Contributing to Meson
A large fraction of Meson is contributed by people outside the core team. This documentation explains some of the design rationales of Meson as well as how to create and submit your patches for inclusion to Meson.
Thank you for your interest in participating to the development.
All changes must be submitted as pull requests to Github. This causes them to be run through the CI system. All submissions must pass a full CI test run before they are even considered for submission.
Keeping pull requests up to date
It is possible that while your pull request is being reviewed, other changes are committed to master that cause merge conflicts that must be resolved. The basic rule for this is very simple: keep your pull request up to date using rebase only.
Do not merge head back to your branch. Any merge commits in your pull request make it not acceptable for merging into master and you must remove them.
Special procedure for new features
Every new feature requires some extra steps, namely:
- Must include a project test under
test cases/, or if that's not possible or if the test requires a special environment, it must go into
- Must be registered with the FeatureChecks framework that will warn the user if they try to use a new feature while targeting an older meson version.
- Needs a release note snippet inside
docs/markdown/snippets/with a heading and a brief paragraph explaining what the feature does with an example.
Acceptance and merging
The kind of review and acceptance any merge proposal gets depends on the changes it contains. All pull requests must be reviewed and accepted by someone with commit rights who is not the original submitter. Merge requests can be roughly split into three different categories.
The first one consists of MRs that only change the markdown
docs/markdown. Anyone with access rights can
push changes to these directly to master. For major changes it is
still recommended to create a MR so other people can comment on it.
The second group consists of merges that don't change any functionality, fixes to the CI system and bug fixes that have added regression tests (see below) and don't change existing functionality. Once successfully reviewed anyone with merge rights can merge these to master.
The final kind of merges are those that add new functionality or change existing functionality in a backwards incompatible way. These require the approval of the project lead.
In a simplified list form the split would look like the following:
- members with commit access can do:
- documentation changes (directly to master if warranted)
- bug fixes that don't change functionality
- new dependency types
- new tool support (e.g. a new Doxygen-kind of tool)
- support for new compilers to existing languages
- project leader decision is needed for:
- new modules
- new functions in the Meson language
- syntax changes for Meson files
- changes breaking backwards compatibility
- support for new languages
Strategy for merging pull requests to trunk
Meson's merge strategy should fulfill the following guidelines:
preserve as much history as possible
have as little junk in the repo as possible
everything in the "master lineage" should always pass all tests
These goals are slightly contradictory so the correct thing to do often requires some judgement on part of the person doing the merge. Github provides three different merge options, The rules of thumb for choosing between them goes like this:
single commit pull requests should always be rebased
a pull request with one commit and one "fixup" commit (such as testing something to see if it passes CI) should be squashed
large branches with many commits should be merged with a merge commit, especially if one of the commits does not pass all tests (which happens in e.g. large and difficult refactorings)
If in doubt, ask for guidance on IRC.
All new features must come with automatic tests that thoroughly prove that the feature is working as expected. Similarly bug fixes must come with a unit test that demonstrates the bug, proves that it has been fixed and prevents the feature from breaking in the future.
Sometimes it is difficult to create a unit test for a given bug. If this is the case, note this in your pull request. We may permit bug fix merge requests in these cases. This is done on a case by case basis. Sometimes it may be easier to write the test than convince the maintainers that one is not needed. Exercise judgment and ask for help in problematic cases.
The tests are split into two different parts: unit tests and full
project tests. To run all tests, execute
./run_tests.py. Unit tests
can be run with
./run_unittests.py and project tests with
Subsets of project tests can be selected with
./run_project_tests.py --only option. This can save a great deal of
time when only a certain part of Meson is being tested.
For example, a useful and easy contribution to Meson is making
sure the full set of compilers is supported. One could for example test
various Fortran compilers by setting
FC=flang or similar
./run_project_test.py --only fortran.
Some families of tests require a particular backend to run.
For example, all the CUDA project tests run and pass on Windows via
./run_project_tests.py --only cuda --backend ninja
Each project test is a standalone project that can be compiled on its
own. They are all in the
test cases subdirectory. The simplest way to
run a single project test is to do something like
./meson.py test\ cases/common/1\ trivial builddir. The one exception to this is
test cases/unit directory discussed below.
The test cases in the
common subdirectory are meant to be run always
for all backends. They should only depend on C and C++, without any
external dependencies such as libraries. Tests that require those are
test cases/frameworks directory. If there is a need for an
external program in the common directory, such as a code generator, it
should be implemented as a Python script. The goal of test projects is
also to provide sample projects that end users can use as a base for
their own projects.
All project tests follow the same pattern: they are configured, compiled, tests are run and finally install is run. Passing means that configuring, building and tests succeed and that installed files match those expected.
