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Contributing

Any open source product is only as good as the community behind it. You can participate by sharing code, ideas, or simply helping others. No matter what your skill level is, every contribution counts.

See our high level overview on silverstripe.org on how you can help out.

Sharing your Opinion

Reporting Bugs

If you have discovered a bug in SilverStripe, we'd be glad to hear about it - well written bug reports can be half of the solution already! Our bugtracker is located on open.silverstripe.org (create a new ticket).

Submiting Bugfixes and Enhancements

We're not perfect, and need your help - for example in the form of patches for our modules and core codebase.

Setup your project for contributions

In contrast to running a SilverStripe website, you can't use the standard download archive for this purpose. The "Installing from source" guide explains how to get started. For other modules, our module list on silverstripe.org lists the repository locations, typically using a version control system like "git" or "subversion".

Check List

  • Adhere to our coding conventions
  • If your patch is extensive, discuss it first on the silverstripe forum (ideally before doing any serious coding)
  • When working on existing tickets, assign them to you and provide status updates through ticket comments
  • Check your patches against the latest "trunk" or "master", as well as the latest release. Please not that the latest stable release will often not be sufficient! (of all modules)
  • Provide complete unit test coverage - depending on the complexity of your work, this is a required step.
  • Do not set milestones. If you think your patch should be looked at with priority, mark it as "critical".
  • Describe specifics on how to test the effects of the patch
  • It's better to submit multiple patches with separate bits of functionality than a big patch containing lots of changes
  • Document your code inline through PHPDoc syntax. See our API documentation for good examples.
  • Also check and update documentation on doc.silverstripe.org. Check for any references to functionality deprecated or extended through your patch. Documentation changes should be included in the patch.
  • We will attribute the change to you whereever possible (git does this automatically for pull requests)
  • If you get stuck, please post to the forum or for deeper core problems, to the core mailinglist

The core team is responsible for reviewing patches and deciding if they will make it into core. If there are any problems they will follow up with you, so please ensure they have a way to contact you!

Sending git pull requests

The SilverStripe core modules (sapphire and cms), as well as some of the more popular modules are in git version control. SilverStripe hosts its modules on github.com/silverstripe and github.com/silverstripe-labs. After installing git and creating a free github.com account, you can "fork" a module, which creates a copy that you can commit to (see github's guide to "forking").

Now you have two choices: Smaller fixes (e.g. typos) can be edited directly in the github.com web interface (every file view has an "edit this file" link). More commonly, you will deal with a working copy on your own computer. After committing your fix, you can send the module authors a so called "pull request". The module authors will get notified automatically, review your patch, and merge it back as appropriate. For new features, we recommend creating a "feature branch" rather than a really big patch. Note that we no longer accept patch file attachments ("diffs") as commonly created through subversion.

It is important that you use git branching properly in order to avoid messy and time-consuming merges later on, so please read our in-depth "Collaboration on Git" guide. If you want to learn more about git, please have a look at the free online git book and the git crash course.

Commit Messages

We try to maintain a consistent record of descriptive commit messages. As we automatically generate changelogs from them, we need a way to categorize and filter. Please prefix all commit messages with one of the following tags:

  • API CHANGE: You've added or modified the functions available to developers writing custom PHP.
  • ENHANCEMENT: You've added something to the user-visible aspects of SilverStripe.
  • BUGFIX: You've fixed something that was broken.
  • MINOR Mark things that are so trivial they're not even worth telling users about; specifically, to prevent adding clutter to our automatically generated changelogs. MINOR is not used to mark a minor bugfix or feature, see above. Some examples:
    • a subsequent commit to a bugfix/feature that you committed earlier that day
    • adding unit tests (that are more interesting to developers of SilverStripe than users of it)
    • subversion/codebase plumbing (changing externals, blocking revisions, moving files around, etc)
    • In summary: if it's worth including in the changelog, it's not MINOR.

Further guidelines:

  • Each commit should form a logical unit - if you fix two unrelated bugs, commit each one separately
  • If you are fixing a ticket from our bugtracker, please append (fixes #<ticketnumber>)
  • If your change is related to another changeset, reference it with r<revisionnumber>.
  • Please mention the changed classes and methods in your comment - the message should be understandable on its own without browsing any sourcecode

Example: Bad commit message

finally fixed this dumb rendering bug that Joe talked about ... LOL
also added another form field for password validation

Example: Good commit message

ENHANCEMENT Added prepValueForDB() which is called on DBField->writeToManipulation() to ensure formatting of value before insertion to DB on a per-DBField type basis (see #1234)
MINOR Added documentation for DBField->writeToManipulation() (see r55555)
Note: By supplying code in patches, tickets and pull requests, you agree that is can be used in distributions and derivative works of SilverStripe CMS and associated modules, under the BSD license.

Reporting Security Issues

Report security issues to security@silverstripe.com. See our "Release Process" documentation for more info, and read our guide on how to write secure code.

Writing Documentation

Documentation for a software project is a continued and collaborative effort, we encourage everybody to contribute, from simply fixing spelling mistakes, to writing recipes/howtos, reviewing existing documentation, and translating the whole thing. Modifying documentation requires basic PHPDoc and Markdown/SSMarkdown knowledge. If you have downloaded SilverStripe or a module, chances are that you already have the documentation files - they are kept alongside the source code (in the docs/ subfolder).

