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These rules are fairly standard and boring. People will bitch about something
in here, no doubt. Get over it. Much of this was stolen from the Linux Kernel
coding style, because most of it makes good sense. If you disagree, that's OK,
but please stick to the rules anyway ;-)
Please use Python where possible. It's not the ideal language for everything,
but it's pretty good, and consistency goes a long way in making the project
maintainable. (Obviously using C or whatever for writing tests is fine).
Base coding style
When writing python code, unless otherwise stated, stick to the python style
guide ( We now ship a script,, that can verify non compliances to the PEP8, with some of
the few exceptions we allow people to do. If you see that the script
finds problems with your code, we expect you to fix them before you
send pull requests. In order for the script to be useful you'll have to
use the tools provided by your distro to install the programs 'pep8' and
Indentation & whitespace
Format your code for an 80 character wide screen.
Indentation is now 4 spaces, as opposed to hard tabs (which it used to be).
This is the Python standard.
Don't leave trailing whitespace, or put whitespace on blank lines.
Variable names and UpPeR cAsE
Use descriptive variable names where possible - it helps to make the code
self documenting.
Don't use CamelCaps style in most places - use underscores to separate parts
of your variable_names please.
Importing modules
The order of imports should be as follows:
Standard python modules
Non-standard python modules
Autotest modules
Within one of these three sections, all module imports using the from
keyword should appear after regular imports.
Modules should be lumped together on the same line.
Wildcard imports (from x import *) should be avoided if possible.
Classes should not be imported from modules, but modules may be imported
from packages, i.e.:
from shared import error
and not
from shared.error import AutoservError
For example:
import os
import pickle
import random
import re
import select
import shutil
import signal
import StringIO
import subprocess
import sys
import time
import urllib
import urlparse
import MySQLdb
import autotest.common
except ImportError:
import common # Magic autotest module and sys.path setup code.
import MySQLdb # After common so that we check our site-packages first.
from shared import error
Testing None
Use "is None" rather than "== None" and "is not None" rather than "!= None".
This way you'll never run into a case where someone's __eq__ or __ne__
method do the wrong thing
Generally, you want your comments to tell WHAT your code does, not HOW.
We can figure out how from the code itself (or if not, your code needs fixing).
Try to describe the intent of a function and what it does in a triple-quoted
(multiline) string just after the def line. We've tried to do that in most
places, though undoubtedly we're not perfect. A high level overview is
incredibly helpful in understanding code.
Docstrings are important to keep our code self documenting. While it's not
necessary to overdo documentation, we ask you to be sensible and document any
nontrivial function. When creating docstrings, please add a newline at the
beginning of your triple quoted string and another newline at the end of it. If
the docstring has multiple lines, please include a short summary line followed
by a blank line before continuing with the rest of the description. Please
capitalize and punctuate accordingly the sentences. If the description has
multiple lines, put two levels of indentation before proceeding with text. An
example docstring:
def foo(param1, param2):
Summary line.
Long description of method foo.
:param param1: A thing called param1 that is used for a bunch of stuff
that has methods bar() and baz() which raise SpamError if
something goes awry.
:type param1: :class:`Thing`
:param param2: The number of :class:`thingies <Thing>` that foo will handle
:type param2: integer
:return: a list of integers describing changes in a source tree
:rtype: list of integers
The docstring can hold any form of reStructuredText. For a brief intro, check:
More specifically, Autotest docs are now based on the Sphinx documentation
So you can not only use the basic reStructuredText tags, but also any other
tag that Sphinx makes available. When documenting functions and methods, you
probably want to use one of the tags exemplified here:
:param - Parameter description
:returns - Return value description
:raises - If the function can throw an exception, this tag documents the
possible exception types.
The existing docstrings are being converted into reStructuredText, so don't
worry if you find docstrings that don't conform to the example given here.
When in doubt, please refer to the Sphinx documentation.
Simple code
Keep it simple; this is not the right place to show how smart you are. We
have plenty of system failures to deal with without having to spend ages
figuring out your code, thanks ;-) Readability, readability, readability.
I really don't care if other things are more compact.
"Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore,
if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not
smart enough to debug it." Brian Kernighan
Function length
Please keep functions short, under 30 lines or so if possible. Even though
you are amazingly clever, and can cope with it, the rest of us are all stupid,
so be nice and help us out. To quote the Linux Kernel coding style:
Functions should be short and sweet, and do just one thing. They should
fit on one or two screenfuls of text (the ISO/ANSI screen size is 80x24,
as we all know), and do one thing and do that well.
When raising exceptions, the preferred syntax for it is:
raise FooException('Exception Message')
Please don't raise string exceptions, as they're deprecated and will be removed
from future versions of python. If you're in doubt about what type of exception
you will raise, please look at
and client/shared/, the former is a list of python built in
exceptions and the latter is a list of autotest/autoserv internal exceptions. Of
course, if you really need to, you can extend the exception definitions on
Submitting patches
Nowadays, the projects uses the github ( infrastructure,
and we ask contributors to send patches as github pull requests, rather than
to the mailing list. How to do that is covered on github's documentation:
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