Tips For Reading Code

As developers, we spend more time reading code than writing it, and this video provides tips to enhance your code-reading skills within the IntelliJ IDEA IDE. Learn how to leverage features like syntax highlighting, inlay hints, and code formatting to navigate and understand code effortlessly. Discover techniques to quickly scan code, collapse and expand sections for efficient navigation, and use powerful search functionalities to locate specific elements.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, these tips will empower you to read and comprehend code with confidence, making your coding journey in IntelliJ IDEA a seamless and productive experience.


IntelliJ IDEA: Selectively Commit Changes to a File

Sometimes you’re making multiple changes to a file that you don’t want to commit together. For example, if you’re working on a new feature, but notice some other small things you want to fix. If these changes are in separate files, we can commit each file separately. But what if they’re in the same file?

In IntelliJ IDEA (as of version 2023.3), we can now select which chunks and specific lines we want to add to our commit.

We can see which files were changed by opening the Commit tool window (⌘0 on macOS, or Alt+0  on Windows/Linux). Here we can open the diff for a particular file to see which changes were made to that file, using ⌘D (macOS) / Ctrl+D (Windows/Linux).

IntelliJ IDEA showing a diff in a file. There are multiple checkboxes in the gutter of the changed file for different changes to the file.

In the diff, we have the option to include specific changes to our commit, by clicking the Include into commit checkbox in the gutter next to each chunk of modified, deleted or newly added code.

IntelliJ IDEA showing a diff in a file and checkboxes in the gutter of the changed file. A tooltip on a checkbox shows "Include into commit".

We can even select specific lines from a change to include in a commit. To commit only a specific line from a chunk, right-click the line you want to include and select Split Chunk and Include Current Line into Commit.

IntelliJ IDEA showing a diff in a file with a checkbox in the gutter of the changed file. The context menu shows the option "Split Chunk and Include Current Line into Commit" highlighted.

Alternatively, hover over the gutter and select the checkbox next to the line you want to include in the commit. Or, if we change our mind, we can also hover over the gutter and clear the checkbox next to the line we want to exclude.

IntelliJ IDEA showing a diff in a file. There are multiple checkboxes in the gutter of the changed file. A tooltip on one of the checkboxes shows "Include into commit".

Once we have selected all the changes we want to commit, we write a meaningful commit message, and select Commit. Any unselected changes will stay in the current change list, so that you can commit them separately later.

What if we don’t want to add these changes to the same pull request, not even in a separate commit? Maybe you want to do some more cleaning up in your code base, and create a separate pull request for those changes later. We can undo this commit and move these changes to a different change list. To do so, select Move to Another Changelist from the context menu of a modified chunk.

IntelliJ IDEA showing a diff in a file with a checkbox in the gutter of the changed file and a context menu with the option "Move Lines to Another Changelist" highlighted.

Next, we can name our new changelist. The changes will be assigned to this changelist and we can see it in the Commit tool window.

IntelliJ IDEA showing a diff in a file with a popup on top. The popup is titled Move Lines to Another Changelist and the new changelist is named "Fixes".


IntelliJ IDEA Pro Tips: Selectively Commit Changes to a File

While working on a new feature, you find some small other things to fix. Since these changes are unrelated, you probably shouldn’t commit them together. You could revert these changes to redo them separately, but who wants to do extra work? Fortunately, you can now select which chunks or even lines of changes to add to your commit. You can commit the rest separately or even move it to a new change list.


Explore project structure with IntelliJ IDEA’s Dependency Matrix

In this tutorial, we’ll look at exploring project structure with IntelliJ IDEA‘s Dependency Matrix.

When working with large, complex software projects, we need to understand the dependencies between components in your projects. IntelliJ IDEA has a feature called Dependency Structure Matrix (DSM), or Dependency Matrix, that can help us with this.

When you are new to a project, the Dependency Matrix can help you get an overview of the dependencies in the project. The Dependency Matrix can also help us get an idea of how hard it will be to split a project, based on the dependencies between components. Finally, it can help us find and untangle cyclic dependencies.

It offers a matrix of the components in our project to help you and highlights the usage flow between them. Let’s take a look!

Opening the Dependency Matrix

You can open the Dependency Matrix from the main menu by going to Code | Analyze Code | Dependency Matrix.

Alternatively, use Find Action (⌘⇧A on macOS, or Ctrl+Shift+A on Windows/Linux) and search for “matrix”.

