Contributing to CKAN

CKAN is free open source software and code contributions are welcome, whether they’re bug reports, source code, documentation or translations. The sections below will walk you through our processes for making different kinds of contributions to CKAN.

Reporting Issues

If you’ve found a bug in CKAN, open a new issue on CKAN’s GitHub Issues (try searching first to see if there’s already an issue for your bug).

Translating CKAN

For contributing translations to CKAN, see Translating CKAN.

Commit Messages

Generally, follow the commit guidelines from the Pro Git book:

  • Try to make each commit a logically separate, digestible changeset.
  • The first line of the commit message should concisely summarise the changeset.
  • Optionally, follow with a blank line and then a more detailed explanation of the changeset.
  • Use the imperative present tense as if you were giving commands to the codebase to change its behaviour, e.g. Add tests for..., make xyzzy do frotz..., this helps to make the commit message easy to read.

If your commit has an issue in the CKAN issue tracker put the issue number at the start of the first line of the commit message like this: [#123]. This makes the CKAN release manager’s job much easier!

Here’s an example of a good CKAN commit message:

[#2505] Update source install instructions

Following feedback from markw (see #2406).

Writing Documentation

Note: Getting started with contributing to docs.ckan.org is a little complicated. An easier way to contribute documentation to CKAN is to sign up for a free GitHub account and simply edit the CKAN Wiki. Docs started on the wiki can make it onto docs.ckan.org later.

Tip: Use the reStructuredText markup format when creating a wiki page, since reStructuredText is the format that docs.ckan.org uses, this will make moving the documentation from the wiki into docs.ckan.org later easier.

The CKAN documentation at docs.ckan.org is created using Sphinx. The source files are in the doc directory of the CKAN git repo. The following sections will walk you through the process of making changes to these documentation files, and submitting your work to the CKAN project.

1. Install CKAN into a Virtualenv

Create a Python virtual environment (virtualenv), activate it, install CKAN into the virtual environment, and install the dependencies necessary for building CKAN. In this example we’ll create a virtualenv in a folder called pyenv. Run these commands in a terminal:

virtualenv --no-site-packages pyenv
. pyenv/bin/activate
pip install -e 'git+https://github.com/okfn/ckan.git#egg=ckan'
pip install -r pyenv/src/ckan/pip-requirements-docs.txt

2. Fetch CKAN’s Git Submodules

CKAN’s custom Sphinx theme is a kept in a git submodule, so before you can build the docs you have to run these commands in a terminal to download the submodule:

cd pyenv/src/ckan
git submodule init
git submodule update

Note: you may occassionally have to run git submodule update again, when someone updates the theme, but this doesn’t happen often.

3. Build the Docs

You should now be able to build the CKAN documentation locally. Make sure your virtual environment is activated, and then run this command:

python setup.py build_sphinx

Now you can open the built HTML files in pyenv/src/ckan/build/sphinx/html, e.g.:

firefox pyenv/src/ckan/build/sphinx/html/index.html

4. Edit the reStructuredText Files

To make changes to the documentation, use a text editor to edit the .rst files in pyenv/src/ckan/doc/. Save your changes and then build the docs again (python setup.py build_sphinx) and open the HTML files in a web browser to preview your changes.

Once your docs are ready to submit to the CKAN project, follow the steps in Making a Pull Request.

Making a Pull Request

Once you’ve written some CKAN code or documentation, you can submit it for review and merge into the central CKAN git repository by making a pull request. This section will walk you through the steps for making a pull request.

  1. Create a git branch

    Each logically separate piece of work (e.g. a new feature, a bug fix, a new docs page, or a set of improvements to a docs page) should be developed on its own branch forked from the master branch.

    The name of the branch should include the issue number (if this work has an issue in the CKAN issue tracker), the branch type (e.g. “feature” or “bug”), and a brief one-line synopsis of the work, for example:

    2298-feature-add-sort-by-controls-to-search-page
    1518-bug-upload-file-with-spaces
  2. Fork CKAN on GitHub

    Sign up for a free account on GitHub and fork CKAN, so that you have somewhere to publish your work.

    Add your CKAN fork to your local CKAN git repo as a git remote. Replace USERNAME with your GitHub username:

    git remote add my_fork https://github.com/USERNAME/ckan
  3. Commit and push your changes

    Commit your changes on your feature branch, and push your branch to GitHub. For example, make sure you’re currently on your feature branch then run these commands:

    git add doc/my_new_feature.rst
    git commit -m "Add docs for my new feature"
    git push my_fork my_branch

    When writing your git commit messages, try to follow the Commit Messages guidelines.

  4. Send a pull request

    Once your work on a branch is complete and is ready to be merged into the master branch, create a pull request on GitHub. A member of the CKAN team will review your work and provide feedback on the pull request page. The reviewer may ask you to make some changes. Once your pull request has passed the review, the reviewer will merge your code into the master branch and it will become part of CKAN!

    When submitting a pull request:

    • Your branch should contain one logically separate piece of work, and not any unrelated changes.

    • You should have good commit messages, see Commit Messages.

    • Your branch should contain new or changed tests for any new or changed code, and all the CKAN tests should pass on your branch, see Testing CKAN.

    • Your branch should contain new or updated documentation for any new or updated code, see Writing Documentation.

    • Your branch should be up to date with the master branch of the central CKAN repo, so pull the central master branch into your feature branch before submitting your pull request.

      For long-running feature branches, it’s a good idea to pull master into the feature branch periodically so that the two branches don’t diverge too much.

Merging a Pull Request

If you’re reviewing a pull request for CKAN, when merging a branch into master:

  • Use the --no-ff option in the git merge command,