RT 5.0.6 Documentation


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Development of RT

RT's source code is stored in a git repository. If you are not familiar with git, see "git quickstart", below, for a short tutorial which will give you enough information to get started submitting patches to RT.

The rest of this document details conventions and tips surrounding the organization of RT's version control, source code conventions, and how to submit patches.

Organization of rt.git

The RT source repository is available via git from GitHub; you can browse it at http://github.com/bestpractical/rt/ or obtain a local copy via:

    git clone git://github.com/bestpractical/rt.git

The bleeding-edge development happens in the master branch. When a major release is anticipated, a "trunk" branch will be branched from this -- for example, 4.0-trunk. This will allow the trunk to stabilize while feature development continues on master. Additionally, as a release is impending for a particular series, a release engineering branch will be created, named, for example 4.0.0-releng.

New feature development should always be based off of the master branch. Branches to fix bugs should be based off of whichever trunk the bug was first found in. If you found the bug in your RT 4.0.0 install, you'd branch from 4.0-trunk.

Branches should be named based on the trunk they are branched from -- which is to say, the earliest branch they might be merged into. For example, a bugfix branched from 4.0-trunk might be named 4.0/fail-taint-mode-early. A feature branched from master when there exists a 4.0-trunk but no 4.2-trunk might be named 4.2/rename-LogToScreen. For consistency, branches should use dashes, not underscores, to separate words. Branches which are destined for 4.2, but which are branched from 4.0 (to provide for easy extraction as a 4.0 extension) should be named 4.2-on-4.0/branch-name.

Branches should be reviewed by another developer before being merged. Reviewers should make sure that the branch accomplishes what it claims to, and does not introduce any unwanted behavior in doing so. Commit messages explain the why as much as the what of each commit, and not include extraneous changes.

Code conventions

The RT codebase is more than ten years old; as such, there are sections which do not (yet) conform to the guidelines below. Please attempt to follow the guidelines, even if the code surrounding your changes does not yet.

RT also includes a .perltidyrc in its top-level which encodes many of the conventions.


Each level of indentation should be four spaces; tabs should never be used for indentation.


RT has been translated into several dozen languages. We use Launchpad ( https://translations.launchpad.net/rt ) to crowdsource our translations into po files. RT uses Locale::Maketext to localize its user interface.

Your first stop on this magical journey of internationalization is Locale::Maketext::TPJ13, which explains the whys of Locale::Maketext. RT uses most of the features developed in that article.

Strings that are displayed to users should be passed through the loc("...") function or the <&|/l&>...</&> Mason template. loc and /l both take parameters, which are used in place of string interpolation (much like sprintf). It's acceptable to use HTML in /l calls, especially for bold and emphasis. However, you should limit the amount of HTML that translators must keep exactly correct, which means avoid including tags that wrap the entire translatable string, especially <p>.

    <p><&|/l, $button &>Do <em>not</em> click [_1]</&></p> # ok

    <&|/l, $button &><p>Do <em>not</em> click [_1]</p></&> # not ok

In a few places in RT we also pass HTML as parameters to loc() so that translators do not have to reproduce it exactly, and we can also change it more freely. For example:

        '<a href="http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html">',
    &>Distributed under [_1]version 2 of the GNU GPL[_2].</&>

devel/tools/extract-message-catalog looks for loc("...") and <&|/l&>...</&> in our source code to pick out translatable strings, clean them up, and put them into share/po files. We use our .po files not only to populate Locale::Maketext's lexicons, but also to sync new translatable strings and translations with Launchpad. This Launchpad sync is typically done early during the freeze of RC releases to give our volunteer translators time to translate all the new strings which, because of the RC freeze, won't continue changing.

Because loc() and /l are used to generate strings for human eyes, they generally must be used "close to the browser". These are directly in Mason templates, or in functions that return text that will be passed through Mason. However, in many places in RT we have hard-coded strings which need translations. For example, the $RIGHTS hash in lib/RT/Queue.pm maps rights' names (which must be translatable) to their descriptions (which also must be translatable). However, when we're declaring such structures, we do not want to translate them straight away. RT uses English internally, including in its web forms, so we do not want to localize rights' names except for display, otherwise things might break weirdly when you check if a user has the "Superusuario" right. Furthermore, when we're declaring such data structures at compile time, there is no current user to select which language to use for localization. Thus, we cannot call loc() when declaring $RIGHTS and other similar places.

For this reason, devel/tools/extract-message-catalog lets you denote translatable strings with comments. That's what the #loc_pair comments in the $RIGHTS hash in lib/RT/Queue.pm indicate. Since we have those comments, our toolchain will put the rights' names and descriptions into share/po files, which enables translation by our lovely volunteers. Later on, when RT displays information about rights in the web UI, we'll pass the right's name through loc, and Locale::Maketext will then be able to find our "Superusuario". So although we never used a literal loc("SuperUser"), we still get its effects thanks to the #loc_pair comments and using loc($RightName).

#loc_pair is used for declaring that the both the key and value of a particular key => value pair are translatable. There are other markers that you can use.

