How to Use Git and GitHub

Getting started

If you’ve never used Git and/or GitHub before, GitHub assembled an awesome list of recommendations to get you started.

Below, you can find some additional guidelines on how to work with Git when contributing to the SCION project. If you never used Git before, we strongly recommend reading it.

Even if you are experienced with Git, we recommend at least skimming it because it includes some additional information on how to write good commit messages, and how the code review process works.

Forking the repository

The first step is to make your own personal fork of the main repository. You can do this by going to the SCION repo, and clicking the ‘Fork’ button on the top right, and then choosing your own personal repository.

This gives you a complete copy of the main scion repo, in which are you free to make changes without affecting anyone else. The only downside to this is that you have a little extra work to do to keep it up to date with the main repo. This is covered below.

Setting up github auth

Interacting with github using git will require you to authenticate every time. In order to make your life easier, we strongly suggest setting up automated authentication using an ssh-key. Github has a nice doc on how to set it up.

Cloning the repository

Now that you have your own fork, follow the steps in the Setting up the development environment to set up your workspace. When you get to the point of cloning the repository, use the directory the README indicates, but clone your own fork into it instead:

cd "<workspace>"
git clone [email protected]:<username>/scion

(If you have authentication setup correctly, you won’t be prompted for a password.)

This will initialize a git repository on your local machine and pull everything from your forked personal repository in there.

Keeping your personal fork up to date

In order to keep your personal fork in sync with the main repository, you need to add the main repo as new remote repo in your local clone. Github’s guide for this is pretty straightforward, but can be summarised as:

git remote add upstream [email protected]:scionproto/scion.git

Now that you have this setup, the procedure for doing the sync is pretty straight-forward:

  1. Fetch the changes from the main repo: git fetch upstream

  2. Switch to your master branch: git checkout master

  3. Merge the upstream changes into your main branch: git merge --ff-only upstream/master

  4. Push the changes to your github fork: git push

Submitting a pull request

Pull Requests are a powerful tool provided by github mainly to review code before it is merged to the main branch.

Preparing your pull request

Before you create your pull request (PR), make sure your code passes the unit testing and linting checks.

Run the tests using:

bazel test --config=unit_all

The above runs only the unit tests. As soon as you open your PR, some additional tests will run automatically.

To lint the code, run:

make lint

Good commit messages

We adhere to the rules in the Go Contribution Guide.

Here is an example of a good commit message:

sciond: do not panic on shutdown

SCIOND runs a tcp-messenger in client mode. There was a superfluous
deferred `CloseServer` call that panicked on shutdown.

- Remove deferred `CloseServer` call on tcp-messenger in client mode
- Don't panic when calling `CloseServer` on a tcp-messenger with nil listener
- Move deferred `CloseServer` call in CS to the appropriate place

Fixes #3766
  • There is <subsystem:> at the beginning

  • All letters are lowercase

  • There is always a reference number to an issue

Submitting your pull request

In order to submit a pull request you need to push your branch containing the new code to the github repository (as explained above). This new branch will now show up in the web interface (under ‘branches’ on the main repository page). From there you can click on ‘New pull request’ where you can add a description and check what’s included in the pull request.

You can then assign the pull request to one or more reviewers, which will get notified to do a code review.

Code reviews

Github’s code review interface is fairly basic, and is missing some key features. To compensate for this, we’re using an external review system, This integrates into the github PR, and keeps track of comments that have been addressed or not. When all issues pointed out by your reviewer are fixed, your code is probably ready to be merged.

Best practices

  • Keep your development branch(es) rebased on master.

  • Squash your contribution to a single commit before sending a PR.

  • Incremental updates to a PR should be separate commits, as this allows reviewers to see what has changed.

  • Each PR should be self-contained (as much as possible), have a description that covers all the changes in it, and always leave the tree in a working state.

  • If you have any git problems, ping someone on the slack channel for help. Don’t suffer alone :)

Final comments

Git is a very powerful tool and this tutorial barely scratches the surface. It just presents the most common use case, but it should get you started. Please use the vast amount of really good git and github resources on the web.