How to contribute

Thank you for looking in this document! There are different ways of contributing to librsvg, and we appreciate all of them.

All librsvg contributors are expected to follow GNOME’s Code of Conduct.

Source repository

Librsvg’s main source repository is at You can view the web interface here:

Development happens in the main branch. There are also branches for stable releases.

Alternatively, you can use the mirror at GitHub:

Note that we don’t do bug tracking in the GitHub mirror; see the next section.

If you need to publish a branch, feel free to do it at any publically-accessible Git hosting service, although makes things easier for the maintainers of librsvg.

Hacking on librsvg

See the rest of this development guide, especially the chapter on Architecture, and the tutorial on How to add a new CSS property.

The library’s internals are being documented at

What can you hack on?

Working on the source

Make sure you have read the chapter on Setting up your development environment.

A typical development cycle goes like this:

  • Make some changes to the code; hopefully adding a test first.

  • Build and run the tests. Use cargo test --workspace.

  • Repeat until you and the tests are happy.

Most of the time you can just work on the Rust source code and use cargo test --workspace. This will run the Rust-based tests, which are usually enough to test bug fixes in the SVG rendering code.

However, sometimes you’ll want to do a full build and run the full test suite, which includes the tests for the C API.

To do a full build, you can use something like this:

mkdir -p _build
meson setup _build -Ddocs=enabled -Dintrospection=enabled -Dvala=enabled
meson compile -C_ build
meson test -C _build

Alternatively, you can make a merge request and wait for the Continuous Integration machinery (CI) do the full build for you. The CI will run all the tests on multiple platforms.

For a full build, librsvg uses the Meson build system. If you need to add a new source file, you need to do it in rsvg/ This is so that Meson can know when a Rust file changed so it can call cargo as appropriate.

It is perfectly fine to ask the maintainer if you have questions about the Meson setup; it’s a tricky bit of machinery, and we are glad to help.

Continuous Integration

If you fork librsvg in and push commits to your forked version, the Continuous Integration machinery (CI) will run automatically.

The CI infrastructure is documented in the Continuous Integration chapter.

When you create a merge request, or push to a branch in a fork of librsvg, GitLab’s CI will run a pipeline on the contents of your push: it will run the test suite, linters, try to build the documentation, and generally see if everything that makes Librsvg as a product is working as intended. If any tests fail, the pipeline will fail and you can then examine the build artifacts of failed jobs to fix things.

Automating the code formatting: You may want to enable a client-side git hook to run rustfmt before you can commit something; otherwise the lint stage of CI pipelines will fail:

  1. cd librsvg

  2. mv .git/hooks/pre-commit.sample .git/hooks/pre-commit

  3. Edit .git/hooks/pre-commit and put in one of the following commands:

  • If you want code reformatted automatically, no questions asked: cargo fmt Note: if this actually reformats your code while committing, you’ll have to re-stage the new changes and git commit --amend. Be careful if you had unstaged changes that got reformatted!

  • If you want to examine errors if rustfmt doesn’t like your indentation, but don’t want it to make changes on its own: cargo fmt --all -- --check

Test suite

All new features need to have corresponding tests. Please see the file rsvg/tests/ to see how to add new tests to the test suite. In short:

  • Add unit tests in the rsvg/src/*.rs files for internal things like parsers or algorithms.

  • Add rendering tests in rsvg/tests/src/*.rs for SVG or CSS features. See rsvg/tests/ for details on how to do this.

  • Tests for the C API go in librsvg-c/test-c/*.c. Note that to run these tests you must run a full meson build, not just cargo test --workspace.

  • Tests for rsvg-convert go in rsvg_convert/tests/*.rs.

In most cases, you can run cargo test --workspace if you set up your development environment as instructed in the Setting up your development environment chapter. Alternatively, push your changes to a branch, and watch the results of its CI pipeline.

Creating a merge request

You may create a forked version of librsvg in GNOME’s Gitlab instance,. You can register an account there, or log in with your account from other OAuth services.

For technical reasons, the maintainers of librsvg do not get automatically notified if you submit a pull request through the GNOME mirror in GitHub. In that case, please create a merge request at instead; you can ask the maintainer for assistance.

Formatting commit messages

If a commit fixes a bug, please format its commit message like this:

(#123): Don't crash when foo is bar

Explanation for why the crash happened, or anything that is not
obvious from looking at the diff.


Note the (#123) in the first line. This is the line that shows up in single-line git logs, and having the bug number there makes it easier to write the release notes later — one does not have to read all the commit messages to find the ids of fixed bugs.

Also, please paste the complete URL to the bug report somewhere in the commit message, so that it’s easier to visit when reading the commit logs.

Generally, commit messages should summarize what you did, and why. Think of someone doing git blame in the future when trying to figure out how some code works: they will want to see why a certain line of source code is there. The commit where that line was introduced should explain it.

Included benchmarks

The rsvg/benches/ directory has a couple of benchmarks for functions related to SVG filter effects. You can run them with cargo bench.

These benchmarks use the Criterion crate, which supports some interesting options to generate plots and such.