Notes to developers

Here you can find notes on design principles and how to contribute to AvaFrame.

First a few general remarks. We are aware there’s no right or wrong here, we decided to stick to a few principles. If you contribute code, please try to observe these:

AF-DESIGN-1: Use SI units

Units in APIs should be SI units: seconds, meters, etc.

AF-STYLE-1: Line length

If you want a guide for line length — we think line breaking at 120 characters makes more sense than line breaking at 80.

AF-STYLE-2: Naming

Use short, but descriptive enough names for variables. Use longer descriptive names for things with bigger scopes (functions, modules). Main theme: as short as possible, but as long as necessary.

Please use lowerCamelCase (e.g.: myFancyVariable) for naming, avoid underscores.

AF-STYLE-3: Commenting

Exposed API functions need documentation comments, most importantly a docstring, other code only needs to be commented as necessary. Write your code clearly and use sensible names to reduce the need for comments.

AF-STYLE-4: No dead code

Unused code, commented out code, functions that are never called, etc, should be removed from the project to reduce the cognitive load of reading the source code. Old code is available in the source history if it is needed.

AF-STYLE-5: Use spaces for indentation

Use 4 spaces as indentation throughout the python code.

Our suggested git workflow

Clone repository:

git clone

Clones the repository to your local machine into the directory AvaFrame. Sets the repository to track to origin


git checkout -b myAwesomeFeature

This changes your working directory to the myAwesomeFeature branch. Try to keep any changes in this branch specific to one bug or feature. You can have many branches and switch in between them using the git checkout command.

Work on it and from time to time commit your changes using following commands as necessary:

git add
git commit

To update this branch, you need to retrieve the changes from the master branch:

git rebase origin master


git checkout master
git pull
git checkout myAwesomeFeature
git rebase master

This replays all your changes on the current status of the master (i.e main) branch. If conflicts arise, now is the time to solve them.

Push your changes to the main repository:

git push origin

Once you feel you are done, start a pull request on

Pull requests are reviewed and handled. Once the pull request is included into the master, the local myAwesomeFeature branch can be deleted (the one in the main repository/origin will be handled by the pull request):

git checkout master
git branch -d myAwesomeFeature

Build the documentation

If you want to work on the documentation you need to install Sphinx. If you have followed the conda installation using avaframe_env_spec.txt, you can omit the following steps. If not, you can install Sphinx, the ReadTheDocs theme, and the sphinxcontrib-bibtex, which we use to include references, by running:

pip install sphinx
pip install sphinx-rtd-theme
pip install sphinxcontrib-bibtex

In order to build the documentation you need to install make

sudo apt install make

Then go to the docs\ directory and run:

make html

Html files of the documentation can be found in the _build directory.

How to test code

AvaFrame uses pytest to test code. If you add new code, consider including a pytest for it in Avaframe/avaframe/tests/. In order to perform the pytests, just run:


and you should see something like:

===========================test session starts ======================
platform linux -- Python 3.8.3, pytest-5.4.3, py-1.9.0, pluggy-0.13.1
collected 1 item
tests/ .                                       [100%]

==========================1 passed in 0.02s =========================

How to add a benchmark test

AvaFrame offers an expanding benchmark test suite. At the moment this test suite includes avalanche simulations for various idealised topographies. The facilitates running all the available benchmark tests for com1DFA at once. With this script, the avalanche simulations are performed, plotted and a report of the comparison between simulation results and the benchmark data is generated. If you plan to add a new benchmark test case, follow these steps

  • first chose a name, we suggest to start it with ava (for now let’s refer to it as NameOfAvalanche)

  • add all the required input data in data/NameOfAvalanche. Follow the required directory structure which can be generated using: Initialize Project

as a next step, you need to add the benchmark results:

  • go to AvaFrame/benchmarks and add the subdirectory named after your test name

  • add benchmark data i.e. peak values of result parameters as ascii files. This data will be used as reference for the new test!

  • add the configuration file as NameOfAvalanche_com1DFACfg.ini

  • add a json file with required info on benchmark test - you can use the example provided in runScripts/

  • go to AvaFrame/benchmarks/ and add a simulation dictionary that contains all the info on the new benchmark

Now, you are ready to go! Move to AvaFrame/avaframe and run:


You can check out the markdown-style report of the comparison at: tests/reports/