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This file contains information on Emacs developer processes.
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For information on contributing to Emacs as a non-developer, see
(info "(emacs)Contributing") or
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* Information for Emacs Developers.
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An "Emacs Developer" is someone who contributes a lot of code or
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documentation to the Emacs repository.  Generally, they have write
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access to the Emacs git repository on Savannah
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** Write access to the Emacs repository.
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Once you become a frequent contributor to Emacs, we can consider
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giving you write access to the version-control repository.  Request
access on the mailing list.  Also, be sure to
subscribe to the mailing list and include the
"emacs-announce" topic, so that you get the announcements about
feature freeze and other important events.
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** Using the Emacs repository
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Emacs uses Git for the source code repository.
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See to get
started, and for more
advanced information.
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Alternately, see admin/notes/git-workflow.
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If committing changes written by someone else, make the commit in
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their name, not yours.  Git distinguishes between the author
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and the committer; use the --author option on the commit command to
specify the actual author; the committer defaults to you.
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** Commit messages

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Emacs development no longer stores descriptions of new changes in
ChangeLog files.  Instead, a single ChangeLog file is generated from
the commit messages when a release is prepared.  So changes you commit
should not touch any of the ChangeLog files in the repository, but
instead should contain the log entries in the commit message.  Here is
an example of a commit message (indented):
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	Deactivate shifted region

	Do not silently extend a region that is not highlighted;
	this can happen after a shift (Bug#19003).
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	* doc/emacs/mark.texi (Shift Selection): Document the change.
	* lisp/window.el (handle-select-window):
	* src/frame.c (Fhandle_switch_frame, Fselected_frame):
	Deactivate the mark.

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Below are some rules and recommendations for formatting commit

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- Start with a single unindented summary line explaining the change;
  do not end this line with a period.  If that line starts with a
  semi-colon and a space "; ", the log message will be ignored when
  generating the ChangeLog file.  Use this for minor commits that do
  not need separate ChangeLog entries, such as changes in etc/NEWS.

- After the summary line, there should be an empty line, then
  unindented ChangeLog entries.

- Limit lines in commit messages to 78 characters, unless they consist
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  of a single word of at most 140 characters; this is enforced by a
  commit hook.  It's nicer to limit the summary line to 50 characters;
  this isn't enforced.  If the change can't be summarized so briefly,
  add a paragraph after the empty line and before the individual file
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- If only a single file is changed, the summary line can be the normal
  file first line (starting with the asterisk).  Then there is no
  individual files section.

- If the commit has more than one author, the commit message should
  contain separate lines to mention the other authors, like the
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	Co-authored-by: Joe Schmoe <>

- If the commit is a tiny change that is exempt from copyright paperwork,
  the commit message should contain a separate line like the following:

	Copyright-paperwork-exempt: yes

- The commit message should contain "Bug#NNNNN" if it is related to
  bug number NNNNN in the debbugs database.  This string is often
  parenthesized, as in "(Bug#19003)".

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- Commit messages should contain only printable UTF-8 characters.

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- Commit messages should not contain the "Signed-off-by:" lines that
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  are used in some other projects.

- Any lines of the commit message that start with "; " are omitted
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  from the generated ChangeLog.

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- Explaining the rationale for a design choice is best done in comments
  in the source code.  However, sometimes it is useful to describe just
  the rationale for a change; that can be done in the commit message
  between the summary line and the file entries.

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- Emacs generally follows the GNU coding standards when it comes to
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  "(info (standards)Change Logs").  One exception is that we still
  sometimes quote `like-this' (as the standards used to recommend)
  rather than 'like-this' (as they do now), because `...' is so widely
  used elsewhere in Emacs.

- Some of the rules in the GNU coding standards section 5.2
  "Commenting Your Work" also apply to ChangeLog entries: they must be
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  in English, and be complete sentences starting with a capital and
  ending with a period (except the summary line should not end in a

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  They are preserved indefinitely, and have a reasonable chance of
  being read in the future, so it's better that they have good
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- Use the present tense; describe "what the change does", not "what
  the change did".

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- Preferred form for several entries with the same content:

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	* lisp/help.el (view-lossage):
	* lisp/kmacro.el (kmacro-edit-lossage):
	* lisp/edmacro.el (edit-kbd-macro): Fix docstring, lossage is now 300.
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  (Rather than anything involving "ditto" and suchlike.)

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- There is no standard or recommended way to identify revisions in
  ChangeLog entries.  Using Git SHA1 values limits the usability of
  the references to Git, and will become much less useful if Emacs
  switches to a different VCS.  So we recommend against that.
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  One way to identify revisions is by quoting their summary line.
  Another is with an action stamp - an RFC3339 date followed by !
  followed by the committer's email - for example,
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  "2014-01-16T05:43:35Z!".  Often, "my previous commit"
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  will suffice.

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- There is no need to mention files such as NEWS, MAINTAINERS, and
  FOR-RELEASE, or to indicate regeneration of files such as
  'configure', in the ChangeLog entry.  "There is no need" means you
  don't have to, but you can if you want to.

