Contributing to Boxes.py

You are thinking about contributing to Boxes.py? That’s great! Boxes.py is designed to be re-used and extended.

This document gives you some guidelines how your contribution is most likely to impact the development and your changes are most likely to be merged into the upstream repository.

Most of them should be just general best practises and not be surprising. Don’t worry if you find them too complicated. It is OK leave the final touch to someone else.

Writing code for Boxes.py

You will often be compelled to just do a quick thing that will solve your immediate needs. That’s fine. But nevertheless it is often worth doing things the right way and be able to submit your changes upstream. For one to give something back to the community. But also for purely selfish reasons like getting the code maintained. Also Boxes.py is designed to make doing things properly the easy way.

Here are some guidelines that make this easier. Depending on what you are up to they may apply to a varying degree. It’s ok to submit patches that are not quite ready yet. But please state in the pull request message what you think the status is and whether you want help or are going to finish it on your own.

  • Please fork the repository at GitHub before getting started

  • Start with creating separate branches for each of your new generators or features

    • You can merge them into your master branch to have them all in one place

    • Please continue your work in the branches and repeatedly merge them to master

  • Before submitting a pull request intended to go upstream have clean patches that are self contained and error free

    • Re-order and squash patches with git rebase -i

    • The patches should containing meaningful changes and not (necessarily) reflect how the code was created

    • Rebase your branch to the current master branch

    • Be prepared that your code may get reworked before being merged upstream

  • Submit a pull request in GitHub based on your feature branch

    • Describe the status of the patch set and your intentions with it in the pull request message

If you want to discuss your idea open a ticket describing it and ask questions there. This is encouraged even if you think you know what you want to do. There are many short cuts in Boxes.py and pointing you in the right direction may save you a lot of work.

If you want feed back on you code feel free to open a PR. State that this is work in progress in the PR message. It’s OK if it does not follow the guide lines (yet).

Writing new Generators

Writing new generators is the most straight forward thing to do with Boxes.py. Here are some guidelines that make it easier to get them added:

  • Start with a copy of another generator or boxes/generators/_template.py

  • Commit changes to the library in separate patches

  • Use parameters with sane defaults instead of hard coding dimensions

  • Simple generators can end up as one single commit

  • For more complicated generators there can be multiple patches - each adding another feature

Improving the Documentation

Boxes.py comes with Sphinx based documentation that is in large parts generated from the doc strings in the code. Nevertheless documentation has a tendency to get outdated. If you encounter outdated pieces of documentation feel free to submit a pull request or open a ticket pointing out what should be changed or even suggesting a better text.

To check your changes docs need to be build with make html in documentation/src. This places the compiled documentation in documentation/build/html. You need to have sphinx installed for this to work.

The online documentation gets build and updated automatically by the Travis CI as soon as the changes makes it into the GitHub master branch.

Improving the User Interface

Coming up with good names and good descriptions is hard. Often writing a new generator is much easier than coming up with a good name for it and its arguments. If you think something deserves a better name or description and you can come up with one please don’t hesitate to open a ticket. It is this small things that make something like Boxes.py easy or hard to use.

There is also an - often empty - space for a longer text for each generator that could house assembling instructions, instructions for use or just more detailed descriptions. If you are interested in writing some please open a ticket. Your text does not have to be perfect. We can work on it together.

Reporting bugs

If you encounter issues with Boxes.py, please open a ticket at GitHub. Please provide all information necessary to reproduce the bug. Often this can be the URL of the broken result. If the issue is easy to spot it may be sufficient to just give a brief description. Otherwise it can be helpful to attach the resulting SVG, a screen shot or the error message. Add a “bug” tag to draw additional attention.

Suggesting new generators or features

If you have an idea for a new generator or feature please open a ticket. Give some short rational how or where you would use such a thing. Try to give a precise description how it should look like and which features and details are important. The less is left open the easier it is to implement. You can add an “enhancement” tag.