To use this feature, the Dependency Matrix plugin needs to be enabled.

When opening the Dependency Matrix, specify the scope you want to analyze. You can select the Whole project or specify a Custom scope, and whether to include test sources or not.

After defining the scope, click Analyze.

If the project’s class files are out of date, the analysis may result in incomplete or incorrect data. To avoid this, IntelliJ IDEA will prompt you to compile the project before continuing the DSM analysis. Click Yes to build the project and make sure everything is up-to-date.

The DSM tool window will open in a popup, showing a matrix of your project’s components.

Interpreting the Dependency Matrix

Let’s take a look at how to interpret the Dependency Matrix.

The row headers represent the program structure. In this example, the matrix contains the same modules from the Project tool window as rows.

Notice that the modules are not sorted alphabetically, as they are in the Project tool window. The matrix moves the components that are used the most to the bottom. This means that the components located at the top of the matrix depend on the components below.

Since this is a matrix, the column headers are the same as the row headers. They are omitted to save space. The dashes on the diagonal correspond to self-dependencies, which are not shown.

As you can see in the legend at the top right of the DSM tool window:

  • dependencies are shown in blue
  • mutual or cyclic dependencies, meaning that two components depend on each other, are shown in red
  • dependencies flow from green to yellow.


Dependencies are shown in blue. The numbers in the cells show the number of dependencies of the selected row on the selected column. An ellipsis (the three dots) in a cell means that there are more than 99 dependencies. Hover over the cell to get more information. In the example below, we see the tooltip “cucumber-java -> cucumber-core (209)”. This means that in this project the component cucumber-java (represented in the column) depends on the component cucumber-core 209 times.

You can click rows or cells to examine the relationship between the components in more detail.

When you select a row to see the relationship between the selected component and others, the selected row and corresponding column are highlighted to visualize row dependencies.

The column shows the dependencies of the selected row.

The row shows the dependencies on the selected row.

Remember from the legend that dependencies flow from green to yellow.

In this example, the core module is selected. You can see that this module uses several other modules, marked in yellow. In turn, you see that this module is used by several modules marked in green.

You can select different rows to see which components they use or are used by. You’ll see that the components at the top mostly use the components at the bottom, while the components at the bottom are mostly used by components at the top and no longer using other components themselves.

You can drill down further into specific cells. When you click a cell, one component will be marked green and the other will be marked yellow. The green component uses the yellow component. The corresponding cell (marked purple) will show dependencies in the other direction, in this case 0.

We can drill down even further.

Expand components

Right now everything is collapsed and only the modules are shown. You can click a module to expand its packages. The module name is shown to the left, the packages are shown as rows and the dependencies between the packages are shown in the matrix inside the box marked with a black line.

You can expand the packages further to show the classes in that package, and see the dependencies between classes inside the packages. You can expand modules and packages by clicking the arrows in the rows on the left, and collapse them again.

You can also expand the modules and packages by double-clicking a cell. We can collapse everything again by using the Flatten Packages button on the top left.

Limit scope

You can limit the scope of your Dependency Matrix. Right-click the row you want to look at in more detail, and from the context menu, select Limit Scope To Selection.

The limited scope will be opened in a new tab in the DSM tool window.

You can limit the view to see only selected dependencies. In the DSM tool window, right-click the cell representing the dependency you’re interested in and select Explore Dependencies Between.

The classes that produce these dependencies will be opened in a new tab in the DSM tool window. In contrast to the Limit Scope option, only classes which produce selected dependencies are left.

Another way to open the Dependency Matrix, with the option to select a specific scope, is from the Project tool window (⌘1 on macOS, or Alt+1 on Windows/Linux). Right-click an item in the Project tool window and select Analyze | Analyze Dependency Matrix.

Notice how you can now select the module or directory as scope for the Dependency Matrix, in addition to the whole project or a custom scope.

Navigate to relevant code

We can also navigate to the relevant code from the Dependency Matrix. To select a specific dependency for further source-code analysis, right-click the dependency you are interested in in the DSM tool window, and select Find Usages for Dependencies.

The Find tool window will open, showing the usages of the selected dependency. Close the DSM tool window to look at the results and explore the code you’re interested in. We can open the relevant code by double-clicking it in the Find tool window (⌘3 on macOS, or Alt+3 on Windows/Linux).

You can reopen the window again from the main menu by going to View | Tool Windows | DSM.

