Pull request workflow¶
The so-called “PR workflow” used by Godot is common to many projects using Git, and should be familiar to veteran free software contributors. The idea is that only a small number (if any) commit directly to the master branch. Instead, contributors fork the project (i.e. create a copy of it, which they can modify as they wish), and then use the GitHub interface to request a pull from one of their fork’s branches to one branch of the original (often named upstream) repository.
The resulting pull request (PR) can then be reviewed by other contributors, which might approve it, reject it, or most often request that modifications be done. Once approved, the PR can then be merged by one of the core developers, and its commit(s) will become part of the target branch (usually the master branch).
We will go together through an example to show the typical workflow and associated Git commands. But first, let’s have a quick look at the organisation of Godot’s Git repository.
Git source repository¶
If you are contributing to the documention, its repository can be found here.
The Git version control system is the tool used to keep track of successive edits to the source code - to contribute efficiently to Godot, learning the basics of the Git command line is highly recommended. There exist some graphical interfaces for Git, but they usually encourage users to take bad habits regarding the Git and PR workflow, and we therefore recommend not to use them. In particular, we advise not to use GitHub’s online editor for code contributions (although it’s tolerated for small fixes or documentation changes) as it enforces one commit per file and per modification, which quickly leads to PRs with an unreadable Git history (especially after peer review).
The first sections of Git’s “Book” are a good introduction to the tool’s philosophy and the various commands you need to master in your daily workflow. You can read them online on the Git SCM website.
The branches on the Git repository are organized as follows:
masterbranch is where the development of the next major version occurs. As a development branch, it can be unstable and is not meant for use in production. This is where PRs should be done in priority.
- The stable branches are named after their version, e.g.
2.1. They are used to backport bugfixes and enhancements from the
masterbranch to the currently maintained stable release (e.g. 3.0.2 or 2.1.5). As a rule of thumb, the last stable branch is maintained until the next major version (e.g. the
2.0branch was maintained until the release of Godot 2.1). If you want to make PRs against a maintained stable branch, you will have to check if your changes are also relevant for the
- There might be feature branches at time, usually meant to be merged into
masterbranch at some time.
Forking and cloning¶
The first step is to fork the godotengine/godot repository on GitHub. To do so, you will need to have a GitHub account and to be logged in. In the top right corner of the repository’s GitHub page, you should see the “Fork” button as shown below:
Click it, and after a while you should be redirected to your own fork of the Godot repo, with your GitHub username as namespace:
You can then clone your fork, i.e. create a local copy of the online repository (in Git speak, the origin remote). If you haven’t already, download Git from its website if you’re using Windows or macOS, or install it through your package manager if you’re using Linux.
If you are on Windows, open Git Bash to type commands. macOS and Linux users can use their respective terminals.
To clone your fork from GitHub, use the following command:
$ git clone https://github.com/USERNAME/godot
In our examples, the “$” character denotes the command line prompt on typical UNIX shells. It is not part of the command and should not be typed.
After a little while, you should have a
godot directory in your current
working directory. Move into it using the
$ cd godot
We will start by setting up a reference to the original repository that we forked:
$ git remote add upstream https://github.com/godotengine/godot $ git fetch upstream
This will create a reference named
upstream pointing to the original
godotengine/godot repository. This will be useful when you want to pull new
commits from its
master branch to update your fork. You have another
remote reference named
origin, which points to your fork.
You only need to do the above steps once, as long as you keep that local
godot folder (which you can move around if you want, the relevant
metadata is hidden in its
Branch it, pull it, code it, stage it, commit, push it, rebase it… technologic.
This bad take on Daft Punk’s Technologic shows the general conception Git beginners have of its workflow: lots of strange commands to learn by copy and paste, hoping they will work as expected. And that’s actually not a bad way to learn, as long as you’re curious and don’t hesitate to question your search engine when lost, so we will give you the basic commands to know when working in Git.
