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Contribution Guidelines

This document is a living summary of conventions and best practices for development within Zowe CLI or development of Zowe CLI plug-ins.


Whenever you make a commit, it is required to be signed. If you do not, you will have to re-write the git history to get all commits signed before they can be merged, which can be quite a pain.

Use the "-s" or "--signoff" flags to sign a commit.

Example calls:

  • git commit -s -m "Adding a test file to new_branch"
  • git commit --signoff -m "Adding a test file to new_branch"

Why? Sign-off is a line at the end of the commit message which certifies who is the author of the commit. Its main purpose is to improve tracking of who did what, especially with patches.

Example commit in git history:

Add tests for the payment processor.

Signed-off-by: Humpty Dumpty <>

What to do if you forget to sign off on a commit?

To sign old commits: git rebase --exec 'git commit --amend --no-edit --signoff' -i <commit-hash>

where commit hash is one before your first commit in history

If you forget to signoff on a commit, you'll likely receive the following message:

"Commit message must be signed off with your user name and email. To sign off your commit, add the -s flag to the git commit command."

Understanding Packages and Plug-ins

Packages are individual folders under the packages root folder that represent self-contained sets of functionality. For example, zosjobs and zosfiles. The structure allows packages to be easily pulled out into a separate project if needed, or turned into separately installable npm packages.

Plug-ins are separately maintained "extensions" to the Zowe CLI.

For more information and guidelines for setting up your project, see Packages and Plugin Guidelines.

Contributing to Core Functionality

Determine if the infrastructure enhancement applies to Zowe CLI or Imperative CLI Framework, or if it is best suited as a plug-in to the core.

Zowe CLI is built on Imperative CLI Framework. Most Zowe CLI core functionality is contained within the framework. Work in, or submit issues to, the Imperative CLI Framework repository when you want to enhance the following core functionalities:

  • REST client
  • Logging
  • Profiles
  • Command definitions and processing
  • Secure credentials
  • Plug-in management

Pull Requests

Consider the following when you interact with pull requests:

  • Pull request reviewers should be assigned to a same-team member.
  • Pull requests should remain open for at least 24 hours, or until close of business next business day (accounting for weekends and holidays).
  • Anyone can comment on a pull request to request delay on merging or to get questions answered.

General Guidelines

The following list describes general conventions for contributing to Zowe CLI:

  • Communicate frequently (before pull request) with cross-team member representatives (in informal & small meetings) for new design features.
  • Require/import dependencies at the top of a file to identify load failures/missing files as soon as possible.
  • Before implementing new functionality, evaluate if existing packages already achieve intended functionality.
  • Zowe CLI and plug-ins should be scoped under @zowe.
  • Throw ImperativeError (or perhaps a wrapping of these) instead of throwing Error objects for automatic logging and node-report captures.
  • Provide adequate logging to diagnose problems that happen at external customer sites.
  • Avoid using/referencing to zowe or Zowe CLI within help, source file names, and errors - this name is subject to change. For example use cli instead.
  • Keep "packages" small and independent without cross dependencies (e.g. zosjobs logically should not depend on zosfiles package)
    • When a package is dependent on another package, import the through the dependent package's interface (index.ts) e.g. packages/zosjobs/src/GetJobs.ts will import the rest package via:
         import { ZosmfRestClient } from "../../../rest";
      NOT via:
      import { ZosmfRestClient } from   "../../../rest/src/ZosmfRestClient";
  • Make classes small, logical pieces (e.g. instead of 1 Jobs class to hold all Job's APIs, we have GetJobs, SubmitJobs, DeleteJobs, etc...)
  • Within a package's src folder we:
    • Create an api folder that will export for programmatic use by other Node apps and by commands.
    • Create a cli folder that will contain command definitions

Changelog Update Guidelines

Add an entry to for any PR that introduces a feature, enhancement, or fix that affects end users. Changes to certain files, such as the Jenkinsfile, do not require a changelog update. The changelogs are compiled into Zowe Docs Release Notes periodically.

Each changelog entry must:

  • Describe the change and how it impacts end users.
  • Include a relevant Issue # or Pull Request #.

