’s continuous integration server will verify this for your pull request, and point out any failing tests.)
  7. The author of the pull request should provide a test plan for manually verifying the change in this pull request. The test plan should include details of what should be checked, how to check it, and what the correct behavior should be. When it makes sense to do so, a good test plan includes a tarball of a small edX test course that has a unit which triggers the bug or illustrates the new feature.
  8. For pull requests that make changes to the user interface, please include screenshots of what you changed. GitHub will allow you to upload images directly from your computer. In the future, the core committers will produce a style guide that contains more requirements around how pages should appear and how front-end code should be structured.
  9. The pull request should contain some documentation for the feature or bugfix, either in a README file or in a comment on the pull request. A well- written description for the pull request may be sufficient.
  10. The pull request should integrate with existing infrastructure as much as possible, rather than reinventing the wheel. In a project as large as Open edX, there are many foundational components that might be hard to find, but it is important not to duplicate functionality, even if small, that already exists.
  11. The author of the pull request should be receptive to feedback and constructive criticism. The pull request will not be accepted until all feedback from reviewers is addressed. Once a core committer has reviewed a pull request from a contributor, no further review is required from the core committer until the contributor has addressed all of the core committer’s feedback: either making changes to the pull request, or adding another comment explaining why the contributor has chosen not make any change based on that feedback.

It’s also important to realize that you and the core committers may have different ideas of what is important in the codebase. The power and freedom of open source software comes from the fact that you can fork our software and make any modifications that you like, without permission from us; however, the core committers are similarly empowered and free to decide what modifications to pull in from other contributors, and what not to pull in. While your code might work great for you on a small installation, it might not work as well on a large installation, have problems with performance or security, not be compatible with internationalization or accessibility guidelines, and so on. There are many, many reasons why the core committers may decide not to accept your pull request, even for reasons that are unrelated to the quality of your code change. However, if we do reject your pull request, we will explain why we aren’t taking it, and try to suggest other ways that you can accomplish the same result in a way that we will accept.

3.2.1. Once A PR is Open

Once a pull request is open, our faithful robot “Botbro” will open up a JIRA ticket in our system to track review of your pull request. The JIRA ticket is a way for non-engineers (particularly, product owners) to understand your change and prioritize your pull request for team review.

If you open up your pull request with a solid description, following the pull request cover letter guidelines, the product owners will be able to quickly understand your change and prioritize it for review. However, they may have some questions about your intention, need, and/or approach that they will ask about on the JIRA ticket. A community manager will ping you on GitHub to clarify these questions if they arise; you are not required to monitor the JIRA discussion.

Once the product team has sent your pull request to the engineering teams for review, all technical discussion regarding your change will occur on GitHub, inline with your code.

3.2.2. Further Information

For futher information on the pull request requirements, please see the following links: