Contributor Guide

This page contains resources and documentation of interest to current and potential contributors to the Accumulo project. Any documentation that is helpful to Accumulo users should go in the Accumulo User Manual.

If your are interested in quickly getting an Accumulo instance up and running, see the Accumulo Quickstart guides (1.x)/(2.x) or refer to the Uno project on Github.

How to Contribute to Apache Accumulo

Apache Accumulo welcomes contributions from the community. This is especially true of new contributors! You don’t need to be a software developer to contribute to Apache Accumulo. So, if you want to get involved in Apache Accumulo, there is almost certainly a role for you. View our How to Contribute page for additional details on the many opportunities available.

Project Resources

Accumulo makes use of the following external tools for development.


Apache Accumulo® source code is maintained using Git version control and mirrored to GitHub. Source files can be browsed here or at the GitHub mirror.

The project code can be checked-out here. It builds with Apache Maven.


Accumulo tracks issues with JIRA. Prospective code contributors can view open issues labeled for “newbies” to search for starter tickets. Note that every commit should reference a JIRA ticket of the form ACCUMULO-#.


Accumulo uses Jenkins and TravisCI for automatic builds and continuous integration.

Create a Ticket for New Bugs or Feature

If you run into a bug or think there is something that would benefit the project, we encourage you to file an issue at the Apache Accumulo JIRA page. Regardless of whether you have the time to provide the fix or implementation yourself, this will be helpful to the project.

Building Accumulo from Source

Installing Apache Thrift

If you activate the ‘thrift’ Maven profile, the build of some modules will attempt to run the Apache Thrift command line to regenerate stubs. If you activate this profile and don’t have Apache Thrift installed and in your path, you will see a warning and your build will fail. For Accumulo 1.5.0 and greater, install Thrift 0.9 and make sure that the ‘thrift’ command is in your path. Watch out for THRIFT-1367; you may need to configure Thrift with –without-ruby. Most developers do not need to install or modify the Thrift definitions as a part of developing against Apache Accumulo.

Checking out from Git

There are several methods for obtaining the Accumulo source code. If you prefer to use SSH rather than HTTPS you can refer to the GitHub help pages for help in creating a GitHub account and setting up SSH keys.

- from your Github Fork

It is also possible to fork a repository in GitHub so that you can freely experiment with changes without affecting the original project. You can then submit a pull request from your personal fork to the project repository when you wish to supply a contribution.

git clone<account name>/accumulo.git
Retrieval of upstream changes

Additionally, it is beneficial to add a git remote for the mirror to allow the retrieval of upstream changes.

git remote add upstream

- from the Github Mirror

git clone

- from the Apache Hosted Repository

git clone

Running a Build

Accumulo uses Apache Maven to handle source building, testing, and packaging. To build Accumulo, you will need to use Maven version 3.0.5 or later.

You should familiarize yourself with the Maven Build Lifecycle, as well as the various plugins we use in our POM, in order to understand how Maven works and how to use the various build options while building Accumulo.

To build from source (for example, to deploy):

mvn package -Passemble

This will create a file accumulo-*-SNAPSHOT-dist.tar.gz in the assemble/target directory. Optionally, append -DskipTests if you want to skip the build tests.

To build your branch before submitting a pull request, you’ll probably want to run some basic “sunny-day” integration tests to ensure you haven’t made any grave errors, as well as checkstyle and findbugs:

mvn verify -Psunny

To run specific unit tests, you can run:

mvn package -Dtest=MyTest -DfailIfNoTests=false

Or to run the specific integration tests MyIT and YourIT (and skip all unit tests), you can run:

mvn verify -Dtest=NoSuchTestExists -Dit.test=MyIT,YourIT -DfailIfNoTests=false

There are plenty of other options. For example, you can skip findbugs with mvn verify -Dfindbugs.skip or checkstyle -Dcheckstyle.skip, or control the number of forks to use while executing tests, -DforkCount=4, etc. You should check with specific plugins to see which command-line options are available to control their behavior. Note that not all options will result in a stable build, and options may change over time.

If you regularly switch between major development branches, you may receive errors about improperly licensed files from the RAT plugin. This is caused by modules that exist in one branch and not the other leaving Maven build files that the RAT plugin no longer understands how to ignore.

The easiest fix is to ensure all of your current changes are stored in git and then cleaning your workspace.

$> git add path/to/file/that/has/changed
$> git add path/to/other/file
$> git clean -df

Note that this git clean command will delete any files unknown to git in a way that is irreversible. You should check that no important files will be included by first looking at the “untracked files” section in a git status command.

