What should you do with your Mercurial patches for Sage? You should post them on the Sage trac server.
The Sage trac server, located at http://trac.sagemath.org/sage_trac/, is where Sage bugs are listed and patched, new code is posted and reviewed, and ideas for extending and improving Sage are discussed. Thus if you find a bug in Sage, or if you have new code to submit, or if you have corrections for the documentation, you should post on the trac server.
Items on the server are called “tickets”, and anyone may browse the tickets: just visit http://trac.sagemath.org/sage_trac/report. You need to open an account, though, if you want to comment on a ticket, submit a patch, or create a new ticket. See the trac server for more information about obtaining an account. This chapter contains various guidelines on using the trac server.
“The first step is admitting you have a problem.”
If you think you have found a bug in Sage, you should first search through the following Google groups for postings related to your possible bug:
Maybe the problem you have encountered has already been discussed. You should also search the trac server to see if anyone else has opened a ticket about your bug.
If you do not find anything, and you are not sure that you have found a bug, ask about it on sage-devel. You might be asked to open a new ticket on the trac server. As mentioned above, you need an account to do this. To report a bug, login and click on the “New ticket” button. Type a meaningful one-liner in the “Short summary” box, with more information in the larger box below. You should include at least one explicit, reproducible example illustrating your bug (and/or the steps required to reproduce the buggy behavior). You should also include the version of Sage (and any relevant packages) you are using, and operating system information, being precise as possible (32-bit, 64-bit, ...).
Between the “Summary” and “Full description” boxes, there is a place to choose the “Type” of the ticket: “Defect”, “Enhancement”, or “Task”. Use your best judgment here; a bug should probably be reported as a “Defect”.
Choose a priority for your bug, keeping in mind that the “blocker” label should be used very sparingly. Also pick a component for your bug; this is sometimes straightforward. If your bug deals with Sage’s calculus implementation, choose “calculus”. If it is not obvious, do your best. Choose a milestone; if you are not sure what to choose, just choose the numbered version of Sage from the menu (“sage-4.3.3”, for example). Type in some helpful keywords. In the box labeled “Assign to”, type “somebody” if you are not sure what else to do.
Hit the “Preview” button to make sure everything looks okay, and then hit “Submit ticket”.
If you do not have an account on the trac system to report directly, you are still encouraged to report any possible bug to the sage-devel mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org. The list is moderated for new users and requires subscription. In your bug report to sage-devel, make sure to include the following information:
Thank you in advance for reporting bugs to improve Sage in the future!
In addition to bug reports, you should also open a ticket if you have some new code which extends Sage’s capabilities. If you have a feature request, start a discussion on sage-devel first, and then if there seems to be general agreement that you have a good idea, open a ticket describing the idea.
When you consider opening a new ticket, please bear the following points in mind.
If a component of Sage produces a mathematical error, you should open two tickets: a main ticket with all available details, and also a “stopgap” ticket. This second ticket should have a patch which will be merged into Sage if no one fixes the main issue; this patch should print a warning when anyone uses the relevant code. To produce the warning message, use code like the following:
from sage.misc.stopgap import stopgap stopgap("This code contains bugs and may be mathematically unreliable.", TICKET_NUM)
Replace TICKET_NUM by the ticket number for the main ticket. See trac ticket #12699, for example. On the main trac ticket, you should also enter the ticket number for the stopgap ticket in the “Stopgaps” field. Stopgap tickets should be marked as blockers.
If mathematically valid code causes Sage to raise an error or crash, for example, there is no need for a stopgap. Rather, stopgaps are to warn users that they may be using buggy code; if Sage crashes, this is not an issue.
If you have code which fixes a bug or deals with some issue in Sage, here is what to do. First, use Mercurial to create a patch file. See Walking Through the Development Process for more information on using Mercurial to produce/manage patches. If the issue has been reported as a ticket on the trac server, attach your patch file to that ticket: go to the ticket, click on the “Attach File” button, and follow the directions. On the ticket page, you should add a comment explaining your patch. Some relevant information include:
If there is no trac ticket associated to this issue, create one (as explained in the previous sections) describing the issue and your solution, and attach your patch.