And remember that all windows can be opened from Recent Files (⌘E on macOS, or Ctrl+E on Windows/Linux) as well.

Cyclic dependencies

Remember from the legend that mutual or cyclic dependencies are shown in red. This means that two components depend on each other.

In a large application with multiple cyclic dependencies, you don’t need to expand all the nodes one by one to find all the cyclic dependencies. You can press F2 or select Go to Next Cycle from the context menu to quickly jump to the next cycle.


In this tutorial you’ve seen how the Dependency Matrix can help visualize and explore dependencies between components in
your project.

IntelliJ IDEA Shortcuts Used

Here are the IntelliJ IDEA shortcuts that we used.

NamemacOS ShortcutWindows / Linux Shortcut
Find Action⌘⇧ACtrl+Shift+A
Project Tool Window⌘1Alt+1
Find Tool Window⌘3Alt+3
Recent Files⌘ECtrl+E
Go to Next CycleF2F2

Related Links

IntelliJ IDEA: Explore project structure with the Dependency Matrix

When working with large, complex software projects, we need to understand the dependencies between components in your projects.

#IntelliJIDEA‘s Dependency Structure Matrix (DSM), or Dependency Matrix, that can help us with this! Let’s take a look at how to use the Dependency Structure Matrix to see dependencies between different components, like modules, packages, and classes. See how to identify dependencies, find cyclic or mutual dependencies, and visualize the flow of dependencies to see which components use or depend on other components and vice versa.

Working with GitLab Merge Requests in IntelliJ IDEA

In this tutorial, we will take a look at working with GitLab Merge Requests inside IntelliJ IDEA.

When reviewing Merge Requests in a web interface, we don’t have the same support that our IDE gives us, like syntax highlighting and the context within which the code was written.

IntelliJ IDEA has support for reviewing and merging GitLab Merge Requests. These features are available if the IntelliJ IDEA project has a remote that points to GitLab.


We can open the GitLab Merge Requests using the GitLab logo on the left, or from the menu by going to Git > Gitlab > Show Gitlab Merge Request.

Open Merge Requests from logo
Open Show GitLab Merge Requests from menu

Logging in to GitLab from IntelliJ IDEA

If we aren’t already logged in to GitLab via IntelliJ IDEA, the GitLab Merge Requests tool window will prompt us to Log In.

Log In

We can log into GitLab with a token. When we click Generate, this will take us to the GitLab page where a token with the right scopes can be generated for us. Click the button Create personal access token to create the token. When the token is generated, click the button to copy the token.

Generate a token
Create Personal Access Token
Copy the token

We can copy the token into the Token field in the popup and click Log In.

Paste the token into the Token field

Alternatively, we can use an existing token, as long as it has the required scopes.

We can also log in to our GitLab account in the Settings. Open the Settings (⌘, on macOS | Ctrl+Alt+S on Windows/Linux) and go to Version Control > GitLab. Click Add Account (⌘N on macOS | Alt+Insert on Windows/Linux) to add an account if there is no account logged in, or click the + button at the top left to add an account. In the popup, add the Server if needed, paste the token from GitLab into the Token field in the popup and click Log In.

Add GitLab account in Settings
Paste the token into the Token field in Settings
Account added in Settings

GitLab Merge Request tool window

Once we’re logged in, the GitLab Merge Requests tool window will show all open Merge Requests for the GitLab repository.

GitLab Merge Requests tool window

We can change the search criteria to look for specific Merge Requests. We can use predefined filters, or search for something more specific.


If the Merge Request has assignees and/or reviewers assigned, we can see them here.


We can see the details of a specific Merge Request by double-clicking on it.

Merge Request details

We can go back to the list of search results by clicking the project name in the top left of the Merge Requests tool window. We can see that the Merge Request we just looked at still has a tab open here, in case we want to go back.

Click project name to go back to the list of Merge Requests

Usually, you’ll want to look for open Merge Requests, since these are the ones that need attention. Let’s double-click, or press Enter, on one of these Merge Requests.

Open Merge Requests

View GitLab Merge Requests inside IntelliJ IDEA

If the Merge Request does not have a reviewer assigned, we can assign one from the Merge Request tool window in IntelliJ IDEA. Click the three dots at the bottom left of the Merge Request details and select the action Request Review. From the list that pops up, select the reviewer(s) to assign this Merge Request to.

Request Review
Assign reviewer

We can see the files that have been changed in the Merge Request in the bottom left window, and the timeline in the main editor pane.

