So You Want to Contribute…

This document provides some necessary points for developers to consider when writing and reviewing Ironic code. The checklist will help developers get things right. Please make sure to check the community page first.

Contributing Code

If you’re completely new to OpenStack and want to contribute to the ironic project, please start by familiarizing yourself with the Infra Team’s Developer Guide. This will help you get your accounts set up in Launchpad and Gerrit, familiarize you with the workflow for the OpenStack continuous integration and testing systems, and help you with your first commit.

Everything Ironic

Ironic is a community of projects centered around the primary project repository ‘ironic’, which help facilitate the deployment and management of bare metal resources.

This means there are a number of different repositories that fall into the responsibility of the project team and the community. Some of the repositories may not seem strictly hardware related, but they may be tools or things to just make an aspect easier.

Adding New Features

Ironic tracks new features using RFEs (Requests for Feature Enhancements) instead of blueprints. These are stories with ‘rfe’ tag, and they should be submitted before a spec or code is proposed.

When a member of the ironic-core team decides that the proposal is worth implementing, a spec (if needed) and code should be submitted, referencing the RFE task or bug number. Contributors are welcome to submit a spec and/or code before the RFE is approved, however those patches will not land until the RFE is approved.

Feature Submission Process

  1. Submit a bug report on Launchpad. If you can’t describe your feature in a sentence or two, it may mean that you are either trying to capture more than one RFE at once, or that you are having a hard time defining what you are trying to solve at all. This may also be a sign that your feature may require a specification document.

  2. Describe the proposed change in the ‘Description’ field. The description should provide enough details for a knowledgeable developer to understand what is the existing problem in the current platform that needs to be addressed, or what is the enhancement that would make the platform more capable, both from a functional and a non-functional standpoint.

  3. Submit the bug, add an ‘rfe’ tag to it and assign yourself or whoever is going to work on this feature.

  4. As soon as a member of the team acknowledges the bug, we will move it to the ‘Review’ state. As time goes on, Discussion about the RFE, and whether to approve it will occur. If the RFE has not been triaged and you’d like it to receive immediate attention, add it to the Open Discussion section of our weekly meeting agenda <>, and, timezone permitting, attend the meeting to advocate for your RFE.

  5. Contributors will evaluate the RFE and may advise the submitter to file a spec in the ironic-specs repository to elaborate on the feature request. Typically this is when an RFE requires extra scrutiny, more design discussion, etc. For the spec submission process, please see the Ironic Specs Process. A specific task should be created to track the creation of a specification.

  6. If a spec is not required, once the discussion has happened and there is positive consensus among the ironic-core team on the RFE, the RFE is ‘approved’, and its tag will move from ‘rfe’ to ‘rfe-approved’. This means that the feature is approved and the related code may be merged.

  7. If a spec is required, the spec must be submitted (with a new task as part of the story referenced as ‘Task’ in the commit message), reviewed, and merged before the RFE will be ‘approved’ (and the tag changed to ‘rfe-approved’).

  8. If the RFE is rejected, the ironic-core team will move the story to “Invalid” status.

Change Tracking

Please ensure work related to a bug or RFE is tagged with the bug. This generally is a “Closes-bug”, “Partial-bug” or “Related-bug” tag as described in the Git Commit messages guide <>`.


RFEs may only be approved by members of the ironic-core team.


While not strictly required for minor changes and fixes, it is highly preferred by the Ironic community that any change which needs to be backported, have a recorded bug.

Managing Change Sets

If you would like some help, or if you (or some members of your team) are unable to continue working on the feature, updating and maintaining the changes, please let the rest of the ironic community know. You could leave a comment in one or more of the changes/patches, bring it up in IRC, the weekly meeting, or on the OpenStack development email list. Communicating this will make other contributors aware of the situation and allow for others to step forward and volunteer to continue with the work.

In the event that a contributor leaves the community, do not expect the contributor’s changes to be continued unless someone volunteers to do so.

Getting Your Patch Merged

Within the Ironic project, we generally require two core reviewers to sign-off (+2) change sets. We also will generally recognize non-core (+1) reviewers, and sometimes even reverse our decision to merge code based upon their reviews.

