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Types of contributions

Every contribution to Org is very welcome. Here is a list of areas where your contribution will be useful:

  • you can submit bug reports -- Before sending a bug report, make sure
  • you have read this section of Org's manual: [[][Feedback]] You can also read this great text: "[[][How to Send Bug Reports Effectively]]"
  • you can submit feature requests -- Org is already mature, but new ideas
  • keep popping up. If you want to request a feature, it might be a good idea to have a look at the current [[][Issue tracking file]] which captures both bug reports and feature requests. Or dig into the mailing list for possible previous discussions about your idea. If you cannot find back your idea, formulate it as detailed as possible, if possible with examples, and send it to the mailing list.
  • you can submit patches -- You can submit patches to the mailing list.
  • See the [[For Org contributors: preferred way of submitting patches][Preferred way of submitting patches]] section for details.

If your patch is against a file that is part of Emacs, then your total contribution (all patches you submit) should change /less than 15 lines/ (See the etc/CONTRIBUTE file in GNU Emacs.) If you contribute more, you have to assign the copyright of your contribution to the Free Software Foundation (see below).

  • you can submit Org add-ons -- there are many Org add-ons. The best way
  • is to submit your code to the mailing list to discuss it with people. If it is useful, you might consider contributing it to the =CONTRIB/= directory in the git repository.
  • you can submit material to the Worg website -- This website is made of
  • Org files that you can contribute to. Learn what Worg is [[][about]] and how to contribute to it [[][through git]].

Copyright issues when contributing to Emacs org-mode

Org is made of many files. Most of them are also distributed as part of GNU Emacs. These files are called the Org core, and they are all copyrighted by the Free Software Foundation, Inc. If you consider contributing to these files, your first need to grant the right to include your works in GNU Emacs to the FSF. For this you need to complete this form, send it to, and tell the Org-mode maintainer when this process is complete. Some people consider this a hassle. I don't want to discuss this in detail here - there are some good reasons for getting the copyright registered, an example is discussed in this FLOSS weekly podcast. Furthermore, by playing according to the Emacs rules, we gain the fantastic advantage that every version of Emacs ships with Org-mode already fully built in. So please consider doing this - it makes our work as maintainers so much easier, because we can then take your patches without any additional work.

If you want to learn more about why copyright assignments are collected, read this: Why the FSF gets copyright assignments from contributors?

For Org developers

  1. Send your public key to Jason Dunsmore.
  2. Wait for confirmation that your public key has been added to the server.
  3. Clone org-mode.git repository like this:
  4. ~$ git clone
  5. Commit your changes and push them.

If you are undertaking big changes, please create a dedicated branch for them.

For Org contributors: preferred way of submitting patches

Coding conventions

Org is part of Emacs, so any contribution should follow the GNU Emacs Lisp coding conventions described in Emacs manual.

Sending patch with git

Org-mode is developed using git as the version control system. Git provides an amazing framework to collaborate on a project. Git can be used to make patches and send them via email -- this is perfectly fine for major and minor changes.

When sending a patch (either using git diff or git format-patch) please *always add a properly formatted Emacs ChangeLog entry*. See this section for details on how to create such a ChangeLog.

Patches get caught on patchwork

As long as these patches are formatted properly, they will be automatically registered at John Wiegley's patchwork server and will then be accepted, rejected, or sent back to the author with a request for modification.

Patchwork assumes there is only one patch per email and will not catch more than one patch -- so please send multiple patches in separate emails.

In this context, "formatted properly" means that the patches are included either plainly in the mail text, or as text attachments (mime-type text, subtypes "x-patch", "x-diff", or "plain"). In particular, binary types or, even worse, "application/octet-stream" (the asinine default of some mail programs) are not going to be recognized. Please find out how to convince your mail program to send proper attachments. Also, if you include the patch inline, please make sure that your mail program does not reformat it (although there are plenty of places further down the line where that can happen, unfortunately). If you attach the patch, then reformatting is not a problem.

Sending commits

For every patch you send, we suggest to use git format-patch.