Changed files and timeline

We can also select a file to see the diff as well as the comments for that file. We can go back to the timeline by clicking View Timeline.

The timeline shows the same information as the GitLab Merge Request activity page. The timeline shows activity on the Merge Request, including comments and other status changes in the main editor pane. If there are inline comments on the code, we can see them here.

It also shows the result of any checks that were run. We can go to the details to see which checks failed, and even click them to go straight to the failing check on GitLab, so we can look at the details.

Checks failed

We can open the Merge Request in our browser in several ways. We can right-click the Merge Request number and select Open in Browser. Alternatively, we can open the Merge Request in our browser by right-clicking it, either when it’s already open, or in the list of Merge Requests and selecting Open Merge Request in Browser.

Open on GitLab
Open in browser

IntelliJ IDEA also shows if there are any conflicts, so we know if this request is safe to merge or not.


We can open any of the files that make up the Merge Request, and IntelliJ IDEA will show them in the diff viewer, so we can have a closer look at the changes that make up the Merge Request. Inline comments will be displayed in the diff view too. Alternatively, we can open the diff view by selecting the file and using the shortcut for Show Diff (⌘D on macOS | Ctrl+D on Windows/Linux).

Show diff

If the Merge Request contains changes to multiple files, we can navigate between those files. We can do so using the arrows at the top of the diff viewer, or using the shortcuts to Compare Next File (⌃⇧→ on macOS | Alt+→ on Windows/Linux) or Compare Previous File (⌃⇧← on macOS |Alt+← on Windows/Linux).

Navigate between files

If the Merge Request consists of multiple commits, we can see the individual commits in the Changes from dropdown list. We can look at the changes for an individual commit if we want.

Multiple commits

We can also see the number of comments for the Merge Request, and for each file.

We can Hide All Windows (⇧⌘F12 on macOS | Ctrl+Shift+F12 on Windows/Linux) to focus on the diff. We can Restore Windows using the same shortcut.

Alternatively, we can reopen the Merge Requests window by opening the Recent Files dialog (⌘ E on macOS | Ctrl+E on Windows/Linux), which also lets us open up any of the Tool Windows. Here we can search for “merge” to find the Merge Request tool window.

Recent files

Adding comments from GitLab and IntelliJ IDEA

Let’s look at comments on our Merge Request.

We can add comments to the GitLab conversation. Comments on this page are comments that apply to the Merge Request as a whole, and not a specific piece of code. We can see these comments inside IntelliJ IDEA too. We might need to refresh our Merge Request window, either using the shortcut to Refresh Reviews (⌘R on macOS | Ctrl+F5 on Windows/Linux) or by right-clicking the Merge Request window and selecting Refresh Merge Request.

Comment from GitLab
Refresh reviews

We can also add comments from inside IntelliJ IDEA. We can place high-level comments, like the comment we just placed from GitLab.

Comment from IntelliJ IDEA

We might also want to add comments on particular parts of the code. We can do so from inside IntelliJ IDEA by clicking on the plus in the gutter of the diff viewer. For example, let’s add a comment to the current Merge Request.

Inline comment

We can edit or delete comments. We can also reply to comments or resolve a comment that is no longer relevant, for example, if the code has been updated in line with the comment.

Working with comments

From the diff viewer, we can submit our review and approve the Merge Request if we think it’s ready to be merged.

Submit Review and Approve

Reviewing GitLab Merge Requests inside IntelliJ IDEA

One feature that’s really helpful when we’re reviewing a Merge Request is that we can check out the code that is in the Merge Request. In this project, I’m currently on the main branch. Let’s check out the branch for this Merge Request.

Check out branch locally

With the branch checked out locally, we can navigate the code related to this Merge Request. This lets us not only look at the code, but also make sure that the project still builds and tests pass. We can potentially make changes too.

Build success

Finally, let’s look at how to finish off the Merge Request.

If a Merge Request is no longer relevant, and we’re not going to take the changes that went into the Merge Request, we can close it. We can do so by clicking the three dots at the bottom left of the Merge Request tool window and selecting Close Merge Request.


If the Merge Request is ready, meaning all the checks have passed, questions have been answered and requested changes to the code have been made, we can merge it. We can do so by clicking the Merge button at the bottom left of the Merge Request window. We also have the option to Squash and Merge, meaning all commits will be combined into a single commit when merging. We can add our own commit message for the merge, or edit the default one if we want to.

