Development workflow

Brian development is done in a git repository on github. Continuous integration testing is provided by GitHub Actions, code coverage is measured with

The repository structure

Brian’s repository structure is very simple, as we are normally not supporting older versions with bugfixes or other complicated things. The master branch of the repository is the basis for releases, a release is nothing more than adding a tag to the branch, creating the tarball, etc. The master branch should always be in a deployable state, i.e. one should be able to use it as the base for everyday work without worrying about random breakages due to updates. To ensure this, no commit ever goes into the master branch without passing the test suite before (see below). The only exception to this rule is if a commit not touches any code files, e.g. additions to the README file or to the documentation (but even in this case, care should be taken that the documentation is still built correctly).

For every feature that a developer works on, a new branch should be opened (normally based on the master branch), with a descriptive name (e.g. add-numba-support). For developers that are members of “brian-team”, the branch should ideally be created in the main repository. This way, one can easily get an overview over what the “core team” is currently working on. Developers who are not members of the team should fork the repository and work in their own repository (if working on multiple issues/features, also using branches).

Implementing a feature/fixing a bug

Every new feature or bug fix should be done in a dedicated branch and have an issue in the issue database. For bugs, it is important to not only fix the bug but also to introduce a new test case (see Testing) that makes sure that the bug will not ever be reintroduced by other changes. It is often a good idea to first define the test cases (that should fail) and then work on the fix so that the tests pass. As soon as the feature/fix is complete or as soon as specific feedback on the code is needed, open a “pull request” to merge the changes from your branch into master. In this pull request, others can comment on the code and make suggestions for improvements. New commits to the respective branch automatically appear in the pull request which makes it a great tool for iterative code review. Even more useful, GitHub Actions will automatically run the test suite on the result of the merge. As a reviewer, always wait for the result of this test (it can take up to 30 minutes or so until it appears) before doing the merge and never merge when a test fails. As soon as the reviewer (someone from the core team and not the author of the feature/fix) decides that the branch is ready to merge, he/she can merge the pull request and optionally delete the corresponding branch (but it will be hidden by default, anyway).