"Author identity": metadata about an identity/role taken when writing source code or creating other resources


When it comes to copyright notions in files and authorship/committer id in version control systems, the name and the contact information, like email address, can be a few different ones for oneself. E.g. when working in different FLOSS projects, with each email address dedicated to the project, or when working on a FLOSS project both in name of an employer, but also privately in free times.

As these data is usually fixed for a given project, and same sets of the data are used in different projects, it would be nice to have this data in a central datastore for reuse and automatic update across projects. Per project the selected data set would be automatically used when the values are needed, like on generation of code or when operating in the version control system.

Initial Plans

Marching plan:

  1. Collect user stories to gain idea of problem space: what kind of identity data is used when and where, what identity data sources can be used or need to by synced with
  2. Collect previous/existing attempts/approaches to learn more about solution space
  3. magic happens
  4. Profit!

Data Models

Temporary drafts created from currrent user stories, serving as long-term orientation. First implementations would only have properties which are needed for the initial features.


  • internal id
  • display name for identity, to be used in selections
  • display picture to be used along/in-place of display names
  • full name
  • email address
  • copyright owner (if contract work)
  • copyright owner contact data, email/phone/webaddress (if contract work) -> perhaps separate model?
  • alias email addresses, older email addresses
  • alias full name, old full name (marriage, gender change, different details)
  • related project management servers (build server, review server, task management server, issue server, ...) and account there

Identity manager:

  • allows creation/editing/deletion of identities
  • setting the standard identity, preselected for new projects
  • multiple backends possible, to allow adapting to custom addressbook system/LDAP/*, for updating automatically to any changes?


  • has at least one identity assigned
  • identity is configured on creation, defaults to standard
  • active identity queried for name & email address on creation from templates
  • vcs commit metadata settings updated on selecting active identity

User stories

Things that might be nice to have support for when it comes to author identities. Meant for collecting idea, not everything will be possible.

Do not get in the way

As developer working alone on a private project, I do not want to have to deal with any identity stuff, any defaults are fine with me.

Multiple identities in same system

As developer working with the same computer/system on different projects for different customers or different project groups, I want KDevelop to always inject the correct/matching copyright & author information on generating code from file & app templates for different projects/customers, instead of having to manually post-edit the generated code.

Multiple identities in same project

As developer working on the same project with the same computer system both for job and privately, I want to quickly switch identity data to be used depending on whether I work for job or privately, to mark copyright of contributions accordingly.

Pick up identity on import

As developer importing a project into KDevelop, I want to have the identity automatically derived from account/server/fetched project and have the option to create a new identity from the found data if there is none, or overwrite with an existing identity.

Highlight my contributions in VCS history

As developer working on a project with VCS support, I want my easily see my own commits in the vcs history, e.g. by being highlighted.

(needs support for multiple identities perhaps, match could be done by name and/or email address (blacklist/whitelist to protect against wrong matches))

Update existing identity data

As developer working on a project, I want to have assistance when identity properties had been changed (like email address or name) and this should be reflected in all existing copyright/contributor notions of a project, where possible.

Use matching gpg keys on signing vcs commits

As developer signing my vcs commits when working with the same computer/system on different projects for different customers or different project groups, I want KDevelop to always use the correct gpg keys.

Do not touch vcs identity data

As developer working on a project with a vcs, I want KDevelop to always inject the correct/matching copyright & author information on generating code from file & app templates, but stay away from changing identity data of the vcs.

Allow to override current active identity data

As a developer integrating patches from 3rd-parties into the vcs, I want to be able to override author identity data on individual vcs commits or snippet generation (e.g. license headers).


Syncing data with git

git has its own system to store author identity data, which can be edited directly. How to detect any direct changes? How to deal with it e.g. on importing an existing project?

on importing, if not matchable to defined identities, ask whether to create new identity in system or to overwrite with existing?

Existing solutions of other products



karn (https://github.com/prydonius/karn) can be used to manage git identities, by placing config files in the directory hierarchy and calling the tool to update to git setting.

Available technical features

Currently KDevelop is hard-coded to use whatever is set for the default profile of KEMailSettings in file templates, the only place which I found to use authorship metadata. KMail seems to be feeding KEMailSettings, but otherwise there might be no data in there. https://lxr.kde.org/source/kde/pim/kidentitymanagement/src/identitymanager.cpp

This page was last edited on 9 January 2017, at 16:01. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.