Contributing to VOLTTRON

As an open source project VOLTTRON requires input from the community to keep development focused on new and useful features. To that end were are revising our commit process to hopefully allow more committers to be apart of the community. The following document outlines the process for source code and documentation to be submitted. There are gui tools that may make this process easier, however I am going to focus on what is required from the command line.

The only requirements for this is the program git and your favorite web browser.

Getting Started

Forking the main VOLTTRON repository

The first step to editing the repository is to fork it into your own user space. This is done by pointing your favorite web browser to and the clicking Fork on the upper right of the screen. (Note you must have a github account to fork the repository, if you don’t have one then click Sign Up in the upper right corner and create one).

Cloning ‘YOUR’ VOLTTRON forked repository

The next step in the process is to get your forked repository down to your computer to work on. This will create an identical copy of the github on your local machine. To do this you need to know the address of your repository. Luckily the github has a convention so your repository address will be<YOUR USERNAME>/volttron.git. From a terminal execute the following commands which will create a directory in your home directory and then change to that directory, clone from your repository, and finally change into the cloned repository.


VOLTTRON uses develop as its main development branch rather than the standard master branch (the default).

mkdir -p ~/git
cd ~/git
git clone -b develop<YOUR USERNAME>/volttron.git
cd volttron

Adding and Committing files

Now that you have your repository cloned it’s time to start doing some modifications. Using a simple text editor you can create or modify any file under the volttron directory. After making a modification or an creating a file it is time to move it to the stage for review before committing to the local repository. For this example let’s assume we have made a change to in the root of the volttron directory and add a new file called To get those files on the stage (preparing for committing to the local repository) we would execute the following commands

git add
git add

# Alternatively in one command
git add

After adding the files to the stage you can review the staged files by executing

git status

Finally in order to commit to the local repository we need to think of what change we actually did and be able to document it. We do that with a commit message (the -m parameter) such as the following.

git commit -m "Added new and updated copyright of"

Pushing to the remote repository

Next we want to be able to share our changes with the world through github. We can do this by pushing the commits from your local repository out to your github repository. This is done by the following command.

git push
# alternative where origin is the name of the remote you are pushing to
# more on that later.
git push origin

Getting modifications to the main VOLTTRON repository

Now we want our changes to get put into the main VOLTTRON repository. After all our can cure a lot of the world’s problems and of course it is always good to have a copyright the correct year. Open your browser to…<YOUR USERNAME>:develop.

On that page the base fork should always be VOLTTRON/volttron with the base develop whilest the head fork should be <YOUR USERNAME>/volttron and the compare should be the branch in your repository to pull from. Once you have verified that you have got the right changes made then you can enter a title and description that represent your changes.

What happens next?

Once creating a pull request one or more VOLTTRON team members will review your changes and either accept them as is or ask for modifications in order to have your commits accepted. You will be automatically emailed through the github notificaiton system when this occurs.

Next Steps

Merging changes from the main VOLTTRON repository

As time goes on the VOLTTRON code base will continually be modified so the next time you want to work on a change to your files the odds are your local and remote repository will be out of date. In order to get your remote VOLTTRON repository up to date with the main VOLTTRON repository you could simply do a pull request to your remote repository from the main repository. That would involve pointing your browser at<YOUR USERNAME>/volttron/compare/develop…VOLTTRON:develop.

Click the ‘Create Pull Request’ button. On the following page click the ‘Create Pull Request’ button. On the next page click ‘Merge Pull Request’ button.

Once your remote is updated you can now pull from your remote repository into your local repository through the following command:

git pull

The other way to get the changes into your remote repository is to first update your local repository with the changes from the main VOLTTRON repository and then pushing those changes up to your remote repository. To do that you need to first create a second remote entry to go along with the origin. A remote is simply a pointer to the url of a different repository than the current one. Type the following command to create a new remote called ‘upstream’

git remote add upstream

To update your local repository from the main VOLTTRON repository then execute the following command where upstream is the remote and develop is the branch to pull from.

git pull upstream develop

Finally to get the changes into your remote repository you can execute

git push origin

Other commands to know

At this point in time you should have enough information to be able to update both your local and remote repository and create pull requests in order to get your changes into the main VOLTTRON repository. The following commands are other commands to give you more information that the preceeding tutorial went through

Viewing what the remotes are in our local repository

git remote -v

Stashing changed files so that you can do a merge/pull from a remote

git stash save 'A commment to be listed'

Applying the last stashed files to the current repository

git stash pop

Finding help about any git command

git help
git help branch
git help stash
git help push
git help merge

Creating a branch from the branch and checking it out

git checkout -b newbranchname

Checking out a branch (if not local already will look to the remote to checkout)

git checkout branchname

Removing a local branch (cannot be current branch)

git branch -D branchname

Determine the current and show all local branches

git branch

Hooking into other services

The main VOLTTRON repository is hooked into an automated build tool called travis-ci. Your remote repository can be automatically built with the same tool by hooking your account into travis-ci’s environment. To do this go to and create an account. You can using your github login directly to this service. Then you will need to enable the syncing of your repository through the travis-ci service. Finally you need to push a new change to the repository. If the build fails you will receive an email notifying you of that fact and allowing you to modify the souce code and then pushing new changes out.