The following is an example of the markdown that you should insert into the changelog above the last-released version:

## Recent Changes

- Document your changes here. [Issue# or PR#](link-to-issue-or-pr)
- Document another change here. [Issue# or PR#](link-to-issue-or-pr)


  • Start the sentence with a verb in past tense. For example "Added...", "Improved...", "Enhanced...".
  • Write from a user's perspective. Document why the change matters to the end user (what this feature allows them to do now). For example, "Added the validate-only mode of Zowe. This lets you check whether all the component validation checks of the Zowe installation pass without starting any of the components.".
  • Use second person "you" instead of "users".

Code Guidelines

Indent code with 4 spaces. This is also documented via .editorconfig, which can be used to automatically format the code if you use an EditorConfig extension for your editor of choice.

Lint rules are enforced through our build process.

Programmatic API Guidelines

The following list describes conventions for contributing to Zowe CLI APIs:

  • When developing programmatic asynchronous APIs, return promises instead of using call-backs.
  • Use ImperativeExpect to perform minimum parameter validation for API methods (e.g. verify parms exist `ImperativeExpect.toBeDefinedAndNonBlank(prefix, "prefix", "prefix is required");)
  • Include trace messages.
  • Support backward compatibility throughout releases.
  • Provide a Common version API call that accepts:
    • Connection information, when applicable.
    • Parm objects that can be extended in the future while maintaining forward and backward compatibility.
  • Include convenience methods that aid in calling Common methods, when appropriate.
  • Should be categorized in classes that identify theirs actions. For example, GetJobs.getJobStatus or SubmitJobs.submitJcl.

Programmatic APIs should also adhere to the following standards and conventions:

File Naming Guidelines

The following list describes the conventions for naming the source files:

  • Class names should match file names (e.g. class SubmitJobs would be found in a file SubmitJobs.ts).
  • Interface names should match file names and should start with the capital letter I, (e.g. interface ISubmitJobsParms would be found in ISubmitJobsParms.ts).
  • Interfaces should be separate files and should be in a doc folder (e.g. ../doc/input/ISubmitJobsParms).

Command Format Guidelines

For information about naming CLI commands and developing the syntax, see Command Format Standards.

Versioning Guidelines

For information about adhering to our versioning scheme, see Versioning Guidelines.

Testing Guidelines

For information about testing rules and procedures, see Testing Guidelines and Plug-in Testing Guidelines.

Profile Guidelines

For information about implementing user profiles, see Profile Guidelines.

Build Process Guidelines

Use build tasks to enforce rules where possible.

Documentation Guidelines

Open an issue in the docs-site repository if you need assistance with the following tasks:

  • For all contributions, we recommend that you provide the following:

    • Ensure that the TPSRs section of documentation lists any third-party software used in your code. See the TPSRs for each Zowe release on the docs-site repository.

    • A Release Notes entry in Zowe Docs site to announce your change to end users.

  • When contributing a plug-in, we recommend that you provide the following:

    • End-user documentation on the Zowe Doc Site so that users can learn about your plug-in. Use existing plug-in topics as a model.

    • A file within the plug-in repository that contains information for developers (overview, how to build from source, and how to run tests, at minimum). For example, see the CICS plug-in readme.

    • a file within the plug-in repository that lists specific considerations for contributing code to your plug-in (if any), and also links to the core CLI contribution guidelines. For an example, see the CICS plug-in contribution guidelines.

  • When contributing code/functionality to the core CLI, we recommend that you provide the following:

    • Documentation for how to use your feature, command, etc... Open an issue in docs-site repository if you need assistance.

In addition to external documentation, please thoroughly comment your code for future developers who want to understand, use, and enhance your plug-in/feature.

JS Documentation

  • Use jsdoc annotations - document this makes extensive use of jsdoc tags.
    • Common tags to use, @static, @memberof, @returns, @params, @class, @exports, @interface, @types, @throws, @link
  • CLI auto-generated documentation is created via command definitions
  • tsdoc is used to generate html documentation

More Information

For more information about ... See:
Conventions and best practices for creating packages and plug-ins for Zowe CLI Package and Plug-in Guidelines
Guidelines for running tests on Zowe CLI Testing Guidelines
Guidelines for running tests on the plug-ins that you build Plug-in Testing Guidelines
Versioning conventions for Zowe CLI and Plug-ins Versioning Guidelines
Naming CLI commands and developing syntax Command Format Standards
Documentation that describes the features of the Imperative CLI Framework About Imperative CLI Framework