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Review Guidelines

The following summarises review guidelines that we follow for pull requests in Element Web and other supporting repos. These are just guidelines (not strict rules) and may be updated over time.

Code Review

When reviewing code, here are some things we look for and also things we avoid:

We review for

  • Correctness
  • Performance
  • Accessibility
  • Security
  • Quality via automated and manual testing
  • Comments and documentation where needed
  • Sharing knowledge of different areas among the team
  • Ensuring it's something we're comfortable maintaining for the long term
  • Progress indicators and local echo where appropriate with network activity

We should avoid

  • Style nits that are already handled by the linter
  • Dramatically increasing scope

Good practices

  • Use empathetic language
  • Authors should prefer smaller commits for easier reviewing and bisection
  • Reviewers should be explicit about required versus optional changes
    • Reviews are conversations and the PR author should feel comfortable discussing and pushing back on changes before making them
  • Reviewers are encouraged to ask for tests where they believe it is reasonable
  • Core team should lead by example through their tone and language
  • Take the time to thank and point out good code changes
  • Using softer language like "please" and "what do you think?" goes a long way towards making others feel like colleagues working towards a common goal


  • Authors should request review from the element-web team by default (if someone on the team is clearly the expert in an area, a direct review request to them may be more appropriate)
  • Reviewers should remove the team review request and request review from themselves when starting a review to avoid double review
  • If there are multiple related PRs authors should reference each of the PRs in the others before requesting review. Reviewers might start reviewing from different places and could miss other required PRs.
  • Avoid force pushing to a PR after the first round of review
  • Use the GitHub default of merge commits when landing (avoid alternate options like squash or rebase)
  • PR author merges after review (assuming they have write access)
  • Assign issues only when in progress to indicate to others what can be picked up

Design and Product Review

We want to ensure that all changes to Element fit with our design and product vision. We often request review from those teams so they can provide their perspective.

In more detail, our usual process for changes that affect the UI or alter user functionality is:

  • For changes that will go live when merged, always flag Design and Product teams as appropriate
  • For changes guarded by a feature flag, Design and Product review is not required (though may still be useful) since we can continue tweaking

As it can be difficult to review design work from looking at just the changed files in a PR, a preview site that includes your changes will be added automatically so that anyone who's interested can try them out easily.

Before starting work on a feature, it's best to ensure your plan aligns well with our vision for Element. Please chat with the team in before you start so we can ensure it's something we'd be willing to merge.