Developer Guide

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Quick Links

Tips for New Developers

  • Ask lots of questions and don't be afraid to look a fool. It's a learning process and like I tell my students, 'if you don't understand (after a reasonable amount of effort), ask somebody who can help'.
  • Note our Coding Standards for Audacity (these don't apply to subordinate libraries). Most importantly, don't use tabs at all, and always use three spaces for indentation (otherwise things don't line up on different editors). We mostly use standard camel-case capitalization. Some use Hungarian notation, but not everybody.
  • Note the challenge of maintaining Quality in open source software. We have had many short-term contributors over some ten years. This can result in "organic" interdependencies that aren't obvious, so any code change has the potential to break something. Read all the comments in the code, write your own comments when you add code, and don't remove any code you don't understand.
  • Use the same tools other people are using.
  • Post error messages when asking for help, but try and select relevant bits.

Platform Specific Guides

Getting Audacity building on Linux is usually trouble-free because the right tools are there in the environment, or can be found and installed easily. On Windows and Mac it takes longer to set up the environment. Unless you are very experienced, you need to stay with the version of Visual Studio (Windows) and version of Xcode and OS X SDK (MacOS) indicated in the links below.

Design Topics

Improving and Adding Features

Adding new features is one of the more exciting aspects of the job, but needs care so as not to destabilise what is already there. New approaches using a plug-in type of architecture can help this. Even so, there are some things that cannot always be done in an open source program due to licensing restrictions. Have a look at our Feature Requests page to see what our users most wish to see in Audacity, add your own requests, and let us know if you are interested in helping us implement the best of these.

We also have a Roadmap of planned steps in Audacity development.

Bug Fixing

Although Audacity is extensively tested, especially when new features and versions are introduced, we depend heavily on users to report bugs to us. If you are looking for bugs to fix, see Bug Lists.

Tell us about your changes

When you have crafted your improvement or bug fix, please tell us about it on audacity-devel. At some stage you would typically commit the changes to your own clone of Audacity on GitHub and then submit a GitHub Pull Request. We may need time to respond and get the commit ready to merge, if we like your ideas. Always discuss it on audacity-devel if it is more than a couple of lines of code.

More about Digital Audio

There are a few articles in our Digital Audio Technology category on this Wiki, and there is a short explanation of digital audio basics on this page of our Audacity Manual.

There are also articles on the internet ranging from beginners' guides on how sound is represented in a computer, to research papers on digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms. For some recommended sources, see Digital Audio Recommended Articles.

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