Developers Starter

Firstly, if you haven’t read through the entirety of the “Getting Started” sections, please do so before contributing to dnppy. Secondly, if you’re a burgeoning self taught programmer, head over to the python quick start page for some good primers.

The way dnppy is developed is a little bit unique because it is so tightly integrated with the DEVELOP program. In the immediate future, the primary users will be internal to the DEVELOP program, though we expect this to change as dnppy matures. Future developers are likely to include a number of Geoinformatics Fellows who come in at an intermediate level of programming skill. These factors dictate a customized approach to further development of dnppy.

Contributing Through GitHub

All contributions, bugs, issues, everything to do with dnppy is managed through the nasa-develop github. There is a set of best practices to go along with it that warrants is own page on GitHub best practices

Integrated Development Environment

There are a few recommendations that can be made to those working to enhance their programming skills and get deeper into development. One of those is to spend some time selecting, and getting comfortable with an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

We highly recommend users download PyCharm by JetBrains to work on sets of python code, but especially if working on dnppy. PyCharm gives the user tips and warnings when coding best practices are violated, which can encourage you to adopt more professional practice and learn things you didn’t even think to ask about! It also has powerful refactoring tools and great error catching on the fly to help you spend less time fixing small mistakes. Pycharm works well on both Windows and Linux.

Stylistic Coding Conventions

Stylistic conventions have no impact on a set of codes ability to run, but are arguably even more important than the technical capabilities of the code. Coding conventions make code more readable, easier to troubleshoot, easier to build upon, and more approachable by other programmers familiar with those conventions. Fortunately there exist some extremely common conventions, and in dnppy, we adhere to most of them, as listed below.


We are now using the pep-0008 style guide as referenced here . See the link for a full list of conventions

Below is a list of general guidelines for style and consistency to keep everything as readable as possible.

Column Width

Code should be no longer than 100 characters, in the case your statement goes over, use a new line or split your statement up.

String Literals

String Literals are denoted with "" or '', docstrings should always be triple double quotes """

var = "I'm a string!"
var = 'I am also a string!'
def foo():
    """ Here is a docstring """


Variables should be lowercase and word separated with _

var = 3
another_var = 4
more_words_than_previous_var = 5


The same format as Variables, lowercase with _ separating words should be used.

def func():
   # ...
def adheres_to_coding_convention_func():
   # ...


Simple comments should be placed to the right of the line when possible, or one comment should be placed above a segment shortly explaining it’s purpose

var = x - y + r * 2         # calculate ___ and place in var
doFunc(var)                 # do some func with var param
if var[-1] is not var[:3]:
  err()                     # error is var does not match criteria

# does this and this and this
var = x + 2
x = var - 5
if var == 0:

This documentation website is generated using docstrings from source, so document as you code! The docstring markdown is reStructedText Primer and sphinx, when the doc chain is generated it will use these docstrings from the code for the webpage.

class Foo(object):
    Class description is placed here

    :param <name>: description of param 'name'

    def __init__(self, name):
        # do some stuff

    def foo(self, x, y):
        Description of function here

        :param int x: parameter x is an integer and does ....
        :param int y: parameter y is an integer and does ....
        :rtype: returns int

The auto documentation tool chain will generate this as:

class Foo

Class description is placed here

Parameters:name – description of param ‘name’
foo(self, x, y)

Description of function here

  • x (int) – parameter x is an integer and does...
  • y (int) – parameter y is an integer and does...
Return type:

returns int

If you are developing in an existing file , the doc chain should find your new function/class automatically. In the case you are creating a new module, you’ll need to create a .rst file in the docs/source/modules folder to give a description of the module. You can refer to the existing .rst files for how to populate the docs.