Betwixt Code and Music

Use a Pull Request Template in GitHub

October 14, 20202 min read

GitHub templates are all the rage!

If you are working on a team of > 1 and want to maintain a consistent approach to pull requests (a.k.a. PRs), I highly suggest adding a template to your repositories. This will not guarantee consistency on your team’s PRs since an individual can delete the text, but it will encourage more thorough documentation. Hopefully this leads to fewer bugs in production!

How to add a template

  1. Create a folder in the root of your project named .github.
  2. Add a file named pull_request_template.md.

  3. Commit this file to the repository’s “main” branch.
  4. All new pull requests will have the template show up automatically. Devs can add/subtract around the template’s text as desired.

drumsensei’s basic template

Here is a template I use for a basic web application repository:

### Completes [Trello/Jira Story]()

--------------
# The issue

Title of Trello Card, e.g. As a user, I should be able to click the fancy button 🤓

# The solution

How did you solve the issue? Include what you changed to fix the glitch.

# Visuals

Before | After
----- | -----
A | B

# Test cases

How can we thoroughly test this? Include sign-in information, if needed.

- Get this code.
-

Break it down

Completes

Link to the original ticket here. It’s good to give a reviewer context while looking over the proposed changes in the pull request.

The issue

Provide a brief description of the issue. I usually copy over the title of the card like “As a user, I should be able to click the fancy button”.

The solution

Explain the approach being used in the proposed changes. Provide useful links to library documentation, GitHub issues, stack overflow posts, etc. to back up your research. Be thorough.

Visuals

If necessary, provide before and after images/gifs. Future-you will appreciate this when searching back through older pull requests to quickly find when a change was made.

Test cases

Give the reviewer sign in information and scenarios needed to test the proposed changes. Writing this section should make the developer think through every scenario. More than once I have gotten to this point of my draft pull request only to realize that I left off my own testing for a scenario. Be as thorough as possible.

Wrapping up

If you want to increase consistent documentation on your team’s pull requests, please consider adding a template. I have found it to be helpful on the projects where I work with other people.


Michael D. Mathew.

Written by Mike Mathew who lives and works in Dallas building useful things. Sometimes he tweets.

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