Welcome to the Doctrine Project Contributors Guide. This documentation aims to document how contributors and maintainers should work when using git, development workflow, build process, dependency management, etc.


The Doctrine Project is the home of a selected set of PHP libraries primarily focused on providing persistence services and related functionality. Its prize projects are the Object Relational Mapper and the Database Abstraction Layer it is built on top of. You can view a list of all projects on the website.

Contributors vs Maintainers

Before continuing you need to understand the difference between a contributor and a maintainer.

  • Contributor: A contributor is someone from the outside not on the core development team of the project that wants to contribute some changes to a project.
  • Maintainer: A maintainer is someone on the core development team of the project and has commit access to the main repository of the project.

Contributor Workflow

Who is a contributor? A contributor can be anyone! It could be you. Continue reading this section if you wish to get involved and start contributing back to a Doctrine project.

Initial Setup

  • Setup a github account.
  • Fork the repository of the project you want to contribute to.
  • Clone your fork locally
$ git clone [email protected]:username/orm.git
  • Enter the orm directory and add the doctrine remote
$ cd orm
$ git remote add doctrine git://
  • Adjust your branch to track the doctrine master remote branch, by default it'll track your origin remote's master:
$ git config branch.master.remote doctrine

Keeping your master up-to-date!

Once all this is done, you'll be able to keep your local master up to date with the simple command:

$ git checkout master
$ git pull --rebase

Alternatively, you can synchronize your master from any branch with the full fetch/rebase syntax:

$ git fetch doctrine
$ git rebase doctrine/master master

Using rebase pull will do a rebase instead of a merge, which will keep a linear history with no unnecessary merge commits. It'll also rewind, apply and then reapply your commits at the HEAD.

Branching Model

The following names will be used to differentiate between the different repositories:

  • doctrine - The "official" Doctrine repository
  • origin - Your fork of the official repository on github
  • local - This will be your local clone of origin

As a contributor you will push your completed local topic branch to origin. As a contributor you will pull updates from doctrine. As a maintainer (write-access) you will merge branches from contributors into doctrine.

Primary Branches

The doctrine repository holds the following primary branches:

  • doctrine/master Development towards the next release.
  • doctrine/\* Maintenance branches of existing releases.

These branches exist in parallel and are defined as follows:

doctrine/master is the branch where the source code of HEAD always reflects the latest version. Each released stable version will be a tagged commit in a doctrine/\* branch. Each released unstable version will be a tagged commit in the doctrine/master branch.

NOTE You should never commit to your forked origin/master. Changes to origin/master will never be merged into doctrine/master. All work must be done in a topic branch, which are explained below.

Topic Branches

Topic branches are for contributors to develop bug fixes, new features, etc. so that they can be easily merged to master. They must follow a few simple rules as listed below:

  • May branch off from: master whenever possible, or a release branch otherwise. Keep in mind that your changes will be cherry-picked to lower branches by maintainers after the merge if they are applicable.
  • Must merge back into: master and any affected release branches that should get the same changes, but remember that release branches usually only get bug fixes, with rare exceptions.
  • Branch naming convention: anything except master or release branch names.

Topic branches are used to develop new features and fix reported issues. When starting development of a feature, the target release in which this feature will be incorporated may well be unknown. The essence of a topic branch is that it exists as long as the feature is in development, but will eventually be merged back into master or a release branch (to add the new feature or bugfix to a next release) or discarded (in case of a disappointing experiment).

Topic branches should exist in your local and origin repositories only, there is no need for them to exist in doctrine.

Working on topic branches

First create an appropriately named branch. When starting work on a new topic, branch off from doctrine/master or a doctrine/\* branch:

$ git checkout -b fix-weird-bug doctrine/master
Switched to a new branch "fix-weird-bug"

Now do some work, make some changes then commit them:

$ git status
$ git add -p
$ git commit -v

Commit messages should look like emails, meaning they should have a subject, but also a body. The subject should be on the first line, and not exceed 50 chars. It should tell us what you did, and every change in the diff should have to do with that subject. The body should be separated from it by a blank line and should tell us why you did what you did. That is also a good place to tell people about alternate solutions that were considered and the reasons for rejecting them. Links to related issues are more than welcome, but should be summarized so that the pull request can be understood without resorting to them. Ideally, the git history should be understandable without a network connection. Here is an example of a good although fictitious commit message:

Call foo::bar() instead of bar::baz()

This fixes a bug that arises when doing this or that, because baz()
needs a flux capacitor object that might not be defined.
I considered calling foobar(), but decided against because
Fixes #42

There are already a few articles (or even single purpose websites) about this in case you want to read more about this:

Next, merge or rebase your commit against doctrine/master. With your work done in a local topic branch, you'll want to assist upstream merge by rebasing your commits. You can either do this manually with fetch then rebase, or use the pull --rebase shortcut. You may encounter merge conflicts, which you should fix and then mark as fixed with add, and then continue rebasing with rebase --continue. At any stage, you can abort the rebase with rebase --abort unlike nasty merges which will leave files strewn everywhere.

$ git fetch doctrine
$ git rebase doctrine/master fix-weird-bug

or (uses tracking branch shortcuts):

$ git pull --rebase

Push your branch to origin:

Finished topic branches should be pushed to origin for a maintainer to review and pull into doctrine as appropriate:

$ git push origin fix-weird-bug
To [email protected]:hobodave/orm.git
    * [new branch]      fix-weird-bug -> fix-weird-bug

Now you are ready to send a pull request from this branch and ask for a review from a maintainer.

Topic Branch Cleanup

Once your work has been merged by the branch maintainer, it will no longer be necessary to keep the local branch or remote branch, so you can remove them!

Sync your local master:

$ git checkout master
$ git pull --rebase

Remove your local branch using -d to ensure that it has been merged by upstream. Branch -d will not delete a branch that is not an ancestor of your current head.

From the git-branch man page:

    Delete a branch. The branch must be fully merged in HEAD.
    Delete a branch irrespective of its merged status.

Remove your local branch:

$ git branch -d fix-weird-bug

Remove your remote branch at origin:

$ git push origin fix-weird-bug

Project Dependencies

Project dependencies between Doctrine projects are handled through composer. The code of the particular Doctrine project you have cloned is located under lib/Doctrine. The source code of dependencies to other projects resides under vendor/.

To bump/upgrade a dependency version you just need to update the version constraint in composer.json and run:

$ composer update

Running Tests

You must have installed the library with composer and the dev dependencies (default). To run the tests:

$ ./vendor/bin/phpunit

Security Disclosures

You can read more about how to report security issues in our Security Policy.

Maintainer Workflow

You can learn more about the maintainer workflow here. Continue reading if you are interested in learning more about how to get started with your first contribution.


The website is completely open source! If you want to learn how to contribute to the Doctrine website and documentation you can read more about it here.