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Contributing to the ABS language

A little explanation first...

ABS uses version branches to keep track of changes, meaning that you will see branches such as 1.0.x and 1.1.x in the repository.

Since we follow semver, when a new feature is released we don't backport it but simply create a new version branch, such as 1.2.x. Bugs, instead, might be backported from 1.1.0 to, for example, 1.0.x and we will have a new release, say 1.0.1 for the 1.0.x version branch.

The infamous master branch, instead, is used as a base for the documentation and latest releases: when we publish a new release, the version branch gets also merged into master, making sure master now has all the latest changes we've released to the public. This is important since abs-lang.org gets built whenever new commits land on master, so it would be problematic to merge PRs directly into master -- the website and documentation would get instantly updated while the changes we merged haven't been released yet.

Why is this important? When you want to contribute to ABS you should try to figure out against what branch you want changes to be incorporated. You can open a PR directly to master, but it's likely a member of our team will then change your PR's base branch to the right version branch. If you do that beforehand, that'll help us getting things reviewed, and merged, faster :)

Hacking on ABS

The best way to start hacking on ABS is to clone the repository and run a make build: this will build a docker container with all the necessary dependencies for developing locally (for experienced Gophers: you might want to skip this altogether as your environment will probably work perfectly).

With make run you can get inside a container built for ABS' development, and make test will run all tests.

We're planning to switch over to go mod in the near future to make it easier to contribute to ABS and will keep updating this page with additional directions on how to develop on ABS locally.

Pull Requests status checks

When you send a PR, it will be automatically tested through travis-ci: remember we strive to support linux, osx and windows, so sometimes changes that work locally might trigger failures on travis -- don't be afraid of a red build, it happens to everyone! Once you find the culprit, push another change to your PR and, once tests are green, we're ready to merge!

In order to get something merged, this is the broad set of conventions we follow:

  • PR from external contributors must be reviewed and approved by a member of the ABS team
  • builds for the PR must be green on travis

...and that's it, we're not very formal!

Issues? Roadmap?

You can have a look at the list of open issues on GitHub in order to get an idea what we'd like some help on: at the same time, if you want to propose a change to the language itself, feel free to open an issue and we'd be delighted to have a discussion around your ideas!

We also plan milestones ahead of time so you can get an idea of what's going to land in each minor / major release by looking at the GitHub milestones. We try to release early and release often, meaning we're constantly reviewing our plan and might need to delay releasing a particular feature as it would hold back the release of other interesting features.

A piece of advice: if you +1 the issues you care about, there's a higher change we'll have a look at them in our next release ;-)

We also encourage you to start discussions around the language or submit RFCs: ABS is nothing without a community that shapes its direction. This is an example of the community proposing a change and the ABS team happily +1 it.