RDFLib developers guide


This document describes the process and conventions to follow when developing RDFLib code.

Please be as Pythonic as possible (PEP 8).

Code will occasionally be auto-formatted using autopep8 - you can also do this yourself.

Any new functionality being added to RDFLib should have doc tests and unit tests. Tests should be added for any functionality being changed that currently does not have any doc tests or unit tests. And all the tests should be run before committing changes to make sure the changes did not break anything.

If you add a new cool feature, consider also adding an example in ./examples

Running tests

Run tests with nose:

Specific tests can either be run by module name or file name. For example:

$ python run_tests.py --tests rdflib.graph
$ python run_tests.py --tests test/test_graph.py

Writing documentation

We use sphinx for generating HTML docs, see Writing RDFLib Documentation

Continous Integration

We used Travis for CI, see:

If you make a pull-request to RDFLib on GitHub, travis will automatically test you code.


RDFLib>=3.X tries to be compatible with python versions 2.5 - 3

Some of the limitations we’ve come across:

  • Python 2.5/2.6 has no abstract base classes from collections, such MutableMap, etc.
  • 2.5/2.6 No skipping tests using unittest, i.e. TestCase.skipTest and decorators are missing => use nose instead
  • no str.decode('string-escape') in py3
  • no json module in 2.5 (install simplejson instead)
  • no ordereddict in 2.5/2.6 (install ordereddict module)
  • collections.Counter was added in 2.6


Set to-be-released version number in rdflib/__init__.py and README.md. Check date in LICENSE.

Add CHANGELOG.md entry.

Commit this change. It’s preferable make the release tag via https://github.com/RDFLib/rdflib/releases/new :: Our Tag versions aren’t started with ‘v’, so just use a plain 4.2.0 like version. Release title is like “RDFLib 4.2.0”, the description a copy of your CHANGELOG.md entry. This gives us a nice release page like this:: https://github.com/RDFLib/rdflib/releases/tag/4.2.0

If for whatever reason you don’t want to take this approach, the old one is:

Tagging the release commit with::

  git tag -a -m 'tagged version' X.X.X

When pushing, remember to do::

  git push --tags

No matter how you create the release tag, remember to upload tarball to pypi with:

python setup.py sdist upload

Set new dev version number in the above locations, i.e. next release -dev: 2.4.1-dev and commit again.

Update the topic of #rdflib on freenode irc:

/msg ChanServ topic #rdflib https://github.com/RDFLib/rdflib | latest stable version: 4.2.0 | docs: http://rdflib.readthedocs.org