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Contributing to PowerShell

We welcome and appreciate contributions from the community. There are many ways to become involved with PowerShell: including filing issues, joining in design conversations, writing and improving documentation, and contributing to the code. Please read the rest of this document to ensure a smooth contribution process.

Intro to Git and GitHub

Quick Start Checklist

Contributing to Issues

  • Review Issue Management.
  • Check if the issue you are going to file already exists in our GitHub issues.
  • If you can't find your issue already, open a new issue, making sure to follow the directions as best you can.
  • If the issue is marked as Up-for-Grabs, the PowerShell Maintainers are looking for help with the issue.
  • Issues marked as First-Time-Issue, are identified as being easy and a great way to learn about this project and making contributions.

Contributing to Documentation

Contributing to documentation related to PowerShell

Please see the Contributor Guide in MicrosoftDocs/PowerShell-Docs.

Quick steps if you're changing an existing cmdlet

If you made a change to an existing cmdlet and would like to update the documentation using PlatyPS, here are the quick steps:

  1. Install PlatyPS if you don't have it - Install-Module PlatyPS.
  2. Clone the MicrosoftDocs/PowerShell-Docs repo if you don't already have it.
  3. Start your local build of PowerShell (with the change to the cmdlet you made).
  4. Find the cmdlet's markdown file in PowerShell Docs - usually under PowerShell-Docs/reference/<latest powershell version>/<module cmdlet is a part of>/<your changed cmdlet>.md (Ex. PowerShell-Docs/reference/7/Microsoft.PowerShell.Utility/
  5. Run Update-MarkdownHelp -Path <path to cmdlet markdown file> which will update the documentation for you.
  6. Make any additional changes needed for the cmdlet to be properly documented.
  7. Send a Pull Request to the PowerShell Docs repo with the changes that PlatyPS made.
  8. Link your Docs PR to your original change PR.

Contributing to documentation related to maintaining or contributing to the PowerShell project

  • When writing Markdown documentation, use semantic linefeeds. In most cases, it means "one clause/idea per line".
  • Otherwise, these issues should be treated like any other issue in this repo.

Spellchecking documentation

Documentation is spellchecked. We use the markdown-spellcheck command line tool, which can be run in interactive mode to correct typos or add words to the ignore list (.spelling at the repository root).

To run the spellchecker, follow these steps:

  • install Node.js (v10 or up)
  • install markdown-spellcheck by npm install -g markdown-spellcheck (v0.11.0 or up)
  • run mdspell "**/*.md" "!**/dotnet-tools/**/*.md" --ignore-numbers --ignore-acronyms --en-us.
    • The folder dotnet-tools is excluded because files in that folder are copied from the dotnet/performance repository and will need to be synchronized from time to time.
  • if the .spelling file is updated, commit and push it

Checking links in documentation

Documentation is link-checked. We make use of the markdown-link-check command line tool, which can be run to see if any links are dead.

To run the link-checker, follow these steps:

  • install Node.js (v10 or up)
  • install markdown-link-check by npm install -g markdown-link-check@3.8.5
  • run find . \*.md -exec markdown-link-check {} \;

Contributing to Code

Code Editor

You should use the multi-platform Visual Studio Code (VS Code).

Building and testing

Building PowerShell

Please see Building PowerShell.

Testing PowerShell

Please see PowerShell Testing Guidelines - Running Tests Outside of CI on how to test your build locally.

Finding or creating an issue

  1. Follow the instructions in Contributing to Issues to find or open an issue.
  2. Mention in the issue that you are working on the issue and ask @powershell/powershell for an assignment.

Forks and Pull Requests

GitHub fosters collaboration through the notion of pull requests. On GitHub, anyone can fork an existing repository into their own user account, where they can make private changes to their fork. To contribute these changes back into the original repository, a user simply creates a pull request in order to "request" that the changes be taken "upstream".

Additional references:

Lifecycle of a pull request

Before submitting

  • If your change would fix a security vulnerability, first follow the vulnerability issue reporting policy, before submitting a PR.
  • To avoid merge conflicts, make sure your branch is rebased on the master branch of this repository.
  • Many code changes will require new tests, so make sure you've added a new test if existing tests do not effectively test the code changed.
  • Clean up your commit history. Each commit should be a single complete change. This discipline is important when reviewing the changes as well as when using git bisect and git revert.

Pull request - Submission

Always create a pull request to the master branch of this repository.


  • It's recommended to avoid a PR with too many changes. A large PR not only stretches the review time, but also makes it much harder to spot issues. In such case, it's better to split the PR to multiple smaller ones. For large features, try to approach it in an incremental way, so that each PR won't be too big.

  • If you're contributing in a way that changes the user or developer experience, you are expected to document those changes. See Contributing to documentation related to PowerShell.

