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Check your project for common sources of contributor friction.

For the Non-Developer

Flint checks if your project's folder contains the proper files and structure to allow potential contributors to understand: 1) the project's goals, 2) how to contribute, 3) usage guidelines, and 4) how to install the project.


If you've got Go installed, you can install flint with Go's command line interface:

go get

You can test your installation by running flint --version from any folder.

If you don't have Go installed, you can download a prebuilt binary for your platform, optionally renaming it to "flint" for convenience.


Run flint from your project root to check for some common ways to improve the experience for potential contributors. Here's the output for a blank folder to show the full gamut of suggestions:

❯ flint
[ERROR] README not found
[INFO] Every project begins with a README.
[ERROR] CONTRIBUTING guide not found
[INFO] Add a guide for potential contributors.
[ERROR] LICENSE not found
[INFO] Add a license to protect yourself and your users.
[WARNING] Bootstrap script not found
[INFO] A bootstrap script makes setup a snap.
[WARNING] Test script not found
[INFO] Make it easy to run the test suite regardless of project type.
[CRITICAL] Some critical problems found.

You can also run this in older projects which were created by lazy you, or by younger, less wise you.

If you want to check a remote GitHub repository, you can now do so without cloning:

❯ flint --github pengwynn/dotfiles
[ERROR] CONTRIBUTING guide not found
[INFO] Add a guide for potential contributors.
[WARNING] Test script not found
[INFO] Make it easy to run the test suite regardless of project type.
[CRITICAL] Some critical problems found.

Passing the -h flag will show full usage options:

❯ flint -h
   flint - Check a project for common sources of contributor friction

   flint [global options] command [command options] [arguments...]


   help, h      Shows a list of commands or help for one command

   --skip-readme        skip check for README
   --skip-contributing  skip check for contributing guide
   --skip-license       skip check for license
   --skip-bootstrap     skip check for bootstrap script
   --skip-test-script   skip check for test script
   --skip-scripts       skip check for all scripts
   --no-color           skip coloring the terminal output
   --github, -g         GitHub repository as owner/repo
   --token, -t          GitHub API access token [$FLINT_TOKEN]
   --help, -h           show help
   --version, -v        print the version


If you want people to use and contribute to your project, you need to start by answering their most basic questions. Flint is a command line script that will check your project for common answers to these questions.

What is this?

Since it is so important, GitHub founder Tom Preston-Werner suggests you should write the README before you write a single line of code. A well crafted README includes:

  • A description of problems your project solves.
  • The philosophy behind your project.
  • Basic usage and getting started instructions.
  • A list of comparable projects that inspired yours or would be suitable alternatives.

How am I allowed to use it?

Providing the source to your project isn't enough. While you don't have to provide a license, doing so will make it clear to users and potential contributors how they can legally use your software and what happens to contributions they make. Choose A License can help you pick the right license for your project.

How do I contribute?

You'll want to tell folks about your development workflow so they'll know how to submit patches for bugfixes and new features. When you add CONTRIBUTING guidelines to your project, GitHub will make those available at the top of every new Pull Request screen.

How do I get up and running in development?

A bootstrap script is a thoughtful way to let new users (and future versions of yourself on new hardware) get up and running quickly. A good bootstrap script detects and installs all project dependencies. Don't make your less technical users learn devops. Make it as easy as running script/bootstrap.

How do I make sure my new features didn't break old functionality?

Good software projects have test suites that ensure the code works as advertised. Even within language communities, there can be a myriad of test frameworks. You can make it easy to run the test suite with a platform agnostic script/test executable.



Copyright 2014 Wynn Netherland.