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Commits, pull requests and reviews


Logical commits

Please create logical separate commits. This is important to be able to track changes over time and understand how a change relates to other parts of the code.

Already made 20 step-by-step commits today? In a nutshell you can fix these by using rebasing. Here are some helpful commands:

# Rebase your commits - squash/fixup/reword/edit/reorder etc.
git rebase --interactive <sha>

# Reset your commit index, but leave the files unchanged
git reset <sha>

# Interactive add parts of files to a commit
git add --patch

Linear history

Our branches follow a linear commit history, meaning that we use rebasing instead of e.g. merge commits. In a nutshell this translates into:

git fetch <remote>
git rebase --interactive <remote>/master

Commit message

It's about content

Commit message is first and foremost about the content. You are communicating with fellow developers:

  • Be clear and brief - it's a summary.
  • Focus on what and especially why.

Message format

Inspired by How to Write a Git Commit Message:

  1. Separate subject from body with a blank line
  2. Limit the subject line to 50 characters
  3. Indicate the component follow by a short description
  4. Do not end the subject line with a period
  5. Use the imperative mood in the subject line
  6. Wrap the body at 72 characters
  7. Use the body to explain what and why vs. how, using bullet points

Git signatures

The only signature we use is Co-authored-by (see above) to provide credit to co-authors.

Message example

component: summarize changes in 50 char or less

* More detailed explanatory text, if necessary. Formatted using
  bullet points, preferably `*`. Wrapped to 72 characters.

* Explain the problem that this commit is solving. Focus on why you
  are making this change as opposed to how (the code explains that).
  Are there side effects or other unintuitive consequences of this
  change? Here's the place to explain them.

* The blank line separating the summary from the body is critical
  (unless you omit the body entirely); various tools like `log`,
  `shortlog` and `rebase` can get confused if you run the two

* Use words like "Adds", "Fixes" or "Breaks" in the listed bullets to help
  others understand what you did.

* If your commit closes or addresses an issue, you can mention
  it in any of the bullets after the dot. (closes #XXX) (addresses

Co-authored-by: John Doe <>

Pull requests

Discuss first, code later

See our development process. Please reach out to discuss your idea first and align on design with the community. This avoids duplicated and wasted efforts.

When making your pull request, please keep the following in mind:

  • Commits: Follow above guidelines.
  • Add tests and don't decrease test coverage.
  • Add documentation.
  • Follow our best practices:
  • Identify the copyright holder(s) and update copyright headers for touched files (>15 lines contributions).
  • New third-party code (copy/pasted source code or new dependencies) requires approval from architect or maintainer.
  • 🟢 Green light on all GitHub status checks is required in order to merge your PR.

Third-party code/dependencies

If you're adding third-party code, please reach out to an architect.

Third-party code must be licensed with a permissive open source license (MIT, BSD, Apache, LGPL are accepted, while GPL and AGPL are not accepted) and the license conditions must be respected (usually means you must maintain the copyright notice).

InvenioRDM has 200+ Python dependencies and then we're not even counting the NPM packages. Each dependency has the potential to break InvenioRDM. Therefore a third-party dependency must be careful evaluated if before being added.


Reviews are a very important part of the development process, but also has the potential to lead to conflicts among developers.

Follow these guidelines to minimize the risk of conflicts:

Code of conduct

We expect everyone to comply with our code of conduct - be open, inclusive, considerate and respectful.

  • Reviewer: Be respectful of the effort (often the labour was completed simply for the good of the community).
  • Creator: Be receptive to constructive comments and criticism (the reviews are labour intensive and serves to produce a better product and development for the community).

Prefix your review comments

Prefix your review comments with one of the tags from the scale. This helps the creator to understand the importance of your comment.

  1. Comment/Doubt/Question: exactly that. A doubt, a question or a comment.

  2. Minor: a change that the reviewer thinks might need change. However, it is not blocking, it is up to the developer to choose if and how to change it. It can be merged!

  3. Moderate/Normal (Default): a change that requires further discussion (e.g. breaking changes). It cannot be merged, unless explicitly stated by the reviewer (e.g. choose a solution proposed by the reviewer and implement it). Depending on the nature of the change a new review might be needed, use common sense.

  4. Major: a change that needs further discussion, probably a chat. Even the opinion of an architect. It has high implications. It cannot be merged. Use major with caution.

  5. Shelved: a suggestion that will be treated later on as part of a different issue. It is a good practice to reference the issue. Note that any of the previous (comment, minor, moderate and major) can be shelved if agreed by the PR creator and the reviewer.

Use emojis

Be polite and use emojis in your comments. This helps add a tiny bit of the nonverbal and paraverbal communication back into text-based messsage (the nonverbal/paraverbal part of message accounts for as much as 90% of a message).


Absence of approval means a pull request has not yet approved.

Request changes


GitHub allows a reviewer to "request changes". We do not use this feature. Instead a reviewer should use the review comment scale above.

The only accepted use of the request changes features is e.g. for an architect to block the merge of a PR in case there's a risk another maintainer might merge the PR (e.g. missing to see a recent comment). It's important to understand this is only in case of emergencies and urgent timing issues.