  • Add a meaningful title of the PR describing what change you want to check in. Don't simply put: "Fix issue #5". Also don't directly use the issue title as the PR title. An issue title is to briefly describe what is wrong, while a PR title is to briefly describe what is changed. A better example is: "Add Ensure parameter to New-Item cmdlet", with "Fix #5" in the PR's body.

  • When you create a pull request, include a summary about your changes in the PR description. The description is used to create change logs, so try to have the first sentence explain the benefit to end users. If the changes are related to an existing GitHub issue, please reference the issue in the PR description (e.g. Fix #11). See this for more details.

  • Please use the present tense and imperative mood when describing your changes:

    • Instead of "Adding support for Windows Server 2012 R2", write "Add support for Windows Server 2012 R2".
    • Instead of "Fixed for server connection issue", write "Fix server connection issue".

    This form is akin to giving commands to the code base and is recommended by the Git SCM developers. It is also used in the Git commit messages.

  • If the change is related to a specific resource, please prefix the description with the resource name:

    • Instead of "New parameter 'ConnectionCredential' in New-SqlConnection", write "New-SqlConnection: add parameter 'ConnectionCredential'".
  • If your change warrants an update to user-facing documentation, a Maintainer will add the Documentation Needed label to your PR and add an issue to the PowerShell-Docs repository, so that we make sure to update official documentation to reflect your contribution. As an example, this requirement includes any changes to cmdlets (including cmdlet parameters) and features which have associated about_* topics. While not required, we appreciate any contributors who add this label and create the issue themselves. Even better, all contributors are free to contribute the documentation themselves. (See Contributing to documentation related to PowerShell for more info.)

  • If your change adds a new source file, ensure the appropriate copyright and license headers is on top. It is standard practice to have both a copyright and license notice for each source file.

    • For .h, .cpp, and .cs files use the copyright header with empty line after it:
        // Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation.
        // Licensed under the MIT License.
        <Add empty line here>
    • For .ps1 and .psm1 files use the copyright header with empty line after it:
        # Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation.
        # Licensed under the MIT License.
        <Add empty line here>
  • If your change adds a new module manifest (.psd1 file), ensure that:

    Author = "PowerShell"
    Company = "Microsoft Corporation"
    Copyright = "Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation."

    is at the top.

Pull Request - Work in Progress

  • If your pull request is not ready to merge, please add the prefix WIP: to the beginning of the title and remove the prefix when the PR is ready.

Pull Request - Automatic Checks

  • If this is your first contribution to PowerShell, you may be asked to sign a Contribution Licensing Agreement (CLA) before your changes will be accepted.

  • Make sure you follow the Common Engineering Practices and testing guidelines.

  • After submitting your pull request, our CI system (Azure DevOps Pipelines) will run a suite of tests and automatically update the status of the pull request.

  • Our CI contains automated spellchecking and link checking for markdown files. If there is any false-positive, run the spellchecker command line tool in interactive mode to add words to the .spelling file.

  • Our packaging test may not pass and ask you to update files.wxs file if you add/remove/update nuget package references or add/remove assert files.

    You could update the file manually in accordance with messages in the test log file. Or you can use automatically generated file. To get the file you should build the msi package locally:

    Import-Module .\build.psm1
    Start-PSBuild -Clean -CrossGen -PSModuleRestore -Runtime win7-x64 -Configuration Release -ReleaseTag <release tag>
    Import-Module .\tools\packaging
    Start-PSPackage -Type msi -ReleaseTag <release tag> -WindowsRuntime 'win7-x64' -SkipReleaseChecks

    Last command will report where new file is located.

Pull Request - Workflow

  1. The PR author creates a pull request from a fork.
  2. The author ensures that their pull request passes the CI system build.
    • If the build fails, a Repository Maintainer adds the Review - waiting on author label to the pull request. The author can then continue to update the pull request until the build passes.
  3. If the author knows whom should participate in the review, they should add them otherwise they can add the recommended reviewers.
  4. Once the build passes, if there is not sufficient review, the maintainer adds the Review - needed label.
  5. An Area Expert should also review the pull request.
    • If the author does not meet the reviewer's standards, the reviewer makes comments. A maintainer then removes the Review - needed label and adds the Review - waiting on author label. The author must address the comments and repeat from step 2.
    • If the author meets the reviewer's standards, the reviewer approves the PR. A maintainer then removes the need review label.
  6. Once the code review is completed, a maintainer merges the pull request after one business day to allow for additional critical feedback.

