Contributing to GCC

We strongly encourage contributions in the form of features, new or improved optimizations, bug fixes, documentation updates, web page improvements, etc....

There are certain legal requirements and style issues which contributions must meet:


Before we can incorporate significant contributions, certain legal requirements must be met.

The FSF prefers that a contributor files a copyright assignment for large contributions. See some documentation by the FSF for details and contact us (either via the gcc@gcc.gnu.org list or the GCC maintainer that is taking care of your contributions) to obtain the relevant forms. The most common forms are an assignment for a specific change, an assignment for all future changes, and an employer disclaimer, if an employer or school owns work created by the developer. It's a good idea to send assign@gnu.org a copy of your request.

If a contributor is reluctant to sign a copyright assignment for a change, a copyright disclaimer to put the change in the public domain is acceptable as well. A copyright assignment is more convenient if a contributor plans to make several separate contributions.

We can accept small changes without a copyright disclaimer or a copyright assignment on file.

Coding Standards

All contributions must conform to the GNU Coding Standards. There are also some additional coding conventions for GCC; these include documentation and testsuite requirements as well as requirements on code formatting.

Submissions which do not conform to the standards will be returned with a request to address any such problems. To help with the preparation of patches you can use the script contrib/check_GNU_style.sh.

Testing Patches

All patches must be thoroughly tested. We encourage you to test changes with as many host and target combinations as is practical. In addition to using real hardware, you can use simulators.

Much of GCC's code is used only by some targets, or used in quite different ways by different targets. When choosing targets to test a patch with, make sure that your selections exercise all aspects of the code you are changing.

You will of course have tested that your change does what you expected it to do: fix a bug, improve an optimization, add a new feature. Where possible you should automate these tests and add them to GCC's testsuite. You must also perform regression tests to ensure that your patch does not break anything else. Typically, this means comparing post-patch test results to pre-patch results by testing twice or comparing with recent posts to the gcc-testresults list.

Which tests to perform

If your change is to code that is not in a front end, or is to the C or C++ front ends, you must perform a complete build of GCC and the runtime libraries included with it, on at least one target. You must bootstrap all default languages, not just C and C++, and run all testsuites. For a normal native configuration, running

make bootstrap
make -k check

from the top level of the GCC tree (not the gcc subdirectory) will accomplish this.

If your change is to a front end other than the C or C++ front end, or a runtime library other than libgcc, you need to verify only that the runtime library for that language still builds and the tests for that language have not regressed. (Most languages have tests stored both in the gcc subdirectory, and in the directory for the runtime library.) You need not bootstrap, or test other languages, since there is no way you could have affected them.

Since the Ada front end is written in Ada, if you change it you must perform a complete bootstrap; however, running other language testsuites is not necessary.

In all cases you must test exactly the change that you intend to submit. The tree where you perform this test should not have any other changes applied.

Documentation Changes

Documentation changes do not require a new bootstrap (a working bootstrap is necessary to get the build environment correct), but you must perform make info and make dvi and correct any errors. You should investigate complaints about overfull or underfull hboxes from make dvi, as these can be the only indication of serious markup problems, but do not feel obliged to eliminate them all.

Web Site Changes

Changes to the web site must validate as HTML 5. To validate your changes, use the "upload file" mode of the validator.

Please mark patches with the tag [wwwdocs] in the subject line.

More about our web pages.

Submitting Patches

Every patch must have several pieces of information, before we can properly evaluate it:

A description of the problem/bug and how your patch addresses it.
For new features a description of the feature and your implementation. For bugs a description of what was wrong with the existing code, and a reference to any previous bug report (in the GCC bug tracker) and any existing testcases for the problem in the GCC testsuite.
Testcases
If you cannot follow the recommendations of the GCC coding conventions about testcases, you should include a justification for why adequate testcases cannot be added.
ChangeLog
A ChangeLog entry as plaintext; see the GCC coding conventions and GNU Coding Standards for further information.
Bootstrapping and testing
State the host and target combinations you used to do proper testing as described above, and the results of your testing.
The patch itself
Do not include generated files as part of the patch, just mention them in the ChangeLog (e.g., "* configure: Regenerate.").

Don't mix together changes made for different reasons. Send them individually. Ideally, each change you send should be impossible to subdivide into parts that we might want to consider separately, because each of its parts gets its motivation from the other parts. In particular, changes to code formatting to conform to coding standards are best not mixed with substantive changes, because that makes it difficult to see what the real changes are. (In the case of a very large reorganization of code, it may make sense to separate changes even further to make it clearer what has changed; for example, by first sending structural changes that make subsequent changes easier but do not change GCC's behavior, then new code, then the changes that actually make use of the new code and change GCC's behavior.)

