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How to submit patches?

This page describes how to submit patches if you find a bug or missing functionality. There are several options, which are described in decreasing preference.

Using GitHub pull requests (new, preferred)

As of May 1, 2014, the primary repository of SWI-Prolog is at GitHub.

GitHub has a good description of submitting patches using pull requests.

Note that quite a few of the remarks below also apply to using GitHub, notably those about dealing with packages that are represented as git submodules.

A note about GitHub forks

You cannot fork on GitHub and next clone. If you try to do so, all submodules are resolved against your GitHub account and thus you must clone all repositories from the SWI-Prolog organization. Much better is to clone and then fork:

git clone https://github.com/SWI-Prolog/swipl-devel.git
git submodule update --init

Now you have a complete working source tree you can compile and modify. If you want to create a pull request against one of the git repos, now fork it on github if you did not already do so, go to the top directory of the repo on your machine and run (you can also use https://)

git remote add myfork git@github.com:me/repo.git

Now, after creating a topic branch, push it to github using

git push myfork mytopic:mytopic

Submit as GIT patch-sets (old, still good)

Download the system as described in Accessing SWI-Prolog source via GIT. First we describe patches to the core system. Patches to packages that are distributed as git submodules are described below.

  1. Make sure git knows who you are. You only need to do this once for your machine.
    % git config --global user.name "The Great Fixer"
    % git config --global user.email fixer@bugs.com
  2. Switch to a branch. This makes it easy to distinguish between the central version and yours.
    % git checkout -b fixes
  3. Edit your files, making the necessary changes. Test your changes. Make sure you changed nothing unwanted using
    % git diff

    If you are happy, commit them using the command below. Please add a sensible story that explains what has been added, fixed, .... If you want the change to appear in the release notes, make the comment start with a word in capitals, followed by a colon (:). Typically, this is ADDED:, FIXED:, PORT:. The set is not fixed, but try to reuse old keywords.

    % git commit -a
  4. Create a patch-set. The command below creates a file for each commit between the master branch and your fixes branch. It creates files 0001-*, 0002-*, etc. Send these files to bugs@swi-prolog.org, one file per mail. The commit comment is part of these files, which should be enough to explain what you did why.
    % git format-patch master

How about submitting patches to a package?

This is slightly more complicated because packages are git submodules and submodules are `not on a branch'. Therefore, you need some more preparation. Go to the directory holding the package you want to patch. Then use these commands to turn this into a normal repository. After that you can follow the same steps as above.

% git checkout master
% git pull


At some point you may want to synchronize with the upstream version. You do this by switching branches, and update as usual:

% git checkout master
% git pull
% git submodule update

Now, there are some options that may apply.

All changes were accepted
Simply discard your fixes branch using
% git branch -D fixes
No changes are applied upstream (yet)
Go to your fixes branch and rebase it:
% git checkout fixes
% git rebase master
Some changes were accepted, others not and you want to keep using them
Move your branch, recreate it and selectively pick the commits you want to keep. You can find the hashes of the commits using git log. The sequence is:
% git branch -m fixes tmp
% git checkout -b fixes
% git cherry-pick <hash1>
% git cherry-pick <hash2>
% ...
% git branch -D tmp

Do's and Don'ts

Use small commits
Do not put multiple changes into the same commit. The ideal commit establishes exactly one fix or addition.
Amend commits
Often, you'll find that the commit you just created is wrong or incomplete. As long as your commit is only known locally, use the command below to fix the last commit rather than creating two commits.
% git commit -a --amend

As simple git patches (2nd option)

Just checkout the version using git and use the command below to create a patch file.

% git diff > my-patches

This is less ideal because:

  1. There is no author in the GIT log. It can be very useful to know who did what when and you claim your work.
  2. There is no comment. Please add a comment to the mail about why and what.

As classical patches (3rd option)

You can also keep a copy and use the diff command to produce a classical patch file as below. diff should be available on virtually any Unix system and there are many ports for Windows. Use the unified (-u) style to include context.

% cp somefile somefile.orig
<edit, test, etc>
% diff -u somefile.orig somefile > my-patches

This is worse than using git diff because git diff includes information on the exact version that is patched, which can help us if there are other conflicting patches. In addition to comments on the why and what, please indicate the version you patched.

Send complete new files (please don't)

Please do not send complete files. They are hard to integrate. If you really must, at least accompany them with a clear description of what you changed and which version of the file you changed. Change as little as possible.