How to contribute new features

From LimeSurvey Manual

Contribution process

We are always encouraging users to contribute new features or fix bug they have developed. If you are planning to code a stunning new feature and you want it to be implemented at the core so you are future save when updating later, please proceed as follows:

  1. Use the latest Github version for your development
  2. Open a new ticket at our bugtracker at the good project part:
    1. Bug report for a bug
    2. Feature request for a new feature
    3. Development is more for fix the internal system
  3. If you already have fix : make a pull request at github. Remember the Standard for Git commit messages
  4. Describe your feature as detailed as possible and tell us about the implementation details (what code you want to add, which files you are planning to change, which GUI parts have to be extended, ...)
  5. We will then assign the ticket to one of our developers and discuss your approach. It's important to tell us about your plans before you start coding because otherwise you might take the wrong way when implementing new features so we might have to say "Sorry, we can't take that one (because of security problems or what so ever)".
  6. Once implementation details were discussed just start coding and create a Github pull request afterwards and ask for a developer to review your coding.
  7. Make sure to write unit or functional tests that tests your new functionality. If you don't know how to set it up, please read this manual page or ask in the #limesurvey IRC channel for help.
  8. There might be some further discussions about implementation details but once this was solved, your feature will be available in the next new version.

Please remember that new features should as much as possible be in new files.

Internal contribution process

(This section is only relevant for employees at LimeSurvey GmbH.)

As above, but using gitflow instead of pull-requests. Especially:

  • New features are always on feature branches
  • New features are never merged into develop branch before QA
  • Bug fixes are in bug branches and merged after they are tested by another developer
  • Trivial fixes can be applied in the development branch directly (trivial fixes are e.g. one line or changing a localization typo in multiple lines)

Branch naming

All bug branches should be prefixed with bug/12345-short-description, where the number points to relevant Mantis issue on

All feature branches should be prefixed with feature/12345-short-description, where the number points to relevant Mantis issue on

GitFlow examples.

Rebase and merge

When a branch is merged into master or develop branch, use the following procedure (using bug/15469-submit-invalid-part as an example bug branch):



git checkout bug/15469-submit-invalid-part
git rebase develop
(Already OK in this case)
git checkout develop
git merge bug/15469-submit-invalid-part
(Fast-forward happening)
git push

Then delete the branch with:

git push -d origin bug/15469-submit-invalid-part
git branch -d bug/15469-submit-invalid-part


All new features should be specified using scenarios or user-stories.


New features must be tested by a QA-team or tester before being merged. The tester should not be part of the same sprint team that developed the feature.

Acceptance tests

Each new feature should have a folder with acceptance test. The folder name should include the ticket number, like

tests/functional/acceptance/15532-em-warning/<test classes>

The acceptance tests correspond to the user-stories written in the specification and guarantees that the functionality keeps working as intended even after further changes are applied to the code-base.

TODO: How to organize unit tests for new functionality?

Static analysis

(New in 4.3 )

It's a good idea to run some analysis on your code to make sure you have the correct docblocks, no unused variable, and apply PSR-2.


$ ./composer.phar install

This will install all dev tools. Make sure to not commit any changes to the autoloader. The autoloader should always be commited with the --no-dev switch on.

Code sniffer

Home page:

PHP code sniffer checks your code for style violations.

Run it with

$ ./third_party/bin/phpcs --standard=psr12 <file to check>

Example output:

    2 | ERROR   | [ ] Missing file doc comment
    3 | ERROR   | [ ] Missing doc comment for class QuestionEditorController
    5 | ERROR   | [ ] Missing doc comment for function accessRules()
   25 | ERROR   | [ ] Missing parameter comment
   25 | ERROR   | [x] Tag value for @param tag indented incorrectly; expected 2 spaces but found 1
   26 | ERROR   | [ ] Tag @return cannot be grouped with parameter tags in a doc comment
   31 | WARNING | [ ] Line exceeds 85 characters; contains 90 characters

Setup in PHPStorm:

Mess detector

Home page:

Mess detector can detect unused variables, and code complexity.

Run it with

$ ./third_party/bin/phpmd <file to test> text tests/rulesets/phpmd_ruleset.xml

Example output:

application/controllers/QuestionEditorController.php:240     The method actionSaveQuestionData() has an NPath complexity of 8652. The configured NPath complexity threshold is 200.
application/controllers/QuestionEditorController.php:240     The method actionSaveQuestionData() has 142 lines of code. Current threshold is set to 100. Avoid really long methods.
application/controllers/QuestionEditorController.php:444     Avoid unused parameters such as '$returnArray'.
application/controllers/QuestionEditorController.php:468     Avoid unused parameters such as '$returnArray'.

Setup in PHPStorm:


Home page:

Psalm makes sure your docblocks are correct, and that you never access anything that could be null.

Run it with

$ ./third_party/bin/psalm <file to check>

Example output:

INFO: MissingReturnType - application/controllers/QuestionEditorController.php:54:21 - Method QuestionEditorController::actionView does not have a return type, expecting void
    public function actionView($surveyid, $gid = null, $qid = null, $landOnSideMenuTab = 'structure'){
ERROR: PossiblyNullPropertyFetch - application/controllers/QuestionEditorController.php:58:24 - Cannot get property on possibly null variable $oSurvey of type Survey|null
        $gid = $gid ?? $oSurvey->groups[0]->gid;
ERROR: PossiblyNullArrayAccess - application/controllers/QuestionEditorController.php:58:24 - Cannot access array value on possibly null variable $oSurvey->groups of type array<array-key, QuestionGroup>|null
        $gid = $gid ?? $oSurvey->groups[0]->gid;

Release process

Release process

The release cycle consists of two phases:

  • Merge window
  • Feature freeze

During the merge window, new features are accepted into the develop branch.

During the feature freeze, only bug fixes are accepted.

At the end of the feature freeze, the develop branch is merged into master and a new version is released. After that, a new release schedule is written and announced.

Also see current release schedule.

Useful links