Any tests that require more thorough analysis, such as checking that certain compiler arguments can be found in the command line or that the generated pkg-config files actually work should be done with a unit test.
The following files in the test's source root are consulted, if they exist:
installed_files.txtlists the files which are expected to be installed. Various constructs containing
?are used to indicate platform specific filename variations (e.g.
?sorepresents the platform appropriate suffix for a shared library)
setup_env.jsoncontains a dictionary which specifies additional environment variables to be set during the configure step of the test.
@ROOT@is replaced with the absolute path of the source directory.
nativefile.iniare passed to the configure step with
mlog.cmd_ci_include()can be called from anywhere inside meson to capture the contents of an additional file into the CI log on failure.
Projects needed by unit tests are in the
subdirectory. They are not run as part of
Skipping integration tests
Meson uses several continuous integration testing systems that have slightly different interfaces for indicating a commit should be skipped.
Continuous integration systems currently used:
[skip ci]anywhere in the commit messages.
***NO_CI***in the commit message.
- Sider runs Flake8 (see below)
To promote consistent naming policy, use:
[skip ci]in the commit title if you want to disable all integration tests
docs directory contains the full documentation that will be used
to generate the Meson web site. Every change
in functionality must change the documentation pages. In most cases
this means updating the reference documentation page but bigger
changes might need changes in other documentation, too.
All new functionality needs to have a mention in the release
notes. These features should be written in standalone files in the
docs/markdown/snippets directory. The release manager will combine
them into one page when doing the release.
Integration tests should be disabled for
documentation-only commits by putting
[skip ci] into commit title.
Reviewers should ask contributors to put
[skip ci] into the title because
tests are run again after merge for
Python Coding style
Meson follows the basic Python coding style. Additional rules are the following:
- indent 4 spaces, no tabs ever
- indent meson.build files with two spaces
- try to keep the code as simple as possible
- contact the mailing list before embarking on large scale projects to avoid wasted effort
Meson uses Flake8 for style guide enforcement. The Flake8 options for the project are contained in .flake8.
To run Flake8 on your local clone of Meson:
$ python3 -m pip install flake8 $ cd meson $ flake8
To run it automatically before committing:
$ flake8 --install-hook=git $ git config --bool flake8.strict true
C/C++ coding style
Meson has a bunch of test code in several languages. The rules for those are simple.
- indent 4 spaces, no tabs ever
- brace always on the same line as if/for/else/function definition
The goal of Meson is to be as easily usable as possible. The user experience should be "get Python3 and Ninja, run", even on Windows. Unfortunately this means that we can't have dependencies on projects outside of Python's standard library. This applies only to core functionality, though. For additional helper programs etc the use of external dependencies may be ok. If you feel that you are dealing with this kind of case, please contact the developers first with your use case.
The main design principle of Meson is that the definition language is
not Turing complete. Any change that would make Meson Turing complete
is automatically rejected. In practice this means that defining your
own functions inside
meson.build files and generalised loops will
not be added to the language.
Do I need to sign a CLA in order to contribute?
No you don't. All contributions are welcome.
No lingering state
Meson operates in much the same way as functional programming
languages. It has inputs, which include
meson.build files, values of
options, compilers and so on. These are passed to a function, which
generates output build definition. This function is pure, which means that:
- for any given input the output is always the same
- running Meson twice in a row always produce the same output in both runs
The latter one is important, because it enforces that there is no way
for "secret state" to pass between consecutive invocations of
Meson. This is the reason why, for example, there is no
function even though there is a
If this were not the case, we could never know if the build output is
"stable". For example suppose there were a
set_option function and a
flipflop. Then you could do this:
set_option('flipflop', not get_option('flipflop'))
This piece of code would never converge. Every Meson run would change the value of the option and thus the output you get out of this build definition would be random.
Meson does not permit this by forbidding these sorts of covert channels.
There is one exception to this rule. Users can call into external
run_command. If the output of that command does not
behave like a pure function, this problem arises. Meson does not try
to guard against this case, it is the responsibility of the user to
make sure the commands they run behave like pure functions.
Environment variables are like global variables, except that they are also hidden by default. Envvars should be avoided whenever possible, all functionality should be exposed in better ways such as command line switches.
Random design points that fit nowhere else
All features should follow the 90/9/1 rule. 90% of all use cases should be easy, 9% should be possible and it is totally fine to not support the final 1% if it would make things too complicated.
Any build directory will have at most two toolchains: one native and one cross.
Prefer specific solutions to generic frameworks. Solve the end user's problems rather than providing them tools to do it themselves.
Never use features of the Unix shell (or Windows shell for that matter). Doing things like forwaring output with
>or invoking multiple commands with
&&are not permitted. Whenever these sorts of requirements show up, write an internal Python script with the desired functionality and use that instead.
The results of the search are