[python-committers] We are now live on GitHub!

Brett Cannon brett at python.org
Fri Feb 10 18:19:24 EST 2017

[rendered version:

# CPython workflow changes
After more than two years, our new GitHub workflow is ready to accept
changes (you can look back to my first “[vision statement](
https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2014-December/137472.html)” on
changing our workflow to see how things have changed since I started
working on this)! I hope you are all excited to see this finished; I know
my wife is very excited as she’s tired of listening to me talk about it for
a third of our marriage. ;)

# Thanks

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who helped with this. Thanks
to Donald and Barry for writing the initial PEPs proposing [GitHub](
https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0481/) and [GitLab](
https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0507/) and Nick [pre-proposing
RhodeCode](https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0474/). Thanks to everyone
on [core-workflow](https://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/core-workflow)
for helping out with various discussion (and which will continue to host
discussions on future improvements on our workflow). Thanks to Ezio,
Maciej, and Anish Shah for helping with the changes required to
bugs.python.org in order to keep the issue tracker around. Thanks to the
infrastructure team for helping deal with the migration of the [peps](
https://github.com/python/peps) and [devguide](
https://github.com/python/devguide) repos (especially Donald and Ernest).
Thanks to Senthil for doing the conversion of the repo itself. Thanks to
Benjamin for helping with hg.python.org stuff. Thanks to Zach for helping
with the buildbots (and the devguide). Thanks to Mariatta, Carol Willing,
Berker, Oleg, and Stéphane Wirtel for helping with the devguide. There are
also plenty of other people who have provided feedback over the past 2
years on mailing lists and in-person.

# What has changed

The documentation in the [devguide](https://cpython-devguide.readthedocs.io)
should be up-to-date, so don’t worry about keeping this around as a
reference. Consider this more of an announcement letter to get people
quickly up-to-speed and excited about the new workflow.

## The location of the code repository

CPython’s code now lives at https://github.com/python/cpython .
hg.python.org/cpython is and will stay read-only (no determination has been
made as to how long the Mercurial repository will be kept running). It
should also be mentioned that we are doing squash commits and not rebased
commits or merge commits as some projects on GitHub do. This basically
means we will continue to have a single contribution lead to a single
commit, keeping our history linear and compact.

To up the bus factor on the new repository, I have set up a team for
[Python release managers](
https://github.com/orgs/python/teams/python-release-managers) and made them
administrators on the repository. I don’t necessarily expect RMs to use
this power, but it’s there in case any of them need to change a setting in
order to get a release out (to be upfront about it, I’m also in the team as
its creator, but I have administrative privileges for the [Python team](
https://github.com/python) on GitHub so it doesn’t change what I’m able to

## Specifying issue numbers

Traditionally we have specified issues as “Issue #NNNN”. The problem with
this format is that [GitHub automatically links](
text in this format to GitHub issues and pull requests. While our
repository will initially have no issues or PRs to automatically link to,
this might not be true long-term (GitHub does the automatic linking eagerly
at push time, so there’s no worry for older commit messages; we actually
almost mutated the history to match the new format but in the end I made
the decision not to as I didn’t consult with python-committers prior to the
migration to make sure such a change was acceptable to everyone).

To avoid this issue we are going to start specifying issues as “bpo-NNNN”.
This clearly delineates that issue numbers directly relate to
bugs.python.org since “[namespaces are one honking great idea](
https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0020/)”. This is also a format that
GitHub supports — “GH-NNNN” — as well as JIRA who [lets you specify the
so there’s precedent for choosing it. This change applies both to
and in [commit messages](
Mentioning an issue this way in a pull request title or comment will
connect the PR to the corresponding issue on bugs.python.org. Mentioning an
issue this way in a commit message will cause a comment to show up in the
issue relating to the commit.

## Cherry-picking instead of merging

When a patch has spanned more than one version/branch we have always done a
forward merge.  The common issue with this, though, is it leads to racing
with other committers from when you make to your initial commit in the
oldest version/branch to pushing to hg.python.org on the newest
version/branch. There was also the problem of having to remember that
Python 2.7 is a special branch which was never merged forward.

To deal with these issues we will use [cherry-picking](
going forward. This allows changes to be pulled into other branches as
independent commits. This prevents any commit races with other core
developers as we have traditionally needed to deal with when doing forward
merges that span e.g. three branches. It also allows using CI to easily
verify a change works if each cherry-pick is done as a separate pull
request. The Python 2.7 branch also stops being a special case when
backporting. It also prevents potential issues stemming from contributors
submitting pull requests against the master branch by default and not the
oldest branch a change should be applied to. Finally, this also removes the
discussion of whether a change should be backported or not from blocking
the commit into master to begin with.

Labels will be provided for people to use to help track any cherry-picking
that needs to occur for a pull request (e.g. “backport to 3.6”). I also
left the “bug” and “enhancement” labels to help classify PRs (adding more
labels is easy so we can do that as our experience and workflow organically
converge towards common practices).

## Protected branches

All feature branches have been marked as [protected](
https://help.github.com/articles/about-protected-branches/). This means
that feature branches cannot be deleted nor can they be pushed to directly.
The latter will be the biggest change as it means all changes must go
through a pull request. This helps make sure that there are no accidental
breakage of code (I know I have done this multiple times when in a rush and
I didn’t take my time when preparing a commit). This also means that all
core developers follow the same development workflow as any other
contributor. This not only allows all core developers to be able to help
any other contributors with our workflow, but it also helps make sure we
are aware of any sticking points in the contributor process so that we can
all work towards resolving them for everyone’s benefit. (If experience
shows that this is too much overhead we can turn this off.)

