How to Contribute

There are many ways you can help contribute to Pinax and the various apps, themes, and starter projects that it is made up of. Contributing code, writing documentation, reporting bugs, as well as reading and providing feedback on issues and pull requests, all are valid and necessary ways to help.

Watch the Videos

Each month we do a Pinax Hangout, where we talk about a Pinax app or starter project, and demo how it works. Watching the videos of our previous Pinax Hangouts might be helpful to you and might make contributing to Pinax easier. Click on the Youtube description of each video and you will find an agenda of what was discussed during a particular Hangout.


When you have questions or need help it’s best to join our Pinax project Slack channel and ping us there. It is also valid to create an issue and add the question label to it but it will usually take us longer to answer a question that has been filed as an issue than to help you in Slack.

If you provide us with an example of a bug you ran into, something that isn’t working, something you don’t understand, we will be able to help you much faster. It is totally sufficient to take a screenshot and post it in Slack or add it to your GitHub issue.

Reporting Bugs/ Requesting Features/ Making Pull Requests

If you’re not sure how to create an issue or make a pull request on GitHub, please read this blog post for help. If things are still unclear or you run into any problems, please don’t hesitate to ping us in Slack.

When you create an issue, please make sure to assign the correct labels to it. See this blog post for help.

Committing Code

The great thing about using a distributed versioning control system like git is that everyone becomes a committer. When other people write good patches it makes it very easy to include their fixes/features and give them proper credit for the work.

We recommend that you do all your work in a separate branch. When you are ready to work on a bug or a new feature create yourself a new branch. The reason why this is important is you can commit as often you like. When you are ready you can merge in the change. Let's take a look at a common workflow:

git checkout -b task-566
... fix and git commit often ...
git push origin task-566

The reason we have created two new branches is to stay off of master. Keeping master clean of only upstream changes makes yours and ours lives easier. You can then send us a pull request for the fix/feature. Then we can easily review it and merge it when ready.

Writing Commit Messages

Writing a good commit message makes it simple for us to identify what your commit does from a high-level. There are some basic guidelines we'd like to ask you to follow.

A critical part is that you keep the first line as short and sweet as possible. This line is important because when git shows commits and it has limited space or a different formatting option is used the first line becomes all someone might see. If your change isn't something non-trivial or there reasoning behind the change is not obvious, then please write up an extended message explaining the fix, your rationale, and anything else relevant for someone else that might be reviewing the change. Lastly, if there is a corresponding issue in Github issues for it, use the final line to provide a message that will link the commit message to the issue and auto-close it if appropriate.

Add ability to travel back in time

You need to be driving 88 miles per hour to generate 1.21 gigawatts of
power to properly use this feature.

Fixes #88

Coding style

When writing code to be included in Pinax keep our style in mind:

  • Follow PEP8 there are some cases where we do not follow PEP8. It is an excellent starting point.
  • Follow Django's coding style we're pretty much in agreement on Django style outlined there.

We would like to enforce a few more strict guides not outlined by PEP8 or Django's coding style:

  • PEP8 tries to keep line length at 80 characters. We follow it when we can, but not when it makes a line harder to read. It is okay to go a little bit over 80 characters if not breaking the line improves readability.
  • Use double quotes not single quotes. Single quotes are allowed in cases where a double quote is needed in the string. This makes the code read cleaner in those cases.
  • Docstrings always use three double quotes on a line of their own, so, for example, a single line docstring should take up three lines not one.
  • Imports are grouped specifically and ordered alphabetically. This is shown in the example below.
  • Always use reverse and never @models.permalink.
  • Tuples should be reserved for positional data structures and not used where a list is more appropriate.
  • URL patterns should use the url() function rather than a tuple.
  • When callable arguments require multiple lines, place each argument on a new line, indented four spaces as usual.

Here is an example of these rules applied:

# first set of imports are stdlib imports
# non-from imports go first then from style import in their own group
import csv

# second set of imports are Django imports with contrib in their own
# group.
from django.core.urlresolvers import reverse
from django.db import models
from django.utils import timezone
from django.utils.translation import ugettext_lazy as _

from django.contrib.auth.models import User

# third set of imports are external apps (if applicable)
from tagging.fields import TagField

# fourth set of imports are local apps
from .fields import MarkupField

class Task(models.Model):
    A model for storing a task.

    creator = models.ForeignKey(User)
    created = models.DateTimeField(
    modified = models.DateTimeField(

    objects = models.Manager()

    class Meta:
        verbose_name = _("task")
        verbose_name_plural = _("tasks")

    def __unicode__(self):
        return self.summary

    def save(self, **kwargs):
        self.modified =
        super(Task, self).save(**kwargs)

    def get_absolute_url(self):
        return reverse(

    # custom methods

class TaskComment(models.Model):
    # ... you get the point ...

