How to Contribute

We want your help to make Samvera great. There are a few guidelines that we need contributors to follow so that we can have a chance of keeping on top of things.

Code of Conduct

The Samvera Community is dedicated to providing a welcoming and positive experience for all its members, whether they are at a formal gathering, in a social setting, or taking part in activities online. Please see our Code of Conduct for more information.

Samvera Community Intellectual Property Licensing and Ownership

All code contributors must have an Individual Contributor License Agreement (iCLA) on file with the Samvera Steering Group. If the contributor works for an institution, the institution must have a Corporate Contributor License Agreement (cCLA) on file.

You should also add yourself to the file in the root of the project.

Contribution Tasks

  • Reporting Issues
  • Making Changes
  • Documenting Code
  • Committing Changes
  • Submitting Changes
  • Reviewing and Merging Changes

Reporting Issues

  • Make sure you have a GitHub account
  • Submit a Github issue by:
    • Clearly describing the issue
    • Provide a descriptive summary
    • Explain the expected behavior
    • Explain the actual behavior
    • Provide steps to reproduce the actual behavior

Making Changes

  • Fork the repository on GitHub
  • Create a topic branch from where you want to base your work.
    • This is usually the master branch.
    • To quickly create a topic branch based on master; git branch fix/master/my_contribution master
    • Then checkout the new branch with git checkout fix/master/my_contribution.
    • Please avoid working directly on the master branch.
    • You may find the hub suite of commands helpful
  • Make sure you have added sufficient tests and documentation for your changes.
    • Test functionality with RSpec; Test features / UI with Capybara.
  • Run all the tests to assure nothing else was accidentally broken.

Documenting Code

  • All new public methods, modules, and classes should include inline documentation in YARD.
    • Documentation should seek to answer the question "why does this code exist?"
  • Document private / protected methods as desired.
  • If you are working in a file with no prior documentation, do try to document as you gain understanding of the code.
    • If you don't know exactly what a bit of code does, it is extra likely that it needs to be documented. Take a stab at it and ask for feedback in your pull request. You can use the 'blame' button on GitHub to identify the original developer of the code and @mention them in your comment.
    • This work greatly increases the usability of the code base and supports the on-ramping of new committers.
    • We will all be understanding of one another's time constraints in this area.
  • YARD examples:
  • Getting started with YARD

Committing changes

  • Make commits of logical units.
    • Your commit should include a high level description of your work in HISTORY.textile
  • Check for unnecessary whitespace with git diff --check before committing.
  • Make sure your commit messages are well formed.
  • If you created an issue, you can close it by including "Closes #issue" in your commit message. See Github's blog post for more details
    Present tense short summary (50 characters or less)

    More detailed description, if necessary. It should be wrapped to 72
    characters. Try to be as descriptive as you can, even if you think that
    the commit content is obvious, it may not be obvious to others. You
    should add such description also if it's already present in bug tracker,
    it should not be necessary to visit a webpage to check the history.

    Include Closes #<issue-number> when relavent.

    Description can have multiple paragraphs and you can use code examples
    inside, just indent it with 4 spaces:

        class PostsController
          def index
            respond_to do |wants|
              wants.html { render 'index' }

    You can also add bullet points:

    - you can use dashes or asterisks

    - also, try to indent next line of a point for readability, if it's too
      long to fit in 72 characters
  • Make sure you have added the necessary tests for your changes.
  • Run all the tests to assure nothing else was accidentally broken.
  • When you are ready to submit a pull request

Submitting Changes

Detailed Walkthrough of One Pull Request per Commit

  • Read the article "Using Pull Requests" on GitHub.
  • Make sure your branch is up to date with its parent branch (i.e. master)
    • git checkout master
    • git pull --rebase
    • git checkout <your-branch>
    • git rebase master
    • It is a good idea to run your tests again.
  • If you've made more than one commit take a moment to consider whether squashing commits together would help improve their logical grouping.
  • Push your changes to a topic branch in your fork of the repository.
  • Submit a pull request from your fork to the project.

Reviewing and Merging Changes

We adopted Github's Pull Request Review for our repositories. Common checks that may occur in our repositories:

  1. Travis CI - where our automated tests are running
  2. Hound CI - where we check for style violations
  3. Approval Required - Github enforces at least one person approve a pull request. Also, all reviewers that have chimed in must approve.
  4. CodeClimate - is our code remaining healthy (at least according to static code analysis)

If one or more of the required checks failed (or are incomplete), the code should not be merged (and the UI will not allow it). If all of the checks have passed, then anyone on the project (including the pull request submitter) may merge the code.

Example: Carolyn submits a pull request, Justin reviews the pull request and approves. However, Justin is still waiting on other checks (Travis CI is usually the culprit), so he does not merge the pull request. Eventually, all of the checks pass. At this point, Carolyn or anyone else may merge the pull request.

Things to Consider When Reviewing

First, the person contributing the code is putting themselves out there. Be mindful of what you say in a review.

  • Ask clarifying questions
  • State your understanding and expectations
  • Provide example code or alternate solutions, and explain why

This is your chance for a mentoring moment of another developer. Take time to give an honest and thorough review of what has changed. Things to consider:

  • Does the commit message explain what is going on?
  • Does the code changes have tests? Not all changes need new tests, some changes are refactorings
  • Do new or changed methods, modules, and classes have documentation?
  • Does the commit contain more than it should? Are two separate concerns being addressed in one commit?
  • Does the description of the new/changed specs match your understanding of what the spec is doing?
  • Did the Travis tests complete successfully?

If you are uncertain, bring other contributors into the conversation by assigning them as a reviewer.

Additional Resources