Committing code

This section is for the core team of Wagtail, or for anyone interested in the process of getting code committed to Wagtail.

Code should only be committed after it has been reviewed by at least one other reviewer or committer, unless the change is a small documentation change or fixing a typo. If additional code changes are made after the review, it is OK to commit them without further review if they are uncontroversial and small enough that there is minimal chance of introducing new bugs.

Most code contributions will be in the form of pull requests from GitHub. Pull requests should not be merged from GitHub, apart from small documentation fixes, which can be merged with the ‘Squash and merge’ option. Instead, the code should be checked out by a committer locally, the changes examined and rebased, the CHANGELOG.txt and release notes updated, and finally the code should be pushed to the main branch. This process is covered in more detail below.

Check out the code locally

If the code has been submitted as a pull request, you should fetch the changes and check them out in your Wagtail repository. A simple way to do this is by adding the following git alias to your ~/.gitconfig (assuming upstream is wagtail/wagtail):

    pr = !sh -c \"git fetch upstream pull/${1}/head:pr/${1} && git checkout pr/${1}\"

Now you can check out pull request number xxxx by running git pr xxxx.

Rebase on to main

Now that you have the code, you should rebase the commits on to the main branch. Rebasing is preferred over merging, as merge commits make the commit history harder to read for small changes.

You can fix up any small mistakes in the commits, such as typos and formatting, as part of the rebase. git rebase --interactive is an excellent tool for this job.

Ideally, use this as an opportunity to squash the changes to a few commits, so each commit is making a single meaningful change (and not breaking anything). If this is not possible because of the nature of the changes, it’s acceptable to either squash into a commit or leave all commits unsquashed, depending on which will be more readable in the commit history.

# Get the latest commits from Wagtail
git fetch upstream
git checkout main
git merge --ff-only upstream/main
# Rebase this pull request on to main
git checkout pr/xxxx
git rebase main
# Update main to this commit
git checkout main
git merge --ff-only pr/xxxx

Update CHANGELOG.txt and release notes


This should only be done by core committers, once the changes have been reviewed and accepted.

Every significant change to Wagtail should get an entry in the CHANGELOG.txt, and the release notes for the current version.

The CHANGELOG.txt contains a short summary of each new feature, refactoring, or bug fix in each release. Each summary should be a single line. To easily identify the most relevant changes to users, items are grouped together in the following order:

  • Major features (no prefix) - things that will inspire users to upgrade to a new release

  • Minor enhancements (no prefix) - other improvements to the developer or end user experience

  • Bug fixes (prefixed with “Fix:”) - things that address broken behavior from previous releases

  • Documentation (prefixed with “Docs:”) - changes to documentation that do not accompany a specific code change; reorganizations, tutorials, recipes and so on

  • Maintenance (prefixed with “Maintenance:”) - cleanup, refactoring and other changes to code or tooling that are not intended to have a visible effect to developers or end users

The name of the contributor should be added at the end of the summary, in brackets. For example:

* Fix: Tags added on the multiple image uploader are now saved correctly (Alex Smith)

The release notes for each version contain a more detailed description for each major feature, under its own heading. Minor enhancements (“Other features”), bug fixes, documentation and maintenance are listed as bullet points under the appropriate heading - these can be copied from the changelog, with the prefix (“Fix:”, “Docs:” or “Maintenance:”) removed. Backwards compatibility notes should also be included. See previous release notes for examples. The release notes for each version are found in docs/releases/

If the contributor is a new person, and this is their first contribution to Wagtail, they should be added to the list. Contributors are added in chronological order, with new contributors added to the bottom of the list. Use their preferred name. You can usually find the name of a contributor on their GitHub profile. If in doubt, or if their name is not on their profile, ask them how they want to be named.

If the changes to be merged are small enough to be a single commit, amend this single commit with the additions to the CHANGELOG.txt, release notes, and contributors:

git add CHANGELOG.txt docs/releases/
git commit --amend --no-edit

If the changes do not fit in a single commit, make a new commit with the updates to the CHANGELOG.txt, release notes, and contributors. The commit message should say Release notes for #xxxx:

git add CHANGELOG.txt docs/releases/
git commit -m 'Release notes for #xxxx'

Push to main

The changes are ready to be pushed to main now.

# Check that everything looks OK
git log upstream/main..main --oneline
git push --dry-run upstream main
# Push the commits!
git push upstream main
git branch -d pr/xxxx

When you have made a mistake

It’s ok! Everyone makes mistakes. If you realize that recently merged changes have a negative impact, create a new pull request with a revert of the changes and merge it without waiting for a review. The PR will serve as additional documentation for the changes and will run through the CI tests.

Add commits to someone else’s pull request

GitHub users with write access to wagtail/wagtail (core members) can add commits to the pull request branch of the contributor.

Given that the contributor username is johndoe and his pull request branch is called foo:

git clone
cd wagtail
git remote add johndoe
git fetch johndoe foo
git checkout johndoe/foo
# Make changes
# Commit changes
git push johndoe HEAD:foo