How to contribute

F3D welcomes all contributors, regardless of skill level or experience!

Contributing as a user

Contributing to F3D can be as simple as pointing out a spelling mistake on the website, reporting a bug you encountered, or suggesting a new feature you feel would improve the application.

We use Github to manage the project and you can report new issues or weigh in on existing ones over there.

Also, do not hesitate to join our discord!

How to get started with development

To contribute to F3D as a developer, first you may want to try and build F3D for yourself. If you are already familiar with software compilation, you can take a look at our build guide. If not, you may want to look at our getting started guide, that provide steps to compile F3D.

Once you are able to build F3D, you may want to take a look at the opened issues, especially, the ones with the “good first issue” label. If one sounds interesting to you, then you should just go ahead and comment on the issue and ask for any help or clarification needed. F3D maintainers will see your comment and provide guidance as needed. You can also reach out on discord.

You can then fix the issue in your side and contribute it to the F3D repository, by following the workflow described below.

Of course, if you are already using F3D and want to improve it for your specific needs, because you want a feature or found a bug, that is definitely possible. Feel free to reach out for guidance by opening an issue or asking on discord.

Another way to get started is to improve the documentation.

F3D Development workflow

F3D uses the gitlab flow. In a few words, here is how to contribute:

  • Fork F3D repository on github.
  • Create and push a feature branch on your fork containing new commits.
  • When it is ready for review or when you want to run the CI, create a pull request against f3d-app/f3d/master.
  • Once the PR is approved and CI comes back clean, a F3D maintainer will merge your pull request in the master branch
  • The master now contains your changes and will be present in the next release!

Continuous Integration

F3D has a pretty extensive continuous integration trying to cover all usecases for F3D. It means that if your change break the CI in your PR, it will not be merged until the breaking change are addressed. It also means that adding a new feature or behavior means adding a associated test. Make sure to check the results for yourself, and ask for help if needed.

F3D continuous integration will also check the coverage as it is a good way to evaluate if new features are being tested or not. When adding code to F3D, always try to cover it by adding/modifying tests.

F3D continuous integration also check formatting using clang-format and will inform you if changes needs to be made. However, some formatting rules are not enforced by clang-format and will be checked during the review process.

When making changes to the libf3d public API, the CI will warn about making related changes to the bindings. This is required in order to merge the PR.


Whenever you make significant changes, either bugfixes or features, please update the changelog “Ongoing development” section. There are three subsections. “For F3D Users” are changes that impact actual F3D users and related to F3D behaviors changing. “For developers” are change that impact developers that build F3D. “For F3D packagers” are for changes that impact anyone packaging F3D, eg: new CMake options.

F3D architecture

F3D is separated in different components:

  • The F3D application, in the application folder.
  • The libf3d, in the library folder.
  • The VTKExtensions in the library/VTKExtensions folder.
  • The bindings, python, java and webassembly, in the respective directories.
  • The plugins, providing all the different readers in the plugins directory.

VTKExtensions are separated in different modules.

  • Core, that do not depend on any other VTKExtensions modules are provide services for all modules
  • Readers, that depends on Core and implements many new VTK readers and importers
  • Rendering, that depends on Core and implements the rendering specificities of F3D
  • Applicative, the depends on all other VTKExtension modules and provide services for the libf3d library

The libf3d implements the whole logic of instancing and manipulating the different VTK classes, it is fully documented here.

The F3D application itself uses the libf3d but adds an applicative layer on top of it, especially the handling of command line options and configuration file.