If you want to start contributing to Systers Portal or you are a regular contributor, this is the place for you. It covers such topics as setting up the project, working and updating pull requests, Continuous Integration with Travis.


The $ symbol denotes the shell prompt, don’t type it.

Setup the project

Before doing any actual work, it is necessary to prepare your local machine for developement and deploy Systers Portal locally.

  1. Install git on your local computer. If on Ubuntu, run:

    $ sudo apt-get install git-core
  2. Set up your name and email address in git configuration:

    $ git config --global "John Doe"
    $ git config --global
  3. Go to and create a GitHub account, if you don’t have one yet. Use the previously introduced email to create the GitHub account. That way GitHub will be able to associate your git commits with your GitHub profile.

  4. Fork the Systers Portal repo. In the upper left corner there is Fork button. A “copy” of the project will appear in the list of your repositories.

  5. Generate SSH keys and add the public key to your GitHub account. GitHub provides a very good article on how to do that.

  6. Go to the page where the forked Systers Portal is. Copy the SSH clone URL from the right sidebar. If your username is john-doe, then the url will be Now clone the forked project to your system files:

    $ git clone
  7. Install the project locally for development using this guide from project README.

  8. Running tests and flake8 successfully with no errors or failures ensures that you have installed everything correctly.

Make a Contribution

Say you have decided to fix a bug or implement a new feature. This guide will show you step by step how to make a contribution to Systers Portal.

  1. Systers Portal stable branch is master. Periodically we make a release when the codebase is stable and can be used in production. Develop branch is the branch that has all the latest changes and should be used as a base branch for development. And so enter the portal directory and checkout to develop branch.

    $ cd portal
    $ git checkout develop
  2. Choose a task to work on. It can be a beginners task or a sophisticated feature you want to implement for Portal. For beginners we have tasks with easy TODO tag on GitHub issues.

  3. Create a new feature branch from develop branch. The feature branch should have a short and relevant name.

    $ git checkout -b <feature-branch-name>
  4. Work on the task. Write tests if necessary. When you consider the task done, you should check the following:

    1. PEP8 style - flake8 systers_portal. If flake8 gives you warnings, please correct them. There should be nothing on output.

    2. Tests - python systers_portal/ test --settings=systers_portal.settings.testing. This command will run all the tests. If a test will fail or give errors, please check the traceback and correct the issues. Rerun the tests.

    3. Check test coverage:

      $ coverage run systers_portal/ test --settings=systers_portal.settings.testing
      $ coverage report

      If the total coverage percentage is lower than the number that appears on the coverage badge on GitHub, then write tests to keep it on the same level or improve the test coverage.

    4. If you have made any changes to the HTML or have manipulates the DOM using JavaScript, please check the validity of the file. Open the page in the browser, copy the page source code and paste it here. If there are errors, please correct them and revalidate.

  5. If all the checks have passed, you can commit your changes. Please be careful to not commit any user-specific files or changes that are out of scope. You can make more commits, if you consider it is necessary.

    $ git add <file1> <file2>
    $ git commit -m "relevant commit message"
  6. Make sure you have the latest develop branch before pushing the feature branch. For that checkout to develop and pull the latest changes. If develop branch was updated, you should switch back to your feature branch and rebase your work against develop. Solve conflicts, if there are any.

    $ git checkout develop
    $ git pull origin develop
    $ git checkout <feature-branch-name>
    $ git rebase develop
  7. Push the feature branch:

    $ git push origin <feature-branch-name>

Make a Pull Request

We use peer code review to accept or reject the changes made by contributors. It helps to prevent many mistakes and guarantee project quality. For that we use GitHub pull requests.

  1. Go to GitHub and make a pull request. Choose a relevant title, add description if necessary and point to the task you have solved. The source branch of the pull request should be your feature branch and the target branch should be develop branch. Review your pull request and make sure everything is alright.
  2. Someone from the team will review your code, provide feedback and if everything is ok, will merge your changes. If asked to make any changes, update the pull request by one of the two strategies presented below.
  3. Don’t forget to sync your fork in case the upstream repo was updated.

Update a Pull Request

Quite often the reviewer will leave comments and ask you to make some changes to the initial code. There are 2 strategies how to update your pull request.

Update same pull request

  1. Checkout on the feature branch - the source branch of the pull request.

  2. Work on enhancements and suggestions.

  3. Make a commit with amend option. It will update your last commit and will change the SHA-1 of that commit.

    $ git add <file1> <file2>
    $ git commit -amend
  4. Make a force push to the feature branch. This will update the pull request automatically. But will not notify the reviewer about it, so consider leaving a comment about it in the pull request. The benefit is that the reviewer can see a diff between the previous submission and the new one.

Create a new pull request

  1. Checkout on develop branch and create a new feature branch with an incremented version value at the end of the feature branch name.

    $ git checkout develop
    $ git checkout -b <feature-branch-name>2
  2. Apply the same changes you have made on the first version of the feature branch, additionally applying enhancements and suggestions left by the reviewer.

  3. Make a commit:

    $ git add <file1> <file2>
    $ git commit -m "relevant commit message"
  4. Push the feature branch to GitHub and create a pull request.

  5. Close the previous pull request manually.

Continuous Integration with Travis

Travis CI Systers Portal -

Coveralls Systers Portal -

For continuous integration we use Travis CI service. Every time we make a push to Systers Portal repo, Travis builds our project and runs the tests. It also notifies us about any errors or failures, that way preventing us from breaking the project.

If you will make a pull request, you will see that Travis build will fail always. This doesn’t mean that your change broke Portal. It happens because of a security issue, Travis being unable to decrypt the SECRET_KEY from an unknown source. Unknown source being you, since you are not a member of the repo. Hence it is the responsibility of the repo admins to fetch your branch and push it to GitHub themselves to check Travis build output.

Along with Travis CI, we use code test coverage metric using coveralls service. Please note that high coverage is not a guarantee for good tests.