Development/Tutorials/Git/Feature Development Workflow

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This page refers to a draft policy which is still to be agreed and implemented. Please take it as a reference for a work in progress project.

These tutorials are aimed to get people started with KDE's policy for merging and integrating changes into the repositories.

Such policies vary depending on the developer's role inside the project. Please follow the tutorial which best suits your role and profile

  • Casual Developer - follow this tutorial if you simply wish to contribute features or fixes OR you are a developer without specific knowledge of git. Difficulty level: easy
  • Core Developer with git knowledge - follow this tutorial if you are a developer which contributes frequently AND you have a more-than-average knowledge of git. Difficulty level: manageable
  • Repository Maintainer - follow this tutorial if you are a repository maintainer or if you want to apply for becoming one. Difficulty level: relevant

Also, for your knowledge, you should check out these specific articles:

Some KDE Components have adopted an integration-staging-origin policy for pushing features into KDE's repositories. This document is designed to get developers started with this workflow and understand the steps involved.


Repositories and projects complying with this policy

The following repositories/projects follow these guidelines. Any project not mentioned here is unaffected by what described

  • kde-workspace
  • kde-runtime
  • kdelibs (plasma only)


The requirements of the KDE community that this workflow aims to meet include the following items. The final workflow may not meet all of the requirements with 100% perfection and there may be some need for compromise on some points as we develop the workflow further. However, these are points of value to the KDE community which need to be addressed by the proposed git workflow:

  • low barrier of entry (easily learnable, easily practiced,) for developers with little to no git knowledge / mastery
  • master being in a continuously stable state
  • the ability to do integration in a branch other than master
  • ease of bug fixing, particularly making applying the same fix to stable and integration branches clear and simple
  • no interruption to feature development, even during freezes in preparation of Software Compilation releases
  • a single workflow applied across all participants in the Software Compilation and, hopefully, even wider across projects hosted in KDE's git installation to keep the barrier to participation low
  • as clean a history in the repo as possible
  • works with existing "Best Practices" in KDE such as commit mailing lists and other communication aids as development happens (not just post-merge)


This approach is meant to implement proper quality evaluation into the main repositories, still allowing developers to work on anything they want, and providing a sane merging strategy which does not require any specific knowledge from the developer's side.

This is achieved by using two separate repositories. One is origin, the official project repository, where just maintainers are allowed to push, apart from special cases. The other is integration, where work in progress happens, and everyone can create branches and work on that.

There are two separate figures: developers and maintainers. Developers are people who want to work on features on a specific repositories, maintainers are the gatekeepers for those repositories. Please note the purpose of the maintainer is purely organizational: no special power over technical decision is given to maintainers.

A developer would provide his code into a remote branch in integration: as soon as this code is ready and reviewed, the maintainer would take care of merging into integration/master first, prepare for staging in integration/staging, and finally merge into master when needed.

Setting up the development environment

In the following steps, we will assume your system is set up as shown in the user manual, especially regarding automatic URL rewriting for KDE repositories enabled.

In the following tutorial, we'll refer to kdelibs as the main target, but this applies to any other repository using this policy.

Cloning the repository and adding integration

To clone the repository, issue

git clone kde:kdelibs

This will create a kdelibs directory containing the whole repository. You now need to add a separate remote for handling integration. A remote is a repository URL, and your local clone can contain multiple repositories to track different branches. To add kdelibs' integration repository, issue inside kdelibs' clone:

git remote add integration kde:clones/kdelibs/dafre/kdelibs-integration

Now, fetch from integration to retrieve the changes:

git fetch integration
When working with multiple remotes, you can issue git fetch --all to update all the remotes tracked by your local copy

Creating branches

You now need to get your branches set up, in particular integration/master. In this example, we are creating a new branch named integration-master which would serve for this purpose in particular:

git checkout -b integration-master integration/master

This command creates a local branch set to track a remote one. This branch should be the branch you'll be basing your work upon: origin/master is not meant for development!

Advanced users might want to use integration as their origin

Using integration vs. using your own clone

It is strongly advised to push your work to integration, but under some circumstances (your work is extremely big in size, you do not have a KDE Development account, etc.), it is allowed to push your branches to a separate personal clone. All work should end up into integration for being reviewed anyway.

Developing a new feature

We'll now walk through the process needed to develop a new feature. We'll suppose you want to add a button which says "hello" to a specific part of code.

Creating a new branch

First thing to do is creating a new branch on which to base your work on. This branch must be based upon integration/master. To make sure this happens, start by issuing

git checkout integration-master

Now create your branch. Give it a self-explainatory name: try to keep branches as atomic as possible, and possibly split big changes throughout multiple branches divided as per topic. In our case, we want to name our branch add-hello-button. To do that, we do:

git checkout -b add-hello-button

That will create our personal branch which is going to contain our work. Push your branch to integration by issuing

git push integration add-hello-button

Getting the branch reviewed

Once you are done with your changes, you are ready to get your branch reviewed. This involves three easy steps:

Rebase your branch onto integration/master

It is important to have your branch rebased to be ready for review. Rebasing puts your commits on top of anything else of the branch you are rebasing on, including the changes from that branch. You of course want to rebase onto integration/master. To do that, issue

git rebase integration/master

Be sure to fetch before doing that. At this stage, conflicts might occur: be sure to fix them and commit/push the result. You will be required to force push at this stage.

Rebasing must be done at this stage only: please avoid rebasing before getting reviewed or after getting reviewed if not strictly necessary

Push your changes to integration

If you have a KDE developer account, simply

git push integration add-hello-button

from within your add-hello-button branch. If you do not have one, please have your mentor push your branch for you.

Submit the branch for review

Use Reviewboard for getting your branch reviewed. You can read KDE Reviewboard+Git tutorial for getting started.

Getting the branch approved

After your branch has been reviewed and marked as "Ship it!" at least by one of the maintainers of the code you are adding features to, your branch is ready for integration and staging. Your reviewer will inform one of the repository's maintainers of that.

Your work is done at this stage: the maintainer will integrate and stage your branch for you, and will merge it into origin according to the project's merging policy. You will be CCMailed upon every separate step your branch will take on its way to origin/master

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