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Code Review Guide

This document outlines the Brigade code review process that is applied to all contributions (pull requests) and covers things like who can review PRs, when and how.

⚠️  Throughout this document, “project” (with a lowercase “p”) is used to denote individual software projects or source code repositories that are related in some way to Brigade and owned by the @brigadecore GitHub org. In contrast, “Project” (with an uppercase “P”) is used to denote the entire breadth of Brigade as a “program” encompassing Brigade itself and all related software projects or source code repositories owned by the @brigadecore org.


For the Brigade Project, Reviewer is not a formal role in the way that a Project Maintainer or Core Maintainer is. Here, a Reviewer is anyone who reviews a PR. This is to say, feedback on any change is always welcome from any Community Participant who adheres to the CNCF Code of Conduct.

Despite reviews and comments being welcome from all Community Participants, those reviews and comments carry varying degrees of weight under different circumstances.

PRs Opened by Contributors

PRs opened by Contributors who are not also a Core Maintainer or a Project Maintainer of the project in question must be reviewed and approved by a Core Maintainer or a Project Maintainer. Feedback is welcome from all Community Participants, but ultimate approval or rejection of the PR is at the discretion of a Core Maintainer or Project Maintainer.

PRs Opened by Maintainers

PRs opened by Project Maintainers and Core Maintainers fall into two categories:

  • Ordinary PRs: These require a thorough review from a peer Core Maintainer or Project Maintainer, the same as if they’d been opened by any other Contributor. Feedback is welcome from all Community Participants, but ultimate approval or rejection of the PR is at the discretion of a Core Maintainer or Project Maintainer who is not the author of the PR.

  • Chore PRs: To prevent the relatively small number of Core Maintainers and Project Maintainers from becoming review bottlenecks, a Core Maintainer or Project Maintainer (if opening a PR for their own project) may use their own discretion to classify their PR as a “chore” by applying the “chore” label to the PR. This indicates that the PR is (subjectively) small in scope and is likely be understood by any Community Participant – even those without deep technical knowledge of Brigade. With this designation, any Community Participant may review and approve the PR.

When to Review a PR

If a PR is in draft form, review/comments are permissible, but assume that the author is not explicitly requesting any sort of review or approval. Contributors often open draft PRs for “safe keeping” or just to create some visibility into their in-progress work. Assume the author of a draft knows more work is required to achieve a review-worthy state. With this being the case, reviewing draft PRs is not always the best use of one’s time.

How to Review a PR

Some important objectives of a PR review are to:

  • Prevent any Contributor (Core Maintainers included) from making changes unilaterally.
  • Ensure changes are well-thought-out and logically correct.
  • Ensure a high level of code quality.
  • Ensure changes are maintainable over the long term and do not introduce a maintenance burden.
  • Ensure changes are well-tested.
  • Ensure changes are well-documented – both internally and in user-facing documentation.
  • Avoid the introduction of new bugs or regressions.
  • Discourage the introduction of breaking changes (except when a major release is planned).
  • Prevent the introduction of malicious code.

Any Community Participant may comment on a PR to seek clarification on or provide feedback on the proposed changes, so long as the comments are constructive and respectful.

When reviewing PRs, it is often best to avoid “bikeshedding” on trivial matters such as coding style and use of whitespace. For the most part, code style violations will be detected by lint checks that run as part of the CI process. For other small, “nitpicky” bits of feedback, it is often helpful to acknowledge your comment is a “nit.” By doing so, you are leaving it to the discretion of the PR author to act on that feedback or not. To summarize: Effective reviews avoid overwhelming PR authors with trivialities.

Any Community Participant may approve a PR, but this expression of approval may or may not be considered binding. Refer to the previous section for clarification on whose approval is binding under various circumstances.

Rejecting or closing a PR is solely within the purview of Core Maintainers and applicable Project Maintainers.

How to Merge a PR

As a courtesy, anyone having sufficient permissions to merge their own PR should be permitted to merge it themselves after it has been approved. Admittedly, this is for no other reason than the deep satisfaction that some Contributors obtain through clicking the merge button themselves. Primarily, it will be Project Maintainers and Core Maintainers who are able to do this.

For any PR authored by a Contributor without sufficient permissions to merge their own PR, the PR should be merged by a Project Maintainer or Core Maintainer – preferably one who has been formally assigned responsibility for reviewing the PR and assisting its author with seeing their changes through to completion.

For PRs containing many commits, especially if the commit history is messy, the “Squash and merge” option should be utilized when merging and the commit message should be edited to succinctly summarize what the PR achieves instead of enumerating every incremental change that went into the PR.