Contributions are welcome, and they are greatly appreciated! Every little bit helps, and credit will always be given.

Get Started!#

Ready to contribute? Here’s how to set up scvi-tools for local development.

  1. Fork the scvi-tools repo on GitHub.

  2. Clone your fork locally:

    # Clone your fork of the repository (substitute in your username)
    git clone{your-username}/scvi-tools.git
    # Enter the cloned repository
    cd scvi-tools
    # Add our repository as a remote
    git remote add upstream
    # git branch --set-upstream-to "upstream/main"
  3. Setup a virtual environment:

    # If you have pyenv-virtualenv
    pyenv virtualenv scvi-tools-dev
    pyenv activate scvi-tools-dev
    # If you have mamba (omit the python parameter if you already have the relevant python version installed)
    mamba create -n scvi-tools-dev python=3.8.8 # or any python >=3.8 that is available (mamba search python)
    mamba activate scvi-tools-dev
  4. (Optional) Install GPU versions of PyTorch and jax:

    Using mamba (recommended):

    mamba install pytorch torchvision torchaudio cudatoolkit=11.7 -c pytorch -c conda-forge
    mamba install jax jaxlib -c conda-forge

    More information can be found on the installation page Installation.

  5. Install your local copy in the environment:

    # Enter the cloned repository and install the package in editable mode
    cd scvi-tools
    pip install -e ".[dev,docs,tutorials]"

    To confirm that scvi-tools was successfully installed:

    pip show scvi-tools
  6. Create an ipykernel so you can use your environment with a Jupyter notebook. IDEs like Visual Studio Code can perform this step automatically. To do so manually, inside your virtualenv:

    python -m ipykernel install --user --name=scvi-tools-dev
  7. Install pre-commit, which will enforce the scvi-tools code style (black, flake8) on each of your commits:

    $ pre-commit install
  8. Create a branch for local development:

    $ git checkout -b {your-branch-name}

    Now you can make your changes locally.

  9. Add tests to the /tests directory. These files start with test_ and contain functions that start similarly with test_.

  10. When you’re done making changes, run the tests using pytest:

    $ pytest tests/models/
    $ pytest tests/models/
  11. Commit your changes and push your branch to GitHub:

    $ git add <file> ...
    $ git commit -m "Your detailed description of your changes."
    $ git push origin name-of-your-bugfix-or-feature
  12. Submit a pull request through the GitHub website.

Coding Standards#

  1. Don’t duplicate code. Certainly no blocks longer than a couple of lines. It’s almost always better to refactor than to duplicate blocks of code.

  2. Almost all code should at least be run by a unit test. No pull request should decrease unit test coverage by much.

  3. Document each new method and each new class with a docstring.

  4. Don’t commit commented-out code. Just delete it or store it somewhere outside of the repo. You probably aren’t going to need it. At worse, it’s stored in previous commits, from before it was commented out.

  5. A pull request (PR) will typically close at least one Github issue. For these pull requests, write the issue it closes in the description, e.g. closes #210. The issue will be automatically closed when the PR is merged.

  6. Don’t commit data to the repository, except perhaps a few small (< 50 KB) files of test data.

  7. Respect the scvi-tools code style, the easiest way is to install pre-commit as described above.

  8. Your PR will be evaluated by automated software for following coding standards, so it’s easier to start with good practices.

Documenting Code#

This section is under construction, but we use the same docstring style as Scanpy. See their tutorial for more info.

For the actual documentation pages (e.g., the user guide), we use markdown files via the myst-parser.


  1. GitKraken can be a useful GUI for using git locally.

  2. git commit -m "my message" --no-verify allows overriding pre-commit.

  3. Reach out on gitter if you need help.

Pull Request Guidelines#

Before you submit a pull request, check that it meets these guidelines:

  1. The pull request should include tests.

  2. If the pull request adds functionality, the docs should be updated.

Your PR will be tested with our continuous integration checks.


This is a guide for the maintainers on how we backport patches.

The mainstream development branch is the main branch. We snap releases off of release branches created off of main.

We use the MeeseeksDev GitHub bot for automatic backporting. The way it works, in a nutshell, is that the bot listens to certain web events - for example commits containing “@meeseeksdev backport to [BRANCHNAME]” on a PR - and automatically opens a PR to that repo/branch. (Note: They open the PR sourced from a fork of the repo under the MeeseeksMachine organization, into the repo/branch of interest. That’s why under MeeseeksMachine you see a collection of repo’s that are forks of the repo’s that use MeeseeksDev).

For each release, we create a branch [MAJOR].[MINOR].x where MAJOR and MINOR are the Major and Minor version numbers for that release, respectively, and x is the literal “x”. It is also important that branch rules are applied to this branch (see previous rules for examples)! Every time a bug fix PR is merged into main, we evaluate whether it is worthy of being backported into the current release and if so use MeeseeksDev to do it for us if it can. How? Simply leave a comment on the PR that was merged into main that says: “@meeseeksdev backport to [MAJOR].[MINOR].x” (for example “@meeseeksdev backport to 0.14.x” if we are on a release from the 0.14 series. Note: Auto backporting can also be triggered if you associate the PR with a Milestone or Label the description of which contains “on-merge: backport to [BRANCHNAME]”.

feature foo <- head of branch main, main development branch
bug fix
feature bar <- head of branch 0.14.x, release branch for the 0.14.x release series, also tagged as v0.14.0 (release)
  my hotfix <- backported from main
  my other hotfix <- backported from main, also tagged as v0.14.1 (release)
feature baz
my hotfix
another bug fix
my other hotfix

Manually backporting a patch#

If MeeseeksDev cannot automatically cherry-pick the PR (e.g. due to conflicts requiring manual resolution), it will let us know. In that case we need to cherry-pick the commit ourselves. Here are examples of such cases, and here is one resource explaining how to do it, but there are probably a lot more on the web.


There are a few steps to deploying a new version of scvi-tools.

Update tutorials#

Tutorials are currently integrated via a git submodule. To update the tutorials, locally run:

git submodule update --remote

Then, commit the changes, push, and open/merge a PR with these changes. This will update the tutorials on the website because ReadTheDocs will pull the submodule commit from the tutorials repo.

Finally, make a GitHub release on the tutorials repo with the same version number as the new scvi-tools release. This will make the tutorials available on Colab in a versioned way (URLs will use the version tag).

Version bump#

Make sure all your changes are committed (and release notes are up to date). Additionally, make sure to merge a PR with a version bump to pyproject.toml.

Then, make sure you’ve tested your code using pytest by running:

$ pytest

Writing a GitHub release#

On GitHub, draft a release. The release should be named with the version number (e.g., 1.2.3) and should create a tag with the same version number (e.g., 1.2.3, but importantly not v1.2.3).

Any tag of the form *.*.* will trigger the release.yml workflow, which will build and upload to PyPI. Creating this tag will also trigger ReadTheDocs to build a new stable version (RTD uses the last release tag from GitHub as the stable version).

Manual release#

If you want to manually release, you can install hatch and run:

$ hatch build
$ hatch publish

This will upload scvi-tools to PyPI. It’s advised to use the automated release workflow, but in the future if this fails we can revert to manual releases (but still after making a GitHub release, as the tag is important for the stable version of the docs).

Instructions on uploading to conda#

scvi-tools is available on conda-forge channel. Typically, a PR will be automatically created once a new PyPI release is made (example). This automated PR might need changes if dependencies have changed. In that case, create a fork of the scvi-tools feedstock repo on GitHub and follow instructions in the README there.