Contribution Guide


Contribution Guide

Hey, you are interested in contributing to the web-page of HIFIS Software? That is great, your help is much appreciated! Please take some time to read about the Coding Guidelines and Best Practices that were agreed upon. If you have questions do not hesitate to contact a group member of the development team. Also, we are happy to learn what you think about this web-page and get feedback regarding how to improve its appearance and content.

Note: In case you are just interested to know how to contribute with a blog post to HIFIS Software web-page you can find a blog post explaining the suggested workflow in the blog post section of the web-page.

Contribution Workflow

Workflow in a Nutshell

1. Open an Issue, Share and Discuss the Topic

Once you come up with an idea about how to contribute to HIFIS Software web-page you can open a GitLab Issue and describe the bug you would like to fix, the feature you want to code or the refactoring, testing or other quality assurance measures you would like to implement.

Important: Of course you need your own GitLab account of the HZDR GitLab instance to do so as well as being added as a group member to the development team.

Note: At this point in time you would like to know more about the branching model GitLab Flow that is supported by GitLab and the User-Interfaces of GitLab.

2. Contribute with your Developments

As soon as you would like to get to work you need to create your own Git-branch. Please give the branch a meaningful name according to the pattern <issue-number>-<branch-name>. It is good practice to check your code with static code checking tools regularly as well as writing unit tests for your code. Furthermore, when having unit tests in place as a safe guard you can start refactoring your code to make it more readable, reusable, testable, maintainable without changing the actual functionality of your code. Each Git-push to the remote Git repository will start a so called GitLab CI Pipeline to check that everything still works as intended.

3. The Review Process to Improve your Developments

To enter the review process you need to open a GitLab Merge Request and assign it to your primary reviewer. Give the merge request a meaningful title and description and reference the original issue by stating Closes #<issue-number>. in the description. If applicable, give the title a name starting with [WIP] to indicate that you are still working on it. This allows previews and runs the GitLab CI/CD pipeline on your commits. Also, set the Progress::CanReview label for the merge request, so the others know you want to have it reviewed.

Please feel free to use GitLab’s Review Apps functionality to view and test your branch. It is an easy way to inspect your changes in a test / staging environment as well as involve external reviewers into the project. When pushing your branch onto the remote repository your branch is automatically deployed to Review Apps. You can preview your latest deployments of your branch by clicking the button View app in the User-Interface of your Merge Request. Alternatively, for branch master you can open the External URL in your browser by yourself: (The automatically generated External URLs for all other branches contain an additional sequence of numbers, lower case letters and dashes as an URL-friendly replacement of the branch name given.)

You need to authenticate to access these pages. The credentials are as follows: Username: hifis, Password: HIFISReview!.

Note: Make sure that the corresponding GitLab CI Pipeline finished successfully after pushing your changes to the remote repository, otherwise the changes to your branch will not yet be deployed to Review Apps as a new version.

After opening a Merge Request discuss the changes suggested by your reviewers in dedicated discussion threads in GitLab and agree upon how to integrate these suggestions into your code to improve your developments.

Important: Please do not rely on contributions that are not reviewed or that are only reviewed by yourself. This is an important quality gate.

After integration has been done and GitLab CI Pipeline finishes successfully you are nearly crossing the finishing line.

4. Integrate your Developments

Once all discussion threads are resolved and the GitLab CI Pipeline finishes successfully the primary reviewer can merge your branch into branch master. Be sure, we appreciate your contribution very much and thank you for the great collaboration.

Code Guidelines and Best Practices

Common Style Guides

If you are about to contribute to this web-site we recommend to adhere to common style guides for each language used. Since we are using Jekyll to generate static web sites we mostly stick to Markdown / Kramdown, HTML, CSS / SCSS and JavaScript. Jekyll itself is written in Ruby.

The following common style guides for each language used are just a suggestion. We do not expect from you to rigorously comply to these style guides. Nonetheless, they are a good starting point for contributions according to Best Practices:

A first reference point is the Google Markdown Style Guide. The Google HTML/CSS Style Guide. is another good reference point if you are about to write HTML and CSS. In order to generate CSS from SCSS there are the SASS Style Rules as well. In terms of Javascript there is the Google JavaScript Style Guide. In the very unlikely case you are contributing to Jekyll or write your own Jekyll plugins you should read also the Ruby Style Guide.

