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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. Abdó Roig-Maranges
  2. Achim Gratz
  3. Adam Elliott
  4. Adam Spiers
  5. Alan Schmitt
  6. Andreas Burtzlaff
  7. Andreas Leha
  8. Andrew Hyatt
  9. Andrzej Lichnerowicz
  10. Andy Steward
  11. Anthony John Day
  12. Anthony Lander
  13. Baoqiu Cui
  14. Barry Leonard Gidden
  15. Bastien Guerry
  16. Benjamin Andresen
  17. Bernd Grobauer
  18. Bernt Hansen
  19. Brian James Gough
  20. Carsten Dominik
  21. Charles Sebold
  22. Christian Egli
  23. Christian Moe
  24. Christopher League
  25. Christopher Miles Gray
  26. Christopher Schmidt
  27. Christopher Suckling
  28. Dan Davison
  29. Daniel M German
  30. Daniel M. Hackney
  31. David Maus
  32. David O'Toole
  33. Dmitry Antipov
  34. Eric S. Fraga
  35. Eric Schulte
  36. Erik Iverson
  37. Ethan Ligon
  38. Feng Shu
  39. Gary Oberbrunner
  40. George Kettleborough
  41. Giovanni Ridolfi
  42. Grégoire Jadi (aka Daimrod)
  43. Henning Dietmar Weiss
  44. Ian Barton
  45. Ilya Shlyakhter
  46. Ippei Furuhashi
  47. James TD Smith
  48. Jan Böcker
  49. Jarmo Hurri
  50. Jason Riedy
  51. Jeffrey Ryan Horn
  52. Joel Boehland
  53. John Wiegley
  54. Jonas Bernoulli
  55. Jonathan Leech-Pepin
  56. Juan Pechiar
  57. Julian Gehring
  58. Julien Barnier
  59. Julien Danjou
  60. Justus Piater
  61. Konstantin Antipin
  62. Lawrence Mitchell
  63. Le Wang
  64. Lennart Borgman
  65. Luis Anaya
  66. Lukasz Stelmach
  67. Madan Ramakrishnan
  68. Magnus Henoch
  69. Manuel Giraud
  70. Martin Pohlack
  71. Martyn Jago
  72. Matt Lundin
  73. Max Mikhanosha
  74. Michael Brand
  75. Michael Gauland
  76. Michael Sperber
  77. Miguel A. Figueroa-Villanueva
  78. Mikael Fornius
  79. Moritz Ulrich
  80. Nathan Neff
  81. Nicolas Goaziou
  82. Nicolas Richard
  83. Niels Giessen
  84. Noorul Islam K M
  85. Paul Sexton
  86. Peter Jones
  87. Phil Jackson
  88. Philip Rooke
  89. Pieter Praet
  90. Piotr Zielinski
  91. Puneeth Chaganti
  92. Richard Klinda
  93. Richard Riley
  94. Rick Frankel
  95. Ross Patterson
  96. Russel Adams
  97. Ryo Takaishi
  98. Sacha Chua
  99. Sebastian Rose
  100. Sebastien Vauban
  101. Sergey Litvinov
  102. Seweryn Kokot
  103. Stephen Eglen
  104. Tassilo Horn
  105. Thomas Baumann
  106. Thomas Holst
  107. Thomas S. Dye
  108. Thorsten Jolitz
  109. Toby Cubitt
  110. Tokuya Kameshima
  111. Tom Breton
  112. Tomas Hlavaty
  113. Tony Day
  114. Ulf Stegemann
  115. Yann Hodique
  116. 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.

  • Bill Wishon
  • Samuel Loury (as of 2013-01-14)
  • Francesco Pizzolante (as of 2013-01-31)

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. Alan Schmitt
  2. Andy Lutomirski
  3. Ivan Vilata i Balaguer
  4. John Foerch
  5. Myles English
  6. Rafael Laboissiere
  7. Robert P. Goldman
  8. Muchenxuan Tong

(This list may be incomplete - please help completing 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.