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Open Project Linter

About this project

The Open Project Linter is an automated checklist that new (or experienced but forgetful) open source maintainers can use to make sure that they're using good practices in their documentation, code, and project resources.

The project started as a way to automate this checklist for newsroom developers, but these are good practices for most open source projects!

This is written in and supported on Python 3.

Getting Started


It is recommended that you use a virtual environment in order to avoid dependency conflicts between projects. For more information, a tutorial on virtual environments. Once you have set up a python3 virtual environment, activate the environment. Then you can use pip to install Open Project Linter.

$ pip install open-project-linter

Once you have installed the package, you should be able to run it from the command line (see [Example usage](#Example usage)).

Example usage

Once you have installed the package, if you want to check a local repository, make sure your virtual enviroment is activated and run:

$ openlinter -d path/to/repository/

For more help, run $ openlinter --help.

Using configuration files

Open Project Linter is configurable, so that you can decide what project features you want to check for and what file names you want to make sure exist. The default configuration file is located at path/to/openlinter/rules.yml.

You can also use the -r flag to specify where your desired configuration file is, like so:

$ openlinter -r path/to/rules.yml -d path/to/repository/

to use the file located at path/to/rules.yml to check the repository at path/to/repository/.


How to set up the dev environment

To set this up for development, fork this repository, then clone it to your development machine using git clone.

Once you've committed your changes and pushed them to your fork of the repository, file a pull request to get your contribution into the main repository.


version 1.0.1

  • Fix the error in checking for multiple commits where it was using the reflog not the commit history (#30)

version 1.0

  • Update with pre-NICAR status
  • Fix the KeyError issue when default config was changed (#27)
  • Split some of the main linter logic out into functions and improve module documentation
  • Add test fixtures for the git-related tests (#22)

version 0.4dev

  • Now installs Pygments automatically when installed with pip, with or without pulling versions from requirements.txt
  • Now includes rules.yml in the package and uses a correct default path to it

version 0.3dev

  • Improve documentation
  • Fix accidental return value change in file content checker

version 0.2dev

  • Add automated tests
  • Fix path bug in file content checker

version 0.1dev

  • Command-line application invokable with openlinter, with help on how to run it
  • Given the path to a directory, checks for:
    • the existence of license, contributing, and readme files
    • the presence of code files in the directory and any subdirectories
    • the presence of a git repository, multiple branches, multiple commits on any branch, and a named development/feature branch
  • Configurable via rules.yml


This linter was designed and written by Frances Hocutt via Changeset Consulting, a project management and maintainership consultancy focusing on open source. Sumana Harihareswara of Changeset Consulting attended the initial OpenNews documentation sprint for The Field Guide to Open Source in the Newsroom and suggested development of a companion tool to automate the guidebook's checklists as much as possible.

We look forward to seeing the community add new linter rules to help new maintainers.



The Open Project Linter is available under v. 2.0 of the Apache license. See LICENSE for more information.


An application that open source projects can use to ensure they include relevant documentation (and not secrets or PII!)








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