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Contributing to gophercloud

Setting up your git workspace

As a contributor you will need to setup your workspace in a slightly different way than just downloading it. Here are the basic installation instructions:

  1. Configure your $GOPATH and run go get as described in the main README but add -tags "fixtures acceptance" to get dependencies for unit and acceptance tests.

  2. Move into the directory that houses your local repository:

    cd ${GOPATH}/src/
  3. Fork the rackspace/gophercloud repository and update your remote refs. You will need to rename the origin remote branch to upstream, and add your fork as origin instead:

    git remote rename origin upstream
    git remote add origin<my_username>/gophercloud
  4. Checkout the latest development branch:

    git checkout master
  5. If you're working on something (discussed more in detail below), you will need to checkout a new feature branch:

    git checkout -b my-new-feature

Another thing to bear in mind is that you will need to add a few extra environment variables for acceptance tests - this is documented in our acceptance tests readme.


When working on a new or existing feature, testing will be the backbone of your work since it helps uncover and prevent regressions in the codebase. There are two types of test we use in gophercloud: unit tests and acceptance tests, which are both described below.

Unit tests

Unit tests are the fine-grained tests that establish and ensure the behaviour of individual units of functionality. We usually test on an operation-by-operation basis (an operation typically being an API action) with the use of mocking to set up explicit expectations. Each operation will set up its HTTP response expectation, and then test how the system responds when fed this controlled, pre-determined input.

To make life easier, we've introduced a bunch of test helpers to simplify the process of testing expectations with assertions:

import (


func TestSomething(t *testing.T) {
  result, err := Operation()

  testhelper.AssertEquals(t, "foo", result.Bar)
  testhelper.AssertNoErr(t, err)

func TestSomethingElse(t *testing.T) {
  testhelper.CheckEquals(t, "expected", "actual")

AssertEquals and AssertNoErr will throw a fatal error if a value does not match an expected value or if an error has been declared, respectively. You can also use CheckEquals and CheckNoErr for the same purpose; the only difference being that t.Errorf is raised rather than t.Fatalf.

Here is a truncated example of mocked HTTP responses:

import (

	th ""
	fake ""

func TestGet(t *testing.T) {
	// Setup the HTTP request multiplexer and server
	defer th.TeardownHTTP()

	th.Mux.HandleFunc("/networks/d32019d3-bc6e-4319-9c1d-6722fc136a22", func(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
		// Test we're using the correct HTTP method
		th.TestMethod(t, r, "GET")

		// Test we're setting the auth token
		th.TestHeader(t, r, "X-Auth-Token", fake.TokenID)

		// Set the appropriate headers for our mocked response
		w.Header().Add("Content-Type", "application/json")

		// Set the HTTP body
		fmt.Fprintf(w, `
    "network": {
        "status": "ACTIVE",
        "name": "private-network",
        "admin_state_up": true,
        "tenant_id": "4fd44f30292945e481c7b8a0c8908869",
        "shared": true,
        "id": "d32019d3-bc6e-4319-9c1d-6722fc136a22"

	// Call our API operation
	network, err := Get(fake.ServiceClient(), "d32019d3-bc6e-4319-9c1d-6722fc136a22").Extract()

	// Assert no errors and equality
	th.AssertNoErr(t, err)
	th.AssertEquals(t, n.Status, "ACTIVE")

Acceptance tests

As we've already mentioned, unit tests have a very narrow and confined focus - they test small units of behaviour. Acceptance tests on the other hand have a far larger scope: they are fully functional tests that test the entire API of a service in one fell swoop. They don't care about unit isolation or mocking expectations, they instead do a full run-through and consequently test how the entire system integrates together. When an API satisfies expectations, it proves by default that the requirements for a contract have been met.

Please be aware that acceptance tests will hit a live API - and may incur service charges from your provider. Although most tests handle their own teardown procedures, it is always worth manually checking that resources are deleted after the test suite finishes.

Running tests

To run all tests:

go test -tags fixtures ./...

To run all tests with verbose output:

go test -v -tags fixtures ./...

To run tests that match certain build tags:

go test -tags "fixtures foo bar" ./...

To run tests for a particular sub-package:

cd ./path/to/package && go test -tags fixtures .

Basic style guide

We follow the standard formatting recommendations and language idioms set out in the Effective Go guide. It's definitely worth reading - but the relevant sections are formatting and names.

5 ways to get involved

There are five main ways you can get involved in our open-source project, and each is described briefly below. Once you've made up your mind and decided on your fix, you will need to follow the same basic steps that all submissions are required to adhere to:

  1. fork the rackspace/gophercloud repository
  2. checkout a new branch
  3. submit your branch as a pull request

1. Providing feedback

On of the easiest ways to get readily involved in our project is to let us know about your experiences using our SDK. Feedback like this is incredibly useful to us, because it allows us to refine and change features based on what our users want and expect of us. There are a bunch of ways to get in contact! You can ping us via e-mail, talk to us on irc (#rackspace-dev on freenode), tweet us, or submit an issue on our bug tracker. Things you might like to tell us are:

  • how easy was it to start using our SDK?
  • did it meet your expectations? If not, why not?
  • did our documentation help or hinder you?
  • what could we improve in general?

2. Fixing bugs

If you want to start fixing open bugs, we'd really appreciate that! Bug fixing is central to any project. The best way to get started is by heading to our bug tracker and finding open bugs that you think nobody is working on. It might be useful to comment on the thread to see the current state of the issue and if anybody has made any breakthroughs on it so far.

3. Improving documentation

We have three forms of documentation:

  • short README documents that briefly introduce a topic
  • reference documentation on that is automatically generated from source code comments
  • user documentation on our homepage that includes getting started guides, installation guides and code samples

If you feel that a certain section could be improved - whether it's to clarify ambiguity, correct a technical mistake, or to fix a grammatical error - please feel entitled to do so! We welcome doc pull requests with the same childlike enthusiasm as any other contribution!

4. Optimizing existing features

If you would like to improve or optimize an existing feature, please be aware that we adhere to semantic versioning - which means that we cannot introduce breaking changes to the API without a major version change (v1.x -> v2.x). Making that leap is a big step, so we encourage contributors to refactor rather than rewrite. Running tests will prevent regression and avoid the possibility of breaking somebody's current implementation.

Another tip is to keep the focus of your work as small as possible - try not to introduce a change that affects lots and lots of files because it introduces added risk and increases the cognitive load on the reviewers checking your work. Change-sets which are easily understood and will not negatively impact users are more likely to be integrated quickly.

Lastly, if you're seeking to optimize a particular operation, you should try to demonstrate a negative performance impact - perhaps using go's inbuilt benchmark capabilities.

5. Working on a new feature

If you've found something we've left out, definitely feel free to start work on introducing that feature. It's always useful to open an issue or submit a pull request early on to indicate your intent to a core contributor - this enables quick/early feedback and can help steer you in the right direction by avoiding known issues. It might also help you avoid losing time implementing something that might not ever work. One tip is to prefix your Pull Request issue title with [wip] - then people know it's a work in progress.

You must ensure that all of your work is well tested - both in terms of unit and acceptance tests. Untested code will not be merged because it introduces too much of a risk to end-users.

Happy hacking!