Advanced: Code review

Code review

You've come a long way. On previous tutorials you learned how to make changes to Gazebo's codebase locally in your computer.

On this last tutorial of the series, you will learn how to integrate your code into the official Gazebo repository!

Choosing an issue

Before starting to write code, it's a good idea to find out if anyone is already working on that, whether anyone has tried it before but failed, or simply if it makes sense.

On GitHub, there is a list of "issues", which may be bugs or feature requests for each repository. Here are the links to the issue lists for each Gazebo-related repository:

Issues for new developers

Among these issues, the Gazebo core team marks some of them with the label good first issue. These are issues which are considered good first issues for first time contributors like you ;) Take a look at the list and see if you find anything that's interesting to you.

Feel free to leave a comment on one of those issues saying that you're considering tackling it and asking for additional information as needed. Some issues might seem too large, and it's ok to only partially solve an issue if that solution makes sense by itself.

Other issues

If you have something in mind to work on, it's a very good idea to search for a few related keywords on the issue tracker first. Some possible results of your search are:

  1. The issue has already been fixed for the upcoming release

    That's good to know, right? Now you can look for another issue to tackle!

  2. There is someone actively working on it already

    Feel free to comment on the issue offering your help with anything they might see fit.

  3. Someone has worked on it in the past but has left it in an incomplete state

    Feel free to post a comment asking for clarification on what's the current status of their work, whether they're planning to keep working on it, why they stopped... Ask anything which might help you pick up from where they left.

  4. There are no issues related to that

    In this case, it's recommended you create a new issue yourself, explaining why you think that's an issue and how you plan on fixing it. Someone from the community or from the Gazebo core team might comment on it shortly, with tips on how to proceed, or maybe pointing you to other related issues you might have missed.

Fixing the issue

So now you've gone through the issue trackers above and chose an issue to work on. Before you start to code, it's a good idea to create a new branch for this code to live.

  1. Let's go back to our workspace:

    cd ~/code/gazebo
  2. We had previously made some changes to files, right? You can check with the git diff command, which shows the "difference" in your workspace:

    git diff
  3. If you've been following these tutorials, all you'll have is:

    diff -r 7d7c37d66d00 gazebo/gui/
    --- a/gazebo/gui/  Wed May 03 14:44:20 2017 +0000
    +++ b/gazebo/gui/  Fri May 05 17:27:20 2017 -0700
    @@ -134,7 +134,7 @@
    -  this->dataPtr->realTimeFactorLabel = new QLabel(tr("Real Time Factor:"));
    +  this->dataPtr->realTimeFactorLabel = new QLabel(tr("RTF:"));

    Lines preceeded by - have been removed, and those preceeded by + have been added.

  4. We don't want that anymore, so let's clear our workspace with the following command:

    git reset --hard

    Beware that all your changes are lost when you do this!

  5. Now if you check the diff again, there will be nothing!

  6. Now we're ready to create our branch. First let's take a look at which branch we're currently at with the git branch command:

    git branch
  7. If you've been following the tutorials, you should now be at gazebo9.

  8. It was mentioned earlier that different Gazebo releases live in different branches.

    1. If you're fixing a bug on an existing release, you'll want to start from that branch, for example gazebo7. When targeting a release branch, make sure your changes won't break ABI or API.
    2. If you're adding a new feature, you probably want it to go into a future release, so you can start from master (no longer available).

    You can change to the target branch with the git checkout command, for example:

    git checkout gazebo7
  9. To create a new branch we pass the branch name to the git checkout command using the -b flag. This creates a new branch as a copy of the branch we're currently in and moves the workspace to that branch. For example:

    git checkout -b <yourname>_first_issue
  10. Check that you're on the new branch with git branch again:

    git branch
  11. Now this is the part of the tutorial you've been waiting for! Here's where you will do your magic! Use the tools you were introduced to in this series to fix the issue you chose to address.

  12. If you get stuck at any time, you're welcome to ask questions on Gazebo Answers or on the issue you're trying to fix.

  13. After you've made a few changes, be sure to "commit" your progress so it doesn't get lost. You do this with the git commit command, and pass it a custom message, for example:

    git commit -am "My first commit: started fixing a bug!"
  14. Keep working on the issue and committing your progress until you're satisfied with the result. Remember the quality guidelines from previous tutorials and make sure your code is tested, documented and follows the style guide.

  15. Take some time to review everything line-by-line. The review process will go much faster if you make sure everything is perfect before other people look at your code.

  16. Once you're done, push your commits to your online repository on GitHub as follows:

    git push -u origin <yourname>_first_issue
  17. Fill in your username and password, then check on your GitHub repository that the new branch is there.<yourname>/gazebo/branches

Make a pull request

It's time to put your code through code review. You will request that the Gazebo team pull your changes into the official repository through a "pull request". Here is the list of pull requests currently open for Gazebo:

It's a good idea to take a look at a couple of pull requests which have been accepted in the past so you get an idea of how the process works.

You can create a pull request for Gazebo on this link:

Be sure to describe what you did, refer the issue you're fixing, and add any images or other things which you think may help the reviewers get a good idea of your code. Be sure to choose the correct target branch if you're not starting from default. Let us know in the description if this is your first pull request so we can give you extra guidance ;)

At least two other people have to approve your pull request before it can be merged. Be responsive to any questions and comments and adapt your code accordingly.

Once it is merged, you're done! You've contributed to Gazebo and your code will be part of the next release! Congratulations!