In the following, we will assume that you want to implement a feature in
Godot’s project manager, which is coded in the
By default, the
git clone should have put you on the
master branch of
your fork (
origin). To start your own feature development, we will create
a feature branch:
# Create the branch based on the current branch (master) $ git branch better-project-manager # Change the current branch to the new one $ git checkout better-project-manager
This command is equivalent:
# Change the current branch to a new named one, based on the current branch $ git checkout -b better-project-manager
If you want to go back to the
master branch, you’d use:
$ git checkout master
You can see which branch you are currently on with the
$ git branch 2.1 * better-project-manager master
Updating your branch¶
This would not be needed the first time (just after you forked the upstream
repository). However, the next time you want to work on something, you will
notice that your fork’s
master is several commits behind the upstream
master branch: pull requests from other contributors would have been merged
in the meantime.
To ensure there won’t be conflicts between the feature you develop and the
master branch, you will have to update your branch by
pulling the upstream branch.
$ git pull upstream master
However, if you had local commits, this method will create a so-called “merge
commit”, and you will soon hear from fellow contributors that those are not
wanted in PRs. Then how to update the branch without creating a merge commit?
You will have to use the
--rebase option, so that your local commits are
replayed on top of the updated upstream
master branch. It will effectively
modify the Git history of your branch, but that is for the greater good.
Therefore, the command that you should (almost) always use is:
$ git pull --rebase upstream master
You would then do your changes to our example’s
editor/project_manager.cpp file with your usual development environment
(text editor, IDE, etc.).
By default, those changes are unstaged. The staging area is a layer between
your working directory (where you make your modifications) and the local git
repository (the commits and all the metadata in the
.git folder). To
bring changes from the working directory to the Git repository, you need to
stage them with the
git add command, and then to commit them with the
git commit command.
There are various commands you should know to review your current work, before staging it, while it is staged, and after it has been committed.
git diffwill show you the current unstaged changes, i.e. the differences between your working directory and the staging area.
git checkout -- <files>will undo the unstaged changes to the given files.
git add <files>will stage the changes on the listed files.
git diff --stagedwill show the current staged changes, i.e. the differences between the staging area and the last commit.
git reset HEAD <files>will unstage changes to the listed files.
git statuswill show you what are the currently staged and unstaged modifications.
git commitwill commit the staged files. It will open a text editor (you can define the one you want to use with the
GIT_EDITORenvironment variable or the
core.editorsetting in your Git configuration) to let you write a commit log. You can use
git commit -m "Cool commit log"to write the log directly.
git logwill show you the last commits of your current branch. If you did local commits, they should be shown at the top.
git showwill show you the changes of the last commit. You can also specify a commit hash to see the changes for that commit.
That’s a lot to memorise! Don’t worry, just check this cheat sheet when you need to make changes, and learn by doing.
Here’s how the shell history could look like on our example:
# It's nice to know where you're starting from $ git log # Do changes to the project manager with the nano text editor $ nano editor/project_manager.cpp # Find an unrelated bug in Control and fix it $ nano scene/gui/control.cpp # Review changes $ git status $ git diff # We'll do two commits for our unrelated changes, # starting by the Control changes necessary for the PM enhancements $ git add scene/gui/control.cpp $ git commit -m "Fix handling of margins in Control" # Check we did good $ git log $ git show $ git status # Make our second commit $ git add editor/project_manager.cpp $ git commit -m "Add a pretty banner to the project manager" $ git log
With this, we should have two new commits in our
branch which were not in the
master branch. They are still only local
though, the remote fork does not know about them, nor does the upstream repo.
Pushing changes to a remote¶
git push will come into play. In Git, a commit is always
done in the local repository (unlike Subversion where a commit will modify
the remote repository directly). You need to push the new commits to a
remote branch to share them with the world. The syntax for this is:
$ git push <remote> <local branch>[:<remote branch>]
The part about the remote branch can be omitted if you want it to have the same name as the local branch, which is our case in this example, so we will do:
$ git push origin better-project-manager
Git will ask you for your username and password, and the changes will be sent to your remote. If you check the fork’s page on GitHub, you should see a new branch with your added commits.
Issuing a pull request¶
When you load your fork’s branch on GitHub, you should see a line saying
“This branch is 2 commits ahead of godotengine:master.” (and potentially some
commits behind, if your
master branch was out of sync with the upstream
On that line, there is a “Pull request” link. Clicking it will open a form that will let you issue a pull request on the godotengine/godot upstream repository. It should show you your two commits, and state “Able to merge”. If not (e.g. it has way more commits, or says there are merge conflicts), don’t create the PR, something went wrong. Go to IRC and ask for support :)
Use an explicit title for the PR and put the necessary details in the comment area. You can drag and drop screenshots, GIFs or zipped projects if relevant, to showcase what your work implements. Click “Create a pull request”, and tadaa!
