Tips for Participating In Drake Code Reviews using


Drake code reviews use This page documents some best practices for communicating effectively in Reviewable.

GitHub Integration

Avoid using the GitHub UI to comment on code during a review. Reviewable will import comments from GitHub, but cannot reliably match them to lines of diff.

When you enter comments in Reviewable, they are saved as drafts. Use the “publish” button to send them out in a batch. Reviewable will post the comments to the GitHub PR in a single, well-formatted block, generating email to everyone else following the PR.

Every time you push to your GitHub branch under review, Reviewable will snapshot a new diff. Because it maintains an independent diff series, you can rebase freely without corrupting the review history.

Life of a Reviewable Comment

All threads in Reviewable must be resolved before you can merge your PR.

The semantics of discussion resolution is more nuanced than GitHub’s default code review tool. We recommend to read this explanation to understand the details.

Before commenting on a line of code, reviewers should check to see if there is already a resolved discussion addressing the same topic. Resolved discussions are indicated by a small white check-mark in a grey circle to the left of the line of code.

Reviewers should click the eye-shaped buttons to indicate that they have reviewed a file. Reviewable will remember the revisions at which the file was reviewed, and mark them with an eye icon in the file history.

Curated Commits

Each commit on Drake master should pass all unit tests and lint checks, should be logically cohesive (should not require other commits to make sense), and should have a meaningful commit message.

Therefore, our reviewable settings by default prevent a PR with more than one commit from being merged.

Often a PR may end up with more than one commit, including “work-in-progress” checkpoints or “fix review comments” pushes. In that case, when the PR is ready to merge, the author of a PR has three choices for how to proceed:

  • Wait for the assigned Platform Reviewer to “Squash and merge” the PR. If time is of the essence, post a reminder to the PR.
  • Locally (rebase and) squash the PR down to a single commit, and force-push that commit into the PR.
  • Apply the label status: squashing now and then immediately use the “squash and merge” button to merge the PR, being careful to tweak the commit message in the web page’s edit box to be a sensible description of the change.

On the other hand, some PR authors carefully curate their commits so that each individual commit on a PR meets the acceptance criteria on its own. In that case, the author should apply the label status: commits are properly curated, which removes the single-commit requirement. PRs with this label should be merged to master using the “Create a merge commit” option, not “Squash and merge” option.

Release Notes

By default, your commit message’s subject line and full text will be collated into the release notes as part of the next numbered release. The collation involves human review (it is not completely mechanical) so while we are able to improve the text later as part of document assembly, please be kind to the human editor and do your best to provide a correct and helpful commit message up front.

The pull request will be not be allowed to merge until it has at least one release notes label added:

release notes: none

Commits that do not meaningfully affect the release will be manually culled from the release notes during editing. To aid the human editor in making that determination, you may add the tag release notes: none to the PR and the commit will be omitted. For example, you should apply that tag to any PRs that only fix code style problems, or only affect tests or documentation.

release notes: breaking change

Commits that contain breaking changes receive special attention in the release notes. To aid the human editor in making that determination, you must add the tag release notes: breaking change to any PR that makes a breaking change to a Stable API without a deprecation period.

release notes: newly deprecated
release notes: removal of deprecated

Commits that change deprecations receive special attention in the release notes. To aid the human editor in making that determination, you must add the tag release notes: newly deprecated to any PR that adds new deprecations, or release notes: removal of deprecated to any PR that removes deprecated code whose date has passed. Removing deprecated code is not considered to be a breaking change, so do not add release notes: breaking change.

release notes: feature
release notes: fix

Commits that implement a feature or a fix must be labeled with the corresponding tag, either release notes: feature or release notes: fix but never both at once; choose whichever one is the best match.

Commits that merely add missing pydrake bindings should be marked release notes: fix.

Externals bumps should always have release notes. Either release notes: feature or release notes: fix is fine; in the case of externals bumps, the notes document doesn’t use separate sections for fix / feature anyway.

When combining release notes labels:

  • none must not be combined with any other label.
  • breaking change must be combined with either feature or fix. If there were changes to deprecations, those labels should also be added.
  • newly deprecated will usually be combined with feature or fix, because usually the deprecation is concurrent with the addition of its replacement or due to some other new change. Only if the deprecation is the sole content of the commit will newly deprecated be the only label.

Joint Feature and Platform review

For a review to be considered complete, both Feature Review and Platform Review must be completed (see Review Process).

Therefore, our reviewable settings require at least two assigned reviewers. In cases where the platform reviewer decides to double-count as feature review, the reviewer should apply the label status: single reviewer ok to note this condition, which removes the two-assignee requirement.