#loc is used for declaring that a particular string is translatable. Its parsing is pretty strict so you can use it to declare that only the value of a particular key => value pair is translatable.

#loc_left_pair is used for declaring that the key of a particular key => value pair is translatable. This is of very limited usefulness.

#loc_right_pair does NOT exist. #loc works in such cases since its parser does not extend beyond the string at the end of a line. However, if the string is not at the end of the line, #loc{word} declares that the value associated with the key word (earlier on the same line) is to be loc'd. This is useful for inline hashes:

    # Note the string "baz" is to be loc'd
    foo => { bar => "baz", troz => "zort" },  # loc{bar}

Development tips

Setting up a development environment

Test suite

RT also comes with a fairly complete test suite. The *-trunk and master branches are expected to always be passing all tests. While it is acceptable to break tests in an intermediate commit, a branch which does not pass tests will not be merged. Ideally, commits which fix a bug should also include a test case which fails before the fix and succeeds after.

To run RT's test suite, first set environment variables to a database user and password which can create and drop databases:

    export RT_DBA_USER=root
    export RT_DBA_PASSWORD=

You'll need to configure RT and make sure you have all the dependencies before running tests. To do this in place without installing:

    ./configure.ac --with-my-user-group --enable-layout=inplace --enable-developer
    make testdeps
    make fixdeps

Adjust the relevant database options as necessary if you want to test on PostgreSQL, Oracle, or SQLite. The default is MySQL/MariaDB.

To run the test suite:

    make test

If you want to run only a subset of the tests, you can use Perl's standard prove utility.

    prove -l t/api/ticket.t t/web/ticket_display.t

Parallel Tests

If you have multiple processors, you can run the test suite in parallel, which will be significantly faster:

    make test-parallel

If you want to run a subset of the tests in parallel, you can pass the -j flag to prove with the number of processes to use. Make sure to also set the RT_TEST_PARALLEL environment variable to a true value to tell RT you're running the tests in parallel.

    RT_TEST_PARALLEL=1 prove -l -j4 t/customfields/*.t

Tests with Docker

RT has a Dockerfile that can be used to run the test suite for some configurations. To run it you need a system that can run docker natively or run the docker desktop client. Once installed, you can look in the .travis.yml file for the set of commands to run to kick off the tests inside docker containers. Run all commands in the before_install and script sections, replacing any variables with appropriate values for your system.

You can replace $TRAVIS_BUILD_DIR with you current working directory if you are in a branch. Note that the docker commands in the Travis configuration mount your directory inside the docker container. This means any stray files you have in your working directory will also be visible to the processes inside the docker container. This can cause test failures if unexpected files are there.

git quickstart

The process below describes how to get a copy of an RT repo, modify it, and submit your changes as a patch. You can also create an account on GitHub, fork RT, and submit a PR. GitHub has documentation on this process: https://help.github.com/articles/fork-a-repo/.

  1. You will first need to obtain a copy of git; this is accomplished via sudo yum install git in RedHat and derivatives, or sudo apt-get install git for Debian or Ubuntu.

  2. Next, obtain a copy of the RT source from git:

        git clone git://github.com/bestpractical/rt.git
        cd rt
  3. Configure git to know your name and email address; git uses these when it makes commits.

        git config user.email your.email@example.com
        git config user.name Examp L. Name
  4. Switch to the appropriate point to base your work on; this is generally origin/ followed by the major version, followed by -trunk. For example, if your bug was observed in version 3.8.9, you would choose origin/3.8-trunk; if it was in 4.0.0, you would choose origin/4.0-trunk. New features should be based on origin/master.

        git checkout --track origin/4.0-trunk
  5. Give your branch a name based on what you are attempting to accomplish. We suggest that branch names be lower-case and separate words with dashes, but this branch name is purely for your own reference.

        git branch -m gnupg-encryption
  6. Edit the source tree to make your changes. A few commands you may find useful in doing so are listed below.

    To see what files you have changed:

        git status

    To see a line-by-line list of changes:

        git diff

    To revert a file to the original version:

        git checkout path/to/file

    To revert only individual parts of a file:

        git checkout -p path/to/file

    See "Development tips" for more tips for working with the RT codebase.

  7. Check that you have no extraneous changes using git diff, then commit your changes:

        git commit -a

    You will be prompted to type your commit message. The first line should be a short (< 80 character) summary of the changes, followed by a blank line, followed by a longer description, if necessary. The commit message should not simply restate the diff of which lines were added and subtracted, but should rather explain what those changes accomplish, and why they are desired.

    If your changes are easily split into multiple components, you may wish to split your changes into more than one commit; simply return to step 6 and repeat the with the next related change. If your changes are not related to each other, you should submit them separately; finish step 9, then start over from step 4.

  8. Save your commits to patch files:

        git format-patch @{u}

    This will print out the names of the files as it creates them.

  9. Attach these files to an email using your standard email client, and send it to rt-bugs@bestpractical.com. This will create a ticket in our public RT instance at https://issues.bestpractical.com.

If you have another bug or feature to implement, simply restart the process at step 4.

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