Support and Development

To get help using the synced_collections package, join the signac Slack workspace or send an email to

The synced_collections package is hosted on GitHub and licensed under the open-source BSD 3-Clause license. Please use the repository’s issue tracker to report bugs or request new features.

Code contributions

This project is open-source. Users are highly encouraged to contribute directly by implementing new features and fixing issues. Development for packages as part of the signac framework should follow the general development guidelines outlined here.

A brief summary of contributing guidelines are outlined in the file as part of the repository. All contributors must agree to the Contributor Agreement before their pull request can be merged.

Set up a development environment

Start by forking the project.

We highly recommend to setup a dedicated development environment, for example with venv:

~ $ python -m venv ~/envs/synced_collections-dev
~ $ source ~/envs/synced_collections-dev/bin/activate
(synced_collections-dev) ~ $ pip install pre-commit

or alternatively with conda:

~ $ conda create -n synced_collections-dev -c conda-forge python=3 pre-commit
~ $ conda activate synced_collections-dev

Then clone your fork and install the package from source with:

(synced_collections-dev) ~ $ cd path/to/my/fork/of/synced_collections
(synced_collections-dev) synced_collections $ pip install -e .

The -e option stands for editable, which means that the package is directly loaded from the source code repository. That means any changes made to the source code are immediately reflected upon reloading the Python interpreter.

The pre-commit tool is used to enforce code style guidelines. To install the tool and configure pre-commit hooks, execute:

(synced_collections-dev) synced_collections $ pip install pre-commit
(synced_collections-dev) synced_collections $ pre-commit install

With the pre-commit hook, your code will be checked for syntax and style before you make a commit. The continuous integration pipeline for the package will perform these checks as well, so running these tests before committing / pushing will prevent the pipeline from failing due to style-related issues.

The development workflow

Prior to working on a patch, it is advisable to create an issue that describes the problem or proposed feature. This means that the code maintainers and other users get a chance to provide some input on the scope and possible limitations of the proposed changes, as well as advise on the actual implementation.

All code changes should be developed within a dedicated git branch and must all be related to each other. Unrelated changes, such as minor fixes to unrelated bugs encountered during implementation, spelling errors, and similar typographical mistakes must be developed within a separate branch.

Branches should be named after the following pattern: <prefix>/issue-<#>-optional-short-description. Choose from one of the following prefixes depending on the type of change:

  • fix/: Any changes that fix the code and documentation.

  • feature/: Any changes that introduce a new feature.

  • release/: Reserved for release branches.

If your change does not seem to fall into any of the above mentioned categories, use misc/.

Once you are content with your changes, push the new branch to your forked repository and create a pull request into the main repository. Feel free to push a branch before completion to get input from the maintainers and other users, but make sure to add a comment that clarifies that the branch is not ready for merge yet.


Prior to fixing an issue, implement unit tests that fail for the described problem. New features must be tested with unit and integration tests. To run tests, execute:

(synced_collections-dev) synced_collections $ python -m pytest tests/

Building documentation

Building documentation requires the sphinx package which you will need to install into your development environment.

(synced_collections-dev) synced_collections $ pip install Sphinx sphinx_rtd_theme

Then you can build the documentation from within the doc/ directory as part of the source code repository:

(synced_collections-dev) synced_collections $ cd doc/
(synced_collections-dev) doc $ make html


Documentation as part of the package should be largely limited to the API. More elaborate documentation on how to integrate synced_collections into a computational workflow should be documented as part of the framework documentation, which is maintained here.

Updating the changelog

To update the changelog, add a one-line description to the changelog.txt file within the next section. For example:


- Fix issue with launching rockets to the moon.

[0.6.3] -- 2018-08-22

- Fix issue related to dynamic data spaces, ...

Just add the next section in case it doesn’t exist yet.