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** Generating ChangeLog entries

- You can use various Emacs functions to ease the process of writing
  ChangeLog entries; see (info "(emacs)Change Log Commands") or

- If you use Emacs VC, one way to format ChangeLog entries is to create
  a top-level ChangeLog file manually, and update it with 'C-x 4 a' as
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  usual.  Do not register the ChangeLog file under git; instead, use
  'C-c C-a' to insert its contents into into your *vc-log* buffer.
  Or if 'log-edit-hook' includes 'log-edit-insert-changelog' (which it
  does by default), they will be filled in for you automatically.
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- Alternatively, you can use the vc-dwim command to maintain commit
  messages.  When you create a source directory, run the shell command
  'git-changelog-symlink-init' to create a symbolic link from
  ChangeLog to .git/c/ChangeLog.  Edit this ChangeLog via its symlink
  with Emacs commands like 'C-x 4 a', and commit the change using the
  shell command 'vc-dwim --commit'.  Type 'vc-dwim --help' for more.

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** Branches
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Development normally takes places on the trunk.
Sometimes specialized features are developed on separate branches
before possibly being merged to the trunk.

Development is discussed on the emacs-devel mailing list.

Sometime before the release of a new major version of Emacs a "feature
freeze" is imposed on the trunk, to prepare for creating a release
branch.  No new features may be added to the trunk after this point,
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until the release branch is created.  Announcements about the freeze
(and other important events) are made on the emacs-devel mailing
list under the "emacs-announce" topic, and not anywhere else.

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The trunk branch is named "master" in git; release branches are named
"emacs-nn" where "nn" is the major version.
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If you are fixing a bug that exists in the current release, be sure to
commit it to the release branch; it will be merged to the master
branch later.

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However, if you know that the change will be difficult to merge to the
trunk (eg because the trunk code has changed a lot), you can apply the
change to both trunk and branch yourself.  Indicate in the release
branch commit log that there is no need to merge the commit to the
trunk; start the commit message with "Backport:".  gitmerge.el will
then exclude that commit from the merge to trunk.
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** Other process information
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** Emacs Mailing lists.

Discussion about Emacs development takes place on

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Bug reports and fixes, feature requests and implementations should be
sent to, the bug/feature list.  This is coupled
to the tracker at .
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You can subscribe to the mailing lists, or see the list archives,
by following links from .
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To email a patch you can use a shell command like 'git format-patch -1'
to create a file, and then attach the file to your email.  This nicely
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packages the patch's commit message and changes.  To send just one
such patch without additional remarks, you can use a command like
'git send-email 0001-DESCRIPTION.patch'.

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** Issue tracker (a.k.a. "bug tracker")

The Emacs issue tracker is at  The form
presented by that page allows to view bug reports and search the
database for bugs matching several criteria.  Messages posted to the mailing list, mentioned above, are recorded by
the tracker with the corresponding bugs/issues.

GNU ELPA has a 'debbugs' package that allows accessing the tracker
database from Emacs.

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** Document your changes.

Any change that matters to end-users should have an entry in etc/NEWS.
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Doc-strings should be updated together with the code.

Think about whether your change requires updating the manuals.  If you
know it does not, mark the NEWS entry with "---".  If you know
that *all* the necessary documentation updates have been made, mark
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the entry with "+++".  Otherwise do not mark it.
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Please see (info "(elisp)Documentation Tips") or
for more specific tips on Emacs's doc style.  Use 'checkdoc' to check
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for documentation errors before submitting a patch.

** Test your changes.

Please test your changes before committing them or sending them to the

Emacs uses ERT, Emacs Lisp Regression Testing, for testing.  See (info
"(ert)") or
for more information on writing and running tests.

To run tests on the entire Emacs tree, run "make check" from the
top-level directory.  Most tests are in the directory
"test/automated".  From the "test/automated" directory, run "make
<filename>" to run the tests for <filename>.el(c).  See
"test/automated/Makefile" for more information.

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** Understanding Emacs Internals.

The best way to understand Emacs Internals is to read the code,
but the nodes "Tips" and "GNU Emacs Internals" in the Appendix
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of the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual may also help.  Some source files,
such as xdisp.c, have large commentaries describing the design and
implementation in more detail.
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The file etc/DEBUG describes how to debug Emacs bugs.

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*** Non-ASCII characters in Emacs files

If you introduce non-ASCII characters into Emacs source files, it is a
good idea to add a 'coding' cookie to the file to state its encoding.
Please use the UTF-8 encoding unless it cannot do the job for some
good reason.  As of Emacs 24.4, it is no longer necessary to have
explicit 'coding' cookies in *.el files if they are encoded in UTF-8,
but other files need them even if encoded in UTF-8.  However, if
an *.el file is intended for use with older Emacs versions (e.g. if
it's also distributed via ELPA), having an explicit encoding
specification is still a good idea.

*** Useful files in the admin/ directory

See all the files in admin/notes/* .  In particular, see
admin/notes/newfile, see admin/notes/repo.

The file admin/MAINTAINERS records the areas of interest of frequent
Emacs contributors.  If you are making changes in one of the files
mentioned there, it is a good idea to consult the person who expressed
an interest in that file, and/or get his/her feedback for the changes.
If you are a frequent contributor and have interest in maintaining
specific files, please record those interests in that file, so that
others could be aware of that.

*** git vs rename

Git does not explicitly represent a file renaming; it uses a percent
changed heuristic to deduce that a file was renamed.  So if you are
planning to make extensive changes to a file after renaming it (or
moving it to another directory), you should:

- create a feature branch

- commit the rename without any changes

- make other changes

- merge the feature branch to trunk, _not_ squashing the commits into
  one.  The commit message on this merge should summarize the renames
  and all the changes.

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This file is part of GNU Emacs.

GNU Emacs is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
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it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
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the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
(at your option) any later version.
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GNU Emacs is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with GNU Emacs.  If not, see <>.
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Local variables:
mode: outline
paragraph-separate: "[ 	]*$"