Suggested Git Workflow

We subscribe to the philosophy of keeping the master branch deployable. This means that pushing directly to the master branch is (in general) disallowed, and all changes to it will be through pull requests. Additionally, the master branch is protected - merging will not be possible until all the continuous integration checks pass.

The following git workflow is suggested for contributors. To implement a new feature, do the following:

  • Assuming you are on the master branch, check out a new feature branch. If the name of the feature is new_feature, you would do git checkout -b new_feature.

  • Implement the feature.

  • Run git status to see what files have changed. Optionally, run git diff to see the details of the changes to refresh your memory (and catch errant print statements!).

  • Add the new/changed files by doing

    git add <filename1> <filename2> ... <filenameN>


    • Only add human-generated files. Examples include:

      • Source code:

        • .cpp, .hpp, and CMakeLists.txt files

        • Documentation in the form of .md and .rst files.

    • Do not run git add . or git add -A! Instead, add the changed files individually - this will encourage you to make your commits less monolithic, which makes them easier to merge, and to revert if necessary. Also, this prevents the accidental addition of automatically-generated files to version control, which bloats the repository, and can even cause the automated test suite to fail.

  • Commit the changes:

    git commit -m "Description of features/changes that were implemented."
  • Push the changes:

    git push
  • Wait for an email from Github Actions, to let you know whether the automated tests have passed or failed (if you haven’t signed up for email alerts from Github, you can simply view the live test execution log on the Github Actions website itself.)

  • If the branch build passes, open a pull request (PR) by going to the repo website.

  • One of the repo maintainers will then review your PR, and merge it into the master branch.

  • Once the feature branch is merged, do the following to update your master branch and delete your feature branch.

    git checkout master
    git pull
    git branch -D new_feature
  • Tip 1:: In general, smaller pull requests are better, and easier to merge.

  • Tip 2:: Whenever you get an email from Github telling you that a branch has been merged into the master branch, but you are in the middle of implementing your feature branch, make sure to pull the changes from master into your branch and resolve any merge conflicts (another reason to not delay PRs!). Assuming you are on the new_feature branch, you would do:

    git pull origin master