Get Involved

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Developers and users can contribute to the LibreOffice development in many ways and everyone is welcome in the project.

Users can, for instance, help the development by testing beta releases of the software, reporting and testing of bugs, writing documentation, contributing to templates, update thesaurus, dictionaries, translate to your native language, add art work, spreading the word and promote LibreOffice.

On this page we concentrate on developers. Bear in mind we are open to all levels of developers, we have a few "core" developers (this basically means people who have been around since history started) but most of us are relatively new. LibreOffice is one of the biggest, oldest and most known (as OpenOffice) free software packages. If you are a student or looking for development work, being able to write "I have worked for LibreOffice" is a great plus on your CV. You can, after agreement, use our Development Mentoring Lead as a reference. Developers help to improve the LibreOffice code base. At first, the enormous code base can be intimidating, but documentation is improving and you will receive assistance by the existing developers team. This page will help you get your first patch submitted. To help get an overview (remember all easyHacks have code pointers):

Step-by-step guide for new developers

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the size and complexity of LibreOffice. The source is written in many different languages and formats — C, C++, Java, Bash, JavaScript, Python, Perl, SQL, Test, XML — and consist of roughly 102,000 files (excluding all localizations) with 36,000,000 lines of text (7,000,000 lines of source code)

Nobody understands the whole code in detail, but we have many core developers who each know part of the code in detail. This step by step guide shows an easy way going from "wanting to contribute" to successfully have the first patch merged to master. If you want help or need more information, please do not hesitate to contact our Development mentor


Connect to our communication channels

Our main communication channel is libreoffice@lists.freedesktop.org; we recommend you subscribe to it. You can also follow the list online at http://nabble.documentfoundation.org. How to use the development mailing list

We want to keep the source code free for use by anybody, therefore it is important that you mail (please use Subject: <your name> license statement) a license statement to libreoffice@lists.freedesktop.org with the text:

   All of my past & future contributions to LibreOffice may be
   licensed under the MPLv2/LGPLv3+ dual license.

A slight variation to suit your personal taste is fine as long as the intention is clear. You will receive a welcome message in response. We keep a list of developers in our wiki

If you need a quick response to a simple question, you can find many of us on IRC freenode #libreoffice-dev connect via webchat

Build LibreOffice

In order to do development you need a local copy of the source code. All code is kept in git

Windows

Windows developers need Cygwin and other utilities installed. The easiest way is to use lode

Remark some people experience problems with the directory names in windows (like LO cannot find the mscvc.exe), please have a look here:

correct path problems


a word about antivirus scanners

When you build we highly recommend you deactivate your virus scanner (and of course no surfing while deactivated).

If you leave the virus scanner active you must add an exception list containing at least

  • perl.exes
  • <git home>/workdir

otherwise the build will fail. We have noticed that running a virus scanner whilst building often increases build time, sometimes by more than 30%.

There has been reported several issues during installation relating to the virus scanner, so it is highly recommended to disable the virus scanner while running lode.

macOS

macOS can be setup in different ways, as you get more specialized you might want a more complicated setup, but to get started we suggest to follow Quick Pre-canned Setup

Linux

Linux (most flavors) can be set up using the package installers. We suggest you follow Building on Linux

Prepare to submit patches

Once you have successfully compiled LibreOffice you are ready to submit patches. We use gerrit to keep track of patches, so you need to create an account there. Follow this gerrit setup guide

There are basically two ways to submit/work with patches. Those familar with Git review can use that, but we recommend a simpler tool called logerrit.

Be careful when committing changes to submodules like help (and only cloning help) as the logerrit script is not available and you might not have the gerrit hook installed. For setup steps, see Development/Submodules.


Find your first bug to solve

Congratulations, you have reached the interesting part.

Solving the first bug involves learning new tools and ways, therefore we have identified some easy bugs called Easy_Hacks. We use bugzilla where you need to create a account, to keep track of reported bugs.

Easy hacks are real bugs, but the core developers have added source code pointers and sometimes textual help instead of simply solving them, to make it easier for you to solve the bug. Select a bug from your favorite programming language (see above) that interest you EasyHacks by language and skill, as you see there are plenty to choose from. We recommend you choose one from the category "Skill level: beginner", to allow you to concentrate on all the "how do I ....".

Once you have selected a bug to solve, please do not forget to assign it in bugzilla to yourself, so others can see you are working on it. If you want to work on one of the general bugs (like converting foo to xyz), then please do not assign it to you, since many can work on that in parallel. The EasyHacks are monitored so if there are no progress after a time we will unassign it.

Of course there are also other challenges for later:


Solving a bug

Some practical advice, based on experience, which we recommend that you follow is:

  • Never make changes to your copy of master - create a branch instead.
  • Keep a separate branch for each bug, and do not delete the branch until the bug-fix is merged.
  • follow the Code Style (such as variable naming schemes, etc.).
  • If you create new files, please use our License Header.
  • Please avoid larger reformatting of the code for the time being (except for the tasks listed below) - we're pondering auto/magic ways to do that mid- to long-term.
  • Update master before starting on a new bug (and run make check to confirm it compiles cleanly before you make any changes).
  • Do not submit patches that depend on each other, unless being told to do so. Doing so will make your patch incapable of being merged.
  • If your patch is not ready to be merged, assign -2 to it, that way reviewers know it is Work In Progress.
  • Patience is a key, reviewing takes time and we are all volunteers, so expect a couple of days to pass.

