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The ALA Pattern Library.

Contribution Guide

Let’s build stuff, you guys.

Getting Started

Running the Project

We're using Node.js, NPM (Node Package Manager), and Grunt.js to manage the code in this repo. To preview code locally, you'll need to install Node and NPM, then run the following commands from a terminal window, in the repo directory:

$ npm install
$ grunt

Those commands do the following:

  • npm install will install the necessary node.js packages to develop on this project
  • grunt will run a series of tasks defined in gruntfile.js, such as concatenating or minifying CSS and JavaScript, and copying relevant production files to the dist directory.

Once run, you can preview the site by pointing a web server at the dist directory (see below).

We have set up a watch task to automatically rebuild the dist files whenever files are changed. When you start working, just run the following commands to run all tasks and then start the watch task:

$ grunt && grunt watch

Setting up Your Dev Environment

Using MAMP or Apache or what-have-you, you’ll want to create a virtualhost that points at […]/pattern-library/dist/. Now you can edit files in the tmpl directory, and the grunt watch task will automatically rebuild dist as you go—giving you a preview of the site as it will appear in the wild, minified and concatenated assets and all.

Adding Patterns

All patterns are separate HTML files that live in /patterns. Ideally, the file name should be the same as the pattern's main class name. Add a file to see it in the library.

If you'd like to add usage notes to a pattern, add a .txt file with the same name as the .html file and it'll get pulled into the right place.

Reporting Issues

If you encounter a bug, please report it in the issue tracker. Before opening a new issue, have a quick look to see whether a similar issue already has already been reported—if so, better to comment on that thread.

When submitting an issue, do your best to include the following:

  1. Issue description
  2. Steps to reproduce
  3. Platform/browser (including version, if possible) and devices tested

Feature Requests

If you have an idea for a new feature or a suggestion how to improve an existing feature, let us know! Open a new issue to describe your request.


When submitting a pull request for review there are a few important steps you can take to ensure that it gets reviewed quickly and increase the chances that it will be merged (in order of descending importance):

  1. Try to limit the scope to one issue or feature
  2. Small focused commits, ideally less than 10 to 20 lines
  3. Avoid merge commits (see the section on “rebasing” below)
  4. Use descriptive commit messages


Often times when working on a feature or bug fix branch it's useful to pull in the latest from the parent branch. If you're doing this before submitting a pull request it's best to use git's rebase to apply your commits onto the latest from the parent branch. For example, working on new-feature branch where upstream is the remote at

git checkout new-feature
git pull --rebase upstream master
## You may have to resolve some conflicts here.

You can now push to your own fork to both update it and add your commit(s), then submit your pull request. Keep in mind that it’s only a good idea to do this if you haven't already submitted a pull request, unless you want to create a new one. Have a look at Pro Git’s chapter on rebasing to learn more.


The ALA Pattern Library.




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