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Contributor's Guide

Thanks for your interest in the project! We welcome pull requests from developers of all skill levels. To get started, simply fork the master branch on GitHub to your personal account and then clone the fork into your development environment.

If you would like to contribute but don't already have something in mind, we invite you to take a look at the issues listed under our next milestone. If you see one you'd like to work on, please leave a quick comment so that we don't end up with duplicated effort. Thanks in advance!

The core Falcon project maintainers are:

  • Kurt Griffiths, Project Lead (kgriffs on GH, Gitter, and Twitter)
  • John Vrbanac (jmvrbanac on GH and Gitter, and jvrbanac on Twitter)
  • Vytautas Liuolia (vytas7 on GH and Gitter)
  • Nick Zaccardi (nZac on GH and Gitter)

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, or just need a little help getting started. You can find us in falconry/dev on Gitter.

Please note that all contributors and maintainers of this project are subject to our Code of Conduct.

Pull Requests

Before submitting a pull request, please ensure you have added or updated tests as appropriate, and that all existing tests still pass with your changes on both Python 2 and Python 3. Please also ensure that your coding style follows PEP 8.

You can check all this by running the following from within the Falcon project directory (requires Python 2.7 and Python 3.6 to be installed on your system):

$ pip install tox
$ tox -e py27,py36,pep8

You may also use Python 3.4 or 3.5 if you don't have 3.6 installed on your system. This is just a quick sanity check to verify that your patch works across both Python 2 and Python 3.

If you are using pyenv and get an error along the lines of "failed to get version_info", you will need to activate all the Python versions required by tox before trying again. For example:

$ pyenv shell 2.7.14 3.6.4


Falcon is used in a number of mission-critical applications and is known for its stability and reliability. Therefore, we invest a lot of time in carefully reviewing PRs and working with contributors to ensure that every patch merged into the master branch is correct, complete, performant, well-documented, and appropriate.

Project maintainers review each PR for the following:

  • Design. Does it do the right thing? Is the end goal well understood and correct?
  • Correctness. Is the logic correct? Does it behave correctly according to the goal of the feature or bug fix?
  • Fit. Is this feature or fix in keeping with the spirit of the project? Would this idea be better implemented as an add-on?
  • Standards. Does this change align with approved or standards-track RFCs, de-facto standards, and currently accepted best practices?
  • Tests. Does the PR implement sufficient test coverage in terms of value inputs, Python versions, and lines tested?
  • Compatibility. Does it work across all of Falcon's supported Python versions and operating systems?
  • Performance. Will this degrade performance for request or response handling? Are there opportunities to optimize the implementation?
  • Docs. Does this impact any existing documentation or require new documentation? If so, does this PR include the aforementioned docs, and is the language friendly, clear, helpful, and grammatically correct with no misspellings? Do all docstrings conform to Google style ala sphinx.ext.napoleon?
  • Dependencies. Does this PR bring in any unnecessary dependencies that would prevent us from keeping the framework lean and mean, jeopardize the reliability of the project, or significantly increase Falcon's attack service?

Test coverage

Pull requests must maintain 100% test coverage of all code branches. This helps ensure the quality of the Falcon framework. To check coverage before submitting a pull request:

$ tools/

It is necessary to combine test coverage from multiple environments in order to account for branches in the code that are only taken for a given Python version.

The script generates an HTML coverage report that can be viewed by simply opening .coverage_html/index.html in a browser. This can be helpful in tracking down specific lines or branches that are missing coverage.


We use pytest to run all of our tests. Pytest supports pdb and will break as expected on any pdb.set_trace() calls. If you would like to use pdb++ instead of the standard Python debugger, run one of the following tox environments:

$ tox -e py2_debug
$ tox -e py3_debug

If you wish, you can customize Falcon's tox.ini to install alternative debuggers, such as ipdb or pudb.


A few simple benchmarks are included with the source under falcon/bench. These can be taken as a rough measure of the performance impact (if any) that your changes have on the framework. You can run these tests by invoking one of the tox environments included for this purpose (see also the tox.ini file). For example:

$ tox -e py27_bench

Note that you may pass additional arguments via tox to the falcon-bench command:

$ tox -e py27_bench -- -h
$ tox -e py27_bench -- -b falcon -i 20000

Alternatively, you may run falcon-bench directly by creating a new virtual environment and installing falcon directly in development mode. In this example we use pyenv with pyenv-virtualenv from within a falcon source directory:

$ pyenv virtualenv 3.6.2 falcon-sandbox-36
$ pyenv shell falcon-sandbox-36
$ pip install -r requirements/bench
$ pip install -e .
$ falcon-bench

Note that benchmark results for the same code will vary between runs based on a number of factors, including overall system load and CPU scheduling. These factors may be somewhat mitigated by running the benchmarks on a Linux server dedicated to this purpose, and pinning the benchmark process to a specific CPU core.


To check documentation changes (including docstrings), before submitting a PR, ensure the tox job builds the documentation correctly:

$ tox -e docs

# OS X
$ open docs/_build/html/index.html

# Gnome
$ gnome-open docs/_build/html/index.html

# Generic X Windows
$ xdg-open docs/_build/html/index.html

Code style rules

  • Docstrings are required for classes, attributes, methods, and functions.
  • Docstrings should utilize the napolean style in order to make them read well, regardless of whether they are viewed through help() or on Read the Docs.
  • Please try to be consistent with the way existing docstrings are formatted. In particular, note the use of single vs. double backticks as follows:
    • Double backticks
      • Inline code
      • Variables
      • Types
      • Decorators
    • Single backticks
      • Methods
      • Params
      • Attributes
  • Format non-trivial comments using your GitHub nick and one of these prefixes:
    • TODO(riker): Damage report!
    • NOTE(riker): Well, that's certainly good to know.
    • PERF(riker): Travel time to the nearest starbase?
    • APPSEC(riker): In all trust, there is the possibility for betrayal.
  • When catching exceptions, name the variable ex.
  • Use whitespace to separate logical blocks of code and to improve readability.
  • No single-character variable names except for trivial indexes when looping, or in mathematical expressions implementing well-known formulas.
  • Heavily document code that is especially complex and/or clever.
  • When in doubt, optimize for readability.

Commit Message Format

Falcon's commit message format uses AngularJS's style guide, reproduced here for convenience, with some minor edits for clarity.

Each commit message consists of a header, a body and a footer. The header has a special format that includes a type, a scope and a subject:

<type>(<scope>): <subject>

No line may exceed 100 characters. This makes it easier to read the message on GitHub as well as in various git tools.


Must be one of the following:

  • feat: A new feature
  • fix: A bug fix
  • docs: Documentation only changes
  • style: Changes that do not affect the meaning of the code (white-space, formatting, missing semi-colons, etc)
  • refactor: A code change that neither fixes a bug or adds a feature
  • perf: A code change that improves performance
  • test: Adding missing tests
  • chore: Changes to the build process or auxiliary tools and libraries such as documentation generation

The scope could be anything specifying place of the commit change. For example: $location, $browser, $compile, $rootScope, ngHref, ngClick, ngView, etc...


The subject contains succinct description of the change:

  • use the imperative, present tense: "change" not "changed" nor "changes"
  • don't capitalize first letter
  • no dot (.) at the end

Just as in the subject, use the imperative, present tense: "change" not "changed" nor "changes"The body should include the motivation for the change and contrast this with previous behavior.


The footer should contain any information about Breaking Changes and is also the place to reference GitHub issues that this commit Closes.