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Pre Condition 3: Code on the local machine

This section explains how you get the JabRef code onto your machine in a form allowing you to make contributions.

Fork JabRef into your GitHub account

  1. Log into your GitHub account
  2. Go to
  3. Create a fork by clicking at fork button on the right top corner
  4. A fork repository will be created under your account

Clone your forked repository on your local machine

In a command line, navigate to the folder where you want to place the source code (parent folder of jabref). To prevent issues along the way, it is strongly recommend choosing a path that does not contain any special (non-ASCII or whitespace) characters. In the following, we will use c:\git-repositories as base folder:

cd \
mkdir git-repositories
cd git-repositories
git clone --recurse-submodules JabRef
cd JabRef
git remote rename origin upstream
git remote add origin
git fetch --all
git branch --set-upstream-to=origin/main main

--recurse-submodules is necessary to have the required files available to JabRef. (Background: It concerns the files from citation-style-language/styles and more).

Note that putting the repo JabRef directly on C:\ or any other drive letter on Windows causes compile errors (negative example: C:\jabref).

Please really ensure that you pass JabRef as parameter. Otherwise, you will get java.lang.IllegalStateException: Module entity with name: jabref should be available. See IDEA-317606 for details.


Initial cloning might be very slow (27.00 KiB/s).

To prevent this, first the upstream repository is cloned. This repository seems to live in the caches of GitHub.

Now, you have two remote repositories, where origin is yours and upstream is the one of the JabRef organization.

You can see it with git remote -v:

c:\git-repositories\jabref> git remote -v
origin (fetch)
origin (push)
upstream (fetch)
upstream (push)