This is easy for small patches and more consequent ones. Sometimes, you might even want to work in several steps and send each commit separately. Here is the suggested workflow:

  ~$ git pull                 # make sure your repo is up to date
  ~$ git branch my-changes    # create a new branch from master
  ~$ git checkout my-changes  # switch to this new branch

... make some changes (1) ...

  ~$ git commit -m "This is change (1)"  # Commit your change

... make another change (2) ...

  ~$ git commit -m "This is change (2)"  # Commit your change
  ~$ git format-patch master             # Creates two patches

... Then two patches for your two commits are ready to be sent to the list and detected by the patchwork server.

Write useful commit messages: please provide 1) a reason for it in your email and 2) a ChangeLog entry in the commit message (see this section on how to format a ChangeLog entry.)

Sending quick fixes for testing purpose

If you want to send a quick fix that needs to be further tested by other people (before you submit a real patch), here is how you can do:

This command will make a patch between the staging area (in your computer), and the file you modified:

git diff -p org-whatever.el > org-whatever.el.diff

If you already committed your changes to your index (staging area), then you should compare against a particular branch (in this example, origin/master):

git diff -p origin/master org-whatever.el > org-whatever.el.diff

You email the output to the mailing list, adding [PATCH] to the subject, and description of what you fixed or changed.

Note that small patches sent like this still need to have a ChangeLog entry to be applied. If your patch looks good to you, it's always better to send a patch through git format-patch.

Sharing changes from a public branch

For more significant contributions, the best way to submit patches is through public branches of your repository clone.

  1. Clone our git repository at
  2. You can clone using any of the commands below.

git clone git://

git clone

The url using the git protocol is preferred. If you are behind a firewall that blocks git://, you can use the http url.

  1. Create a repository that can be publicly accessed, for example on
  2. /GitHub/, /, or on your own server.
  1. Push your topic branches (and optionally the master branch) to your
  2. public repository.

Define a remote for your public repository you push topics to.

git remote add REMOTE URL-GOES-HERE

Push branches to the remote



git remote add github ssh://.../     # Done once to define the remote 'github'
git push github my-topic
  1. Do your work on topic-specific branches, using a branch name that
  2. relates to what you are working on.
  1. Often do

git remote update

to pull commits from all defined remote repositories, in particular the org-mode master at

  1. When you have something workable, publish the git path and branch
  2. name on the mailing list, so that people can test it and review your work.
  1. After your topic has been merged to the project master branch you
  2. can delete the topic on your local and remote repositories.

git branch -d NEWTOPIC


Commit messages and ChangeLog entries

:PROPERTIES: :ID: c526dfd7-2b0c-4b66-9deb-6e442e4870 :END:

We have decided to no longer keep a ChangeLog file to record changes to individual functions. In a modern version control system like git, ChangeLog is duplicating information that should be in the commit message, and it is the main cause of merge conflicts.

Instead, the change log entry should be part of the commit message. A commit message should be constructed in the following way:

  • Line 1 of the commit message should always be a short description of
  • the overall change. Line 1 does /not/ get a dot at the end.
  • Line 2 is an empty line
  • In line 3, the ChangeLog entry should start, in a similar format as
  • in the old ChangeLog files, but without the author information (which is part of the commit anyway).
  • After the changelog, another empty line should come before any
  • additional information that the committer wishes to provide in order to explain the patch.
  • If the change is a minor change made by a committer without
  • copyright assignment to the FSF, the commit message should also contain the cookie =TINYCHANGE= (anywhere in the message). When we later produce the ChangeLog file for Emacs, the change will be marked appropriately.

Here is an example for such a message

Capture: Fix the case of using a template file

,* lisp/org-capture.el (org-capture-set-plist): Make sure txt is a string before calling `string-match'. (org-capture-templates): Fix customization type. ,* doc/org.texi (Capture): Document using a file for a template

The problem here was that a wrong keyword was given in the customization type. This let to a string-match against a list value.

Modified from a patch proposal by Johan Friis.


