Skip to content

Pull Requests#

There are two fundamental components of the Pull Request process: one concrete and technical, and one more process oriented. The concrete and technical component involves the specific details of setting up your local environment so that you can make the actual changes. This is where we will start.

Setting up your local environment#

To get started, you will need to have git installed locally. Depending on your operating system and which project you’re contributing to, there are also a number of other dependencies required. Those are detailed in their respective repositories.

Once you have git and are sure you have all of the necessary dependencies, it’s time to create a fork.

Step 1: Fork#

Fork the project you want to contribute to on GitHub and clone your fork locally and add the remote upstream branch. You can find specific guides in the respective repositories.

1
2
3
4
git clone https://github.com/TheBastionBot/Bastion.git
cd node
git remote add upstream https://github.com/nodejs/node.git
git fetch upstream

It is recommended to configure git so that it knows who you are:

1
2
git config user.name "Barry Allen"
git config user.email "[email protected]"

Please make sure this local email is also added to your GitHub email list so that your commits will be properly associated with your account and you will be promoted to Contributor once your first commit is landed.

Step 2: Branch#

As a best practice to keep your development environment as organized as possible, create local branches to work within. These should also be created directly off of the master branch.

1
git checkout -b my-branch -t upstream/master

The Process of Making Changes#

Step 3: Code#

Make changes to the code or documentation (including code comments and API documentation) or anything you want to change in the repository you’re trying to contribute to, and please be sure to run the test scripts (if any) from time to time to ensure that the changes doesn’t break anything and follow the specified code style guide.

Step 4: Commit#

It is a recommended best practice to keep your changes as logically grouped as possible within individual commits. There is no limit to the number of commits any single Pull Request may have, and many contributors find it easier to review changes that are split across multiple commits.

1
2
git add my/changed/files
git commit

It is a best practice to make only one implementation, including any changes that’s related to it, per commit. All tests should always pass for each individual commit.

Commit message guidelines#

A good commit message should describe what changed and why.

  1. The first line should:

    • contain a short description of the change (preferably 50 characters or less, and no more than 72 characters)
    • be entirely in lowercase with the exception of proper nouns, acronyms, and the words that refer to code, like function/variable names
    • be prefixed with the name of the changed module (if applicable) and start with an imperative verb.

    Examples: - commandHandler: add guildPrefix to the Guild object - docs: fix typos in getting-started.md

  2. Keep the second line blank.

  3. Wrap all other lines at 72 columns (except for long URLs).

  4. If your patch fixes an open issue, you can add a reference to it at the end of the log. Use the Fixes: prefix and the full issue URL. For other references use Refs:.

    Examples: - Fixes: https://github.com/TheBastionBot/Bastion/issues/1337 - Refs: http://docs.bastionbot.org/install/linux - Refs: https://github.com/k3rn31p4nic/cleverbot.js/pull/3

  5. If your commit introduces a breaking change (Semver: major), it should contain an explanation about the reason of the breaking change, which situation would trigger the breaking change and what is the exact change.

Sample complete commit message:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
module: explain the commit in one line

Body of commit message is a few lines of text, explaining things
in more detail, possibly giving some background about the issue
being fixed, feature being added, etc.

The body of the commit message can be several paragraphs, and
please do proper word-wrap and keep columns shorter than about
72 characters or so. That way, `git log` will show things nicely
even when it is indented.

Fixes: https://github.com/nodejs/node/issues/1337
Refs: http://eslint.org/docs/rules/space-in-parens.html

If you are new to contributing to this project, please try to do your best at conforming to these guidelines, but do not worry if you get something wrong. One of the existing contributors will help get things situated and the contributor landing the Pull Request will ensure that everything follows the project guidelines.

See core-validate-commit - A utility that ensures commits follow the commit formatting guidelines.

Step 5: Rebase#

As a best practice, once you have committed your changes, it is a good idea to use git rebase (not git merge) to synchronize your work with the main repository.

1
2
git fetch upstream
git rebase upstream/master

This ensures that your working branch has the latest changes from upstream branch master, in [The Bastion Bot GitHub Organization].

Step 6: Push#

Once you are sure your commits are ready to go, with passing tests and linting, begin the process of opening a Pull Request by pushing your working branch to your fork on GitHub.

