Contributing to HelioPy

HelioPy aims to be a comprehensive Python package for downloading and working with data from heliospheric and planetary missions. The people who help develop or contribute to HelioPy are varied in ability and experience, with everyone being volunteers who work on in in their spare time. We pride ourselves on being a welcoming community and we would love you to contribute!

If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hello, we have online chat on Matrix which requires no registration or a bit more old school, a Google Group which you can email.

How To Contribute


Most of the items within HelioPy are documented online here. This documentation is not only for the code, but contains setup instructions, quick start guides, and worked examples. However, documentation is never complete; there are always areas that could be expanded upon or could do with some proof reading to check whether what is written is easy to follow and understandable. If parts are confusing or difficult to follow, we would love suggestions or improvements!


There are a list of open issues on Github issues where all the known bugs and suggestions for improvement are kept. Some issues have the Good first issue label, which is a good place to start. These are issues that can be tackled with a minimum understanding of the HelioPy codebase.

How to setup a work environment

We recommend using miniconda or Anaconda instead of native operating system Python packages as it makes installing and debugging HelioPy much easier. To create a miniconda environment, follow the installation instructions here.

Next, setup the conda environment:

conda create -n heliopy-dev python
source activate heliopy-dev

This will create a new conda environment called heliopy-dev. The next step is to install a development version of HelioPy.

If you have a GitHub account, you can fork the HelioPy repository (the fork button is to the top right) and use that url for the git clone. This will make submitting changes easier in the long term for you:

git clone heliopy
cd heliopy
pip install -r requirements/test.txt
pip install -e .

Edit the code

Now you have the latest version of HelioPy installed and are ready to work on it! When you start making changes you will want to create a new git branch to work on:

git checkout -b my_fix

You can change my_fix to anything you prefer. If you get stuck or want help, just ask here!

Submit the code

Once you have made some changes, you need to commit the changes:

git commit -a -m '<message>'

where <message> is replaced with a short message explaining the changes you have made.

The next step is to submit the changes back to HelioPy by submitting a Pull Request (PR) using GitHub. If you are new to pull requests, here is a friendly guide. Your pull request will then be checked over by someone else for bugs/any suggestions for improvement, before being merged into the main code base of HelioPy.

If you do not have time to finish what you started on or ran out of time and do not want to submit a pull request, you can create a git patch and send it to the Google Group. This way, you still get acknowledged for the work you did and this can be viewed within the HelioPy git history.

git format-patch master --stdout > my_fix.patch

Just remember, if you hit any problems get in touch!