Be sure to read the Suggestions for New Developers.

  1. In most cases, a pull request (PR) should be addressing/closing an open issue.

    NOTE: You do not need to be formally assigned to an issue on GitHub to make a pull request to contribute to Submitty! We happily accept and review pull requests from contributors new to our organization.

  2. Contributors from outside the Submitty GitHub organization should clone/fork the repo on their own GitHub page, and create a branch with the modifications to be included with this pull request (PR).

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Please grant write access to the Submitty organization administrators so we can more conveniently make small edits (e.g., UI text wording changes). This will speed up the approval and merging of your contributions.

    Contributors who are already active members of the Submitty GitHub organization can make a branch within the Submitty organization repo. Note: This is the preferred method, since it allows other members of the organization to directly push changes to the branch (with fewer steps), and simplifies work as a group on larger features.

    PRs can be made from either type of branch.

  3. Before submitting a PR or updating an existing PR, you should make sure your code follows our Style Guide and passes the relevant tests.

  4. The PR title should be useful and descriptive.

    • Titles of PR, Issues, and commits should be <= 50 characters.

    • The PR title should not include the issue #.

    • To help developers, system administrators, and users who are reading the release notes, please categorize your contribution by formatting your PR title as follows:


      Where <TYPE> is one of the following:

      • Bugfix,
      • Feature,
      • Refactor,
      • Testing (includes sample data),
      • Documentation,
      • VPAT,
      • UI/UX (includes mobile, css), or
      • Dependency.

      And <MODULE> is one of the following:

      • Submission (includes bulk uploads, teams, late days, notebook gradeables, and other student features),
      • Autograding (includes router, container/docker),
      • Forum,
      • Notifications (includes email and grade inquiries),
      • TAGrading (includes PDF annotation, peer grading),
      • InstructorUI (includes course and gradeable configuration),
      • SubminiPolls,
      • HelpQueue,
      • CourseMaterials,
      • Plagiarism,
      • RainbowGrades,
      • Calendar,
      • System (includes installation, migrations, vagrant),
      • Developer, or
      • API

      And <SUBJECT> adds more specific details.

      Note that #<PR NUMBER> is appended to the title automatically by GitHub when the PR is merged with “squash & merge”. Do not include this when you open a new pull request.

    • If your PR is Work In Progress, please make a Draft Pull Request on GitHub. This indicates to other developers and reviewers that you’d like detailed feedback on your work, but it is incomplete. When a PR is in the draft state it cannot be merged into the master branch.

    • IMPORTANT: If this PR requires system administrator action before/after installation, the PR title should be prepended with [SYSADMIN ACTION] and the commit message should describe the specific actions required and include links to additional documentation as appropriate. For example:


      Most moderate database changes and software package installation/updates should be handled automatically by migrations and do not need to be flagged in this way. However some operations, like edits to the Apache configuration should not be performed automatically via a migration because these files commonly have customizations that make automation difficult or problematic.
      See also: Installation Version Notes

    • To help ensure a title follows our standards, we utilize a GitHub workflow for validation. Updating your PR title will immediately re-run the workflow, allowing you to edit it till it does pass validation.

  5. The body of the PR should describe the purpose of the PR.

    • When merged, this PR body will be part of the documentation for the next Submitty release. Thus, the contents should be understandable to an average Submitty instructor user or system administrator. The description can include links to related issues or PRs, but this description should not require the user to follow links to have a general understanding of the PR purpose.

    • Include the string Closes #1234 or Fixes #1234 within the top comment of the PR so that GitHub issue will be automatically closed when the pull request is merged.

    • The commit message should talk about WHAT changed, and WHY. Not HOW. How is the diff, and you don’t need to repeat it.

    • Comments explaining the code should be in the code, rather than in the PR message or comments.

    • Developers are encouraged to test all user interface modifications with all available Submitty Themes: e.g., light mode, dark mode, black mode, to ensure compliance/improvement of Web Accessibility.

    • Including screenshots/videos in the issue or PR message is helpful for UI changes – both to solicit quick feedback from reviewers and also to serve as documentation for the future release notes.

      NOTE: Please use light mode by default for all screenshots/videos (this is our default theme). If your PR includes a modification/bugfix related to the available Submitty Themes (light mode vs. dark mode vs. black mode), please also include comparison screenshots/videos for all available themes.

    • The comments should explain a bit about the purpose/history/overview – don’t assume the reader knows it (or link to the issue that explains everything).

    • Be explicit about what you want feedback on, or why you are asking for specific reviewers.

See also How to Review a Pull Request.

These guidelines drawn from: