Develop from Source

If you’re a developer who wants to work on the ThinkUp source code and submit your changes for consideration to be merged into the master branch, here’s how.

Quickfire Do’s and Don’t’s

If you aren’t familiar with git and GitHub, try reading the ThinkUp Beginner’s Guide and the GitHub bootcamp documentation. If you’re familiar with git and GitHub, here’s the short version of what you need to know. Once you fork and download the ThinkUp code:

  • Don’t develop on the master branch. Always create a development branch specific to the issue you’re working on. Name it by issue # and description. For example, if you’re working on Issue #100, a retweet bugfix, your development branch should be called 100-retweet-bugfix. If you decide to work on another issue mid-stream, create a new branch for that issue-don’t work on both in one branch.
  • Do not merge the upstream master with your development branch; rebase your branch on top of the upstream master.
  • A single development branch should represent changes related to a single issue. If you decide to work on another issue, create another branch.
  • Squash your commits. After you rebase your work on top of the upstream master, you can squash multiple commits into one. Say, for instance, you’ve got three commits in related to Issue #100. Squash all three into one with the message “Issue #100 Description of the issue here.” Gina won’t accept pull requests for multiple commits related to a single issue; it’s up to you to squash and clean your commit tree. (Remember, if you squash commits you’ve already pushed to GitHub, you won’t be able to push that same branch again. Create a new local branch, squash, and push the new squashed branch.)
  • Keep .gitignore clean. Don’t add test files to .gitignore that are specific to your ThinkUp setup. Only working config files, dot files, compiled view files, cache files, and logs should be listed in .gitignore.

Workflow Diagram

A visual representation of what a ThinkUp contributor’s GitHub/git workflow should look like. (Click to enlarge.)

ThinkUp Workflow Diagram

Step-by-step (the short version)

  1. Fork on GitHub. (Click the Fork button.)
  2. Clone to your server ($ git clone
  3. Set up remote upstream ($ git remote add upstream git://
  4. Run any outstanding database migrations ($ cd install/cli/; php upgrade.php --with-new-sql)
  5. Branch for new issue ($ git branch ###-description; git checkout ###-description) and develop on issue branch.
  6. As time passes, the upstream ThinkUp repository accumulates new commits. Keep your working copy’s master branch and issue branch up to date by periodically rebasing: fetch upstream, rebase master, rebase issue branch.
  7. When development is complete, rebase one more time, then branch from dev branch to release candidate branch. Squash all X commits that pertain to the issue into one clean, descriptive commit ($ git rebase -i HEAD-X)
  8. Push release candidate branch to GitHub ($ git push origin ###-description-rc)
  9. Issue pull request on GitHub. (Click the Pull Request button.)

If you’re new to git and GitHub, here’s the longer version of these instructions.

Fork the Repository to Contribute Code

Here’s how to fork the ThinkUp repository to begin working on it.

Create an account on GitHub and establish connectivity between your GitHub account and your hosting server.

  1. Create a free account on GitHub.

  2. Fork the project from ginatrapani/thinkup

  3. Make sure you’ve got an SSH public key created on your server and recorded in your GitHub account. You can see your SSH Public Keys on the Account Overview section of your github account. Here’s a good guide.

  4. To test the GitHub authentication run

    $ ssh

Clone your GitHub fork to your development server and install ThinkUp.

  1. Create a directory on your development server outside your web root (probably one level up) called thinkup and cd into that directory.

  2. Run a clone command against your github fork. It will look something like this except that it will use your GitHub account name in the place of dash30

    $ git clone

That will download all your forked GitHub files to a git repository on your development server. If you have problems, check the permissions on the newly created thinkup directory on your server.

Install a running instance of ThinkUp on your development server using any of a number of installation guides.

Running nightly code from ThinkUp’s git repository will require you to catch up on necessary database migrations.

Create an Issue-Specific Development Branch

Before you start working on a new feature or bugfix, create a new branch dedicated to that one change named by issue number and description. If you’re working on Issue #100, a retweet bugfix, create a new branch with the issue number and description, like this:

$ git branch 100-retweet-bugfix
$ git checkout 100-retweet-bugfix

Edit and test the files on your development server. When you’ve got something the way you want and established that it works, commit the changes to your branch on your development server’s git repo.