$> git status
# On branch master
nothing to commit (working directory clean)
$> mvn package
{ maven output elided }
$> git checkout 1.6.1-SNAPSHOT
Switched to branch '1.6.1-SNAPSHOT'
$> git status
# On branch 1.6.1-SNAPSHOT
# Untracked files:
#   (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)
# mapreduce/
# shell/
nothing added to commit but untracked files present (use "git add" to track)
$> git clean -df
Removing mapreduce/
Removing shell/
$> git status
# On branch 1.6.1-SNAPSHOT
nothing to commit (working directory clean)

Providing a Contribution

The Accumulo source is hosted at .

Like all Apache projects, a mirror of the git repository is also located on GitHub at which provides ease in forking and generating pull requests (PRs).


Git is an open source, distributed version control system which has become very popular in large, complicated software projects due to its efficient handling of multiple, simultaneously and independently developed branches of source code.

Workflow Background

The most likely contested subject matter regarding switching an active team from one SCM tool to another is a shift in the development paradigm.

Some background, the common case, as is present with this team, is that developers coming from a Subversion history are very light on merging being a critical consideration on how to perform development. Because merging in Subversion is typically of no consequence to the complete view of history, not to mention that Subversion allows “merging” of specific revisions instead of sub-trees. As such, a transition to Git typically requires a shift in mindset in which a fix is not arbitrarily applied to trunk (whatever the main development is called), but the fix should be applied to the earliest, non end-of-life (EOL) version of the application.

For example, say there is a hypothetical application which has just released version-3 of their software and have shifted their development to a version-4 WIP. Version-2 is still supported, while version-1 was just EOL’ed. Each version still has a branch. A bug was just found which affects all released versions of this application. In Subversion, considering the history in the repository, it is of no consequence where the change is initially applied, because a Subversion merge is capable of merging it to any other version. History does not suffer because Subversion doesn’t have the capacities to accurately track the change across multiple branches. In Git, to maintain a non-duplicative history, it is imperative that the developer choose the correct branch to fix the bug in. In this case, since version-1 is EOL’ed, version-2, version-3 and the WIP version-4 are candidates. The earliest version is obviously version-2; so, the change should be applied in version-2, merged to version-3 and then the version-4 WIP.

The importance of this example is making a best-attempt to preserve history when using Git. While Git does have commands like cherry-pick which allow the contents of a commit to be applied from one branch to another which are not candidates to merge without conflict (which is typically the case when merging a higher version into a lower version), this results in a duplication of that commit in history when the two trees are eventually merged together. While Git is smart enough to not attempt to re-apply the changes, history still contains the blemish.

The purpose of this extravagant example is to outline, in the trivial case, how the workflow decided upon for development is very important and has direct impact on the efficacy of the advanced commands bundled with Git.

Proposed Workflow

This is a summary of what has been agreed upon by vocal committers/PMC members on Enumeration of every possible situation out of the scope of this document. This document intends to lay the ground work to define the correct course of action regardless of circumstances. Some concrete examples will be provided to ensure the explanation is clear.

  1. Active development is performed concurrently over no less than two versions of Apache Accumulo at any one point in time. As such, the workflow must provide guidance on how and where changes should be made which apply to multiple versions and how to ensure that such changes are contained in all applicable versions.

  2. Releases are considered extremely onerous and time-consuming so no emphasis is placed on rapid iterations or development-cycles.

  3. New features typically have lengthy development cycles in which more than one developer contributes to the creation of the new feature from planning, to implementation, to scale testing. Mechanisms/guidance should be provided for multiple developers to teach contribute to a remote-shared resource.

  4. The repository should be the irrefutable, sole source of information regarding the development of Apache Accumulo, and, as such, should have best-efforts given in creating a clean, readable history without any single entity having to control all write access and changes (a proxy). In other words, the developers are the ones responsible for ensuring that previous releases are preserved to meet ASF policy, for not rewriting any public history of code not yet officially released (also ASF policy relevant) and for a best-effort to be given to avoid duplicative commits appearing in history created by the application of multiple revisions which have different identifying attributes but the same contents (git-rebase and git-cherry-pick).

The Implementation

The following steps, originally derived from Apache kafka’s simple contributor workflow, will demonstrate the gitflow implementation.


To be specific, let’s consider a contributor wanting to work on a fix for the Jira issue ACCUMULO-12345 that affects the 1.9 release.

