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Contributing to Open edX

Contributions to Open edX are very welcome, and strongly encouraged! We've put together some documentation that describes our contribution process, but here's a step-by-step guide that should help you get started.

Step 0: Join the Conversation

Got an idea for how to improve the codebase? Fantastic, we'd love to hear about it! Before you dive in and spend a lot of time and effort making a pull request, it's a good idea to discuss your idea with other interested developers and/or the edX product team. You may get some valuable feedback that changes how you think about your idea, or you may find other developers who have the same idea and want to work together.

JIRA

If you've got an idea for a new feature or new functionality for an existing feature, please start a discussion on the edx-code mailing list to get feedback from the community about the idea and your implementation choices.

If you then plan to contribute your code upstream, please start a discussion on JIRA (you may first need to create a free JIRA account). Start a discussion by visiting the JIRA website and clicking the "Create" button at the top of the page. Choose the project "Open Source Pull Requests" and the issue type "Feature Proposal". In the description give us as much detail as you can for the feature or functionality you are thinking about implementing. Include a link to any relevant edx-code mailing list discussions about your idea. We encourage you to do this before you begin implementing your feature, in order to get valuable feedback from the edX product team early on in your journey and increase the likelihood of a successful pull request.

Slack

To talk with others in the Open edX community, join us on Slack. Sign up for a free account and join the conversation! The group tends to be most active Monday through Friday between 13:00 and 21:00 UTC (9am to 5pm US Eastern time), but interesting conversations can happen at any time. There are many different channels available for different topics, including:

  • #ops for installation help
  • #events for upcoming events related to Open edX
  • #content for discussions about course content and creating the best courses

And lots more! You can also make your own channels to discuss new topics.

Mailing Lists

For asynchronous conversation, we have several mailing lists on Google Groups:

  • openedx-ops: everything related to running Open edX. This includes installation issues, server management, cost analysis, and so on.
  • openedx-translation: everything related to translating Open edX into other languages. This includes volunteer translators, our internationalization infrastructure, issues related to Transifex, and so on.
  • openedx-analytics: everything related to analytics in Open edX.
  • edx-code: everything related to the code in Open edX. This includes feature requests, idea proposals, refactorings, and so on.

Byte-sized Tasks & Bugs

If you are contributing for the first time and want a gentle introduction, or if you aren't sure what to work on, have a look at the list of byte-sized bugs and tasks in the tracker. These tasks are selected for their small size, and usually don't require a broad knowledge of the edX platform. It makes them good candidates for a first task, allowing you to focus on getting familiar with the development environment and the contribution process.

Once you have identified a bug or task, create an account on the tracker and then comment on the ticket to indicate that you are working on it. Don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions on the ticket as needed, too, if anything is unclear.

Step 1: Sign a Contribution Agreement

Before edX can accept any code contributions from you, you'll need to sign the individual contributor agreement and send it in. This confirms that you have the authority to contribute the code in the pull request and ensures that edX can relicense it.

You should print out the agreement and sign it. Then scan (or photograph) the signed agreement and email it to the email address indicated on the agreement. Alternatively, you're also free to physically mail the agreement to the street address on the agreement. Once we have your agreement in hand, we can begin reviewing and merging your work.

You'll also need to add yourself to the AUTHORS file when you submit your first pull request. You should add your full name as well as the email address associated with your GitHub account. Please update AUTHORS in an individual commit, distinct from other changes in the pull request (it's OK for a pull request to contain multiple commits, including a commit to AUTHORS). Alternatively, you can open up a separate PR just to have your name added to the AUTHORS file, and link that PR to the PR with your changes.

Step 2: Fork, Commit, and Pull Request

GitHub has some great documentation on how to fork a git repository. Once you've done that, make your changes and send us a pull request! Be sure to include a detailed description for your pull request, so that a community manager can understand what change you're making, why you're making it, how it should work now, and how you can test that it's working correctly.

Step 3: Meet PR Requirements

Our contributor documentation includes a long list of requirements that pull requests must meet in order to be reviewed by a core committer. These requirements include things like documentation and passing tests: see the contributor documentation page for the full list.

Areas of particular concern with their own detailed guidelines are:

Step 4: Approval by Community Manager and Product Owner

A community manager will read the description of your pull request. If the description is understandable, the community manager will send the pull request to a product owner. The product owner will evaluate if the pull request is a good idea for Open edX, and if not, your pull request will be rejected. This is another good reason why you should discuss your ideas with other members of the community before working on a pull request!

Step 5: Code Review by Core Committer(s)

If your pull request meets the requirements listed in the contributor documentation, and it hasn't been rejected by a product owner, then it will be scheduled for code review by one or more core committers. This process sometimes takes awhile: most of the core committers on the project are employees of edX, and they have to balance their time between code review and new development.

Once the code review process has started, please be responsive to comments on the pull request, so we can keep the review process moving forward. If you are unable to respond for a few days, that's fine, but please add a comment informing us of that -- otherwise, it looks like you're abandoning your work!

Step 6: Merge!

Once the core committers are satisfied that your pull request is ready to go, one of them will merge it for you. Your code will end up on the edX production servers in the next release, which usually which happens every week. Congrats!

Expectations We Have of You

By opening up a pull request, we expect the following things:

  1. You've read and understand the instructions in this contributing file and the contribution process documentation.
  2. You are ready to engage with the edX community. Engaging means you will be prompt in following up with review comments and critiques. Do not open up a pull request right before a vacation or heavy workload that will render you unable to participate in the review process.
  3. If you have questions, you will ask them by either commenting on the pull request or asking us in Slack or on the mailing list.
  4. If you do not respond to comments on your pull request within 7 days, we will close it. You are welcome to re-open it when you are ready to engage.

Expectations You Have of Us

  1. Within a week of opening up a pull request, one of our community managers will triage it, starting the documented contribution process. (Please give us a little extra time if you open the PR on a weekend or around a US holiday! We may take a little longer getting to it.)
  2. We promise to engage in an active dialogue with you from the time we begin reviewing until either the PR is merged (by a core committer), or we decide that, for whatever reason, it should be closed.
  3. Once we have determined through visual review that your code is not malicious, we will run a Jenkins build on your branch.