Code review process

Code is reviewed for acceptance by at least one core team member (later referred to as committers), but comments and suggestions from others are encouraged and welcome.


This process aims to:

  • provide timely and actionable feedback on every submission,

  • make sure incoming PRs are handled efficiently, and

  • get PRs accepted within a reasonable time frame.

Asking for help

Cloud-init contributors, community members and users are encouraged to ask for help if they need it. If you have questions about the code review process, or need advice on an open PR, these are the available avenues:

These are listed in order of our preference, but please use whichever of them you are most comfortable with.

Role definitions

There are three roles involved in code reviews:

  • Proposer

    The person(s) submitting the PR

  • Reviewer

    A person who is reviewing the PR

  • Committer

    A cloud-init core developer (i.e., someone with permission to merge PRs into main)

PR acceptance conditions

Before a PR can be accepted and merged into main (“landed”), the following conditions must be met:

  • The CLA must be signed by the proposer (unless the proposer is covered by an entity-level CLA signature),

  • All required status checks must be passing,

  • At least one “Approve” review must be given by a committer, and

  • No “Request changes” reviews from a committer can be outstanding.

The following conditions should be met:

  • Any Python functions/methods/classes have docstrings added/updated,

  • Any changes to config module behaviour are captured in that module’s documentation,

  • Any Python code added has corresponding unit tests, and

  • No “Request changes” reviews from any reviewer are outstanding.

These conditions can be relaxed at the discretion of the committers on a case-by-case basis. For accountability, this should not be the decision of a single committer, and the decision should be documented in comments on the PR.

To take a specific example, the cc_phone_home module had no tests at the time PR #237 was submitted, so the proposer was not expected to write a full set of tests for their minor modification, but they were expected to update the config module docs.

Non-committer reviews

Reviews from non-committer reviewers are always welcome. Please feel empowered to review PRs and leave your thoughts and comments on any submitted PR, regardless of the proposer.

Much of the below process is written in terms of the committers. This does not mean that reviews should only come from that group, but rather acknowledges that we are ultimately responsible for maintaining the standards of the codebase. It is reasonable (and very welcome) for a reviewer to only examine part of a PR, but a committer must not merge a PR without full scrutiny.

Opening phase

Proposer opens a PR

In this phase, the proposer opens a pull request and needs to ensure they meet the criteria laid out above. If they need help understanding or meeting these criteria, then they can (and should!) ask for help.

CI runs automatically

  • If CI fails:

    The proposer is expected to fix CI failures. If they don’t understand the failures, they should comment on the PR to ask for help (or use another way of Asking for help). If they don’t ask for help, the committers will assume the proposer is working on addressing the failures.

  • If CI passes:

    Move on to the review phase.

Review phase

In this phase, the proposer and the reviewers will work iteratively together to get the PR merged into the cloud-init codebase.

There are three potential outcomes: merged, rejected permanently, and temporarily closed. The first two are covered in this section; see the inactive pull requests section for details about temporary closure.

A committer is assigned

The committers assign a committer to the PR. This committer is expected to shepherd the PR to completion (and to merge it, if that is the outcome reached).

They perform an initial review, and monitor the PR to ensure the proposer is receiving help if they need it. The committers perform this assignment on a regular basis for any new PRs submitted.

Committer’s initial review

The assigned committer performs an initial review of the PR, resulting in one of the following.


If the submitted PR meets all of the PR acceptance conditions and passes code review, then the committer will squash merge immediately.

Sometimes, a PR should not be merged immediately. The wip label will be applied to PRs for which this is true. Only committers are able to apply labels to PRs, so anyone who thinks this label should be applied to a PR should request it in a comment on the PR.

  • The review process is DONE.

Approve (with nits)

A “nit” is understood to be something like a minor style issue or a spelling error, generally confined to a single line of code.

If the proposer submits their PR with “Allow edits from maintainer” enabled, and the only changes the committer requests are minor nits, the committer can push fixes for those nits and immediately squash merge.

If the committer does not wish to fix these nits but believes they should block a straightforward Approve, then their review should be Needs Changes instead.

If a committer is unsure whether their requested change is a nit, they should not treat it as a nit.

If a proposer wants to opt-out of this, they should uncheck “Allow edits from maintainer” when submitting their PR.

  • The review process is DONE.

Outright rejection

The committer will close the PR with a message for the proposer to explain why.

This is reserved for cases where the proposed change is unfit for landing and there is no reasonable path forward. This should only be used sparingly, as there are very few cases where proposals are completely unfit.

If a different approach to the same problem is planned, it should be submitted as a separate PR. The committer should include this information in their message when the PR is closed.

  • The review process is DONE.

Needs Changes

The committer will give the proposer clear feedback on what is needed for an Approve vote or, for more complex PRs, what the next steps towards an Approve vote are.

The proposer can ask questions if they don’t understand, or disagree with, the committer’s review comments.

Once agreement has been reached, the proposer will address the review comments.

Once the review comments are addressed, CI will run. If CI fails, the proposer is expected to fix any CI failures. If CI passes, the proposer should indicate that the PR is ready for re-review (by @ mentioning the assigned reviewer), effectively moving back to the start of the Review phase.

Inactive pull requests

PRs will be temporarily closed if they have been waiting on proposer action for a certain amount of time without activity. A PR will be marked as stale (with an explanatory comment) after 14 days of inactivity.

It will be closed after a further 7 days of inactivity.

These closes are not considered permanent, and the closing message should reflect this for the proposer. However, if a PR is re-opened, it should effectively re-enter the Opening phase, as it may need some work done to get CI passing again.