Guidelines for GtkSourceView
GtkSourceView source code is maintained using the git version control system
and is available at the following location:
Or if you have an account on GNOME servers:
A web interface is available at:
Please don't commit directly to the git repository unless
you have been given the green light to commit freely to GtkSourceView.
When in doubt assume you haven't ;-).
Please attach patches in bugzilla (http://bugzilla.gnome.org).
If the patch fixes a bug that is not reported yet in bugzilla or is
an enhancement, create a new bugreport.
Please create patches with the git format-patch command.
If you are a translator feel free to mark strings for translation,
fix typos in the code, etc.
Please send patches for build & configure fixes too. I really appreciate
your help, I just want to review these fixes before applying.
If you are a "build sheriff", feel free to commit fixes for build and
When committing to the GtkSourceView git repository make sure to include a
meaningful commit message. Changes without a sufficient commit message
will be reverted. Commit messages should have the following format:
=== begin example commit ===
Short explanation of the commit
Longer explanation explaining exactly what's changed, whether any
external or private interfaces changed, what bugs were fixed (with bug
tracker reference if applicable) and so forth. Be concise but not too brief.
=== end example commit ===
- Always add a brief description of the commit to the _first_ line of
the commit and terminate by two newlines (it will work without the
second newline, but that is not nice for the interfaces).
- First line (the brief description) must only be one sentence and
should start with a capital letter unless it starts with a lowercase
symbol or identifier. Don't use a trailing period either. Don't exceed
- The main description (the body) is normal prose and should use normal
punctuation and capital letters where appropriate. Normally, for patches
sent to a mailing list it's copied from there.
- When committing code on behalf of others use the --author option, e.g.
git commit -a --author "Joe Coder <email@example.com>" and --signoff.
You may encounter old code that doesn't follow all the following code
conventions, but for new code it is better to follow them, for consistency.
- Avoid trailing whitespace.
- Indent the C code with tabulations with a width of eight characters.
- The files should have a modeline for the indentation style.
- All blocks should be surrounded by curly braces, even one-line blocks. It
spaces out the code, and it is more convenient when some code must be added
or removed without the need to add or remove the curly braces.
- Follow the C89 standard. In particular, no "//"-style comments.
- As a general rule of thumb, follow the same coding style as the surrounding
- Do not be cheap about blank lines, spacing the code vertically help
readability. However never use two consecutive blank lines, there is really
Programming best practices
GtkSourceView is a pretty big piece of software, developed over the years by
different people and GNOME technologies. Some parts of the code may be a little
old. So when editing the code, we should try to make it better, not worse.
Here are some general advices.
- Simplicity: the simpler code the better. Any trick that seem smart when you
write it is going to bite your ass later when reading the code. Given that
you spend 90% of the time staring at the code and 10% writing it, making
reading the code harder is a net loss.
- Brevity: make an effort to refactor common code into utility functions and
use library function whenever is possible: every time you cut and paste a
line of code you are throwing away all the precious seconds of your life
that you will later spend trying to figure out the differences among the two
copies that will have surely diverged.
- Code for change: code is bound to contain bugs no matter how well it is
written. A good coding style allows to fix these bugs with minimal changes
instead of reformatting a whole section of unrelated code, this is
especially important to make patch review easier and to easily understand
the commit history. Some practical examples are:
- Factor code into self contained functions so that changing a function
does not require to change all the callers.
- Do not align variable declaration, "case" statements etc, since this
will inevitably mean that when a line will change you'll have to
reformat all the surrounding ones.
- Declare variables in the strictest scope as possible.
- Reorder functions so that you do not need prototypes for static
functions so that when you change them you need to change them only in
- Self documentation and code comments: use code comments parsimoniously. Code
should be written so that it is clear and evident without the need of
comments. Besides, comments usually get outdated when the code is changed
and they become misleading. In particular avoid stating the obvious e.g. "a
= 1; /* assign 1 to a */". Use good function names and variables to make the
A good function name is one that explain clearly all what its code really
does. There shouldn't be hidden features. If you can not find easily a good
function name, you should probably split the function in smaller pieces. A
function should do only one thing, but do it well.
Please avoid lots of one-letter variables. And a variable should be used for
only one purpose.
Self-documentation is obviously not always possible, so when a comment is
needed, it is needed. In those cases make sure to explain why and not only
how a specific thing is done: you can deduce the "how" from the code, but
not the "why". Public library functions should always be documented and in
particular should include the calling conventions, e.g. if the result should
be freed by the caller.
Do not use fancy frames around comments like a line full of
- Contribute below on the stack. Fix a problem at the right place, instead of
writing hacks to work around a bug or a lack of feature in an underlying
For a shared library:
- How to Write Shared Libraries
- Good Practices in Library Design, Implementation, and Maintenance
The GtkSourceView team.