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Working on the Codebase

Find an issue to work on

All contributions are welcome! Code, docs, and constructive feedback are all great contributions to the project.

If you don't have a particular issue in mind head over to the GitHub issue tracker for Ibis and look for open issues with the label good first issue.

Feel free to help with other issues that aren't labeled as such, but they may be more challenging.

Once you find an issue you want to work on, write a comment with the text /take on the issue. GitHub will then assign the issue to you.

This lets people know you're working on the issue. If you find an issue that has an assignee, comment on the issue and ask whether the assignee is still working on the issue.

Make a branch

The first thing you want to do is make a branch. Let's call it useful-bugfix:

git checkout -b useful-bugfix

Make the desired change

Let's say you've made a change to ibis/expr/ to fix a bug reported in issue #424242 (not actually an issue).

Running git status should give output similar to this:

On branch useful-bugfix
Your branch is up to date with 'origin/useful-bugfix'.

Changes not staged for commit:
  (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed)
  (use "git restore <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)
        modified:   ibis/expr/

no changes added to commit (use "git add" and/or "git commit -a")

Run the test suite

Next, you'll want to run a subset of the test suite.

Required Dependencies

You need a development environment before running tests

Make sure you've set up a development environment before proceeding

Run the test suite:

pytest -m core

Each backend has a pytest marker

You can run the tests for a specific backend using

pytest -m $the_backend_name

For example, to run SQLite tests:

pytest -m sqlite

Commit your changes

Required Dependencies


cz is already installed in your environment if you followed the setup instructions

Next, you'll want to commit your changes.

Ibis's commit message structure follows the semantic-release conventions.


It isn't necessary to use cz commit to make commits, but it is necessary to follow the instructions outlined in this table.

Stage your changes and run cz commit:

git add .
cz commit

You should see a series of prompts about actions to take next:

  1. Select the type of change you're committing. In this case, we're committing a bug fix, so we'll select fix:
? Select the type of change you are committing (Use arrow keys)
 ยป fix: A bug fix. Correlates with PATCH in SemVer
   feat: A new feature. Correlates with MINOR in SemVer
   docs: Documentation only changes
   style: Changes that do not affect the meaning of the code (white-space, formatting, missing semi-colons, etc)
   refactor: A code change that neither fixes a bug nor adds a feature
   perf: A code change that improves performance
   test: Adding missing or correcting existing tests
   build: Changes that affect the build system or external dependencies (example scopes: pip, docker, npm)
   ci: Changes to our CI configuration files and scripts (example scopes: GitLabCI)

Generally you don't need to think too hard about what category to select, but note that:

  • feat will cause a minor version bump
  • fix will cause a patch version bump
  • everything else will not cause a version bump, unless it's a breaking change (continue reading these instructions for more info on that)

  • Next, you're asked what the scope of this change is:

? What is the scope of this change? (class or file name): (press [enter] to skip)

This is optional, but if there's a clear component or single file that is modified you should put it. In our case, let's assume the bug fixed a type inference problem, so we'd type in type-inference at this prompt.

  1. You'll then be asked to type in a short description of the change which will be the commit message title:
? Write a short and imperative summary of the code changes: (lower case and no period)
 fix a type inference issue where floats were incorrectly cast to ints

Let's say there was a problem with spurious casting of float to integers, so we type in the message above. That number on the left (here (69)) is the length of description you've typed in.

  1. Next you'll be asked for a longer description, which is entirely optional unless the change is a breaking change, or you feel like a bit of prose
? Provide additional contextual information about the code changes: (press [enter] to skip)
 A bug was triggered by some incorrect code that caused floats to be incorrectly cast to integers.

For non breaking changes, this isn't strictly necessary but it can be very helpful when a change is large, obscure, or complex. For this example let's just reiterate most of what the commit title says.

  1. Next you're asked about breaking changes:
? Is this a BREAKING CHANGE? Correlates with MAJOR in SemVer (y/N)

If you answer y, then you'll get an additional prompt asking you to describe the breaking changes. This description will ultimately make its way into the user-facing release notes. If there aren't any breaking changes, press enter. Let's say this bug fix does not introduce a breaking change.

  1. Finally, you're asked whether this change affects any open issues (ignore the bit about breaking changes) and if yes then to reference them:
? Footer. Information about Breaking Changes and reference issues that this commit closes: (press [enter] to skip)
 fixes #424242

Here we typed fixes #424242 to indicate that we fixed issue #9000.

Whew! Seems like a lot, but it's rather quick once you get used to it. After that you should have a commit that looks roughly like this, ready to be automatically rolled into the next release:

commit 4049adbd66b0df48e37ca105da0b9139101a1318 (HEAD -> useful-bugfix)
Author: Phillip Cloud <>
Date:   Tue Dec 21 10:30:50 2021 -0500

    fix(type-inference): fix a type inference issue where floats were incorrectly cast to ints

    A bug was triggered by some incorrect code that caused floats to be incorrectly cast to integers.

    fixes #424242

Push your changes

Now that you've got a commit, you're ready to push your changes and make a pull request!

gh pr create

Follow the prompts, and gh will print a link to your PR upon successfuly submission.

Last update: February 20, 2022