  1. Ensure you configured Git with your information

    git config --global 'My Name' && git config --global ''

  2. Clone the Accumulo repository:

    git clone accumulo

  3. or update your local copy:

    git fetch && git fetch --tags

  4. For the given issue you intend to work on, choose the ‘lowest’ fixVersion and create a branch for yourself to work in. This example is against the next release of 1.9

    git checkout -b ACCUMULO-12345-my-work origin/1.9

  5. Make commits as you see fit as you fix the issue, referencing the issue name in the commit message:

    git commit -av

    Please include the ticket number at the beginning of the log message, and in the first line, as it’s easier to parse quickly. For example:

    ACCUMULO-2428 throw exception when rename fails after compaction

    Consider following the git log message format described in Zach Holman’s talk (specifically slides 78-98, beginning at 15:20 into the video). Essentially, leave a short descriptive message in the first line, skip a line, and write more detailed stuff there, if you need to. For example:

    ACCUMULO-2194 Add delay for randomwalk Security teardown

    If two Security randomwalk tests run back-to-back, the second test may see that the
    table user still exists even though it was removed when the first test was torn down.
    This can happen if the user drop does not propagate through Zookeeper quickly enough.
    This commit adds a delay to the end of the Security test to give ZK some time.
  1. Assuming others are developing against the version you also are, as you work, or before you create your patch, rebase your branch against the remote to lift your changes to the top of your branch. The branch specified here should be the same one you used in step 4.

    git pull --rebase origin 1.9

  2. At this point, you can create a patch file from the upstream branch to attach to the ACCUMULO-12345 Jira issue. The branch specified here should be the same one you used in step 4.

    git format-patch --stdout origin/1.9 > ACCUMULO-12345.patch

An alternative to creating a patch is submitting a request to pull your changes from some repository, e.g. GitHub. Please include the repository and branch name merge in the notice to the Jira issue, e.g.

repo=git://<username>/accumulo.git branch=ACCUMULO-12345

A second alternative is to use Github’s “Pull Requests” feature against the Apache Accumulo account. Notifications of new pull-requests from Github should automatically be sent to

Ignoring specifics, contributors should be sure to make their changes against the earlier version in which the fix is intended, git-rebase‘ing their changes against the upstream branch so as to keep their changes co-located and free of unnecessary merges.


Primary Development

Primary development should take place in master which is to contain the most recent, un-released version of Apache Accumulo. Branches exist for minor releases for each previously released major version.

Using long-lived branches that track a major release line simplifies management and release practices. Developers are encouraged to make branches for their own purposes, for large features, release candidates or whatever else is deemed useful.

Reviewing contributor changes

It is always the responsibility of committers to determine that a patch is intended and able to be contributed. From the new committer’s guide: “Please take care to ensure that patches are original works which have been clearly contributed to the ASF in public. In the case of any doubt (or when a contribution with a more complex history is presented) please consult your project PMC before committing it.”

Extra diligence may be necessary when code is contributed via a pull request. Committers should verify that the contributor intended to submit the code as a Contribution under the Apache License. When pulling the code, committers should also verify that the commits pulled match the list of commits sent to the Accumulo dev list in the pull request.

Submit Contribution via Patch

Developers should use the following steps to apply patches from contributors:

  1. Checkout the branch for the major version which the patch is intended:

    git checkout 1.9

  2. Verify the changes introduced by the patch:

    git apply --stat ACCUMULO-12345.patch

  3. Verify that the patch applies cleanly:

    git apply --check ACCUMULO-12345.patch

  4. If all is well, apply the patch:

    git am --signoff < ACCUMULO-12345.patch

  5. When finished, push the changes:

    git push origin 1.9

  6. Merge where appropriate:

    git checkout master && git merge 1.9

Submit Contribution via Pull-Request

If the contributor submits a repository and branch to pull from, the steps are even easier:

  1. Add their repository as a remote to your repository

    git remote add some_name ${repository}

  2. Fetch the refs from the given repository

    git fetch ${repository}

  3. Merge in the given branch to your local branch

    git merge some_name/${branch}

  4. Delete the remote:

    git remote remove some_name

If the branch doesn’t fast-forward merge, you likely want to inform the contributor to update their branch to avoid the conflict resolution and merge commit. See the Git manual for more information on merging. When merging a pull-request, it’s best to not include a signoff on the commit(s) as it changes the final commit ID in the Accumulo repository. This also has the negative effect of not automatically closing the Pull-Request when the changes are made public.

Feature Branches

Ease in creating and using feature branches is a desirable merit which Git provides with little work. Feature branches are a great way in which developers to work on multiple, long-running features concurrently, without worry of mixing code ready for public-review and code needing more internal work. Additionally, this creates an easily consumable series of commits in which other developers can track changes, and see how the feature itself evolved.

To prevent developers’ feature branches from colliding with one another, it was suggested to impose a “hierarchy” in which shared feature branches are prefixed with <apache_id>/ACCUMULO-<issue#>[-description].

  1. Create a branch off of master.

    git checkout <apache_id>/ACCUMULO-<issue#> master

  2. Create the feature, committing early and often to appropriately outline the “story” behind the feature and it’s implementation.