All feature branches that are in security-only mode are locked down so that
only [Python release managers](
https://github.com/orgs/python/teams/python-release-managers) can approve
pull requests to them. For all branches that have reached EOL, no one is
able to push to them. I expect that RMs will also use this feature when
they are ready to gate all commits to a branch on their approval (e.g. when
a release reaches RC, maybe even beta if they choose to go that far).

# What has improved
## Accepting PRs through GitHub’s web UI

While using hg.python.org, all commits had to be done through Mercurial’s
CLI. With the move to GitHub we gain the ability to accept pull requests
through a web UI. While this will only accept the change into the branch it
was submitted against (which can be changed in the web UI), for situations
where a change does not need to be backported it will allow for easier
acceptance of a change. (When a change does need to be backported this is
when you need to cherry-pick and that requires using the git CLI). If a
change does need to be cherry-picked into an older branch you can either
wait to accept the PR when you have a clone to work with or accept the
change into master now and then cherry-pick later when you have a clone

## Continuous integration

Previously changes required running the test suite manually along with
verifying various other things like the documentation building. Moving to
GitHub allows us to leverage the Travis continuous integration service to
test several things in parallel automatically for each pull request:

1. Debug build under gcc
2. Debug build under clang
3. Documentation is valid and has no stale links
4. Python.h C++ compatibility

While this doesn’t solve all testing scenarios (e.g. this doesn’t test a
macOS or Windows-related change due to the added hours it take for a PR to
be “green” when run on Travis for macOS or AppVeyor for Windows), it does
help with the common case of a cross-platform change. (There is an [open
issue](https://github.com/python/core-workflow/issues/14) to add some code
so that these tests only run when appropriate files have changed so that
e.g. fixing a spelling mistake doesn’t run the test suite.)

It should be mentioned that status checks on issues are **not** required
prior to committing a pull request. While this may be a good idea
long-term, until we know that our test suite is stable enough to not have
regular flaky tests this would be more trouble than it’s worth (GitHub does
visibly show, though, when not all status checks have passed so you won’t
easily ignore this situation either).

## Code coverage

Traditionally the code coverage of our tests was only known when someone
ran the test suite manually under something like [coverage.py](
https://coverage.readthedocs.io). Even when someone did generate a coverage
report it was generally not shared with other developers, and so it wasn’t
widely known if a pull request increased or lowered test coverage.

With the move to GitHub we are able to use [Codecov](https://codecov.io/)
to calculate code coverage for each pull request. This also implicitly
tests a non-debug build as that’s used to make the coverage results run
faster. It should be noted, though, that some tests are skipped due to them
holding up the coverage run from completing. (There is an [open issue](
https://github.com/python/core-workflow/issues/18) to use coverage.py’s
fullcoverage hack so that the coverage report can even be accurate for
modules imported during interpreter startup.)

## CLA enforcement

To tell if someone has signed the PSF contributor license agreement you
have to look to see if they have an asterisk by their name on the issue
tracker. Unfortunately this is a passive thing to need to check for and is
easily forgotten. Thanks to GitHub’s webhook events and developer API we
now have a bot which checks if the contributor(s) to a pull request have
signed the CLA, adding an appropriate label to the PR to signal the CLA
signing status (the bot is named [The Knights Who Say Ni](
https://github.com/python/the-knights-who-say-ni)). If the contributor(s)
have not signed the CLA then a message is left on the PR explaining how to
rectify the issue (it’s either they need to connect their GitHub account to
their bugs.python.org account or they need to sign the CLA; there’s also is
an easter egg that occasionally appears in the message).

If a contributor does end up fixing the issue that leads to the bot
thinking the contributor had not signed the CLA, you can remove the “CLA
not signed” label and the bot will recheck the PR and add the appropriate
label (this also happens automatically if any code changes are made to the
PR). If for some the reason the bot has a hiccup then no label will be
applied (this is to act as a safeguard against false-negatives and to make
it easy to spot when something has gone wrong due to the absence of either
a “CLA signed” or “CLA not signed” label). To trigger the bot again you can
simply apply the “CLA not signed” label and then remove it.

## Contribution guidelines

There is now a `[.github/CONTRIBUTING.rst](
file which gives general info on contributing. Primarily it has all the
various build status badges and links, link to the devguide and an overview
of how we differ from most GitHub projects, and a mention of the CoC. For
core devs I suspect the badge list for all active branches will be useful
to know when something is broken (I am only listing the test coverage for
the master branch to prevent encouraging people spending time trying to
increase test coverage for bugfix-only branches) .

# The future

This isn’t here for discussion per-se, but to let people know what I am
thinking should change next. If you want to help or discuss anything in
this section, please subscribe to core-workflow and participate there.
Ideas are also tracked on the [core-workflow issue tracker](
https://github.com/python/core-workflow/issues) (where there are other
ideas for improvements beyond the two listed below).

First, we need to solve the Misc/NEWS problem. The [plan](
https://github.com/python/core-workflow/issues/6) is to move to individual
files per NEWS entry and then have a script to roll them all up into the
NEWS file at release time. This will do away with merge conflicts which has
always been the biggest hassle when a change spanned versions.

Second, we will probably develop some solution to [automatically generate
cherry-picking PRs](https://github.com/python/core-workflow/issues/8). This
plus the Misc/NEWS solution should be enough to allow most patches to be
accepted through the web UI entirely.

All the other changes are nice-to-have, but I think these two will lead to
the greatest improvement to our workflow and get us far beyond the workflow
we had on hg.python.org.
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