1
git push origin my-branch

Step 7: Opening the Pull Request#

From within GitHub, opening a new Pull Request will present you with a template that should be filled out:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
<!--
    Thank you for your Pull Request. Please provide a description above and fill
    in as much of the template below as you're able.
-->

#### Purpose of this Pull Request
<!-- Change [ ] to [X] if a statement is true. -->

- [ ] Non-code changes (e.g. documentation, strings, readme, etc.)
- [ ] Bug fixes
- [ ] Improvements/enhancements
- [ ] Add a feature/command
- [ ] Remove a feature/command
- [ ] Add something to the core
- [ ] Remove something from the core
- [ ] Other, please explain:

#### Possible drawbacks
<!--
    Are there any possible side-effects or negative impacts of the code change?
    If yes, please, state them.
-->

#### Applicable Issues:
<!--
    Link any applicable Issues/PRs here. With a brief description explaining
    why.
-->

#### Checklist
<!-- For completed items, change [ ] to [x]. -->

- [ ] Test scripts (if any) passes
- [ ] documentation is changed or added
- [ ] commit message follows commit guidelines

Please try to do your best at filling out the details, but feel free to skip parts if you’re not sure what to put.

Once opened, Pull Requests are usually reviewed within a few days.

Step 8: Discuss and update#

You will probably get feedback or requests for changes to your Pull Request. This is a big part of the submission process so don’t be discouraged! Some contributors may sign off on the Pull Request right away, others may have more detailed comments or feedback. This is a necessary part of the process in order to evaluate whether the changes are correct and necessary.

If you are still working on your Pull Request after you’ve opened it, please add a [WIP] prefix to the Pull Request title, so that our Bastion GitHub Bot will prevent the Pull Request from being merged, until you’re done working with it and remove the [WIP] prefix.

1
[WIP] Add Spanish translation

To make changes to an existing Pull Request, make the changes to your local branch, add a new commit with those changes, and push those to your fork. GitHub will automatically update the Pull Request.

1
2
3
git add my/changed/files
git commit
git push origin my-branch

It is also frequently necessary to synchronize your Pull Request with other changes that have landed in master by using git rebase:

1
2
3
git fetch --all
git rebase origin/master
git push --force-with-lease origin my-branch

Important: The git push --force-with-lease command is one of the few ways to delete history in git. Before you use it, make sure you understand the risks. If in doubt, you can always ask for guidance in the Pull Request comments or in the Bastion HQ.

If you happen to make a mistake in any of your commits, do not worry. You can amend the last commit (for example if you want to change the commit log).

1
2
3
git add any/changed/files
git commit --amend
git push --force-with-lease origin my-branch

There are a number of more advanced mechanisms for managing commits using git rebase that can be used, but are beyond the scope of this guide.

Feel free to post a comment in the Pull Request to ping reviewers if you are awaiting an answer on something. If you encounter words or acronyms that seem unfamiliar, refer to this glossary.

Approval and Request Changes Workflow#

All Pull Requests require “sign off” in order to land. Whenever a contributor reviews a Pull Request they may find specific details that they would like to see changed or fixed. These may be as simple as fixing a typo, or may involve substantive changes to the code you have written. While such requests are intended to be helpful, they may come across as abrupt or unhelpful, especially requests to change things that do not include concrete suggestions on how to change them.

Try not to be discouraged. If you feel that a particular review is unfair, say so, or contact one of the other contributors in the project and seek their input. Often such comments are the result of the reviewer having only taken a short amount of time to review and are not ill-intended. Such issues can often be resolved with a bit of patience. That said, reviewers should be expected to be helpful in their feedback, and feedback that is simply vague, dismissive and unhelpful is likely safe to ignore.

Step 9: Landing#

In order to land, a Pull Request needs to be reviewed and [approved] by at least one Bastion Collaborator and pass all the required status checks. After that, as long as there are no objections from other contributors, the Pull Request can be merged. If you find your Pull Request waiting longer than you expect, see the notes about the waiting time.

When a collaborator lands your Pull Request, they should and will post a comment to the Pull Request page thanking you for your contribution. If you look at the branch you raised your Pull Request against (probably master), you should see your commits in it.

Congratulations and thanks for your contribution!