Edit commit message

The Merge Request will be merged, and if we do a Fetch we can see the updated branches for this repository.

Updated branches

We can see in our browser that the Merge Request has been closed.


Summary and shortcuts

As we’ve seen, we can work with GitLab Merge Requests right inside IntelliJ IDEA. We can see all Merge Requests on a project, filter them or search for a specific Merge Request, perform a code review and add comments, see whether checks have passed and there are no merge conflicts, checkout the branch to run it locally, submit our review and approve the Merge Request, and merge (or close) the Merge Request all from inside our IDE.

IntelliJ IDEA Shortcuts Used

Here are the IntelliJ IDEA shortcuts that we used.

NamemacOS ShortcutWindows / Linux Shortcut
Open Settings⌘,Ctrl+Alt+S
Add Account⌘NAlt+Insert
Show Diff⌘DCtrl+D
Compare Next File⌃⇧→Alt+→
Compare Previous File⌃⇧←Alt+←
Hide all windows / Restore windows⇧⌘F12Ctrl+Shift+F12
Recent files⌘ECtrl+E
Refresh reviews⌘RCtrl+F5
IntelliJ IDEA shortcuts used

Related Links

IntelliJ IDEA: GitLab Merge Requests

Overview of IntelliJ IDEA 2023

IntelliJ IDEA is designed to help developers like us stay in the flow while we’re working. Like all IDEs, it has a lot of functionality available, but it’s designed to get out of your way to let you focus on the code.

Take a look at this overview of IntelliJ IDEA.


  • Find Action: ⌘ ⇧ A (on macOS) / Ctrl+Shift+A (on Windows/Linux)
  • Feature Trainer
  • Hide all windows: ⌘ ⇧ F12 (on macOS) / Shift+Command+F12 (on Windows/Linux)
  • Project tool window: ⌘1 (on macOS) / Alt+1 (on Windows/Linux)
  • Quick Switch Scheme: ^`(on macOS) / Ctrl+` (on Windows/Linux)
  • IDE viewing modes
  • Preferences: ⌘, (on macOS) / Ctrl+Alt+S (on Windows/Linux)

Coding assistance

  • Code completion
  • Complete Current Statement: ⌘ ⇧ ⏎ (on macOS) / Shift+Ctrl+Enter (on Windows/Linux)
  • Show Context Actions: ⌥ ⏎ (on macOS) / Alt+Enter (on Windows/Linux)
  • Intention actions
  • Navigate to next highlighted error: F2
  • Navigate to previous highlighted error: Shift F2
  • Generate code: ⌘ N (on macOS) / Alt + Insert (on Windows/Linux)
  • Live templates


  • Rename: Shift F6
  • Extend selection: ⌥ Up (on macOS) / Ctrl+W (on Windows/Linux)
  • Extract variable: ⌘ ⌥ V on macOS) / Ctrl+Alt+V (on Windows/Linux)
  • Postfix completion
  • Reformat code: ⌘ ⌥ L (on macOS) / Ctrl+Alt+L (on Windows/Linux)
  • Move statement up: ⇧⌘ Up (on macOS) / Ctrl+Shift+Up (on Windows/Linux)
  • Surround with: ⌘ ⌥ T (on macOS) / Ctrl+Alt+T (on Windows/Linux)
  • SmartType Completion: ^ ⇧ Space  (on macOS) / Shift+Ctrl+Space (on Windows/Linux)
  • Inline: ⌘ ⌥ N (on macOS) / Ctrl+Alt+N (on Windows/Linux)
  • Extract method: ⌘ ⌥ M on macOS) / Ctrl+Alt+M (on Windows/Linux)

Testing & Debugging


  • Navigate backwards: ⌘ [ (on macOS) / Ctrl+Alt+Left (on Windows/Linux)
  • Navigate forwards: ⌘ ] (on macOS) / Ctrl+Alt+Right (on Windows/Linux)
  • Find usages / declaration: ⌘ B (on macOS) / Ctrl+B (on Windows/Linux)
  • Recent Files: ⌘E (on macOS) / Ctrl+E (on Windows/Linux)
  • Recent locations: ⇧⌘E (on macOS) / Ctrl+Shift+E (on Windows/Linux)
  • Search everywhere: ⇧⇧ (on macOS) / Shift Shift (on Windows/Linux)
  • Find in files: ⇧⌘F (on macOS) / Ctrl+Shift+F (on Windows/Linux)

