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Contributing to elapid

Contributions to elapid are welcome, particularly from biogeographers, regular geographers, and machine teachers. You're welcome to fix bugs, add new features, expand or clarify documentation, or posit outlandish new modeling approaches.

All contributions should go through the GitHub repository. Bug reports, ideas, and questions should be raised by opening an issue on the GitHub tracker. Suggestions for changes in code or documentation should be submitted as a pull request. All discussion should take place on GitHub to keep the development of elapid transparent.

If you decide to contribute, ensure that you're using an up-to-date main branch. The latest development version will always be there, including the documentation.

Steps for contributing

  1. Fork the git repository
  2. Create a development environment & install dependencies
  3. Create a new branch, make changes to code & add tests
  4. Update the docs
  5. Submit a pull request

Fork the git repository

You will need your own fork to work on the code. Go to the elapid project page and hit the Fork button. You will want to clone your fork to your machine:

git clone elapid-YOURNAME
cd elapid-YOURNAME
git remote add upstream git://

This creates the directory elapid-YOURNAME and connects your repository to the upstream (main project) elapid repository.

Create a development environment & install dependencies

A development environment is a virtual space where you can keep an independent elapid install. This makes it easy to keep both a stable version in one place you use for work, and a development version (which you may break while playing with code) in another. First, you should:

Linux and Mac users can then create the development environment with:

make init

This will create a conda environment named elapid then install the package, it's dependencies, pre-commit & pytest.

Windows users need to do things a bit differently, as is often the case:

conda create -n elapid -python=3.8 -y
activate elapid
conda install geopandas rasterio scikit-learn tqdm pre-commit pytest pytest-cov pytest-xdist
pre-commit install
pip install -e .

This library uses black, flake8 and isort pre-commit hooks. You should be familiar with pre-commit before contributing.

Create a new branch, make changes to code & add tests

Make changes to the code on a separate branch to keep you main branch clean:

git checkout -b shiny-new-feature

Make changes to your code and write tests as you go. Write clear, self-documenting code to spend more time developing and less time describing how the code works.

If your branch is no longer up-to-date with main, run the following code to update it:

git fetch upstream
git rebase upstream/main

Testing is done with pytest, which you can run with either:

# for linux/mac
make test

# for windows
pytest -x -n auto --cov --no-cov-on-fail --cov-report=term-missing:skip-covered

Update the docs

There are two places to update docs. One is required (docstrings), the other optional (mkdocs web documentation).

Adding docstrings to each new function/class is required. elapid uses Google-style docstrings and, when you contribute to it, you should too. mkdocs automatically renders the API docs for all functions written with this style, so you don't need to re-document each function outside of the code.

If your code contributes important new features, or introduces novel/interesting concepts, write new documentation in the docs/ directory. The docs system is managed by mkdocs, which renders from Markdown.

You can install mkdocs and the associated plugins with:

pip install mkdocs mkdocs-material mkdocstrings[python] mkdocs-jupyter livereload

Then you can render the docs locally with:

mkdocs serve

Submit a pull request

Once you’ve made changes and pushed them to your forked repository, you then submit a pull request to have them integrated into the elapid code base.

For more information, you can find a PR tutorial in GitHub’s Help Docs.

Thanks, and happy mapping!