  3. As long as you have not collaborating with others, git-rebase your feature branch against upstream changes in master

    git fetch && git rebase origin/master

  4. If you are actively collaborating with others, you should be nice and not change their history. Use git-merge instead.

    git fetch && git merge origin/master

  5. Continue steps 2 through 4 until the feature is complete.

  6. Depending on the nature, duration and history of the changes in your feature branch, you can choose to:

    • ‘Simple’ Merge:

      git checkout master && git merge <apache_id>/ACCUMULO-<issue#>

    • Rebase and merge – keeps all feature-branch commits co-located:

      git fetch && git rebase origin/master && git checkout master && git merge <apache_id>/ACCUMULO-<issue#>

    • Merge with squash – feature branch history is a mess, just make one commit with the lump-sum of your feature branch changes:

      git checkout master && git merge --squash <apache_id>/ACCUMULO-<issue#>

Changes which affect multiple versions (a.k.a. merging)

Merging can be a very confusing topic for users switching to Git, but it can be summarized fairly easily.

  1. Precondition: choose the right branch to start! (lowest, applicable version for the change)

  2. Get your changes fixed for that earliest version.

  3. Switch to the next highest version which future minor versions will be released (non-EOL major release series).

  4. git-merge the branch from #1 into the current.

  5. In the face of conflicts, use options from git-merge to help you.

    • git checkout new-version && git merge --stat old-version
    • git checkout new-version && git merge --no-commit old-version
  6. Treat your current branch as the branch from #2, and repeat from #2.

When merging changes across major releases, there is always the possibility of changes which are applicable/necessary in one release, but not in any future releases, changes which are different in implementation due to API changes, or any number of other cases. Whatever the actual case is, the developer who made the first set of changes (you) is the one responsible for performing the merge through the rest of the active versions. Even when the merge may results in a zero-length change in content, this is incredibly important to record, as you are the one who knows that this zero-length change in content is correct!

Code review process

Accumulo primarily uses GitHub (via pull requests) for code reviews, but has access to an instance of Review Board as well if that is preferred.

Accumulo operates under the Commit-Then-Review (CtR) policy, so a code review does not need to occur prior to commit. However, a committer has the option to hold a code review before a commit happens if, in their opinion, it would benefit from additional attention. Full details of the code review process for Accumulo is documented here

Review Board

Use of Review Board has slowly diminished and been gradually replaced by GitHub reviews over the past year or so.

Additional Contributor Information

Coding Practices

License Header Always add the current ASF license header as described in [ASF Source Header][srcheaders].
Trailing Whitespaces Remove all trailing whitespaces. Eclipse users can use Source→Cleanup option to accomplish this.
Indentation Use 2 space indents and never use tabs!
Line Wrapping Use 100-column line width for Java code and Javadoc.
Control Structure New Lines Use a new line with single statement if/else blocks.
Author Tags Do not use Author Tags. The code is developed and owned by the community.

Merging Practices

Changes should be merged from earlier branches of Accumulo to later branches. Ask the dev list for instructions.

Project Examples

A collection of Accumulo example code can be found at the Accumulo Examples repository.

Website Contributions

The source for this website is a collection of markdown documents that are converted to HTML using Jekyll. It can be found in the accumulo-website repo. If you would like to make changes to this website, clone the website repo and edit the markdown:

    git clone

After you have made your changes, follow the instructions in the to run the website locally and make a pull request on GitHub. If you have problems installing Jekyll or running the website locally, it’s OK to proceed with the pull request. A committer will review your changes before committing them and updating the website.

Public API

Refer to the README in the release you are using to see what packages are in the public API.

Changes to non-private members of those classes are subject to additional scrutiny to minimize compatibility problems across Accumulo versions.

Installing Apache Thrift

If you activate the ‘thrift’ Maven profile, the build of some modules will attempt to run the Apache Thrift command line to regenerate stubs. If you activate this profile and don’t have Apache Thrift installed and in your path, you will see a warning and your build will fail. For Accumulo 1.5.0 and greater, install Thrift 0.9 and make sure that the ‘thrift’ command is in your path. Watch out for THRIFT-1367; you may need to configure Thrift with –without-ruby. Most developers do not need to install or modify the Thrift definitions as a part of developing against Apache Accumulo.

Committer Documentation

The links below are provided primarily for the project committers but may be of interest to contributors as well.

Project Governance

For details about governance policies for the Accumulo project view the following links.

Test a Accumulo release

  1. Set the release version, ID for staging repo, and alias to configure Maven with temporary settings:
    export RC_VERSION=1.9.0
    export RC_STAGING=1070
  2. Create temporary Maven settings
    $ cat <<EOF >/tmp/accumulo-rc-maven.xml

    Run the integration tests of projects that use Accumulo

  3. Clone the Accumulo Examples project:
     $ git clone
  4. Run the integration test
     $ mvn -s /tmp/accumulo-rc-maven.xml clean verify -Daccumulo.version=$RC_VERSION

    Below are more projects with integration tests:

    • Wikisearch -
    • Apache Fluo -