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Slightly more Details

You want to contribute? Awesome! Small changes, like fixing typos in documentation are completely fine and also most welcome. For bigger changes, we suggest that you open an issue before you start coding, so that we can maximize the probability that we can successfully merge in your code.

R or C

This guide is for the igraph R package, but note that the package uses the igraph C library internally for most things. If your changes involve the C library as well, then you need to make those changes first, in the repository of the C library:

Development and Compilation

All development is being done on the default branch, so that it can be automatically installed using remotes::install_github("igraph/rigraph") or pak::pak("igraph/rigraph") . Some parts of the code (sources for the C library, .Rd documentation files, …) are stored redundantly and updated by running make or make igraph.

If you clone the repository, you can locally build and test the igraph package using the testthat package as follows:


When building from source on Windows, you need to have RTools installed. Additionally, the two system requirements of glpk and libxml2 are not optional, but hard requirements. For version R >= 4.0 you can install these two from an RTools terminal using

pacman -Sy mingw-w64-{i686,x86_64}-glpk mingw-w64-{i686,x86_64}-libxml2

To update the files stored redundantly, run

make igraph

. This is done automatically on CI/CD, in some cases changes are committed directly to the branch that is being tested.

Making Trivial Changes

  • Then look for the file you want to modify.
  • Click on the edit symbol (pen) on the upper right corner of the file view.
  • Make your edits.
  • Write a short commit message, less than 65 characters. E.g. “Fix manual page typo” or “Fix degree bug for loops”. If needed, elaborate your changes below in the “extended description” field.
  • Commit your changes.
  • Go back to the start page of your forked repository. It is at<username>/rigraph.
  • Click on the green button before the branch name to create a pull request.
  • Click on “Create pull request”.
  • Provide a more detailed description if you like. Please also indicate that you are fine with licensing your contribution under igraph’s license (see Legal Stuff below).
  • Click on “Create pull request”.
  • That’s it! It is probably a good idea to keep your forked repository until the change is accepted into igraph, in case you need to modify it.
  • Now you need to wait for us, unfortunately. Please ping us, if it takes long to respond. E.g. a week is considered to be long.
  • Once your pull request is accepted, you can delete your forked repository.

Making More Involved Changes

This is mostly the same as for trivial changes, but you probably want to edit the sources on your computer, instead of online on GitHub.

  • Open an issue in the issue tracker about the proposed changes. This is not required for smaller things, but I suggest you do it for others. Just in case somebody is already working on the same thing, or it is something we don’t want in igraph.
  • Fork the repository, and clone it to the machine you’ll work on.
  • Make sure you work on the dev branch, or alternatively, create a new branch based on the dev branch.
  • Once ready with your changes, build igraph, and run the tests as indicated above.
  • Submit your pull request.
  • Now you need to wait for us, unfortunately. Please ping us, if it takes long to respond. E.g. a week is considered to be long.

Writing igraph Code

Some tips on writing igraph code. In general, look at how things are done, and try to do them similarly. (Unless you think they are not done well, in which case please tell us.)

Code Formatting

We follow the tidyverse style guide for formatting. The styler package helps apply this style to the code. Look at the style (indentation, braces, etc.) of some recently committed bigger change, and try to mimic that.


Please document your new functions using roxygen2, and run devtools::document() or make igraph to update the .Rd files.

Test Cases

Unless you change something trivial, please consider adding test cases. This is important! See the files in the inst/tests directory for examples.

Ask Us!

In general, if you are not sure about something, please ask! You can open an issue on Github, write to the igraph-help mailing list (see the homepage at, or write to Tamás and Gábor. We prefer the public forums, though, because then others can learn from it, too.

This is a pain to deal with, but we can’t avoid it, unfortunately. So, igraph is licensed under the “General Public License (GPL) version 2, or later”. The igraph manual is licensed under the “GNU Free Documentation License”. If your contribution is bigger than a typo fix, then please indicate that you are fine with releasing your code/text under these licenses. E.g. adding a sentence that reads as “I’m fine with GPL 2 or later and FDL.” is perfectly enough.