In general, you have to "fork" the github.com/silverstripe/sapphire and github.com/silverstripe/silverstripe-cms repositories and send us "pull requests". Note: Smaller edits can be performed in the github.com web interface on your fork, every page view should have an "edit this file" button.

Repositories

  • End-user: userhelp.silverstripe.org - a custom SilverStripe project (not open sourced at the moment).
  • Developer Guides: doc.silverstripe.org - powered by a SilverStripe project that uses the "sapphiredocs" module to convert Markdown formatted files into searchable HTML pages with index lists. Its contents are fetched from different releases automatically every couple of minutes.
  • Developer API Docuumentation: api.silverstripe.org - powered by a customized phpDocumentor template, and is regenerated automatically every night.

Source Control

In order to balance editorial control with effective collaboration, we keep documentation alongside the module source code, e.g. in sapphire/docs/, or as code comments within PHP code. Contributing documentation is the same process as providing any other patch (see Patches and Bugfixes).

What to write

  • API Docs: Written alongside source code and displayed on api.silverstripe.com. This documents the low-level, technical usage of a class, method or property. Not suited for longer textual descriptions, due to the limited support of PHPDoc formatting for headlines.
  • Tutorials: The first contact for new users, guiding them step-by-step through achievable projects, in a book-like style. Example: Building a basic site
  • Topics: Provides an overview on how things fit together, the "conceptual glue" between APIs and features. This is where most documentation should live, and is the natural "second step" after finishing the tutorials. Example: Templates, Testing, Datamodel
  • Howto: Recipes that solve a specific task or problem, rather than describing a feature. Example: Export DataObjects as CSV, Customizing TinyMCE in the CMS
  • Reference: Complements API docs in providing deeper introduction into a specific API. Most documentation should fit elsewhere. Example: ModelAdmin
  • Misc: "Meta" documentation like coding conventions that doesn't directly relate to a feature or API.

See What to write (jacobian.org) for an excellent introduction to the different types of documentation, and Producing OSS: "Documentation" for good rules of thumb for documenting opensource software.

Structure

  • Don't duplicate: Search for existing places to put your documentation. Do you really require a new page, or just a new paragraph of text somewhere?
  • Use PHPDoc in source code: Leave lowlevel technical documentation to code comments within PHP, in PHPDoc format.
  • Use Markdown in Developer Guides: We have a slightly customized version of Markdown called SSMarkdown
  • API and Developer Guides complement each other: Both forms of documenting sourcecode (API and Developer Guides) are valueable ressources.
  • Provide context: Give API documentation the "bigger picture" by referring to Developer Guides inside your PHPDoc.
  • Make your documentation findable: Documentation lives by interlinking content, so please make sure your contribution doesn't become an inaccessible island. Your page should at least be linked on the index page in the same folder. It can also appear as "related content" on other resource (e.g. /topics/search might link to howto/search-dataobjects).
  • Avoid FAQs: FAQs are not a replacement of a coherent, well explained documentation. If you've done a good job documenting, there shouldn't be any "frequently asked questions" left ;)
  • Commit early and often: You don't need to completely finish documentation, as long as you mark areas needing refinement.
  • Every file should have exactly one <h1> headline, roughly matching the filename. It should be short enough to be used in table of content lists.

Writing Style

  • Write in second plural form: Use "we" instead of "I". It gives the text an instructive and collaborative style.
  • Its okay to address the reader: For example "First you'll install a webserver" is good style.
  • Write in an active and direct voice
  • Mark up correctly: Use preformatted text, emphasis and bold to make technical writing more "scannable".

Highlighted blocks

There are several built-in block styles for highlighting a paragraph of text. Please use these graphical elements sparingly.

"Tip box": Adds, deepens or accents information in the main text. Can be used for background knowledge, or "see also" links.

Code:

<div class="hint" markdown='1'>
...
</div>
"Notification box": Technical notifications relating to the main text. For example, notifying users about a deprecated feature.

Code:

<div class="notice" markdown='1'>
...
</div>
"Warning box": Highlight a severe bug or technical issue requiring a users attention. For example, a code block with destructive functionality might not have its URL actions secured to keep the code shorter.

Code:

<div class="warning" markdown='1'>
...
</div>

See Markdown Extra Documentation for more restriction on placing HTML blocks inside Markdown.

Translating Documentation

Documentation is kept alongside the source code, typically in a module subdirectory like sapphire/docs/en/. Each language has its own subfolder, which can duplicate parts or the whole body of documentation. German documentation would for example live in sapphire/docs/de/. The sapphiredocs module that drives doc.silverstripe.org automatically resolves these subfolders into a language dropdown.

Further reading

Translating the User Interface

The content for UI elements (button labels, field titles) and instruction texts shown in the CMS and elsewhere is stored in the PHP code for a module (see i18n). All content can be extracted as a "language file" which is then uploaded to translate.silverstripe.org. This website provides an online editor for translators (like you!). Every now and then, translations will be merged back into the codebase from there, and released alongside other PHP code.

SilverStripe is already translated in over 60 languages, and we're relying on native speakers to keep these up to date, and of course add new languages. Please register a free translator account to get started, even if you just feel like fixing up a few sentences.

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