Suggested workflow

1. Update master

Make sure your master is updated and works. If your master is too outdated, you run the risk of not being able to merge your patch.

As a rule of thumb, use the commands below if:

  • your master is more than a week old.
  • your new bug-fix depends on work that just got merged.
./g pull -r
make
make check

!! make must be 3.8.1 or higher.

Please use the -r switch, which is far more effective than simply pulling. Master is frequently broken, but normally only for a short time (committers normally react fast if they make a wrong commit).

When make completes you know you have a working master, so if make breaks while compiling your patch it is due to a problem somewhere in your code. make check runs all test cases and ensures you have a working version of LibreOffice.

2. Work in a branch

You might be asked later to make changes to your patch, and if you have created and worked in a separate branch that will be very easy. Please use a new branch (from master) for every bug you work on, once the patch has been merged you can delete the branch.

git checkout -b test1

Replace test1 with your preferred name.

3. Solve the bug

Identify the problem, correct the code, generate and test a version. Remember to supply a unit-test whenever possible to verify that the problem is solved.

There are a number of handy tools to help you

Do remember to do git commit -a regularly. This gives you the possibility to easily abandon part of your development, should it turn out to be a wrong path.

4. Submit the patch

It is recommended that your commit messages look like:

   tdf#12345 <short developer description of change, not just the bug title>
   <empty line>
   <description of what the patch does, the more words the better others understand it later>
  • if there is a bugreport related to the commit, it's mandatory to start the first line with a bug reference like tdf#12345 (see details below)
  • use the rest of the first line as a concise summary of your changes. The maximum length for this line is 72 characters.
  • use present tense. tell what the change does. be terse. avoid "decorations" like dashes and brackets that waste space.
  • if you want to provide more text than what fits the 1st line, it's mandatory to leave the 2nd line empty
  • and starting on the 3rd line explain what the patch does and why, and if it not obvious also how. These lines should have 80 characters lenght at most; split into several lines if your comment if longer. here you can also describe how the code used to work incorrectly before the change.

If your patch fixes a bug that is already filed in Bugzilla, then you can take advantage of automatic bug-notifications that are triggered by commit-messages: When the first line of the commit message includes a reference to a bug in the form tdf#12345, then a corresponding comment will automatically be added to the bugreport, when the change is pushed to the repository. See the announcement-thread on mail-archive.com or on fdo-listarchive for more details.

Verify that your changes don't break automated testing:

make check

Now you can submit the patch to gerrit (see Prepare to submit patches):

./logerrit submit master

Review of your patch

Your patch will typically be reviewed within 1-2 days. You can follow the progress in gerrit and you will also receive mail whenever there is a change. (Don't be too concerned if Jenkins reports that only the Windows build failed the automated compiling.)

In general 3 things can happen in the review:

  • The committer reviewed and tested the patch successfully, then merged it to master (congratulations)
  • The committer had some comments, which you need to look at
  • Sometimes the patch breaks some other functionality and is marked as “Cannot merge”

In the 2 later cases, you need to update your patch.

Use of Code-Review and Verified

If you look at your patch on Gerrit you will see two status codes:

  • Code-Review
  • Verified

The reviewers, our CI system (jenkins) and potentially yourself will use these two fields to qualify the patch.

Code-Review

Can be assigned -2, -1, 0, +1, +2

-2 are to be used by the author, to signal "work in progress". The -2 prevent the patch from being merged, and only the person who issued the -2 can remove it.

If you work on a larger patch, you are most welcome to upload a patch, mark it as -2, to see if it builds successfully on all platforms

-1 is used by the reviewer, if there are things in the patch that should be changed

0 is used when making comments, that has no effect on whether or not the patch should be merged.

+1 is used by the reviewer, to signal the patch is ok, but the reviewer would like a second opinion

+2 is used by the author to signal no review is needed (this can only be done by core developers, and should be used with care). The person who merges your patch, will use +2, just before merging, since only +2 can be merged

Remark, a patch will NOT be merged as long as there are -1 or -2 unresponded to.


Verified

Can be assigned -1, 0, +1

-1 is used by the CI system if the build fails (remark this is not always a problem in your patch, but can be due to a broken master).

-1 is used by the reviewer, if the expected result cannot be seen.

0 is used when making comments, that has no effect on whether or not the patch should be merged.

+1 is used by the CI system if the build is succesfull

+1 is used by the reviewer, when the expected result has been verified.

Remark, a patch will NOT be merged unless the CI system shows a successfull build.

Updating a patch

Checkout your branch,

git checkout test1

make the needed changes and test them. It is polite to comment the lines of code you do not want to change or where you do not agree with the committer, this is done directly in gerrit.

Once you are ready to commit again it is important you use --amend

git commit --amend -a

Important do not use the -m parameter as it will wipe out the gerrit patch id. Let git open an editor, allowing you to edit the commit message (or leave it unchanged). When editing be careful not to remove/modify the last line with the patch id.

This will ensure you update the patch, instead of generating a new one (with a new Change-Id:).

Upload the new patch set to gerrit

./logerrit submit master

Congratulations

You have successfully made a change to one of the most popular open-source packages in the world.

Continue to make patches, and you will soon be a committer yourself.