Developer’s Manual


This is a guide for those who wish to hack on the MPD source code. MPD is an open project, and we are always happy about contributions. So far, more than 150 people have contributed patches. This document is work in progress. Most of it may be incomplete yet. Please help!

Code Style

  • indent with tabs (width 8)

  • don’t write CPP when you can write C++: use inline functions and constexpr instead of macros

  • comment your code, document your APIs

  • the code should be C++20 compliant, and must compile with GCC 10 and clang 11

  • all code must be exception-safe

  • classes and functions names use CamelCase; variables are lower-case with words separated by underscore

Some example code:

Foo(const char *abc, int xyz)
    if (abc == nullptr) {
            LogWarning("Foo happened!");
            return -1;

    return xyz;

Error handling

If an error occurs, throw a C++ exception, preferably derived from std::runtime_error. The function’s API documentation should mention that. If a function cannot throw exceptions, add noexcept to its prototype.

Some parts of MPD use callbacks to report completion; the handler classes usually have an “error” callback which receives a std::exception_ptr (e.g. BufferedSocket::OnSocketError()). Wrapping errors in std::exception_ptr allows propagating details about the error across thread boundaries to the entity which is interested in handling it (e.g. giving the MPD client details about an I/O error caught by the decoder thread).

Out-of-memory errors (i.e. std::bad_alloc) do not need to be handled. Some operating systems such as Linux do not report out-of-memory to userspace, and instead kill a process to recover. Even if we know we are out of memory, there is little we can do except for aborting the process quickly. Any other attempts to give back memory may cause page faults on the way which make the situation worse.

Error conditions which are caused by a bug do not need to be handled at runtime; instead, use assert() to detect them in debug builds.

git Branches

There are two active branches in the git repository:

  • the “unstable” branch called master where new features are merged. This will become the next major release eventually.

  • the “stable” branch (currently called v0.22.x) where only bug fixes are merged.

Once MPD 0.23 is released, a new branch called v0.23.x will be created for 0.23 bug-fix releases; after that, v0.22.x will eventually cease to be maintained.

After bug fixes have been added to the “stable” branch, it will be merged into master. This ensures that all known bugs are fixed in all active branches.

Hacking The Source

MPD sources are managed in a git repository on Github.

Always write your code against the latest git:

git clone git://

If you already have a clone, update it:

git pull --rebase git:// master

You can do without --rebase, but we recommend that you rebase your repository on the “master” repository all the time.

Configure with the option --werror. Enable as many plugins as possible, to be sure that you don’t break any disabled code.

Don’t mix several changes in one single patch. Create a separate patch for every change. Tools like stgit help you with that. This way, we can review your patches more easily, and we can pick the patches we like most first.

Basic stgit usage

stgit allows you to create a set of patches and refine all of them: you can go back to any patch at any time, and re-edit it (both the code and the commit message). You can reorder patches and insert new patches at any position. It encourages creating separate patches for tiny changes.

stgit needs to be initialized on a git repository:

stg init

Before you edit the code, create a patch:

stg new my-patch-name

stgit now asks you for the commit message.

Now edit the code. Once you’re finished, you have to “refresh” the patch, i.e. your edits are incorporated into the patch you have created:

stg refresh

You may now continue editing the same patch, and refresh it as often as you like. Create more patches, edit and refresh them.

To view the list of patches, type stg series. To go back to a specific patch, type stg goto my-patch-name; now you can re-edit it (don’t forget stg refresh when you’re finished with that patch).

When the whole patch series is finished, convert stgit patches to git commits:

stg commit

Submitting Patches

Submit pull requests on GitHub: