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Adding New Features

You are free to add any new features you like to gawk. However, if you want your changes to be incorporated into the gawk distribution, there are several steps that you need to take in order to make it possible for me to include your changes:

  1. Before building the new feature into gawk itself, consider writing it as an extension module (see Adding New Built-in Functions to gawk). If that's not possible, continue with the rest of the steps in this list.
  2. Get the latest version. It is much easier for me to integrate changes if they are relative to the most recent distributed version of gawk. If your version of gawk is very old, I may not be able to integrate them at all. (See Getting the gawk Distribution, for information on getting the latest version of gawk.)
  3. Follow the GNU Coding Standards. This document describes how GNU software should be written. If you haven't read it, please do so, preferably before starting to modify gawk. (The GNU Coding Standards are available from the GNU Project's ftp site, at Texinfo, Info, and DVI versions are also available.)
  4. Use the gawk coding style. The C code for gawk follows the instructions in the GNU Coding Standards, with minor exceptions. The code is formatted using the traditional "K&R" style, particularly as regards to the placement of braces and the use of tabs. In brief, the coding rules for gawk are as follows:

    Note: If I have to reformat your code to follow the coding style used in gawk, I may not bother to integrate your changes at all.

  5. Be prepared to sign the appropriate paperwork. In order for the FSF to distribute your changes, you must either place those changes in the public domain and submit a signed statement to that effect, or assign the copyright in your changes to the FSF. Both of these actions are easy to do and many people have done so already. If you have questions, please contact me (see Reporting Problems and Bugs), or
  6. Update the documentation. Along with your new code, please supply new sections and/or chapters for this Web page. If at all possible, please use real Texinfo, instead of just supplying unformatted ASCII text (although even that is better than no documentation at all). Conventions to be followed in GAWK: Effective AWK Programming are provided after the @bye at the end of the Texinfo source file. If possible, please update the man page as well.

    You will also have to sign paperwork for your documentation changes.

  7. Submit changes as context diffs or unified diffs. Use diff -c -r -N or diff -u -r -N to compare the original gawk source tree with your version. (I find context diffs to be more readable but unified diffs are more compact.) I recommend using the GNU version of diff. Send the output produced by either run of diff to me when you submit your changes. (See Reporting Problems and Bugs, for the electronic mail information.)

    Using this format makes it easy for me to apply your changes to the master version of the gawk source code (using patch). If I have to apply the changes manually, using a text editor, I may not do so, particularly if there are lots of changes.

  8. Include an entry for the ChangeLog file with your submission. This helps further minimize the amount of work I have to do, making it easier for me to accept patches.

Although this sounds like a lot of work, please remember that while you may write the new code, I have to maintain it and support it. If it isn't possible for me to do that with a minimum of extra work, then I probably will not.