Pull Request - Roles and Responsibilities

  1. The PR author is responsible for moving the PR forward to get it Approved. This includes addressing feedback within a timely period and indicating feedback has been addressed by adding a comment and mentioning the specific reviewers. When updating your pull request, please create new commits and don't rewrite the commits history. This way it's very easy for the reviewers to see diff between iterations. If you rewrite the history in the pull request, review could be much slower. The PR is likely to be squash-merged to master by the assignee.
  2. Reviewers are anyone who wants to contribute. They are responsible for ensuring the code: addresses the issue being fixed, does not create new issues (functional, performance, reliability, or security), and implements proper design. Reviewers should use the Review changes drop down to indicate they are done with their review.
    • Request changes if you believe the PR merge should be blocked if your feedback is not addressed,
    • Approve if you believe your feedback has been addressed or the code is fine as-is, it is customary (although not required) to leave a simple "Looks good to me" (or "LGTM") as the comment for approval.
    • Comment if you are making suggestions that the author does not have to accept. Early in the review, it is acceptable to provide feedback on coding formatting based on the published Coding Guidelines, however, after the PR has been approved, it is generally not recommended to focus on formatting issues unless they go against the Coding Guidelines. Non-critical late feedback (after PR has been approved) can be submitted as a new issue or new pull request from the reviewer.
  3. Assignees who are always Maintainers ensure that proper review has occurred and if they believe one approval is not sufficient, the maintainer is responsible to add more reviewers. An assignee may also be a reviewer, but the roles are distinct. Once the PR has been approved and the CI system is passing, the assignee will merge the PR after giving one business day for any critical feedback. For more information on the PowerShell Maintainers' process, see the documentation.

Pull Requests - Abandoned

A pull request with the label Review - waiting on author for more than two weeks without a word from the author is considered abandoned.

In these cases:

  1. Assignee will ping the author of PR to remind them of pending changes.
    • If the author responds, it's no longer an abandoned; the pull request proceeds as normal.
  2. If the author does not respond within a week:
    • If the reviewer's comments are very minor, merge the change, fix the code immediately, and create a new PR with the fixes addressing the minor comments.
    • If the changes required to merge the pull request are significant but needed, assignee creates a new branch with the changes and open an issue to merge the code into the dev branch. Mention the original pull request ID in the description of the new issue and close the abandoned pull request.
    • If the changes in an abandoned pull request are no longer needed (e.g. due to refactoring of the code base or a design change), assignee will simply close the pull request.

Making Breaking Changes

When you make code changes, please pay attention to these that can affect the Public Contract. For example, changing PowerShell parameters, APIs, or protocols break the public contract. Before making changes to the code, first review the breaking changes contract and follow the guidelines to keep PowerShell backward compatible.

Making Design Changes

To add new features such as cmdlets or making design changes, please follow the PowerShell Request for Comments (RFC) process.

Common Engineering Practices

Other than the guidelines for coding, the RFC process for design, documentation and testing discussed above, we encourage contributors to follow these common engineering practices:

  • Format commit messages following these guidelines:
Summarize change in 50 characters or less

Similar to email, this is the body of the commit message,
and the above is the subject.
Always leave a single blank line between the subject and the body
so that `git log` and `git rebase` work nicely.

The subject of the commit should use the present tense and
imperative mood, like issuing a command:

> Makes abcd do wxyz

The body should be a useful message explaining
why the changes were made.

If significant alternative solutions were available,
explain why they were discarded.

Keep in mind that the person most likely to refer to your commit message
is you in the future, so be detailed!

As Git commit messages are most frequently viewed in the terminal,
you should wrap all lines around 72 characters.

Using semantic line feeds (breaks that separate ideas)
is also appropriate, as is using Markdown syntax.
  • These are based on Tim Pope's guidelines, Git SCM submitting patches, Brandon Rhodes' semantic linefeeds, and John Gruber's Markdown syntax.
  • Don't commit code that you didn't write. If you find code that you think is a good fit to add to PowerShell, file an issue and start a discussion before proceeding.
  • Create and/or update tests when making code changes.
  • Run tests and ensure they are passing before opening a pull request.
  • All pull requests must pass CI systems before they can be approved.
  • Avoid making big pull requests. Before you invest a large amount of time, file an issue and start a discussion with the community.

Contributor License Agreement (CLA)

To speed up the acceptance of any contribution to any PowerShell repositories, you should sign the Microsoft Contributor License Agreement (CLA) ahead of time. If you've already contributed to PowerShell or Microsoft repositories in the past, congratulations! You've already completed this step. This a one-time requirement for the PowerShell project. Signing the CLA process is simple and can be done in less than a minute. You don't have to do this up-front. You can simply clone, fork, and submit your pull request as usual. When your pull request is created, it is checked by the CLA bot. If you have signed the CLA, the status check will be set to passing. Otherwise, it will stay at pending. Once you sign a CLA, all your existing and future pull requests will have the status check automatically set at passing.