We prefer patches posted as plain text or as MIME parts of type text/x-patch or text/plain. It is strongly discouraged to post patches as MIME parts of type application/whatever, disposition attachment or encoded as base64 or quoted-printable.

If the patch is too big or too mechanical, posting it gzipped or bzip2ed and uuencoded or encoded as a base64 MIME part is acceptable, as long as the ChangeLog is still posted as plain text.

When you have all these pieces, bundle them up in a mail message and send it to the appropriate mailing list(s). (Patches will go to one or more lists depending on what you are changing.) For further information on our source repository, see the Anonymous read-only Git access and Read-write Git access pages.

(Everything listed here still applies if you can check in the patch without further approval under the GCC write access policies, except that ChangeLog entries may be included as part of the patch and diffs representing new files may be omitted, especially if large, since they can be accessed directly from the repository.)

E-mail subject lines

Your contribution e-mail subject line will become the first line of the commit message for your patch.

A high-quality e-mail subject line for a contribution contains the following elements:

The entire line (excluding the classifier) should not exceed 75 characters.

Classifier

The classifier identifies the type of contribution, for example a patch, an RFC (request for comments) or a committed patch (where approval is not necessary. The classifier should be written in upper case and surrounded with square brackets. This is the only component of the e-mail subject line that will not appear in the commit itself. The classifier may optionally contain a version number (vN) and a series marker (N/M). Examples are:

Component tags

A component tag is a short identifier that identifies the part of the compiler being modified. This highlights to the relevant maintainers that the patch may need their attention. Multiple components may be listed if necessary. Each component tag should be followed by a colon. For example,

Some large components may be subdivided into sub-components. If the subcomponent name is not disctinct in its own right, you can use the form component/sub-component:.

Series identifier

The series identifier is optional and is only relevant if a number of patches are needed in order to effect an overall change. It should be a short string that identifies the series (it is common to all patches) and should be followed by a single dash surrounded by white space.

A Very Brief summary

The brief summary encapsulates in a few words the intent of the change. For example: cleanup check_field_decls. Although, very short, the summary should be distinct so that it will not be confused with other patches.

Bug number

If your patch relates a bug in the compiler for which there is an existing PR number the bug number should be stated. Use the short-form variant [PRnnnnn] without the bugzilla component identifier and with no space between 'PR' and the number. The body of the commit message should still contain the full form (PR <component>/nnnnn) within the body of the commit message so that Bugzilla will correctly notice the commit. If your patch relates to two bugs, then write [PRnnnnn, PRmmmmm]. For multiple bugs, just cite the most relevant one in the summary and use an elipsis instead of the second, or subsequent PR numbers; list all the related PRs in the body of the commit message in the normal way.

It is not necessary to cite bugs that are closed as duplicates of another unless there is something specific to that report that is not covered by the parent bug.

Other messages

Some large patch sets benefit from an introductory e-mail that provides more context for the patch series and describes how the patches have been broken up to provide for review. The convention is that such messages should follow the same format as described above, but the patch number should be set to zero, for example: [PATCH 0/7]. Remember that the introductory message will not be committed with the patches themselves, so it should not contain any important information that is not also covered in the individual patches. If you send a summary e-mail with a series it is a good idea to send the patches as follow-ups (essentially replies) to your initial message so that mail software can group the messages together.

If you submit a new version of a patch series, then you should start a new email thread (don't reply to the original patch series). This avoids email threads becoming confused between discussions of the first and subsequent revisions of the patch set. Your cover leter (0/nnn) should explain clearly what has been changed between the two patch series. Also state if some of the patches are unchanged between revisions; this saves maintainers having to re-review the patches they might have already reviewed in an earlier version. The individual patch messages should be as you expect them to be committed. It is a good idea to send a final follow-up message to the original thread indicating that a new version has been submitted.

Examples

Here are some complete examples, based on real commits to GCC.

Pinging patches, Getting patches applied

If you do not receive a response to a patch that you have submitted within two weeks or so, it may be a good idea to chase it by sending a follow-up e-mail to the same list(s). Patches can occasionally fall through the cracks. Please be sure to include a brief summary of the patch and the URL of the entry in the mailing list archive of the original submission.

If you do not have write access and a patch of yours has been approved, but not committed, please advise the approver of that fact. You may want to point out lack of write access in your initial submission, too.

Announcing Changes (to our Users)

Everything that requires a user to edit his Makefiles or his source code is a good candidate for being mentioned in the release notes.

Larger accomplishments, either as part of a specific project, or long term commitment, merit mention on the front page. Examples include projects like tree-ssa, new back ends, major advances in optimization or standards compliance.

The gcc-announce mailing list serves to announce new releases and changes like front ends or back ends being dropped.