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Contributing to Elixir

Please take a moment to review this document in order to make the contribution process easy and effective for everyone involved!

Using the issue tracker

Use the issues tracker for:

Please do not use the issue tracker for personal support requests nor feature requests. Support requests should be sent to:

Feature requests can be discussed on the elixir-core mailing list.

We do our best to keep the issue tracker tidy and organized, making it useful for everyone. For example, we classify open issues per application and perceived difficulty of the issue, making it easier for developers to contribute to Elixir.

Bug reports

A bug is a demonstrable problem that is caused by the code in the repository. Good bug reports are extremely helpful - thank you!

Guidelines for bug reports:

  1. Use the GitHub issue searchcheck if the issue has already been reported.

  2. Check if the issue has been fixed — try to reproduce it using the master branch in the repository.

  3. Isolate and report the problem — ideally create a reduced test case.

Please try to be as detailed as possible in your report. Include information about your Operating System, your Erlang and Elixir versions. Please provide steps to reproduce the issue as well as the outcome you were expecting! All these details will help developers to fix any potential bugs.


Short and descriptive example bug report title

A summary of the issue and the environment in which it occurs. If suitable, include the steps required to reproduce the bug.

  1. This is the first step
  2. This is the second step
  3. Further steps, etc.

<url> - a link to the reduced test case (e.g. a GitHub Gist)

Any other information you want to share that is relevant to the issue being reported. This might include the lines of code that you have identified as causing the bug, and potential solutions (and your opinions on their merits).

Feature requests

Feature requests are welcome and should be discussed on the elixir-core mailing list. But take a moment to find out whether your idea fits with the scope and aims of the project. It's up to you to make a strong case to convince the community of the merits of this feature. Please provide as much detail and context as possible.


We incentivize everyone to contribute to Elixir and help us tackle existing issues! To do so, there are a few things you need to know about the code. First, Elixir code is divided in applications inside the lib folder:

  • elixir - Contains Elixir's kernel and stdlib

  • eex - Template engine that allows you to embed Elixir

  • ex_unit - Simple test framework that ships with Elixir

  • iex — IEx, Elixir's interactive shell

  • mix — Elixir's build tool

You can run all tests in the root directory with make test and you can also run tests for a specific framework make test_#{NAME}, for example, make test_ex_unit.

In case you are changing a single file, you can compile and run tests only for that particular file for fast development cycles. For example, if you are changing the String module, you can compile it and run its tests as:

$ bin/elixirc lib/elixir/lib/string.ex -o lib/elixir/ebin
$ bin/elixir lib/elixir/test/elixir/string_test.exs

After your changes are done, please remember to run the full suite with make test.

From time to time, your tests may fail in an existing Elixir checkout and may require a clean start by running make clean compile. You can always check the official build status on Travis-CI.

With tests running and passing, you are ready to contribute to Elixir and send your pull requests.

Contributing Documentation

Code documentation (@doc, @moduledoc, @typedoc) has a special convention: the first paragraph is considered to be a short summary.

For functions, macros and callbacks say what it will do. For example write something like:

@doc """
Returns only those elements for which `fun` is `true`.

def filter(collection, fun) ...

For modules, protocols and types say what it is. For example write something like:

defmodule File.Stat do
  @moduledoc """
  Information about a file.


  defstruct [...]

Keep in mind that the first paragraph might show up in a summary somewhere, long texts in the first paragraph create very ugly summaries. As a rule of thumb anything longer than 80 characters is too long.

Try to keep unnecessary details out of the first paragraph, it's only there to give a user a quick idea of what the documented "thing" does/is. The rest of the documentation string can contain the details, for example when a value and when nil is returned.

If possible include examples, preferably in a form that works with doctests. For example:

@doc """
Return only those elements for which `fun` is `true`.

## Examples

    iex> Enum.filter([1, 2, 3], fn(x) -> rem(x, 2) == 0 end)

def filter(collection, fun) ...

This makes it easy to test the examples so that they don't go stale and examples are often a great help in explaining what a function does.

Pull requests

Good pull requests - patches, improvements, new features - are a fantastic help. They should remain focused in scope and avoid containing unrelated commits.

NOTE: Do not send code style changes as pull requests like changing the indentation of some particular code snippet or how a function is called. Those will not be accepted as they pollute the repository history with non functional changes and are often based on personal preferences.

IMPORTANT: By submitting a patch, you agree that your work will be licensed under the license used by the project.

If you have any large pull request in mind (e.g. implementing features, refactoring code, etc), please ask first otherwise you risk spending a lot of time working on something that the project's developers might not want to merge into the project.

Please adhere to the coding conventions in the project (indentation, accurate comments, etc.) and don't forget to add your own tests and documentation. When working with git, we recommend the following process in order to craft an excellent pull request:

  1. Fork the project, clone your fork, and configure the remotes:

    # Clone your fork of the repo into the current directory
    git clone<your-username>/elixir
    # Navigate to the newly cloned directory
    cd elixir
    # Assign the original repo to a remote called "upstream"
    git remote add upstream
  2. If you cloned a while ago, get the latest changes from upstream:

    git checkout master
    git pull upstream master
  3. Create a new topic branch (off of master) to contain your feature, change, or fix.

    IMPORTANT: Making changes in master is discouraged. You should always keep your local master in sync with upstream master and make your changes in topic branches.

    git checkout -b <topic-branch-name>
  4. Commit your changes in logical chunks. Keep your commit messages organized, with a short description in the first line and more detailed information on the following lines. Feel free to use Git's interactive rebase feature to tidy up your commits before making them public.

  5. Make sure all the tests are still passing.

    make test

    This command will compile the code in your branch and use that version of Elixir to run the tests. This is needed to ensure your changes can pass all the tests.

  6. Push your topic branch up to your fork:

    git push origin <topic-branch-name>
  7. Open a Pull Request with a clear title and description.

  8. If you haven't updated your pull request for a while, you should consider rebasing on master and resolving any conflicts.

    IMPORTANT: Never ever merge upstream master into your branches. You should always git rebase on master to bring your changes up to date when necessary.

    git checkout master
    git pull upstream master
    git checkout <your-topic-branch>
    git rebase master

We have saved some excellent pull requests we have received in the past in case you are looking for some examples:

Thank you for your contributions!

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