Modifying a pull request¶
While it is reviewed by other contributors, you will often need to make changes to your yet-unmerged PR, either because contributors requested them, or because you found issues yourself while testing.
The good news is that you can modify a pull request simply by acting on the branch you made the pull request from. You can e.g. make a new commit on that branch, push it to your fork, and the PR will be updated automatically:
# Check out your branch again if you had changed in the meantime $ git checkout better-project-manager # Fix a mistake $ nano editor/project_manager.cpp $ git add editor/project_manager.cpp $ git commit -m "Fix a typo in the banner's title" $ git push origin better-project-manager
That should do the trick, but…
Mastering the PR workflow: the rebase¶
On the situation outlined above, your fellow contributors who are particularly pedantic regarding the Git history might ask your to rebase your branch to squash or meld the last two commits together (i.e. the two related to the project manager), as the second commit basically fixes an issue in the first one.
Once the PR is merged, it is not relevant for a changelog reader that the PR author made mistakes; instead, we want to keep only commits that bring from one working state to another working state.
To squash those two commits together, we will have to rewrite history. Right, we have that power. You may read that it’s a bad practice, and it’s true when it comes to branches of the upstream repo. But in your fork, you can do whatever you want, and everything is allowed to get neat PRs :)
We will use the interactive rebase
git rebase -i to do this. This
command takes a commit hash as argument, and will let you modify all commits
between that commit hash and the last one of the branch, the so-called
HEAD. In our example, we want to act on the last two commits, so we will
# The HEAD~X syntax means X commits before HEAD $ git rebase -i HEAD~2
This will open a text editor with:
pick 1b4aad7 Add a pretty banner to the project manager pick e07077e Fix a typo in the banner's title
The editor will also show instructions regarding how you can act on those commits. In particular, it should tell you that “pick” means to use that commit (do nothing), and that “squash” and “fixup” can be used to meld the commit in its parent commit. The difference between “squash” and “fixup” is that “fixup” will discard the commit log from the squashed commit. In our example, we are not interested in keeping the log of the “Fix a typo” commit, so we use:
pick 1b4aad7 Add a pretty banner to the project manager fixup e07077e Fix a typo in the banner's title
Upon saving and quitting the editor, the rebase will occur. The second commit
will be melded into the first one, and
git log and
git show should
now confirm that you have only one commit with the changes from both previous
You could have avoided this rebase by using
git commit --amend
when fixing the typo. This command will write the staged changes
directly into the last commit (
HEAD), instead of creating a new
commit like we did in this example. So it is equivalent to what we
did with a new commit and then a rebase to mark it as “fixup”.
But! You rewrote the history, and now your local and remote branches have diverged. Indeed, commit 1b4aad7 in the above example will have changed, and therefore got a new commit hash. If you try to push to your remote branch, it will raise an error:
$ git push origin better-project-manager To https://github.com/akien-mga/godot ! [rejected] better-project-manager -> better-project-manager (non-fast-forward) error: failed to push some refs to 'https://email@example.com/akien-mga/godot' hint: Updates were rejected because the tip of your current branch is behind hint: its remote counterpart.
This is a sane behaviour, Git will not let you push changes that would override remote content. But that’s actually what we want to do here, so we will have to force it:
$ git push --force origin better-project-manager
And tadaa! Git will happily replace your remote branch with what you had
locally (so make sure that’s what you wanted, using
git log). This will
also update the PR accordingly.
Deleting a Git branch¶
After your pull request gets merged, there’s one last thing you should do: delete your Git branch for the PR. There won’t be issues if you don’t delete your branch, but it’s good practice to do so. You’ll need to do this twice, once for the local branch and another for the remote branch on GitHub.
To delete our better project manager branch locally, use this command:
$ git branch -d better-project-manager
Alternatively, if the branch hadn’t been merged yet and we wanted to delete it anyway, instead
-d you would use
Next, to delete the remote branch on GitHub use this command:
$ git push origin -d better-project-manager