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This contributing guide has been derived from the tidyverse boilerplate. Where it seems over the top, common sense is appreciated, and every contribution is appreciated.

Non-technical contributions to ruODK

Feel free to report issues:

  • Bug reports are for unplanned malfunctions.
  • Feature requests are for ideas and new features.
  • Account requests are for getting access to the ODK Central instances run by DBCA (DBCA campaigns only) or the CI server (contributors, to run tests).

Technical contributions to ruODK

If you would like to contribute to the code base, follow the process below.

This explains how to propose a change to ruODK via a pull request using Git and GitHub.

For more general info about contributing to ruODK, see the Resources at the end of this document.


To test the package, you will need valid credentials for the ODK Central instance used as a test server. Create an account request issue.

Before you do a pull request, you should always file an issue and make sure the maintainers agree that it is a problem, and is happy with your basic proposal for fixing it. If you have found a bug, follow the issue template to create a minimal reprex.


Some changes have intricate internal and external dependencies, which are easy to miss and break. These checklists aim to avoid these pitfalls.

Test and update reverse dependencies (wastdr, etlTurtleNesting, etc.).

Adding a dependency

  • Update GH Actions install workflows - do R package deps have system deps? Can GHA install them in all environments?
  • Update Dockerfile
  • Update binder install.R
  • Update installation instructions

Renaming a vignette

  • Search-replace all links to the vignette throughout
    • ruODK,
    • ODK Central “OData” modal
    • ODK Central docs

Adding or updating a test form

  • Update tests
  • Update examples
  • Update packaged data if test form submissions are included
  • Add new cassette to vcr cache for each test using the test form

Adding or updating package data

  • Update tests using the package data
  • Update examples
  • Update README if showing package data

Adding a settings variable

  • Update ru_setup, ru_settings, update and add to settings tests
  • Update .Renviron
  • Update GitHub secrets
  • Update tic.yml (add new env vars)
  • Update vignette “Setup”

PR process

Fork, clone, branch

The first thing you’ll need to do is to fork the ruODK GitHub repo, and then clone it locally. We recommend that you create a branch for each PR.


Before changing anything, make sure the package still passes the below listed flavours of R CMD check locally for you.

goodpractice::goodpractice(quiet = FALSE)
devtools::check(cran = TRUE, remote = TRUE, incoming = TRUE)
chk <- rcmdcheck::rcmdcheck(args = c("--as-cran"))


Match the existing code style. This means you should follow the tidyverse style guide. Use the styler package to apply the style guide automatically.

Be careful to only make style changes to the code you are contributing. If you find that there is a lot of code that doesn’t meet the style guide, it would be better to file an issue or a separate PR to fix that first.

devtools::document(roclets = c("rd", "collate", "namespace"))
spelling::spell_check_files("README.Rmd", lang = "en_AU")


We use roxygen2, specifically with the Markdown syntax, to create NAMESPACE and all .Rd files. All edits to documentation should be done in roxygen comments above the associated function or object. Then, run devtools::document() to rebuild the NAMESPACE and .Rd files.

See the RoxygenNote in DESCRIPTION for the version of roxygen2 being used.

spelling::spell_check_files("README.Rmd", lang = "en_AU")
if (fs::file_info("")$modification_time <
  fs::file_info("README.Rmd")$modification_time) {
  rmarkdown::render("README.Rmd", encoding = "UTF-8", clean = TRUE)
  if (fs::file_exists("README.html")) fs::file_delete("README.html")


We use testthat. Contributions with test cases are easier to review and verify.

To run tests and build the vignettes, you’ll need access to the ruODK test server. If you haven’t got an account yet, create an accont request issue to request access to this ODK Central instance.

The tests require the following additions to your .Renviron:

# ODK Test server

# Your ruODK default settings for everyday use

Keep in mind that ruODK defaults to use ODKC_{URL,UN,PW}, so for everyday use outside of contributing, you will want to use your own ODKC_{URL,UN,PW} account credentials.



For user-facing changes, add a bullet to that concisely describes the change. Small tweaks to the documentation do not need a bullet. The format should include your GitHub username, and links to relevant issue(s)/PR(s), as seen below.

* `function_name()` followed by brief description of change (#issue-num, @your-github-user-name)


Before submitting your changes, make sure that the package either still passes R CMD check, or that the warnings and/or notes have not changed as a result of your edits.

goodpractice::goodpractice(quiet = FALSE)


When you’ve made your changes, write a clear commit message describing what you’ve done. If you’ve fixed or closed an issue, make sure to include keywords (e.g. fixes #101) at the end of your commit message (not in its title) to automatically close the issue when the PR is merged.

Push and pull

Once you’ve pushed your commit(s) to a branch in your fork, you’re ready to make the pull request. Pull requests should have descriptive titles to remind reviewers/maintainers what the PR is about. You can easily view what exact changes you are proposing using either the Git diff view in RStudio, or the branch comparison view you’ll be taken to when you go to create a new PR. If the PR is related to an issue, provide the issue number and slug in the description using auto-linking syntax (e.g. #15).

Check the docs

Double check the output of the rOpenSci documentation CI for any breakages or error messages.

Review, revise, repeat

The latency period between submitting your PR and its review may vary. When a maintainer does review your contribution, be sure to use the same conventions described here with any revision commits.


Code of Conduct

Please note that this project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By participating in this project you agree to abide by its terms.

Maintaining ruODK

The steps to prepare a new ruODK release are in data-raw/make_release.R. It is not necessary to run them as a contributor, but immensely convenient for the maintainer to have them there in one place.

Package maintenance

The code steps run by the package maintainer to prepare a release live at data-raw/make_release.R. Being an R file, rather than a Markdown file like this document, makes it easier to execute individual lines.

Pushing the Docker image requires privileged access to the Docker repository.