Ways to contribute¶
Godot Engine is a non-profit, community-driven free and open source project. Almost all (but our lead dev Juan, more on that below) developers are working pro bono on their free time, out of personal interest and for the love of creating a libre engine of exceptional quality.
This means that to thrive, Godot needs as many users as possible to get involved by contributing to the engine. There are many ways to contribute to such a big project, making it possible for everybody to bring something positive to the engine, regardless of their skillset:
- Be part of the community. The best way to contribute to Godot and help it become ever better is simply to use the engine and make its promotion by word-of-mouth, in-game credits and splash screen, blog posts, tutorials, videos, demos, gamedev or free software events, support on the Q&A, IRC, forums, Discord, etc. Being a user and advocate helps spread the word about our great engine, which has no marketing budget and can therefore only rely on its community to become more mainstream.
- Make games. That’s no secret, to convince new users and especially industry players that Godot is a relevant market player, we need great games made with Godot. We know that the engine has a lot of potential, both for 2D and 3D games, but given its young age we still lack big releases that will draw attention to Godot. So keep working on your awesome projects, each new game increases our credibility on the gamedev market!
- Get involved in the engine’s development. This can be by contributing code via pull requests, testing the development snapshots or directly the git master branch, report bugs or suggest enhancements on the issue tracker, improve the official documentation (both the class reference and tutorials). The following sections will cover each of those “direct” ways of contributing to the engine.
- Donate. Godot is a non-profit project, but it can still benefit from user donations for many things. Apart from usual expenses such as hosting costs or promotion material on events, we also use donation money to acquire hardware when necessary (e.g. we used donation money to buy a Macbook Pro to implement Retina/HiDPI support and various other macOS-related features). Most importantly, we also used donation money to hire our lead developer Juan Linietsky, so that he can work full-time on the engine. Even with a low monthly wage, we need a steady donation income to continue doing this, which has been very beneficial to the project so far. So if you want to donate some money to the project, check our website for details.
The possibility to study, use, modify and redistribute modifications of the engine’s source code are the fundamental rights that Godot’s license grant you, making it free and open source software.
As such, everyone is entitled to modify Godot’s source code, and send those modifications back to the upstream project in the form of a patch (a text file describing the changes in a ready-to-apply manner) or - in the modern workflow that we use - via a so-called “pull request” (PR), i.e. a proposal to directly merge one or more git commits (patches) into the main development branch.
Contributing code changes upstream has two big advantages:
- Your own code will be reviewed and improved by other developers, and will be further maintained directly in the upstream project, so you won’t have to reapply your own changes every time you move to a newer version. On the other hand it comes with a responsability, as your changes have to be generic enough to be beneficial to all users, and not just your project; so in some cases it might still be relevant to keep your changes only for your own project, if they are too specific.
- The whole community will benefit from your work, and other contributors will behave the same way, contributing code that will be beneficial to you. At the time of this writing, more than 300 developers have contributed code changes to the engine!
To ensure a good collaboration and overall quality, the Godot developers enforce some rules for code contribution, for example regarding the style to use in the C++ code (indentation, brackets, etc.) or the git and PR workflow.
Testing and reporting issues¶
Another great way of contributing to the engine is to test development releases or the development branch and to report issues. It is also meaningful to report issues discovered in so-called stable releases, so that they can be fixed in the development branch and in future maintenance releases.
Testing development versions¶
To help with the testing, you have several possibilities:
- Compile the engine from source yourself, following the instructions of the Compiling page for your platform.
- Test official pre-release binaries when they are announced (usually on the blog and other community platforms), such as alpha, beta and RC (release candidate) builds.
- Test “trusted” unofficial builds of the development branch; just ask community members for reliable providers. Whenever possible, it’s best to use official binaries or to compile yourself though, to be sure about the provenance of your binaries.
As mentioned previously, it is also meaningful to keep your eyes peeled for potential bugs that might still be present in the stable releases, especially when using some niche features of the engine which might get less testing by the developers.
Filing an issue on GitHub¶
Godot uses GitHub’s issue tracker for bug reports and enhancement suggestions. You will need a GitHub account to be able to open a new issue there, and click on the “New issue” button.
When you report a bug, you should keep in mind that the process is very similar to an appointment with your doctor. You noticed symptoms that make you think that something might be wrong (the engine crashes, some features don’t work as expected, etc.). It’s the role of the bug triaging team and the developers to then help make the diagnosis of the issue you met, so that the actual cause of the bug can be identified and addressed.
You should therefore always ask yourself: what are the relevant information to give so that other Godot contributors can understand the bug, identify it and hopefully fix it. Here are some of the most important infos that you should always provide:
- Operating system. Sometimes bugs are system-specific, i.e. they happen only on Windows, or only on Linux, etc. That’s particularly relevant for all bugs related to OS interfaces, such as file management, input, window management, audio, etc.
- Godot version. This is a must have. Some issues might be relevant in the current stable release, but fixed in the development branch, or the other way around. You might also be using an obsolete version of Godot and experiencing a known issue fixed in a later version, so knowing this from the start helps to speed up the diagnosis.
- How to reproduce the bug. In the majority of cases, bugs are reproducible, i.e. it is possible to trigger them reliably by following some steps. Please always describe those steps as clearly as possible, so that everyone can try to reproduce the issue and confirm it. Ideally, make a demo project that reproduces this issue out of the box, zip it and attach it to the issue (you can do this by drag and drop). Even if you think that the issue is trivial to reproduce, adding a minimal project that lets reproduce it is a big added value. You have to keep in mind that there are thousands of issues in the tracker, and developers can only dedicate little time to each issue.
When you click the “New issue” button, you should be presented with a text area prefilled with our issue template. Please try to follow it so that all issues are consistent and provide the required information.
Contributing to the documentation¶
There are two separate resources referred to as “documentation” in Godot:
- The class reference. This is the documentation for the complete Godot API as exposed to GDScript and the other scripting languages. It can be consulted offline, directly in Godot’s code editor, or online at Godot API. To contribute to the class reference, you have to edit the doc/base/classes.xml in Godot’s git repository, and make a pull request. See Updating the class reference for more details.
- The tutorials and engine documentation. This is the part you are reading now, which is distributed in the HTML, PDF and EPUB formats. Its contents are generated from plain text files in the reStructured Text (rst) format, to which you can contribute via pull requests on the godot-docs GitHub repository. See Documentation guidelines for more details.