Contributing guidelines

We are glad and thankful that you want to contribute to OpenWISP.

Please read these guidelines carefully, it will help you and us to save precious time later.

Introduce yourself

It won’t hurt to join our main communication channel and introduce yourself, although to coordinate with one another on technical matters we use the development channel. Use these two channels share feedback, share your OpenWISP derivative work, ask questions or announce your intentions.

Look for open issues

Check out these two kanban boards:

If there’s anything you don’t understand regarding the board or a specific github issue, don’t hesitate to ask questions in our general chat.

You don’t need to wait for the issue to be assigned to you. Just check if there is anyone else actively working on it (eg: an open pull request with recent activity). If nobody else is actively working on it, just announce your intention to work on it by leaving a comment in the issue.

Priorities for the next release

When we are close to releasing a new major version of OpenWISP, we will encourage all contributors to focus on the To Do column of the OpenWISP Priorities for next releases board and filter the issues according to their expertise:


Once you have chosen an issue to work on, read the README of the repository of the module you want to contribute to, follow the setup instructions, each module has its own specific instructions which we highly advise to read carefully.

How to commit your changes properly

Our main development branch is master, it’s our central development branch.

You should open a pull request on github. The pull request will be merged only once the CI build completes successfully (automated tests, code coverage check, QA checks, etc.) and after project maintainers have reviewed and tested it.

You can run QA checks locally by running ./run-qa-checks in the top level directory of the repository you’re working on. Every OpenWISP module should have this script (if a module doesn’t have it, please open an issue on github).

1. Branch naming guidelines

Create a new branch for your patch, use a self-descriptive name, eg:

git pull origin master
# if there's an issue your patch addresses
git checkout -b issues/48-issue-title-shortened

# if there is no issue for your branch, (we suggest creating one anyway)
# use a descriptive name
git checkout -b autoregistration

2. Commit message style guidelines

Please follow our commit message style conventions.

If the issue is present on Github, use following commit style:

[module/file/feature] Short description #<issue-number>

Long description here.
Fixes #<issue-number>

Here’s a real world commit message example from one of our modules:

[admin] Fixed VPN context in preview #57

Fortunately it was just a frontend JS issue.
The preview instance was getting the UUID of the Device
object instead of the Config object, and that prevented
the system from finding the associated VPN and fill the
context VPN keys correctly.

Fixes #57

Moreover, keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • commits should be descriptive in nature, the message should explain the nature of the change

  • make sure to follow the code style used in the module you are contributing to

  • before committing and pushing the changes, test the code both manually and automatically with the automated test suite if applicable

  • after pushing your branch code, make a pull-request of that corresponding change of yours which should contain a descriptive message and mention the issue number as suggested in the example above

  • make sure to send one pull request for each feature. Whenever changes are requested during reviews, please send new commits (do not amend previous commits), if multiple commits are present in a single pull request, they will be squashed in a single commit by the maintainers before merging

  • in case of big features in which multiple related features/changes needs to be implemented, multiple commits (one commit per feature) in a single PR are acceptable.

3. Pull-Request guidelines

After pushing your changes to your fork, prepare a new Pull Request (from now on we will shorten it often to just PR):

  • from your forked repository of the project select your branch and click “New Pull Request”

  • check the changes tab and review the changes again to ensure everything is correct

  • write a concise description of the PR, if an issue exists for

  • after submitting your PR, check back again whether your PR has passed our required tests and style checks

  • if the tests fail for some reason, try to fix them and if you get stuck seek our help on our communication channels

  • if the tests pass, maintainers will review the PR and may ask you to improve details or changes, please be patient: creating a good quality open source project takes a bit of sweat and effort; ensure to follow up with this type of operations

  • once everything is fine with us we’ll merge your PR

4. Avoiding unnecessary changes

Keep your contribution focused and change the least amount of lines of code as possible needed to reach the goal you’re working on.

Avoid changes unrelated to the feature/bugfix/change you’re working on.

Avoid changes related to white-space (spaces, tabs, blank lines) by setting your editor as follows:

  • always add a blank line at the end of the file

  • clear empty lines containing only spaces or tabs

  • show white space (this will help you to spot unnecessary white space)

Coding Style Conventions

1. Python code conventions

OpenWISP follows PEP 8 – Style Guide for Python Code and several other style conventions which can be enforced by using the following tools:

  • openwisp-qa-format: this command is shipped in openwisp-utils, a dependency used in every OpenWISP python module, it formats the Python code according to the OpenWISP style conventions, it’s based on popular tools like: isort and black (please do not run black directly but always call openwisp-qa-format)

  • ./run-qa-checks: it’s a script present in the top level directory of each OpenWISP module and performs all the QA checks that are specific to each module. It mainly calls the openwisp-qa-check command, which performs several common QA checks used across all OpenWISP modules to ensure consistency (including flake8), for more info consult the documentation of openwisp-qa-check

Keep in mind that the QA checks defined in the run-qa-checks script are also executed in the CI builds, which will fail if any QA check fails.

To fix QA check failures, run openwisp-qa-format and apply manual fixes if needed until ./run-qa-checks runs without errors.


If you want to learn more about our usage of python and django, we suggest reading Hacking OpenWISP: Python and Django

2. Javascript code conventions

Thank You

If you follow these guidelines closely your contribution will have a very positive impact on the OpenWISP project.

Thanks a lot for your patience.