Using a distributed version tracking system such as git is recommended. Svn or cvs systems are deprecated.
In addition to the source code version tracking system, a web platform offers a range of associated collaborative tools and aims to mobilize a community of developers. These platforms may be hosted by a third party or by the administration.
Examples of web platforms hosted by a third party:
The source code of github.com is not free just like some modules of gitlab.com; some platforms publish anonymous data in open data; their geographic scope may vary, as well as the number of developers who use it. The list is incomplete.
The choice to create an organizational account within an existing Web platform is the responsibility of the administration, which can also host its own public forge.
Choosing a forge for a project must be done according to the level of collaboration expected and the interfaces with the private repositories and the rest of the development platform.
To know on which forge you should publish your source code, contact the maintaineur of this policy from your ministry. If you don’t know who you should get in touch with, send an email to
All projects initiated by an administration must be published in repositories under an organization accounts. Personal account repositories should only be used for temporary technical forks or personal developments.
Here are the recommendations for managing organization accounts or groups:
To handle repositories, it is recommended to have at least two organization owners and to publish the email address of at least one owner.
A list of known forges and organization accounts from the public sector is readable in the comptes-organismes-publics file : if you happen to know a forge or an organization account that should appear in this list, please submit a pull request.
This list is used for code.etalab.gouv.fr which allows anyone to look for repositories within all forges and organization accounts.
You can also reference an organization account as a government account in GitHub:
Register if you have not done so already in the community https://github.com/government/welcome
Reference your organization account by adding it on the page: https://github.com/github/government.github.com/blob/gh-pages/_data/governments.yml as per https://government.github.com/community/
The distinction between personal and professional contributions is based on the associated email address. The contributor must change its email accordingly.
In the case of using
git, this can be done easily:
git config user.email "firstname.lastname@example.org"
git config user.email "email@example.com"
To find the email address currently used:
git config --get user.email
In cases where the contributor does not wish to see his personal identity attached to his contribution, an email address (or alias) need to be made available by the department to allow the use of a pseudonym. Beware some open source projects may refuse contributions under pseudonym.
The choice of a license is also the choice of a community of developers and an ecosystem of associated tools. Once the license family is chosen, it is primarily the targeted developer’s community that determines the choice.
The recommended licenses by default are:
Multilicensing: It is possible to provide software under several licenses simultaneously, although this can lead to confusion.
Having a versioning policy is recommended. The semantic versioning guide (https://semver.org/lang/en/) is a good example to follow.
Make sure you have at least the README, CONTRIBUTING, and LICENSE files.
CONTRIBUTING: contribution guide, how to get involved and identification of the contribution process and associated licenses. Example: https://github.com/moby/moby/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md
GOVERNANCE: describes project governance, roles and voting rights. An example is available in this repository gouvernance.md.
INSTALL: install instructions.
LICENSE: software license.
MAINTAINERS: list of project maintainers (usually with voting or commit rights). Example: https://github.com/moby/moby/blob/master/MAINTAINERS
NFR: choice of technical architecture of the project that do not correspond to functional requirements.
README: description of the project. Can describe the purpose and the administration behind the publication.
ROADMAP: public road map.
These files must be in plain text or with minimum marking (ie Markdown). It is not recommended to use binary formats (ie PDF).
According to the detailed recommendations in https://reuse.software each source code file must have its author, SPDX license ID, and a copy of the license in the local repository.
/ * * Copyright (c) 2017 Alice Commit <firstname.lastname@example.org> * * SPDX-License-Identifier: BSD-2-Clause * License-Filename: LICENSES / BSD-2-Clause_Alice.txt * /
or in the case of a project that automatically tracks its contributors:
/ * * This file is part of the project X. It's copyrighted by the contributors * recorded in the version of the history of the file, available from * its original location http://git.example.com/X/filename.c * * SPDX-License-Identifier: BSD-2-Clause * License-Filename: LICENSES / BSD-2-Clause_Charlie.txt * /
To ensure software compliance, these identifiers enable to generate automatically inventories of licenses in the form of “Bill of Material”.
The complete list of SPDX identifiers is available at this address: https://spdx.org/licenses/
It is recommended to propose to contributors to sign a Developer’s Certificate of Origin. It allows her to attest that her contribution is genuine, respectful of previous works and that she accepts futur use for it under the project’s license. A French translation is made available DCO-Fr.txt and the english version is readble here.
In order to accept the DCO, the contributor only needs to sign off her commits with the command:
git commit --signoff(or
git commit -s)
A DCO procedure should preferrably be set at the beginning of the project and it should be clearly stated in the
CONTRIBUTING file of the repository.
Best development practices also apply in the context of open development, and in particular those related to the normative documents enforced within the administration:
Opening the code also amplifies the importance of some of these best practices:
The recommendations below are not mandatory rules but define a goal. The quality of an open source project is closely related to the quality of its documentation, paying attention to this list is heavily recommended.
It is recommended to identify a person in charge of the security of the project that will ensure compliance with best practices implemented during development, and to treat potential security incidents. It is also better to use a dedicated e-mail address to deal with security incidents or intellectual property issues which would be discovered by a third party.
Eliminate all debug messages (by compilation conditional or through a run-time variable) and any unnecessary information for the user in error messages (e.g. Java / PHP / Python call trace) when going into production
Eliminate all dead code (i.e. code not called / no achievable) as it could be confusing and / or think that it is still functional and tested; this code, no maintained, could be wrongly reinstated by a developer
Obscurity is generally recognized as an insufficient practice, but in the case of a project with open code, this strategy is deprecated. It must therefore be replaced by other more robust strategies such as defense in depth.
No secret items (such as a password or key cryptographic) should only be stored in the code or in the comments; use configuration files that are not versioned (cf
Use software and libraries where appropriate third parties maintained and up-to-date security patches; prefer libraries (re) known, and the simplest possible
Use the code analysis services offered by the platform and systematically process problems brought up before integration
Only push commits of code that compile, are tested, and functional, accompanied by corresponding unit tests; some platforms offer the opportunity to replay automatically the unit tests of a project to ensure the non-regression (e.g. Travis, Homu)
Create a tag (e.g. v2.0.1) for each version (e.g. 2.0.1), and sign it cryptographically (see GPG signature verification)
Respect the recommendations and good safety practices issued by the ANSSI applicable to the project
The contribution policy is not intended to offer specific tools. However specifically for managing open code, you can find the referenced tools on https://www.linuxfoundation.org/tools-managing-open-source-programs/ useful.