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Maintainer Guidelines

These are the general guidelines for maintaining WHATWG standards. Mostly boring infrastructure stuff.

Handling pull requests

Rules for title/message must be satisfied before pull request (PR) is reviewed. See for further details.

For normative changes, ask for a web-platform-tests PR if testing is practical and not overly burdensome. Aim to merge both PRs at the same time. If one PR is approved but the other needs more work, add the do not merge yet label or, in web-platform-tests, the status:needs-spec-decision label.

If a follow-up issue is filed in the web-platform-tests repository, add the type:untestable or type:missing-coverage label, and any other appropriate labels, e.g. html for the HTML Standard.

Furthermore, for changes affecting one or more implementations, ensure implementation bugs are filed:

Checking out pull requests from forks

Pull requests from external contributors come from branches in their forks. You can check out those external branches in order to review and test the commits in those pull requests, and to be able to push changes to them on your own (e.g., fixes for typos)—rather than needing to write review comments asking the PR contributor to make the edits.

To checkout a PR branch, note the user it's coming from and the branch they used in their fork. For example, for user estark37 with branch example-fix on the html repository, you would do

git remote add estark37
git fetch estark37
git checkout -b estark37-example-fix estark37/example-fix

You can then push to the estark37-example-fix branch and it will update the example-fix branch in estark37's fork, and thus will update the pull request.

Git config tweak

It's recommended that you also make the following change to your git configuration:

git config push.default upstream

If you make that change, then whenever you're in a local PR branch and want to push changes back to the corresponding external branches, you can just run git push with no arguments (rather than also needing to specify the remote name and branch name as arguments). Otherwise, you need to also specify the remote name and branch name each time you push.

If you want to enable that same ability for all your project clones, also specify the --global option: git config --global push.default upstream.

Helper script

You can add the following helper script to your .bash_profile or similar to make the process above slightly simpler:

checkout-pr() {
  local REPO=`basename $(git config remote.origin.url | cut -d: -f2-)`
  local REMOTE_URL=$1/$REPO
  if [ "`git config remote.origin.url | cut -d: -f1`" == "" ]; then
  git remote add $1 $REMOTE_URL 2> /dev/null
  git fetch $1
  git checkout -b $1-$2 $1/$2

You can then use it as

checkout-pr estark37 example-fix

Merging pull requests into master

Just use the normal green button in the pull-request page in the GitHub Web UI, but first ensure the commit message follows the guidelines.

Merging to master from the command line

Regardless of whether a pull request comes from a contributor (in which case the branch is from a different remote repository and you've already used the Checking out pull requests from forks steps above to fetch the branch) or from other editors or members of the WHATWG GitHub organization (in which case the branch is in the main repository), the steps for cleanly merging it to master are the same:

git checkout BRANCH_NAME
git rebase master
... build and review the spec ...
git push --force
git checkout master
git merge BRANCH_NAME --ff-only

This checks out the PR's commits, rebases them on master, then fast-forwards master to include them.

The git push --force line here ensures that the original branch gets updated to sit on top of master as well. This ensures GitHub can automatically figure out that the commits were merged, and thus automatically close the pull request with a nice purple "merged" status. So at this point you can do a git push origin master to push the changes, and GitHub will close the PR and mark it as merged.

Review Drafts

As per the Workstream Policy, editors are expected to publish a Review Draft every six months. This is a manual process (for now):

  1. Run make review and follow the instructions.
  2. Commit the new document. Use a commit message like Review Draft Publication: May 2018 (adjusting the month and year accordingly). This format (which translates into the pull request title) is important for those filtering their notifications in their email client.
  3. Create a pull request for the new resource and get it reviewed. The pull request body should be:
    A Review Draft for this Workstream will be published shortly, by merging this pull request.
    Under the [WHATWG IPR Policy](, Participants may, within 45 days after publication of a Review Draft, exclude certain Essential Patent Claims from the Review Draft Licensing Obligations. See the [IPR Policy]( for details.
  4. Land the pull request. This will automatically publish the review draft in a subdirectory of
  5. Copy the final URL and add it as a comment to the pull request.