Issues workflow

Creating an issue

Before you submit an issue, search the issue tracker for similar entries. Someone else might have already had the same bug or feature proposal. If you find an existing issue, show your support with an emoji reaction and add your notes to the discussion.


To submit a bug:

Do not create publicly viewable issues for suspected security vulnerabilities.

Feature proposals

To create a feature proposal, open an issue in the issue tracker using the Feature Proposal - detailed issue template.

In order to help track feature proposals, we use the ~"type::feature" label. Users that are not members of the project cannot add labels via the UI. Instead, use reactive label commands.

Keep feature proposals as small and simple as possible, complex ones might be edited to make them small and simple.

For changes to the user interface (UI), follow our design and UI guidelines, and include a visual example (screenshot, wireframe, or mockup). Such issues should be given the ~UX" label (using the reactive label commands) for the Product Design team to provide input and guidance.

Finding issues to work on

GitLab has over 75,000 issues that you can work on. You can use labels to filter and find suitable issues to work on. New contributors can look for issues with the quick win label.

The frontend and backend labels are also a good choice to refine the issue list.

Clarifying/validating an issue

Many issues have not been visited or validated recently. Before trying to solve an issue, take the following steps:

  • Ask the author if the issue is still relevant.
  • Ask the community if the issue is still relevant.
  • Attempt to validate whether:
    • A merge request has already been created (see the related merge requests section). Sometimes the issue is not closed/updated.
    • The type::bug still exists (by recreating it).
    • The type::feature has not already been implemented (by trying it).

Working on the issue

Leave a note to indicate you wish to work on the issue and would like to be assigned (mention the author and/or @gitlab-org/coaches).

If you are stuck or did not properly understand the issue you can ask the author or the community for help.

Issue triaging

Our issue triage policies are described in our handbook. You are very welcome to help the GitLab team triage issues.

The most important thing is making sure valid issues receive feedback from the development team. Therefore the priority is mentioning developers that can help on those issues. Select someone with relevant experience from the GitLab team. If there is nobody mentioned with that expertise, look in the commit history for the affected files to find someone.

We also have triage automation in place, described in our handbook.

For information about which labels to apply to issues, see Labels.

Issue weight

Issue weight allows us to get an idea of the amount of work required to solve one or multiple issues. This makes it possible to schedule work more accurately.

You are encouraged to set the weight of any issue. Following the guidelines below will make it easy to manage this, without unnecessary overhead.

  1. Set weight for any issue at the earliest possible convenience
  2. If you don’t agree with a set weight, discuss with other developers until consensus is reached about the weight
  3. Issue weights are an abstract measurement of complexity of the issue. Do not relate issue weight directly to time. This is called anchoring and something you want to avoid.
  4. Something that has a weight of 1 (or no weight) is really small and simple. Something that is 9 is rewriting a large fundamental part of GitLab, which might lead to many hard problems to solve. Changing some text in GitLab is probably 1, adding a new Git Hook maybe 4 or 5, big features 7-9.
  5. If something is very large, it should probably be split up in multiple issues or chunks. You can not set the weight of a parent issue and set weights to children issues.

Regression issues

Every monthly release has a corresponding issue on the CE issue tracker to keep track of functionality broken by that release and any fixes that need to be included in a patch release (see 8.3 Regressions as an example).

As outlined in the issue description, the intended workflow is to post one note with a reference to an issue describing the regression, and then to update that note with a reference to the merge request that fixes it as it becomes available.

If you’re a contributor who doesn’t have the required permissions to update other users’ notes, post a new note with a reference to both the issue and the merge request.

The release manager will update the notes in the regression issue as fixes are addressed.

Technical debt in follow-up issues

It’s common to discover technical debt during development of a new feature. In the spirit of “minimum viable change”, resolution is often deferred to a follow-up issue. However, this cannot be used as an excuse to merge poor-quality code that would otherwise not pass review, or to overlook trivial matters that don’t deserve to be scheduled independently, and would be best resolved in the original merge request - or not tracked at all!

The overheads of scheduling, and rate of change in the GitLab codebase, mean that the cost of a trivial technical debt issue can quickly exceed the value of tracking it. This generally means we should resolve these in the original merge request - or not create a follow-up issue at all.

For example, a typo in a comment that is being copied between files is worth fixing in the same MR, but not worth creating a follow-up issue for. Renaming a method that is used in many places to make its intent slightly clearer may be worth fixing, but it should not happen in the same MR, and is generally not worth the overhead of having an issue of its own. These issues would invariably be labeled ~P4 ~S4 if we were to create them.

More severe technical debt can have implications for development velocity. If it isn’t addressed in a timely manner, the codebase becomes needlessly difficult to change, new features become difficult to add, and regressions abound.

Discoveries of this kind of technical debt should be treated seriously, and while resolution in a follow-up issue may be appropriate, maintainers should generally obtain a scheduling commitment from the author of the original MR, or the engineering or product manager for the relevant area. This may take the form of appropriate Priority / Severity labels on the issue, or an explicit milestone and assignee.

The maintainer must always agree before an outstanding discussion is resolved in this manner, and will be the one to create the issue. The title and description should be of the same quality as those created in the usual manner - in particular, the issue title must not begin with Follow-up! The creating maintainer should also expect to be involved in some capacity when work begins on the follow-up issue.