Reading Code

  • Folding -> Expand: ⌘ + (on macOS) / Ctrl+ + (on Windows/Linux)
  • Folding -> Collapse: ⌘ – (on macOS) / Ctrl+ – (on Windows/Linux)
  • Folding -> Expand All : ⇧ ⌘ + (on macOS) / Ctrl+Shift+ + (on Windows/Linux)
  • Folding -> Collapse All: ⇧ ⌘ + (on macOS) / Ctrl+Shift+ – (on Windows/Linux)
  • File Structure: ⌘ F12 (macOS) / Ctrl+F12 (Windows/Linux) – Twice to expand list
  • Quick documentation: F1 (macOS) / Ctrl+Q (Windows/Linux)
  • Toggle Rendered View:  ^ ⌥ Q (macOS) / Ctrl+Alt+Q (Windows/Linux)

Version Control support (Git)

  • Commit: ⌘ 0 (macOS) / Alt+0 (Windows/Linux)
  • Jump to last tool window: F12
  • Show diff: ⌘ D (macOS) / Ctrl+D (Windows/Linux)
  • Commit Anyway and Push: ⌥ ⌘ K (on macOS) / Ctrl+Alt+K (on Windows/Linux)
  • Git tool window: ⌘9 (on macOS) / Alt+9 (on Windows/Linux)
  • Terminal: ⌥ F12 (on macOS) / Alt+F12 (on Windows/Linux)
  • Git integration

Language and technology support

Integrated tools support

Contributing to open source software; creating a pull request

In this tutorial, we are going to take a look at contributing to Open Source Software, specifically how to do a pull request (PR). We will look at forking and cloning the project, making the changes, committing and pushing these changes, creating the pull request, the review and hopefully merge of your PR. The same process may apply when making contributions to a project at work that you don’t own. In this example, the project is on GitHub. Other Git code repositories may use a similar process.

There are many reasons to contribute to open source projects, and different ways to find an issue to work on, from fixing a bug that is bothering you, to simply wanting to help out, or even just to gain more experience and learn something new. If you’re fixing something that is currently bothering you, you will have a specific issue and project to work on. If not, you could consider contributing to a project you like to use, or finding an issue that is suitable for someone new to contributing to open source and/or the project. There are also many different things you can contribute. Code is one, but projects also need testing and other things. For more information on what you can contribute and how to find something to contribute, please have a look at this video.

For this blog post, let’s assume we’ve found a project we want to work on, and an issue we want to fix.

Getting the project

When making your first contribution, you won’t have access to push to the open source project directly. So, the first thing we will need to do is fork this project to our own profile. This means we create a copy of the original project on our profile.

Fork project


We then need to clone this project to our local machine. We see that we have several options to get the code. Let’s use HTTPS as that can be the simplest option. When we click the clipboard icon, the URL will be copied to our clipboard.



When we open IntelliJ IDEA and don’t already have a project open, we’ll see the Welcome screen. Here we have the option to Get from VCS (version control system).

Welcome screen

When we click the button, the Get from Version Control dialog opens. We can paste the URL we just copied. We can select where we want to store this project on our computer; let’s stick with the default. When we select Clone, IntelliJ IDEA will clone the GitHub repository to the selected directory.

Clone project

If we already have a project open, we can open the Get from Version Control dialog by going to File > New > Project from version control.

New Project from version control menu

IntelliJ IDEA will open the project on our machine.

Making and committing our changes

Before making any changes, we’ll want to make sure that we can build the project. Hopefully, how to build the project will be described in the README, as it is for this example. Let’s open the terminal and build the project as described. In this example, we need Docker, which is already installed and running.

Build the project

Now that we know we can build the project, we can start making changes. First, we need to look for the right place to make the change. We might navigate the project in the Project tool window (⌘1 on macOS, or Alt+1 on Windows/Linux), or look for a specific file or code snippet using Find in Files (⌘⇧F on macOS, or Ctrl+Shift+F on Windows/Linux).

Project tool window

Find in files

We might want to create a specific branch for our changes.

Once we are done making our changes and the project still builds, we can commit our changes (⌘K on macOS, or Ctrl+K on Windows/Linux). We can check our changes in the Commit tool window (⌘1 on macOS, or Alt+1 on Windows/Linux) to see if these are the right files and use Show Diff (⌘D on macOS, or Ctrl+D on Windows/Linux) to see if the changes are correct.