This is a lot to read at the first glance, but it essentially saves you and us time if you try to take these rules into account right from the beginning, since these rule violations might come up during the review process anyway.

Style Checking Tools

Due to the fact that style guides are quite complex and to adhere to them is a difficult task we recommend to consult dedicated tools to do the checking for you. Here comes the time saving into play.

Static Code Analysis Tool Language to Check
markdownlint Markdown
JSHint JavaScript
Rubocop Ruby


markdownlint lets you check your Markdown. It is available as CLI-tool and can be installed via npm and executed as follows:

$ npm install -g markdownlint
$ markdownlint path/to/markdown/folder/


HTML-Proofer lets you check your HTML. It is available as CLI-tool and can be installed via gem and executed as follows:

$ gem install html-proofer
$ html-proofer path/to/html/folder/


CSSLint lets you check your CSS. It is available as CLI-tool and can be installed via npm and executed as follows:

$ npm install -g csslint
$ csslint path/to/css/folder/


JSHint lets you check your JavaScript. It is available as CLI-tool and can be installed via npm and executed as follows:

$ npm install -g jshint
$ jshint path/to/js/folder/


Rubocop lets you check your Ruby code. It is available as CLI-tool and can be installed via gem and executed as follows:

$ gem install rubocop
$ rubocop path/to/ruby/code/folder/

Specific Aspects in our Style Guide

User Interaction Considerations

Offer Alternatives to Hover Interaction

Keep in mind, that mobile devices like phones or tablets usually do not have the ability to hover over an element on the website. Build alternatives for these into your CSS and make sure they are used if the display is tablet-sized or even smaller. Consult _sass/_breakpoints.scss for available breakpoints.

More detailed discussion: Hovering is considered a good method to offer additional information without forcing a context switch on the user (e.g. loading a new page or skipping to a different part of the page). Since for technical reasons this is not possible on mobile devices, an alternative has to be considered for those. The usual approach is to entice the user to click the element in question instead. To do so, it should be hinted to the user that the element is clickable. If possible, use the websites default link or button designs. In all other cases it can be achieved by either visual styling (Since you can not use hover effects, consider subtle drop shadows) or added badge icons (Inspiration).


Avoid Magic Values

Values that show up in CSS may carry a semantic meaning, e.g. colors of the color palette or device sizes. Use the provided SASS variables or named CSS values instead of hard-coding magic values. Expand the set of variables, if required. Example:

@import "colors"
p {
    background-color: $color-helmholtz-blue;
    color: white;

instead of

p {
    background-color: #005AA0;
    color: #fff;

See the _sass folder for definitions, grouped by context.


Write Comments in Liquid tags

Please use Liquid comments in your HTML files to avoid them showing up in the rendered version. Example:


instead of

    <!-- This is an HTML comment. It will be preserved and show up in the
    rendered page, cluttering and bloating the delivered code. -->

Adding Software Spotlights

If you want to add a Software Spotlight, you need to prepare the following content:

  • A preview image, preferrably a logo
  • An excerpt that will be shown in the list, between about 150 to 300 characters long
  • An explanatory paragraph that briefly explains what the software is made for, who made it, who are the users, etc.


Before you start, please make sure to add only one Spotlight per Merge Request.

  1. If you are not a member of the repository, create a fork of it in your own space.
  2. Clone the repository to your local computer and follow the instructions in the to get your local instance up and running.
  3. Create a branch for your spotlight.
  4. Navigate to /_spotlights.
  5. Create a copy of and name it after your software. The markdown file consists of two sections. It has a yaml header which is used to configure the list view on as well as the green info box on the spotlight’s page. The second section is pure markdown, and this is where the descriptive text goes. If you insert images into the paragraph section, please make sure to use the example code from the template.
  6. Follow the instructions inside the markdown file and add as much information as possible.
  7. Please use the official SPDX identifier for licenses.
  8. Please use the following paths for different images:

    Image Type Path
    Preview image /assets/img/spotlights/<name_of_spotlight>/
    Jumbotron /assets/img/jumbotrons/
    Any image in the paragraph /assets/img/spotlights/<name_of_spotlight>/
  9. Push your changes to GitLab (either your repo, or a branch in
  10. Create a new Merge Request. Below the title of the merge request, you will see a drop down list title “Description”. Please choose add_new_software_spotlight as a template. The text field below will fill with some text and instructions that will help you creating the merge request.