If you are using magit.el in Emacs, The ChangeLog-like such entries are easily made by pressing C in the diff listing. Another option to make the entries is to use `C-x 4 a' in the changed function. This will create entries in the ChangeLog file, and you can then cut and paste these to the commit message and remove the indentation.

Copyrighted contributors to Org-mode

Here is the list of people who have contributed actual code to the Org-mode core. Note that the manual contains a more extensive list with acknowledgments, including contributed ideas! The lists below are mostly for house keeping, to help the maintainers keep track of copyright issues.

Current contributors

:PROPERTIES: :CUSTOM_ID: contributors_with_fsf_papers :END:

Here is the list of people who signed the papers with the Free Software Foundation and can now freely submit code to Org files that are included within GNU Emacs:

  1. Adam Elliott
  2. Andreas Burtzlaff
  3. Andreas Leha
  4. Andrzej Lichnerowicz
  5. Andy Steward
  6. Anthony Lander
  7. Baoqiu Cui
  8. Barry Leonard Gidden
  9. Bastien Guerry
  10. Benjamin Andresen
  11. Bernd Grobauer
  12. Bernt Hansen
  13. Brian James Gough
  14. Carsten Dominik
  15. Charles Sebold
  16. Christian Egli
  17. Christian Moe
  18. Christopher League
  19. Christopher Miles Gray
  20. Christopher Suckling
  21. Dan Davison
  22. Daniel M German
  23. Daniel M. Hackney
  24. David Maus
  25. David O'Toole
  26. Ethan Ligon
  27. Eric S. Fraga
  28. Eric Schulte
  29. Erik Iverson
  30. Feng Shu
  31. George Kettleborough
  32. Giovanni Ridolfi
  33. Ian Barton
  34. Ilya Shlyakhter
  35. James TD Smith
  36. Jan Böker
  37. Jason Riedy
  38. Jeffrey Ryan Horn
  39. Joel Boehland
  40. John Wiegley
  41. Juan Pechiar
  42. Julian Gehring
  43. Julien Barnier
  44. Julien Danjou
  45. Konstantin Antipin
  46. Lawrence Mitchell
  47. Lennart Borgman
  48. Lukasz Stelmach
  49. Magnus Henoch
  50. Manuel Giraud
  51. Martin Pohlack
  52. Martyn Jago
  53. Matt Lundin
  54. Max Mikhanosha
  55. Michael Brand
  56. Michael Gauland
  57. Michael Sperber
  58. Miguel A. Figueroa-Villanueva
  59. Mikael Fornius
  60. Nathan Neff
  61. Nicolas Goaziou
  62. Niels Giessen
  63. Noorul Islam K M
  64. Paul Sexton
  65. Peter Jones
  66. Pieter Praet
  67. Phil Jackson
  68. Philip Rooke
  69. Piotr Zielinski
  70. Puneeth Chaganti
  71. Richard Klinda
  72. Richard Riley
  73. Ross Patterson
  74. Russel Adams
  75. Sacha Chua
  76. Sebastian Rose
  77. Sebastien Vauban
  78. Sergey Litvinov
  79. Seweryn Kokot
  80. Stephen Eglen
  81. Thomas Holst
  82. Thorsten Jolitz
  83. Tassilo Horn
  84. Thomas Baumann
  85. Thomas S. Dye
  86. Tokuya Kameshima
  87. Tom Breton
  88. Tomas Hlavaty
  89. Ulf Stegemann
  90. Zhang Weize


These people have been asked to sign the papers, and they are currently considering it or a request is being processed by the FSF.

Tiny Changes

These people have submitted tiny change patches that made it into Org without FSF papers. When they submit more, we need to get papers eventually. The limit is a cumulative change of 20 non-repetitive change lines. Details are given in this document.

  1. Robert P. Goldman
  2. Andy Lutomirski
  3. Adam Spiers

(this list may be incomplete - please help to complete it)

No FSF assignment

These people cannot or prefer to not sign the FSF copyright papers, and we can only accept patches that do not change the core files (the ones that are also in Emacs).

Luckily, this list is still empty.