BrainGlobe version 1 is here! Head over to the blog to find out more

Developer’s guide#


Contributors to BrainGlobe are absolutely encouraged, whether to fix a bug, develop a new feature, or add a new atlas.

There are many BrainGlobe repositories, so it may not be obvious where a new contribution should go. If you’re unsure about any part of the contributing process, please get in touch.

The best place for questions about contributing is probably the BrainGlobe Zulip chat. You are furthermore welcome to join the bi-weekly developer meetings and contribute items to the agenda - check out the developer-meeting stream on Zulip (requires sign-up) for more information.

If for any reason, you’d rather not reach out in public, feel free to send a direct message on Zulip to Adam Tyson, one of the core developers.

Some of our tools have additional information about how data files are organised, where user caches are placed, and similar. You can view these repositories and the relevant information by heading to the specific repository developer docs page.


Reviewing code can take a long time, and the BrainGlobe team are usually pretty busy. We’ll try to review your contributions as soon as we can, but it can sometimes take a few weeks. We will always get back to you though!

To contribute a new atlas#

To add a new BrainGlobe atlas, please see the guide here.

To contribute code#

Before contributing code, it may be useful to familiarise yourself with the introduction to the BrainGlobe code for developers as well as the testing, developer tooling and conventions sections.

The core development team will support you in contributing code, irrespective of your experience. To ensure BrainGlobe remains easy-to-maintain, they will help ensure all code contributions meet a high standard.

Creating a development environment#

It is recommended to use a recent version of conda to install a development environment for BrainGlobe projects (conda versions >=23.10.0 will significantly speed up installation time). Once you have conda installed, the following commands will create and activate a conda environment with the requirements needed for a development environment:

conda create -n brainglobe-dev -c conda-forge python=3.10 napari
conda activate brainglobe-dev

This installs packages that often can’t be installed via pip, including pyqt. The specific version of Python is chosen to allow TensorFlow to be installed on macOS arm64 machines.

To install a specific BrainGlobe project for development, clone the GitHub repository, and then run

pip install -e .[dev]

Or if using zsh:

pip install -e '.[dev]'

from inside the repository. This will install the package, its dependencies, and its development dependencies.

Pull requests#

In all cases, please submit code to the main repository via a pull request. The developers recommend, and adhere, to the following conventions:

  • Please submit draft pull requests as early as possible (you can still push to the branch once submitted) to allow for discussion.

  • One approval of a PR (by a repo owner) is enough for it to be merged.

  • Unless someone approves the PR with optional comments, the PR is immediately merged by the approving reviewer.

  • Please merge via “Squash and Merge” on GitHub to maintain a clean commit history.

  • Ask for a review from someone specific if you think they would be a particularly suited reviewer (possibly noting why they are suited on the PR description)

To improve the documentation#

Documentation for BrainGlobe is very important because it is aimed at researchers who may not have much computational experience. In particular:

  • Installation, although simple via PyPI, assumes a lot (e.g. functional Python installation, CUDA installation etc.).

  • There are a lot of parameters that can be changed, and their impact on the final results is not always obvious.

  • It is not immediately obvious how to use the results of the pipeline to answer the particular biological question.

For these reasons (and others) every part of all software must be documented as well as possible, and all new features must be fully documented.

Editing the documentation#

The documentation is hosted using GitHub Pages, and the source can be found at GitHub. Most content is found under docs/source, where the structure mostly mirrors the rendered website. To edit a page, please:

  • Fork the repository

  • Make edits to the relevant pages

  • Create a pull request outlining the changes made

If you aren’t sure where the changes should be made, please get in touch.

Further information#