Testing your code

Pinax apps typically support several different versions of Python and several different versions of Django. The supported combinations are specified in tox.ini at the root of every Pinax app. Here is a sample tox.ini file:

ignore = E265,E501
max-line-length = 100
max-complexity = 10
exclude = migrations/*,docs/*

envlist =

deps =
    coverage == 4.0.2
    flake8 == 2.5.0
    1.8: Django>=1.8,<1.9
    1.9: Django>=1.9,<1.10
usedevelop = True
setenv =
commands =
    flake8 pinax
    coverage run test

The supported Python - Django combinations are specified in the [tox] envlist= section.

In order to test all supported Python/Django combinations we use pyenv and detox.

Installing pyenv and detox

First install pyenv according to the directions at (Note you may need to install to a different shell profile configuration file, as outlined in the installation directions.)

$ brew install pyenv
$ echo 'export PYENV_ROOT="$HOME/.pyenv"' >> ~/.bash_profile
$ echo 'export PATH="$PYENV_ROOT/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bash_profile
$ echo 'if which pyenv > /dev/null; then eval "$(pyenv init -)"; fi' >> ~/.bash_profile
$ exec $SHELL

Next install detox:

$ pip install detox

Installing Python versions

Using the Pinax app tox.ini file, determine what versions of Python are required for testing. In our example above we support Python 2.7.x, 3.3.x, 3.4.x, and 3.5.x. Install the latest version of each required Python . release using pyenv:

$ pyenv install 2.7.10
$ pyenv install 3.3.6
$ pyenv install 3.4.4
$ pyenv install 3.5.1

Ensure these versions appear in the list of installed Python versions:

$ pyenv versions

Now activate the versions required for your testing:

$ pyenv local 2.7.10 3.3.6 3.4.4 3.5.1

and verify those versions are active (indicated by an asterisk next to the version number):

$ pyenv versions
* 2.7.10
* 3.3.6
* 3.4.4
* 3.5.1

Running tests

Finally, invoke detox in the same directory as tox.ini.

$ detox

If your installation and setup worked, you should see something like this:

py27-1.8 create: /Users/pinax/venv/pinax-ann/src/pinax-announcements/.tox/py27-1.8
py27-1.9 create: /Users/pinax/venv/pinax-ann/src/pinax-announcements/.tox/py27-1.9
py27-master create: /Users/pinax/venv/pinax-ann/src/pinax-announcements/.tox/py27-master
py33-1.8 create: /Users/pinax/venv/pinax-ann/src/pinax-announcements/.tox/py33-1.8
py34-1.8 create: /Users/pinax/venv/pinax-ann/src/pinax-announcements/.tox/py34-1.8
py34-1.9 create: /Users/pinax/venv/pinax-ann/src/pinax-announcements/.tox/py34-1.9
py34-master create: /Users/pinax/venv/pinax-ann/src/pinax-announcements/.tox/py34-master
py35-1.8 create: /Users/pinax/venv/pinax-ann/src/pinax-announcements/.tox/py35-1.8
py35-1.9 create: /Users/pinax/venv/pinax-ann/src/pinax-announcements/.tox/py35-1.9
py35-master create: /Users/pinax/venv/pinax-ann/src/pinax-announcements/.tox/py35-master

Each test combination produces it's own output, so review errors carefully to understand whether the problem lies with a general coding mistake or compatibility with a specific version of Python and/or Django.

We encourage developers to test updated code before submitting a pull request. Every pull request triggers our Travis continuous integration (CI) system, which automatically tests the same Python/Django configurations using tox.ini. A pull request which passes all tests in all configurations is a sign of quality and attention to detail.

Pull Requests

If you would like to add functionality or add a new feature, please submit an issue first to make sure it’s a direction we want to take.

Please keep your pull requests focused on one specific thing only. If you have a number of contributions to make, then please send separate pull requests. It is much easier on maintainers to receive small, well defined, pull requests, than it is to have a single large one that batches up a lot of unrelated commits.

If you ended up making multiple commits for one logical change, please rebase into a single commit.

git rebase -i HEAD~10  # where 10 is the number of commits back you need

This will pop up an editor with your commits and some instructions you want to squash commits down by replacing 'pick' with 's' to have it combined with the commit before it. You can squash multiple ones at the same time.

When you save and exit the text editor where you were squashing commits, git will squash them down and then present you with another editor with commit messages. Choose the one to apply to the squashed commit (or write a new one entirely.) Save and exit will complete the rebase. Use a forced push to your fork.

git push -f

When you create a pull requests, which fixes an issue, please link the original issue in your pull request.