Code development

Code development is carried out using Github. For more information on the Git workflow that NNPDF adopts, see the Git and GitHub section.

Code contributions

Code contributions should be presented in the form of Pull Requests(PRs) to the repository. Avoid committing modifications directly to the master version of the code. Instead, create a new branch and make modifications on it.

This PR should adhere to the following rules:

  • A clear explanation of the aims of the PR should be given, i.e. what issue(s) are you trying to address? If the reason for the PR has already been detailed in an issue, then this issue should be linked in the PR.

  • The PR should contain documentation describing the new features, if applicable.

  • If the PR is fixing a bug, information should be given such that a reviewer can reproduce the bug.

  • The PR should have at least one developer assigned to it, whose task it is to review the code. The PR cannot be merged into master before the reviewer has approved it.

  • Before a PR can be merged into master, the Travis build for it must pass (see here). Practically, this means that you should find a green tick next to your PR on the relevant PR page. If you instead find a red cross next to your PR, the reason for the failure must be investigated and dealt with appropriately.

  • When writing examples, please use the recommended resources detailed here.

Example pull request

You may find it instructive to go though this pull request that implements new convolution methods:

https://github.com/NNPDF/nnpdf/pull/708/

It demonstrates how to add a new feature, together with relevant tests and documentation, and refine it based on the discussion.

Reviewing pull requests

All changes to the code should be reviewed by at least one person (and ideally at least two). The expected benefits of the policy are:

  • It should improve the overall quality of the code.

  • It should provide the author of the change with a reasonably quick feedback loop to discuss the technical details involved in the changes.

  • It should make at least two people (the author and the reviewer) familiar with the changes. It should also ensure that the changes are easy to read and maintain in the future, and conform to the structure of the rest of the project.

Guidelines for reviewing

The following approach has been found helpful for reviewers, when reviewing pull requests:

  • Make sure you actually understand what the changes are about. Unclear details should not pass code review. Ask for clarifications, documentation, and changes in the code that make it more clear. If you are not in the position of taking the time, consider asking somebody else to help reviewing the changes. If the changes are big and difficult to comprehend at once, consider requesting that the author breaks them down in easier to understand, self contained, pull requests. Note that it is for the authors to proactively discuss the proposed changes before they become too difficult for anyone else to follow, and, failing that, it is fair to ask them to go through the work of making them intelligible.

  • Look at the big picture first. Think about whether the overall idea and implementation is sound or instead could benefit from going in a different direction. Ideally before a lot of work has gone into fine tuning details.

  • Review the code in detail. Try to identify areas where the changes could be clearly improved in terms of clarity, speed or style. Consider implementing minor changes yourself, although note that there are trade-offs: People are more likely to assimilate good patterns if they implement them a few times, which may be a win long term, even if it takes longer to ship this particular code change.

  • Ideally changes should come with automatic tests supporting their correctness.

  • Use automated tools which could catch a few extra problems. In particular

    • Do look at the automated tests that run with the PR. New code should not break them.

    • Use pylint with our default configuration to catch common problems with Python code.

    • New Python code should come formatted with black tool.

    • Changes in compiled code should be tested in debug mode, with the address sanitizer enabled. This is done with the -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug -DENABLE_ASAN=ON options in cmake.

  • Regardless of automated tests, always run code with the new changes manually. This gives great insight into possible pitfalls and areas of improvement.

  • Make sure the changes are appropriately documented: Interface functions should come with rich docstrings, ideally with examples, larger pieces of functionality should come with some prose explaining what they are for.

  • Consider the effects on the larger system: Did this change make some example or piece of documentation obsolete and therefore mean needs to be updated? Did it break compatibility with something that we rely on? Should an email be sent around announcing the change? Does the change solve or unblock some outstanding issues?