We recognize that some repositories have less visibility, as such it is okay to ask for a review in our IRC channel. Please be prepared to stay in IRC for a little while in case we have questions.

Sometimes we may also approve patches with a single core reviewer. This is generally discouraged, but sometimes necessary. When we do so, we try to explain why we do so. As a patch submitter, it equally helps us to understand why the change is important. Generally, more detail and context helps us understand the change faster.

Timeline Expectations

As with any large project, it does take time for features and changes to be merged in any of the project repositories. This is largely due to limited review bandwidth coupled with varying reviewer priorities and focuses.

When establishing an understanding of complexity, the following things should be kept in mind.

  • Generally, small and minor changes can gain consensus and merge fairly quickly. These sorts of changes would be: bug fixes, minor documentation updates, follow-up changes.

  • Medium changes generally consist of driver feature parity changes, where one driver is working to match functionality of another driver.

    • These changes generally only require an RFE for the purposes of tracking and correlating the change.

    • Documentation updates are expected to be submitted with or immediately following the initial change set.

  • Larger or controversial changes generally take much longer to merge. This is often due to the necessity of reviewers to gain additional context and for change sets to be iterated upon to reach a state where there is consensus. These sorts of changes include: database, object, internal interface additions, RPC, rest API changes.

    • These changes will very often require specifications to reach consensus, unless there are pre-existing patterns or code already present.

    • These changes may require many reviews and iterations, and can also expect to be impacted by merge conflicts as other code or features are merged.

    • These changes must typically be split into a series of changes. Reviewers typically shy away from larger single change sets due to increased difficulty in reviewing.

    • Do not expect any API or user-visible data model changes to merge after the API client freeze. Some substrate changes may merge if not user visible.

  • You should expect complex features, such as cross-project features or integration, to take longer than a single development cycle to land.

    • Building consensus is vital.

    • Often these changes are controversial or have multiple considerations that need to be worked through in the specification process, which may cause the design to change. As such, it may take months to reach consensus over design.

    • These features are best broken into larger chunks and tackled in an incremental fashion.

Ironic Specs Process

Specifications must follow the template which can be found at specs/template.rst, which is quite self-documenting. Specifications are proposed by adding them to the specs/approved directory, adding a soft link to it from the specs/not-implemented directory, and posting it for review to Gerrit. For more information, please see the README.

The same Gerrit process as with source code, using the repository ironic-specs, is used to add new specifications.

All approved specifications are available at: If a specification has been approved but not completed within one or more releases since the approval, it may be re-reviewed to make sure it still makes sense as written.

Ironic specifications are part of the RFE (Requests for Feature Enhancements) process. You are welcome to submit patches associated with an RFE, but they will have a -2 (“do not merge”) until the specification has been approved. This is to ensure that the patches don’t get accidentally merged beforehand. You will still be able to get reviewer feedback and push new patch sets, even with a -2. The list of core reviewers for the specifications is small but mighty. (This is not necessarily the same list of core reviewers for code patches.)

Changes to existing specs

For approved but not-completed specs:

  • cosmetic cleanup, fixing errors, and changing the definition of a feature can be done to the spec.

For approved and completed specs:

  • changing a previously approved and completed spec should only be done for cosmetic cleanup or fixing errors.

  • changing the definition of the feature should be done in a new spec.

Please see the Ironic specs process wiki page for further reference.

Project Team Leader Duties

The Project Team Leader or PTL is elected each development cycle by the contributors to the ironic community.

Think of this person as your primary contact if you need to try and rally the project, or have a major issue that requires attention.

They serve a role that is mainly oriented towards trying to drive the technical discussion forward and managing the idiosyncrasies of the project. With this responsibility, they are considered a “public face” of the project and are generally obliged to try and provide “project updates” and outreach communication.

All common PTL duties are enumerated here in the PTL guide.

Tasks like release management or preparation for a release are generally delegated with-in the team. Even outreach can be delegated, and specifically there is no rule stating that any member of the community can’t propose a release, clean-up release notes or documentation, or even get on the occasional stage.