Contributor’s Guide#

Thanks for considering contributing to Bowtie, it’d be very much appreciated!


If you’re going to work on Bowtie itself, you likely will want to install it using Python’s editable install functionality, e.g.:

$ pip install -r bowtie-repo/requirements.txt -e bowtie-repo/

which will allow you to make changes to files within Bowtie and see the results without reinstalling it repeatedly.

Running the Tests#

Bowtie has a small set of integration tests which ensure it works correctly on a number of cases.

You can find them in the tests/ directory.

You can run them using nox, which you can install using the linked instructions, and then can run:

$ nox -s tests-3.11

to run the tests using Python 3.11 (or any other version you’d like).

Before submitting a PR you may want to run the full suite of tests by running nox with no arguments to run all environments.

Running the UI#

Bowtie has a frontend interface which can be used to view or query results of Bowtie test runs.

A hosted version of this UI will live at If you are making changes to the UI, you can run it locally by:

  • ensuring you have node and npm installed

  • running npm start in the frontend/ directory within your repository checkout of Bowtie

For Implementers#

If you have a new (or not so new) implementation which Bowtie doesn’t yet support, contributing support for your implementation is extremely useful.

See the harness tutorial for details on writing a harness for your implementation, and please do send a PR to add it!

Proposing Changes#

If you suspect you may have found a bug, feel free to file an issue after checking whether it is a known issue. Of course a pull request to fix the bug is very welcome. Ideally, all pull requests (particularly ones that aren’t frontend-focused) should come with tests to ensure the changes work and continue to work.

Continuous integration via GitHub actions should run to indicate whether your change passes both the test suite as well as linters. Please ensure it passes, or indicate in a comment if you believe it fails spuriously.

Please discuss any larger changes ahead of time for the sake of your own time! Improvements are very welcome, but large pull requests can be difficult to review or may be worth discussing design decisions before investing a lot of effort. You’re welcome to suggest a change in an issue and thereby get some initial feedback before embarking on an effort that may not get merged.

Improving the Documentation?#

Writing good documentation is challenging both to prioritize and to do well.

Any help you may have would be great, especially if you’re a beginner who’s struggled to understand Bowtie.

Documentation is written in Sphinx-flavored reStructuredText, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself a bit with Sphinx.

Feel free to file issues or pull requests as well if you wish something was better documented, as this too can help prioritize.