$ git add <filename>
$ git commit -m 'Issue #100: Some kind of descriptive message'

You’ll need to use git add for each file that you created or modified. There are ways to add multiple files, but I highly recommend a more deliberate approach unless you know what you’re doing.

Then, you can push your new branch to GitHub, like this (replace 100-retweet-bugfix with your branch name):

$ git push origin 100-retweet-bugfix

You should be able to log into your GitHub account, switch to the branch, and see that your changes have been committed. Then click the Pull button to request that your commits get merged into the ThinkUp development trunk.

IMPORTANT: Before you issue a pull request, make sure it gets accepted by running through the [[Developer Guide: Pull Request Checklist]] first.

Keep Your Repository Up to Date

In order to get the latest updates from the development trunk do a one-time setup to establish the main GitHub repo as a remote by entering:

$ git remote add upstream git://

Verify you’ve now got “origin” and “upstream” remotes by entering:

$ git remote

You’ll see upstream listed there.

Rebase Your Development Branch on the Latest Upstream

To keep your development branch up to date, rebase your changes on top of the current state of the upstream master. See the What’s git-rebase? section below to learn more about rebasing.

If you’ve set up an upstream branch as detailed above, and a development branch called 100-retweet-bugfix, you’d update upstream, update your local master, and rebase your branch from it like so:

$ git fetch upstream
$ git checkout master
$ git rebase upstream/master
$ git checkout 100-retweet-bugfix
[make sure all is committed as necessary in branch]
$ git rebase master

You may need to resolve conflicts that occur when a file on the development trunk and one of your files have both been changed. Edit each file to resolve the differences, then commit the fixes to your development server repo and test. Each file will need to be “added” before running a “commit.”

Conflicts are clearly marked in the code files. Make sure to take time in determining what version of the conflict you want to keep and what you want to discard.

$ git add <filename>
$ git commit

To push the updates to your GitHub repo, replace 100-retweet-bugfix with your branch name and run:

$ git push origin 100-retweet-bugfix

Some gotchas

Be careful not to commit any of your configuration files, logs, or throwaway test files to your GitHub repo. These files can contain information you wouldn’t want publicly viewable and they will make it impossible to merge your contributions into the main development trunk of ThinkUp.

Most of these special files are listed in the .gitignore file and won’t be included in any commit, but you should carefully review the files you have modified and added before staging them and committing them to your repo. The git status command will display detailed information about any new files, modifications and staged.

$ git status

One thing you do not want to do is to issue a git commit with the -a option. This automatically stages and commits every modified file that’s not expressly defined in .gitignore, including your crawler logs.

$ git commit -a

What’s git-rebase?

Using git-rebase helps create clean commit trees and makes keeping your code up-to-date with the current state of the upstream master easy. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say you’re working on Issue #212 a new plugin in your own branch and you start with something like this:

      1---2---3 #212-my-new-plugin
A---B #master

You keep coding for a few days and then pull the latest upstream stuff and you end up like this:

      1---2---3 #212-my-new-plugin
A---B--C--D--E--F #master

So all these new things (C,D,..F) have happened since you started. Normally you would just keep going (let’s say you’re not finished with the plugin yet) and then deal with a merge later on, which becomes a commit, which get moved upstream and ends up grafted on the tree forever.

A cleaner way to do this is to use rebase to essentially rewrite your commits as if you had started at point F instead of point B. So just do:

git rebase master 212-my-new-plugin

git will rewrite your commits like this:

                  1---2---3 #212-my-new-plugin
A---B--C--D--E--F #master

It’s as if you had just started your branch. One immediate advantage you get is that you can test your branch now to see if C, D, E, or F had any impact on your code (you don’t need to wait until you’re finished with your plugin and merge to find this out). And, since you can keep doing this over and over again as you develop your plugin, at the end your merge will just be a fast-forward (in other words no merge at all).

So when you’re ready to send the new plugin upstream, you do one last rebase, test, and then merge (which is really no merge at all) and send out your pull request. Then in most cases, Gina has a simple fast forward on her end (or at worst a very small rebase or merge) and over time that adds up to a simpler tree.

More info on the git man page here: Git rebase: man page


git pull

reference how to upgrade/manually run db migrations