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This page is under construction -- please help!

Getting involved

There are two major ways to get involved in the diagrams community and find out what is going on:

  • The IRC channel (#diagrams on freenode.org) is fairly active and a good place to interact with other diagrams users and developers. (Be patient: sometimes no one is watching the channel, but if you say something or ask a question, you can be sure that someone will eventually see it and respond.)
  • The mailing list is the place to stay up-to-date with announcements, and also a good place to ask questions, especially longer or more involved ones.

Getting the sources

All the core diagrams code can be found in the diagrams organization on github.

If you don't already know how to work with repositories hosted on github, take a look at a tutorial. The hub utility is an optional but recommended tool for simplifying common tasks involving github.

Choosing a project

If you would like to begin contributing to the diagrams project but are not sure where to start, here are a few resources that may be helpful:

Best practices

As a running example, let's suppose you want to add a function to the Diagrams.TwoD.Shapes module (from the diagrams-lib package) to draw a diamond shape.

Getting the code

To begin, you will need a github account, and to fork and clone some of the diagrams repositories. See here for help on how to fork a repo. At a minimum, you will need the following repositories:

as well as one of the following two backends:

If you do not plan to make any modifications to the code in a certain repo, you may clone it directly instead of first forking on github and then cloning from your fork, for example

git clone https://github.com/diagrams/diagrams-core

or, using hub, simply

hub clone diagrams/diagrams-core

(In fact, hub makes it easy to later convert a direct clone into your own fork if you wish, via the hub fork command; see the hub documentation for more information.)


It's recommended to use some sort of sandboxing tool while working on diagrams. Because diagrams consists of several separate packages, using cabal-dev can be something of a pain. Instead, we recommend using hsenv---though you will have to build it from source, and it is only known to work on Linux systems. Good suggestions of similar tools for Windows or Mac are welcome.

In any case, there is an important trick for building multiple local packages at once that you should know, which works with cabal as well as cabal-dev. Instead of installing each package one at a time, simply go up to the parent directory and issue a command such as

cabal install monoid-extras/ dual-tree/ diagrams-core/ diagrams-lib/ diagrams-cairo/ diagrams-contrib/

The trailing slashes tell cabal to install packages from local directories, rather than trying to download packages from Hackage. In addition, it doesn't even matter in what order you list the directories; cabal will figure out the correct order based on dependencies.

Making changes

Submitting a pull request

Old text

XXX walk through example of checking out repo, making and committing changes, and submitting a pull request. Show how to do it manually and also using 'hub' utility.

  • use topic branches
  • encourage submitting update to documentation
  • link to coding style document

TODO: expand/clean up the below

But the short version is that a pull request is not for a set of commits, it is for a *branch*. In particular, you add new commits to a pull request simply by pushing to the branch which the pull request is from. So best practice when working on a new feature is

  • make a new branch (a "feature" or "topic" branch). If you have push access you can make a branch directly in the main repo; otherwise, fork it and make a branch in your fork.
  • Make some commits in your branch.
  • Open a pull request from your branch to 'master'.
  • If necessary, make revisions etc. by pushing additional commits to the branch. There's no need to "revise" the original commits; it's useful to have the entire history of development with comments, etc.
  • Once your commits have been merged, you can delete the branch.

The important point is that it's usually a bad idea to open a pull request from the 'master' branch of your fork because then you can't do anything else while waiting for your changes to be merged.

Another interesting point is that there's not necessarily any reason to wait until you are "done" to open a pull request. Just make sure you state that the feature is "in progess", and then you can get useful early feedback as you continue to work on the feature and push more commits. Of course, branches/pull requests also make for a nice way to work on a new feature collaboratively.