IPython Documentation

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How to contribute to IPython


IPython development is done using Git and Github (Github Ipython Repository). This makes it easy for people to contribute to the development of IPython. There are several ways in which you can join in.

Merging a branch into trunk

Core developers, who ultimately merge any approved branch (from themselves, another developer, or any third-party contribution) will typically use git merge to merge the branch into the trunk and push it to the main Git repository. There are a number of things to keep in mind when doing this, so that the project history is easy to understand in the long run, and that generating release notes is as painless and accurate as possible.

  • When you merge any non-trivial functionality (from one small bug fix to a big feature branch), please remember to always edit the appropriate file in the What’s new section of our documentation. Ideally, the author of the branch should provide this content when they submit the branch for review. But if they don’t it is the responsibility of the developer doing the merge to add this information.

  • When merges are done, the practice of putting a summary commit message in the merge is extremely useful. It is probably easiest if you simply use the same list of changes that were added to the What’s new section of the documentation.

  • It’s important that we remember to always credit who gave us something if it’s not the committer. In general, we have been fairly good on this front, this is just a reminder to keep things up. As a note, if you are ever committing something that is completely (or almost so) a third-party contribution, do the commit as:

    $ git commit --author="Someone Else <who@somewhere.com>"

    This way it will show that name separately in the log, which makes it even easier to spot. Obviously we often rework third party contributions extensively, but this is still good to keep in mind for cases when we don’t touch the code too much.

Commit messages

Good commit messages are very important; they provide a verbal account of what happened that is often invaluable for anyone trying to undestand the intent of a commit later on (including the original author!). And git’s log command is a very versatile and powerful tool, capable of extracting a lot of information from the commit logs, so it’s important that these logs actually have useful information in them.

In short, a commit message should have the form:

One line summary.
More detailed description of what was done, using multiple lines and even
more than one paragraph if needed.  For very simple commits this may not be
necessary, but non-trivial ones should always have it.

Closes gh-NNN.  # if the commit closes issue NNN on github.

This format is understood by many git tools that expect a single line summary, so please do respect it.

An excellent reference on commits message is this blog post, please take a moment to read it (it’s short but very informative).