Contributing to Theia

We welcome and encourage contributions to Theia, whether they are new features, bug fixes or tests. The Theia mailing list is the best place for all development related discussions. Please consider joining it. If you have an idea for how you’d like to contribute to Theia, please consider emailing the list first to voice your idea. We can help you fine-tune your idea and this will also help avoid duplicate work by somebody else who may be working on the same feature.

Style and Testing

We follow Google’s C++ Style Guide and use git for version control. We use Gerrit to review changes before commits. The git repository has been set up with GerritHub so that the repository lives in GitHub, but all reviews are performed with Gerrit.

When contributing substantial new code or bug fixes, please add unit tests to ensure the usage of the code (or to prove the bug is fixed!).


We use CMake to generate makefiles for Theia to maximize the cross-platform usability. If you need to add a new library or a new file to Theia, you will likely need to add that file to the CMakeLists.txt in src/theia (along with a unit test!).

Developing for Theia

Much of the instructions that follow in this section were borrowed and modified from the Ceres Solver project.

  1. Download and configure git.

    • Mac brew install git.
    • Linux sudo apt-get install git.
    • Windows. Download msysgit, which includes a minimal Cygwin install.
  2. Sign up for a GitHub account. Accounts are free to register.

  3. Clone the Theia git repository from GerritHub.

    git clone
  4. Build Theia, following the instructions in Building Theia Library.

    On Mac and Linux, the CMake build will download and enable the Gerrit pre-commit hook automatically. This pre-submit hook creates Change-Id: ... lines in your commits.

    If this does not work OR you are on Windows, execute the following in the root directory of the local git repository:

    curl -o .git/hooks/commit-msg
    chmod +x .git/hooks/commit-msg
  5. Configure your GerritHub password.

Sign into, go to Settings then HTTP Password. If no password exists, select Generate Password. The username and password listed on this page will need to be entered when pushing your changes to the repo for review (see instructions below).

Submitting a change to Theia

  1. Make your changes against master or whatever branch you like. Commit your changes as one patch. This is critical for the review process; if you submit a change with multiple commits, each commit will become a separate review in Gerrit.

  2. Push your changes to the Theia GerritHub instance:

    git push origin HEAD:refs/for/master

    You will likely have to enter your GerritHub username and password. When the push succeeds, the console will display a URL showing the address of the review. Go to the URL and add reviewers; at this point this is only Chris.

  3. Wait for a review.

  4. Once review comments come in, address them. Please reply to each comment in Gerrit, which makes the re-review process easier. After modifying the code in your git instance, don’t make a new commit. Instead, update the last commit using a command like the following:

    git commit --amend -a

    This will update the last commit, so that it has both the original patch and your updates as a single commit. You will have a chance to edit the commit message as well. Push the new commit to Gerrit as before.

    Gerrit will use the Change-Id: to match the previous commit with the new one. The review interface retains your original patch, but also shows the new patch.

    Publish your responses to the comments, and wait for a new round of reviews.

  5. Before submitting, make sure you are synced to the latest commit in the repo. To do this, simply run the command:

    git pull --rebase origin master

    This will pull the latest changes without interfering with your current patch.