Hacking on Pitivi

The Pitivi development environment

The official way of getting your environment up and running is by using flatpak. For this you need to install flatpak on your system, along with flatpak-builder, which might be provided by an additional package on some distributions (please tell us if it is the case for yours so we can make a list here).

Setting up the development environment

Create a development environment folder and get the Pitivi source code into it:

$ mkdir pitivi-dev
$ cd pitivi-dev
$ git clone https://git.gnome.org/browse/pitivi

When you hack on Pitivi, enter the development environment to get:

$ cd pitivi-dev/pitivi && source bin/pitivi-env
-> Setting up the prefix for the sandbox...
Using Pitivi prefix in /.../pitivi-dev/pitivi-prefix
[prefix being built, if not already...]
Running in sandbox: echo Prefix ready
Prefix ready

Note: This can take a while when creating the sandbox from scratch.

Run the unittests:

(ptv-flatpak) $ ninja -C mesonbuild/ test
Running in sandbox: ninja -C mesonbuild/ test

Hack away, and check the effect of you changes by simply running:

(ptv-flatpak) $ pitivi

Development Workflow

We use Phabricator tasks to track all bugs and feature requests; feel free to open a task if you have found a bug or wish to see a feature implemented if it doesn't exist already. You can even subscribe to tasks on Phabricator to keep yourself updated with their progress. If you're a newcomer wanting to contribute, you can start with tasks tagged Pitivi tasks for newcomers to get involved.

To fix a task, it's best to get in touch with us on our IRC channel #pitivi on Freenode, to see if it's still meaningful, then if all is well:

  1. Assign the task to yourself in Phabricator.

  2. Create a new branch with a relevant name. Make sure to set its remote-tracking branch, as it determines the default commit range to attach. For example, if you're going to work on task T7674, the branch could be called T7674-import-img or T7674-fix-import, i.e. git checkout -b T7674-import-img origin/master.

  3. Once you have made your changes, you need to create a commit. Follow the GNOME guidelines for creating commits.

    Be aware that when you create a commit, pre-commit is executed to perform checks on the changes and in some cases it does some automatic fixes. When this happens, make sure those are included in the commit you want to create.

  4. Now you're all set to push your first diff to Phabricator for review!

    (ptv-flatpak) $ git-phab attach --task TXXXX

Optionally, you can set git-phab to automatically push your WIP branches to a personal remote repository:

  1. Add your cloned remote Pitivi repository as a remote to your local repository:

    $ git remote add github https://github.com/NICK/pitivi.git
    $ git remote set-url github https://github.com/NICK/pitivi.git
    $ git remote set-url --push github git@github.com:NICK/pitivi.git
    $ git remote show github | grep URL
      Fetch URL: https://github.com/NICK/pitivi.git
      Push  URL: git@github.com:NICK/pitivi.git
  2. Set git-phab remote to your cloned remote Pitivi repository:

    $ git config phab.remote github

Building the C parts

Select parts of Pitivi are written in C and need to be built when changed, such as the audio envelope renderer for the audio clips. Build them with:

(ptv-flatpak) $ ninja -C mesonbuild/
Running in sandbox: ninja -C mesonbuild/

Updating the development environment

To update the dependencies installed in the sandbox, run:

(ptv-flatpak) $ ptvenv --update

That will actually recreate the prefix, update all dependencies from their git repos and tarballs as defined in the flatpak manifest (located at build/flatpak/pitivi.template.json)

Working on Pitivi dependencies (Meson)

If you have to work on say, GStreamer Editing Services which is built using the Meson build system, first clone it into your pitivi-dev folder:

(ptv-flatpak) $ git clone git://anongit.freedesktop.org/gstreamer/gst-editing-services

Prepare its build directory. Once it has been set up, you won't have to run meson again for this build directory.

(ptv-flatpak) $ setup
Using Pitivi prefix in /.../pitivi-dev/pitivi-prefix
Running in sandbox: meson mesonbuild/ --prefix=/app --libdir=lib -Ddisable_gtkdoc=true -Ddisable_doc=true

Build and install it in the sandbox:

(ptv-flatpak) $ ninja -C mesonbuild/ install
Using Pitivi prefix in /.../pitivi-dev/pitivi-prefix
Running in sandbox: ninja -C mesonbuild/ install

In the (ptv-flatpak) development environment meson and ninja are aliases which run meson and ninja in the flatpak sandbox.

NOTE: When updating the environment with ptvenv --update, it will use your local dependencies repositories it finds in the pitivi-dev folder, instead of the default remote repositories. This means you have to update them yourself. Also beware that it will not take into account not committed changes.

Working on Pitivi dependencies (Autotools, Make, etc)

If the project you are working on is built with other tools, make sure they are run in the sandbox by using ptvenv. For example:

(ptv-flatpak) $ cd pitivi-dev/frei0r-plugins-1.4
(ptv-flatpak) $ ptvenv ./autogen.sh
Running in sandbox: ./autogen.sh
(ptv-flatpak) $ ptvenv ./configure
Running in sandbox: ./configure
(ptv-flatpak) $ ptvenv make
Running in sandbox: make

Coding Style Guide

We rely on the Python Style Guide PEP-8

The only exception to it is regarding the "80 columns" rule. Since Python is a very concise/compact language, we can afford to be a little bit more flexible on the line length than languages such as C.

When deciding whether or not you should split your line when it exceeds 79 characters, ask yourself: "Does it truly improve legibility?"

What this translates to is:

  • Avoid having very long lines.

  • When the contents only slightly exceeds the 80 chars limit, consider keeping it on one line. Otherwise it just hurts legibility and gives a weird "shape" to the code.


The function names, method names and other class attributes should be small_caps_with_underscore. For example:

def some_function():
    return ""

class MyClass:

    def a_really_important_method(self):

    def water_level(self):
        """The level of the water in meters."""
        return self.__water_level

To illustrate how private a method or other class field is, prepend one or two underscores:

  class MyClass:

     def public_method(self):

     def _protected_method(self):

     def __private_method(self):

Unused arguments in methods should be prefixed with unused_. The most common place where this would happen is in callbacks from gobject signals. For example, below we don't use the second argument, but we do use pad.

     def __pad_added_cb(self, unused_element, pad):

The name of a callback method should:

  • be prepended with two underscores since it's private
  • be appended with cb
  class MyClass:

     def some_method(self):
         self.someobject.connect('event', self.__some_object_event_cb)

     def __some_object_event_cb(self, object, arg):
         print "our callback was called"

Imports order

You can guess the order of the imported modules by looking at some py files. The pre-commit hook has authority in this case as it will reorder the imports if the order is not good.

Profiling Pitivi

To profile a pitivi run, simply set the PITIVI_PROFILING environment variable to 1, like so:


A file named pitivi-runstats will be created in the current directory, a handy tool to examine it is gprof2dot.py, install it with:

$ pip install gprof2dot

Then run:

$ gprof2dot -f pstats pitivi-runstats | dot -Tsvg -o profile.svg

You can then inspect the call tree profile with your preferred image viewer:

$ xdg-open profile.svg


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