One of the greatest features of Gitorious is the merge requests, we think it’s a pretty sweet way of wrapping up the whole communication and management aspect of accepting contributions for your project. The StatusNet project makes good use of the merge requests, as does Nokias Qt project where each merge request is carefully reviewed by the staff.
The last part there is the keyword for our newest feature.
Code review made easy
A couple of months ago we made it possible to update a merge request with new commits after it has been submitted to the target repository (described in a separate post)
As a Gitorious user you can now push new commits to a hidden branch in the target repository, creating a new version of the merge request. This way the owner(s) of the repository you want your feature to appear in can give you feedback on your contribution and ask you to make changes so that your contribution meets the coding style, test practices, translation requirements etc. of the project owner.
Yesterday we rolled out a new feature making it even easier to comment on specific portions of the code; inline commenting. By clicking and dragging on the changed line numbers in the diffs you can now enter a comment directly under the code which makes it much easier to perform code reviews of incoming patches. There should be nothing negative about code reviews, it’s all about improving code, not knocking it down. As a contributor you get feedback on your submissions and might just learn a few things and as a project maintainer you get to educate your community and get better patches.
Existing comments are enumerated next to the line numbers, clicking the number will show all the comments for the affected lines and hovering over a comment will highlight the lines the comment is about.
if a merge request has lots of inline comments, we also list them all below the diffs in the normal comments list, together with comments for the merge request as a whole, displayed together with the diff. This makes it easy to just scroll through the comments and see what changes they’re discussing.
We’ll be adding this feature to the normal commit diffs soon as well, but we really love this feature already and it’s an important step in improving the merge requests, and we know you’ll find it useful as well.