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Contributing a “What’s New” Entry#

Iris uses a file named latest.rst to keep a draft of upcoming development changes that will form the next stable release. Contributions to the What’s New in Iris document are written by the developer most familiar with the change made. The contribution should be included as part of the Iris Pull Request that introduces the change.

The latest.rst and the past release notes are kept in the docs/src/whatsnew/ directory. If you are writing the first contribution after an Iris release: create the new latest.rst by copying the content from latest.rst.template in the same directory.

Since the Contribution categories include Internal changes, all Iris Pull Requests should be accompanied by a “What’s New” contribution.

Git Conflicts#

If changes to latest.rst are being suggested in several simultaneous Iris Pull Requests, Git will likely encounter merge conflicts. If this situation is thought likely (large PR, high repo activity etc.):

  • PR author: Do not include a “What’s New” entry. Mention in the PR text that a “What’s New” entry is pending

  • PR reviewer: Review the PR as normal. Once the PR is acceptable, ask that a new pull request be created specifically for the “What’s New” entry, which references the main pull request and titled (e.g. for PR#9999):

    What’s New for #9999

  • PR author: create the “What’s New” pull request

  • PR reviewer: once the “What’s New” PR is created, merge the main PR. (this will fix any Iris GitHub Actions linkcheck errors where the links in the “What’s New” PR reference new features introduced in the main PR)

  • PR reviewer: review the “What’s New” PR, merge once acceptable

These measures should mean the suggested latest.rst changes are outstanding for the minimum time, minimising conflicts and minimising the need to rebase or merge from trunk.

Writing a Contribution#

A contribution is the short description of a change introduced to Iris which improved it in some way. As such, a single Iris Pull Request may contain multiple changes that are worth highlighting as contributions to the what’s new document.

The appropriate contribution for a pull request might in fact be an addition or change to an existing “What’s New” entry.

Each contribution will ideally be written as a single concise entry using a reStructuredText auto-enumerated list #. directive. Where possible do not exceed column 80 and ensure that any subsequent lines of the same entry are aligned with the first. The content should target an Iris user as the audience. The required content, in order, is as follows:

  • Use your discretion to decide on the names of all those that you want to acknowledge as part of your contribution. Also consider the efforts of the reviewer. Please use GitHub user names that link to their GitHub profile e.g.,

    `@tkknight`_ Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet ...

    Also add a full reference in the following section at the end of the latest.rst:

    .. comment
       Whatsnew author names (@github name) in alphabetical order. Note that,
       core dev names are automatically included by the
    .. _@tkknight:
  • A succinct summary of the new/changed behaviour.

  • Context to the change. Possible examples include: what this fixes, why something was added, issue references (e.g. :issue:`9999`), more specific detail on the change itself.

  • Pull request references, bracketed, following the final period e.g., (:pull:`1111`, :pull:`9999`)

  • A trailing blank line (standard reStructuredText list format).

For example:

#. `@tkknight <>`_ and
   `@trexfeathers <>`_ (reviewer) changed
   argument ``x`` to be optional in :class:`~iris.module.class` and
   :meth:`iris.module.method`. This allows greater flexibility as requested in
   :issue:`9999`. (:pull:`1111`, :pull:`9999`)

The above example also demonstrates some of the possible syntax for including links to code. For more inspiration on possible content and references, please examine past what’s What’s New in Iris entries.


The reStructuredText syntax will be checked as part of building the documentation. Any warnings should be corrected. The Iris GitHub Actions will automatically build the documentation when creating a pull request, however you can also manually build the documentation.

Contribution Categories#

The structure of the what’s new release note should be easy to read by users. To achieve this several categories may be used.

📢 Announcements

General news and announcements to the Iris community.

✨ Features

Features that are new or changed to add functionality.

🐛 Bug Fixes

A bug fix.

💣 Incompatible Changes

A change that causes an incompatibility with prior versions of Iris.

🔥 Deprecations

Deprecations of functionality.

🔗 Dependencies

Additions, removals and version changes in Iris’ package dependencies.

📚 Documentation

Changes to documentation.

💼 Internal

Changes to any internal or development related topics, such as testing, environment dependencies etc.