Understanding the basics
We welcome contributions to JabRef and encourage to create a fork, clone, create a new branch (such as
fix-for-issue-121), work on the new branch — not master, and create a pull request.
Be sure to create a separate branch for each improvement you implement.
Take a look at GitHub's excellent help documentation for a detailed explanation.
For newcomers, FLOSS Coach might be helpful. It contains steps to get started with JabRef development.
In case you have any question, do not hesitate to write one of our JabRef developers an email.
Formal requirements for a pull request
The main goal of the formal requirements is to provide credit to you and to be able to understand the patch. Nevertheless we aim to keep the code consistently formatted, therefore we additionally have a requirement regarding the source formatter.
Ensure consistent formatting
Ensure your code is formatted according the JabRef formatting guidelines.
When you use Eclipse, the required configuration is generated automatically by
gradlew cleanEclipse eclipse.
Add your change to CHANGELOG.md
You should edit the CHANGELOG.md located in the root directory of the JabRef source. Add a line with your changes in the appropriate section.
If you did internal refactorings or improvements not visible to the user (e.g., UI, .bib file), then you don't need to put an entry there.
<kbd>Ctrl</kbd> + <kbd>Enter</kbd>
In case you add keys to the changelog, please follow these rules:
<kbd>tag for each key
- First letter of key capitalized
- Combined keys separated by
- Spaces before and after separator
You will be given credit in the
AUTHORS file in the root of the repository and the 'About' pages inside the main application.
We will periodically update the contributors list inside
This is done by an automatic shell script
If you want to add yourself directly with your pull request please run this script.
Please make sure there are no duplicates or alternate spellings of your name listed.
If you need to merge different Git usernames or email addresses you can do so by editing
More information on this can be found via
Please, do not add yourself at
The contribution information is tracked via the version control system.
Your contribution is considered being made under MIT license.
Write a good commit message
Test your code
We know that writing test cases causes a lot of time.
Nevertheless, we rely on our test cases to ensure that a bug fix or a feature implementation doesn't break anything.
In case you do not have time to add a test case, we nevertheless ask you to run
gradlew check to ensure that your change doesn't break anything else.
When adding a library
Please try to use a version available at jCenter and add it to
In any case, describe the library at external-libraries.txt.
We need that information for our package maintainers (e.g., those of the debian package).
Also add a txt file stating the license in
It is used at
gradlew processResources to generate the About.html files.
You can see the result in
build\resources\main\help\en\About.html or when clicking Help -> About.
When making an architectural decision
In case you add a library or do mayor code rewrites, we ask you to document your decision. Recommended reading: http://www.infoq.com/articles/sustainable-architectural-design-decisions
In the context of <use case/user story u>, facing <concern c> we decided for <option o> and neglected <other options>, to achieve <system qualities/desired consequences>, accepting <downside d/undesired consequences>, because <additional rationale>.
When adding a new Localization.lang entry
Localization.lang("KEY") to Java file.
Tests fail. In the test output a snippet is generated which must be added to the English translation file. There is also a snippet generated for the non-English files, but this is irrelevant.
Add snippet to English translation file located at
gradlew localizationUpdate the "KEY" is added to the other translation files as well.
Tests are green again.
You can also directly run the specific test in your IDE. The test "LocalizationConsistencyTest" is placed under
Find more information in the JabRef Wiki.
Create a pull request
Create a pull request on GitHub. For text inspirations, consider How to write the perfect pull request.
You can add the prefix
[WIP] to indicate that the pull request is not yet complete, but you want to discuss something or inform about the current state of affairs.