Commit changes

Check the differences

If we don’t have access to the original project, we need to push our code to our fork.


Creating the pull request

Once we are happy with our changes, we can create a pull request.

We go back to our GitHub profile and create a pull request from there. After we have pushed our changes, we can see that our fork is 1 commit ahead. We can start creating our pull request by clicking Contribute.


We need to provide a title and description for our pull request. Make sure the title is a good description of the changes you want to contribute. If your PR fixes an issue, you can add “fixed #x” (where x is the issue number) to the title; this will automatically close the linked issue when the PR is merged. Once you are happy with the title and description, click the button Create pull request to open your pull request.

Open the pull request

Create pull request

Negotiating the review process

Now the waiting starts. On an active project, hopefully your PR will be reviewed soon. Your PR might get comments from reviewers that you need to fix. For complex changes, this might take several iterations. For smaller changes, hopefully it won’t. Before doing a lot of work on an issue you might want to check that your contribution is wanted and your solution is what they are looking for. Don’t be discouraged by review comments. Keep in mind that the maintainers will have to maintain your solution in the future and they want to make sure that it fits their project.

As you can see, reviewers can comment on your PR, approve the PR or request changes which must be addressed before merging. A project might have other checks set up that need to pass before merging. You might want to check that these checks pass and that there are no conflicts with the main branch.



Summary and shortcuts

In this blog post, we’ve seen how to do an open source pull request. For more information on what you can contribute and how to find something to contribute, please have a look at this video.

IntelliJ IDEA Shortcuts Used

Here are the IntelliJ IDEA shortcuts that we used.

Name macOS Shortcut Windows / Linux Shortcut
Open / Close Project Tool Window ⌘1 Alt+1
Find in Files ⌘⇧F Ctrl+Shift+F
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Contributing to open source software: Creating a pull request

In this screencast, we’re going to take a look at Contributing to Open Source Software, specifically how to create a pull request.


public static void main 🎶

On June 23, 2023 Hanno Embregts and I performed a lightning talk / pop music quiz called “public static void main 🎶 “. This was based on a Tweet that said “I realized that you can sing “public static void main” like “Everybody dance now” and I can’t stop doing it”. Hanno found 15(!!) songs that would also work, and we created a pop music quiz.

On June 23, 2023 Hanno Embregts and I performed a lightning talk / pop music quiz called “public static void main 🎶 “.

Hanno and I met at Joy of Coding 2022, where he gave his talk “What “Stairway to Heaven” Can Teach Us About Software Development“. In this talk, he plays parts of the song on stage with his travel guitar, and then explains how the lyrics are about software development.

How it started

A few weeks later, I saw a tweet that said “I realized that you can sing “public static void main” like “Everybody dance now” and I can’t stop doing it”. (And, I’ve been doing just that ever since.) Someone responded to my retweet by pointing out that this also works for Vamos a la playa.

I love it when a plan comes together

So I pitched the idea to Hanno of doing a “pop music quiz” with different songs where we would replace the lyrics with “public static void main” and we could have the audience guess what the original song was. A few months later, Hanno contacted me to say he had found at least 15(!!) songs where this would work. Apparently, he had gone through the Top 2000 looking for songs he thought might work. So we got together to discuss this idea, write an abstract and figure out where to submit it too. We submitted to several conferences that offered lightning talks slots and … got accepted to Joy of Coding 2023! Coincidentally, this is also where I got started speaking, so I was very excited to return.

Time constraints

Unfortunately, we had to cut some songs due to the 5-minute limit, so we selected the 6 we thought would work best. We selected a quiz tool, created the questions, and some videos to go with them using IntelliJ IDEA‘s live templates.
The Joy of Coding organizers were extremely helpful in allowing us to take the last slot in the lightning talk line-up, letting us use our own laptop to run the quiz, and talking to the venue to get Hanno an audio monitor at the last minute.

Joy of Coding 2023

On the day of the conference, we had a lot of fun playing and singing along.

And to our surprise, we ended up with a tie for first place! Fortunately, we had some back-up songs we could use to settle this tie in a kind of “sudden death” match between the two top contestants.

We also got some positive feedback from the crowd, as well as an invitation to perform again elsewhere.


Many thanks to original tweeters for the idea (I’ll forgive you for also getting the song stuck in my head), Hanno Embregts for the awesome collaboration, Yosuf Haydary for pictures and videos of the event and Joy of Coding for having us!