Upstream Process

This page describes the necessary steps for contributing back your codes. Unless otherwise specified, it should be standardized across all ZORALab application processes.

Ground Rules

The only one strict requirement we impose here is your git commit message. You MUST comply to our message pattern in order not to break our build system.


#1 - Automation

We use git log --oneline to generate our for every release. Hence, if you don’t comply to our format, it will be very confusing and possibly break the tool system.

#2 - We read Git Log Very Often

From our day-to-day operations, we work with terminal based interface locally over a straight 12~20+ hours (highest record) per day. We simply do not have the time to visit a website just to view past commits list.

#3 - Remove Dependency

The git log system was initially designed without these version control cloud system such as Github or GitLab. Hence, we want to maintain such historical tracking in our repository instead of reading git log here and cross-referencing somewhere else.

This is code level development, let’s not introduce another dependency.

GnuPG Commit Level

To ensure you are you (integrity checking), the commit should be signed using the GnuPG system. Please ensure your local git system is using GnuPG signing system before proceeding and have the public key available in the server.


If your gpg doesn’t survive the following command, chances are, your gpg is not available on the MIT Server: $ gpg --keyserver --search-keys <email or name>

There should be a Signed-off-by: Full Name <email> in every of your commit. A proper signed-off commit with GnuPG message is something as such, using git log --show-signatures:

commit 01b2208172fc880fbd203fa19f61a84edb546169
gpg: Signature made 2018-07-28T18:23:40 +08
gpg:                using RSA key <local key ID>
gpg: Good signature from "(Holloway) Chew, Kean Ho (ZORALab developer) <>" [ultimate]
Author: (Holloway) Chew, Kean Ho <>
Date:   Sat Jul 28 18:22:22 2018 +0800

    coding_guidelines/ updated yml to latest consistency

    The existing guideline is out-of-date and some are complicated.
    yml file should be self-explainatory and consistent for simplicty

    This patch updates the guideline to the latest, keeping things
    easier to use.

    Signed-off-by: (Holloway) Chew, Kean Ho <>

Commit Format

There is absolutely not reason for you not to write a good commit message. A good commit only holds 1 action/purpose.

Column width

Keep it 80 columns if possible. Otherwise, practice good multi-lines.

Keep it Small

Just like before, keep your commit small, as in only holds 1 action/purpose. We got enough work on our plate already and don’t make us to research your patch (left alone reviewing your codes).

It’s very easy to sniff out a big commit: the use of AND in your short line.

Here is an example of a big commit:

name/file - add feature A and feature B into repository

Here what should have done (2 commits):

name/file - add feature A into repository
name/file - add feature B into repository

Write as a Patch

Do you know each commit can be a patch file? There is such command that can create it for you:

# generate
$ git format-patch -p1 <commit_id> -o /path/to/output/directory

# import
$ git am --signoff /path/to/patches/*.patch

Hence, this is a reason why you should write your commit message as clear, crisp, and out of dependency.

A good commit message should have the following pattern:


Explain WHAT is the problem? How big is the IMPACT?
Include data like system dump here as well. Just
write it as clear and detailed as possible.
It is perfectly fine to have a long commit than asking
me to read things over all the places!

In new paragraph, explain WHY we need to fix it.
Why must we apply this patch. How to we approach the
problem. Detailed your reasoning and an overview
of your efforts (but don't have to explain the codes).

In new paragraph, explain what's is patch does in a
nutshell. Don't explain the codes. We can read them  using
`git diff`. Remember to sign the commit so the best
command would be `git commit -s`.

Signed-off-by: FULLNAME <email>

So please! That’s our only request.


Step 1 - Always File an Issue

The very first step is file an issue in the Issues section. All discussions should be ready and maintainers are aware and ready for your changes.

Goal - avoid shocking surprises. Life has a lot of them.

Step 2 - Setting Up

Once the idea is accepted, you may proceed to fork out a local version and work on it. Normally, we work on next branch so it’s safe to use the following command pattern:

$ git clone -b <next branch> <URL>

Please ensures you setup the necessary continuous integration system following the project description. If you’re using GitLab CI and the repository is configured to use shared runner. You’re in luck (since you don’t need to do anything).

Goal - synchonize the local setups.

Step 3 - Development

You may begin your development. As you develop your codes, we gently remind you that:

  1. Comply to our Upstream process ground rules.
  2. Comply to the project’s Coding Style.
  3. Keep your commit small (without using and in your short-line).
  4. Remove secret files.
  5. Sign your commit with GnuPG.

Step 4 - Test Your Code

At the very last commit, please TEST your code. The definitions of done are:

  1. New code developments are completed AND
  2. Test script is completed, tested AND
  3. Documentations are updated AND

Step 5 - Remove Secrets

This step is optional if you do your Step 3 properly. However, please do it as a last check before commiting out to the public / network access.

Step 6 - Rebase with Remote next Branch

Chances are, by the time you completed your project, the remote next branch is having the latest and greatest. Hence, you’ll need to synchonize with it. It is quite easy:

$ git remote add upstream <remote original branch>
$ git fetch upstream
$ git rebase upstream/<remote original branch name>

Step 7 - Raise Merge Request

You’re ready now. Process to make a pull request. Please make sure you update your issue in the Issues section.