The following are some other relevant issues:
All code that goes into Sage is peer-reviewed, to ensure that the conventions discussed in this manual are followed, to make sure that there are sufficient examples and doctests in the documentation, and to try to make sure that the code does, mathematically, what it is supposed to.
If someone (other than you) has posted a patch for a ticket on the trac server, you can review it! Look at the patch (by clicking on the file name in the list of attachments) to see if it makes sense. Download it (from the window displaying the patch, see the “Download” option at the bottom of the page). Apply it (using hg_sage.patch('filename'), for example) to your copy of Sage, and build Sage with the new code by typing sage -b. See the walkthrough section Reviewing a patch for more details on downloading and applying patches.
Now ask yourself questions such as the following:
If the answers to these and other such reasonable questions are yes, then you might want to give the patch a positive review. On the main ticket page, write a comment in the box explaining your review. If you don’t feel experienced enough for this, make a comment explaining what you checked, and end by asking if someone more experienced will take a look. If you think there are issues with the patch, explain them in the comment box and change the status to “needs work”. Browse the tickets on the trac server to see how things are done.
Closing tickets is not possible unless you have “TICKET_ADMIN” rights in Trac. This is because only the current Sage release manager should ever close tickets. If you feel strongly that a ticket should be closed or deleted, then change the status of the ticket to needs review and change the milestone to sage-duplictate/invalid/wontfix. You should also comment on the ticket, explaining why it should be closed. A related issue is re-opening tickets. You should refrain from re-opening a ticket that is already closed. Instead ask the release manager what to do.
One Issue Per Ticket: A ticket must cover only one issue and should not be a laundry list of unrelated issues. If a ticket covers more than one issue, we cannot close it and while some of the patches have been applied to a given release, the ticket would remain in limbo.
No Patch Bombs: Code that goes into Sage is peer-reviewed. If you show up with an 80,000 lines of code bundle that completely rips out a subsystem and replaces it with something else, you can imagine that the review process will be a little tedious. These huge patch bombs are problematic for several reasons and we prefer small, gradual changes that are easy to review and apply. This is not always possible (e.g. coercion rewrite), but it is still highly recommended that you avoid this style of development unless there is no way around it.
Sage Specific: Sage’s philosophy is that we ship everything (or close to it) in one source tarball to make debugging possible. You can imagine the combinatorial explosion we would have to deal with if you replaced only ten components of Sage with external packages. Once you start replacing some of the more essential components of Sage that are commonly packaged (e.g. Pari, GAP, lisp, gmp), it is no longer a problem that belongs in our tracker. If your distribution’s Pari package is buggy for example, file a bug report with them. We are usually willing and able to solve the problem, but there are no guarantees that we will help you out. Looking at the open number of tickets that are Sage specific, you hopefully will understand why.
No Support Discussions: The trac installation is not meant to be a system to track down problems when using Sage. Tickets should be clearly a bug and not “I tried to do X and I couldn’t get it to work. How do I do this?” That is usually not a bug in Sage and it is likely that sage-support can answer that question for you. If it turns out that you did hit a bug, somebody will open a concise and to-the-point ticket.
Solution Must Be Achievable: Tickets must be achievable. Many times, tickets that fall into this category usually ran afoul to some of the other rules listed above. An example would be to “Make Sage the best CAS in the world”. There is no metric to measure this properly and it is highly subjective.
Milestones are usually goals to be met while working toward a release. In Sage’s trac, we use milestones instead of releases, but unless somebody volunteers to clean up all the old milestones, we will stick with the current model. It does not make a whole lot of difference if we use milestone instead of release.
Finely grained releases are good. Release early and often is the way to go, especially as more and more patches are coming in.
It is a good idea to make a big release and schedule at least one more bug fix release after that to sort out the inevitable “doctest X is broken on distribution Y and compiler Z” problem. Given the number of compilers and operating systems out there, one has to be realistic to expect problems. A compile farm would certainly help to catch issues early.