Reviewing Pull Requests#

All contributors who choose to review and provide feedback on Pull Requests have a responsibility to both the project and the individual making the contribution. Reviews and feedback must be helpful, insightful, and geared towards improving the contribution as opposed to simply blocking it. If there are reasons why you feel the PR should not land, explain what those are. Do not expect to be able to block a Pull Request from advancing simply because you say “No” without giving an explanation. Be open to having your mind changed. Be open to working with the contributor to make the Pull Request better.

Reviews that are dismissive or disrespectful of the contributor or any other reviewers are strictly counter to the Code of Conduct.

When reviewing a Pull Request, the primary goals are for the codebase to improve and for the person submitting the request to succeed. Even if a Pull Request does not land, the submitters should come away from the experience feeling like their effort was not wasted or unappreciated. Every Pull Request from a new contributor is an opportunity to grow the community.

Review a bit at a time.#

Do not overwhelm new contributors.

It is tempting to micro-optimize and make everything about relative performance, perfect grammar, or exact style matches. Do not succumb to that temptation.

Focus first on the most significant aspects of the change:

  1. Does this change make sense for the project?
  2. Does this change make the project better, even if only incrementally?
  3. Are there clear bugs or larger scale issues that need attending to?
  4. Is the commit message readable and correct? If it contains a breaking change is it clear enough?

When changes are necessary, request them, do not demand them, and do not assume that the submitter already knows how to do a task that you think is obvious, it might not be that obvious for him and that’s okay; Every one starts at some point, and they will learn with time.

Specific performance optimization techniques, coding styles and conventions change over time. The first impression you give to a new contributor never does.

Nits (requests for small changes that are not essential) are fine, but try to avoid stalling the Pull Request. Most nits can typically be fixed by the Collaborator landing the Pull Request but they can also be an opportunity for the contributor to learn a bit more about the project.

It is always good to clearly indicate nits when you comment: e.g. Nit: change foo() to bar(). But this is not blocking.

If your comments were addressed but were not folded automatically after new commits or if they proved to be mistaken, please, hide them with the appropriate reason to keep the conversation flow concise and relevant.

Be aware of the person behind the code#

Be aware that how you communicate requests and reviews in your feedback can have a significant impact on the success of the Pull Request. Yes, we may land a particular change that makes the project better, but the individual might just not want to have anything to do with the project ever again. The goal is not just having good code.

Respect the minimum wait time for comments#

There is a minimum waiting time which we try to respect for important changes, so that people who may have important input are able to respond.

For important changes, Pull Requests must be left open for at least 48 hours during the week, and 72 hours on a weekend. In most cases, when the PR is relatively small and focused on a narrow set of changes, these periods provide more than enough time to adequately review. Sometimes changes take far longer to review, or need more specialized review from subject matter experts. When in doubt, do not rush.

Trivial changes, typically limited to small formatting changes or fixes to documentation, may be landed within the minimum 48 hour window.

Abandoned or Stalled Pull Requests#

If a Pull Request appears to be abandoned or stalled, it is polite to first check with the contributor to see if they intend to continue the work before checking if they would mind if you took it over (especially if it just has nits left). When doing so, it is courteous to give the original contributor credit for the work they started (either by preserving their name and email address in the commit log, or by using an Author: meta-data tag in the commit.

Approving a change#

Any Collaborator (any GitHub user with commit rights in the project’s repositories) is authorized to approve any other contributor’s work. Collaborators are not permitted to approve their own Pull Requests.

Collaborators indicate that they have reviewed and approve of the changes in a Pull Request either by using GitHub’s Approval Workflow, which is preferred, or by leaving an LGTM (“Looks Good To Me”) comment.

When explicitly using the “Changes requested” component of the GitHub Approval Workflow, show empathy. That is, do not be rude or abrupt with your feedback and offer concrete suggestions for improvement, if possible. If you’re not sure how a particular change can be improved, say so.

Most importantly, after leaving such requests, it is courteous to make yourself available later to check whether your comments have been addressed.

If you see that requested changes have been made, you can clear another collaborator’s Changes requested review.

Change requests that are vague, dismissive, or unconstructive may also be dismissed if requests for greater clarification go unanswered within a reasonable period of time.

If you do not believe that the Pull Request should land at all, use Changes requested to indicate that you are considering some of your comments to block the PR from landing. When doing so, explain why you believe the Pull Request should not land along with an explanation of what may be an acceptable alternative course, if any.