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Work in Progress

This page is a work in progress. If you have notes/hints/tips on DSpace development with Git/GitHub, please feel free to suggest their addition, or even add them to this page directly.

DSpace on GitHub

The DSpace GitHub code repository can be found at:

Git Resources

A list of some possibly useful external Git resources:
(Feel free to add to the list)

Still want to use SVN locally, even though DSpace is on GitHub?

Overview of the Git Lifecycle

(Borrowed from Fedora's Git Guidelines and Best Practices)

Git allows a developer to copy a remote subversion repository to a local instance on their workstation, do all their work and commits in that local repository, then push the state of that repository back to a central facility (github).

Bearing in mind that you will always being doing your work and commits locally, a typical session looks like this:

  • Get a copy of the central storage facility (the repository). This is how you download a copy of the DSpace Source Code (i.e. [dspace-source]), but this source code directory also is a valid local git repository. In the below example, we've called this directory "dspace-src", but you can call it whatever you want.

    git clone dspace-src
    cd dspace-src
  • Create a local branch called "DS-123". This is what is traditionally called a "topic" or "feature" branch in Git. You are creating a branch to work on a specific topic or feature (in this case a ticket named "DS-123").
    git branch DS-123
  • Create a local copy of the branch from master (if it doesn't exist) and make it your active working branch. You are now developing on the DS-123 branch.
    git checkout DS-123
  • Now, start creating, editing files, testing. When you're ready to commit your changes:
    git add [file]
    This tells git that the file(s) should be added to the next commit. You'll need to do this on files you modify, also.
  • Commit your changes locally. This only modifies your local copy of the repository, and the commits only happen in your local "DS-123" branch.
    git commit [file]
  • Now, the magic:
    git push origin DS-123
    This command pushes the current state of your local repository, including all commits, up to github ("origin" repository). Your work becomes part of the history of the public "DS-123" branch on github.

git push is the command that changes the state of the remote code branch. Nothing you do locally will have any affect outside your workstation until you push your changes.

git pull is the command that brings your current local branch up-to-date with the state of the remote branch on github. Use this command when you want to make sure your local branch is all caught up with changes push'ed to the remote branch.

Some useful Git terms

master: this is the main code branch, equivalent to trunk in Subversion. Branches are generally created off of master. However, it is usually recommended that you not do your work directly in the master branch. Instead, you should look to create new branches frequently (e.g. a new branch for each feature/ticket you are working on), as both branches and merges are much easier in Git. For more information, see Pro-Git's chapter on "Basic Branching & Merging"

origin: the default remote repository (at GitHub) that all your branches are pull'ed from and push'ed to. This is defined when you execute the initial git clone command. For more information see Pro Git's chapter on "Working with remotes"

unpublished vs. published branches: an unpublished branch is a branch that only exists on your local workstation, in your local repository. Nobody but you know that branch exists. A published branch is one that has been push'ed up to GitHub, and is available for other developers to checkout and work on.

fast-forward: the process of bringing a branch up-to-date with another branch, by fast-forwarding the commits in one branch onto the other. For more information, see Pro-Git's chapter on "Basic Branching & Merging"

rebase: the process by which you cut off the changes made in your local branch, and graft them onto the end of another branch. For more information, see Pro-Git's chapter on Rebasing and GitHub's 'rebase' page.

Some useful Git Development Guidelines

The DSpace Developers/Committers are still working on our Git Guidelines & Best Practices.

But in the meantime, here's some development guidelines from a few "third parties" (feel free to add additional links)

Getting Started with DSpace + Git

Clone the repository. (The git repo is ~65MB)

git clone git://
cd DSpace

At this point, you now have a copy of the DSpace Source Code, and you are checked out to the branch master (master is akin to svn trunk), which will work, but it is the bleeding edge of development and not recommended for production instances.

If you would like to develop on DSpace for your local needs (University, Library, or Institution), you are encouraged to fork this repository, and commit your changes to your personal/organizational repository. We recommend that you build your repository off of a released "tag" of DSpace such as dspace-1.8.2. The benefit of being based off of a tag/release-branch is that releases have a series of testing phases to ensure high quality, and there is some maintenance of bug and security fixes.

git checkout dspace-1.8.2

From there, the standard DSpace build instructions follows.

mvn package 
cd dspace/target/dspace-<version>-build.dir
ant update 
/etc/init.d/tomcat6 restart

Quick Primer on Using Git

Checking the status of your tree.
git status

Looking at the difference of your work in progress.
git diff

Commit your changes to your local tree.
git commit

Update your tree to get all the changes pushed to this central Git Repository.
git pull

If you would like to update your local checkout, for instance before sending a pull request for your local changes, git rebase is the tool you will use, e.g.
git rebase master

At this point, if you have any conflicts between your local changes and the latest changes on GitHub, git will prompt you to resolve these conflicts.

If you have any questions contact the DSpace community either on IRC, or on the dspace-devel mailing list.

Contributing Changes/Patches to DSpace via GitHub

While we're still working out the ideal workflow for contributions, existing Committers will have direct push access to the DSpace GitHub repo, while contributors are encouraged to submit a Pull Request for review.

A few notes on creating a proper "Pull Request"

  1. Please, make sure to create a "Pull Request" from a branch and NOT from your "master". (You'll understand exactly why after reading #2)
  2. Be warned that any additional changes/commits you make to that branch (before the "Pull Request" is accepted/merged) will immediately be included in that existing "Pull Request". This means that, if you want to continue your local development, you must create that "Pull Request" from a semi-static branch (so that any additional commits you make on "master" in the meantime don't get included as part of the existing "Pull Request").
    • The reason why this occurs is that a "Pull Request" just points at a specific "branch" (the branch it was initialized from). It does NOT point at a specific set of commits. So, when the "Pull Request" is accepted/merged, you are pulling in the latest version of that "branch". For more information, closely read the GitHub help page on Pull Requests, specifically noting the following statement:

      Pull requests can be sent from any branch or commit but it's recommended that a topic branch be used so that follow-up commits can be pushed to update the pull request if necessary.

  3. Once your "Pull Request" is created, you can use the GitHub Pull Request tools to communicate with the Committer who is assigned to the Pull Request. If further changes are requested, you can make those changes on the branch where you initiated the Pull Request (and those changes will automatically become part of the Pull Request, as described above)
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