Solution - Composable Submit Requirements


Make clear to users why a change is not submittable and what can be done to make it submittable. Make it easy for admins to configure what makes a change submittable.


In Gerrit, admins can write Prolog code to define what makes a change submittable. It’s hard for admins - most of whom have never used Prolog before - to get this right. On repo-discuss as well as we are paying a constant support cost to help users. In addition, the Prolog engine has led to outages in the past that are hard to diagnose (e.g. when reaching the max. reduction limit). The UX also leaves a lot to be desired.

In 2018, the SubmitRule interface was added as an alternative to Prolog, but the adoption suffered from an important shortcoming: Since SubmitRules need to be implemented as a plugin, the plugin implementor needs to control when a given rule is active, e.g. through a config flag. This makes them inflexible.


Allow composing Submit Predicates to Submit Requirements using a lightweight, boolean query language that defines when a requirement is applicable and when it’s blocking. Provide a bridge between Submit Requirements and some existing Change Predicates to have more out-of-the-box rules. Migrate all existing files on Gerrit-on-Borg to use Submit Rules. Disable Prolog on deployment.


This document defines the high-level design of the new system, but is by no means complete. Smaller-scale decisions will be made during the implementation.

This document is part of a wider effort around CI integration.


This document is based on a collection of requirements that involved many community members and was led by Ben Rohlfs.

Interface and Data Model

With this project, we add a layer on top of the existing SubmitRule interface. The existing interface is renamed to SubmitPredicate. The new layer is called SubmitRequirement and references SubmitPredicate in different queries. Plugins can continue to contribute SubmitPredicate.

Submit Requirements (SRs) are independent of each other and all submit requirements must either pass or declare they aren’t applicable for a change to be submittable. SRs have three queries that work in the same way as change queries do. One that defines applicability and one that defines a blocking condition. The queries are built of Submit Predicates or Change Index Predicates that can be composed together using AND, OR and NOT.

Similar to existing change queries, we do not support nesting of predicates (using the result of one predicate as input for another) or variables:

// Example of a supported query
label:Code-Review+1 AND

// Example of a unsupported query (nesting of functions/operators)
label:(find_label(),+2) AND

// Example of a unsupported query (variables)
var lbl = label:Code-Review+1;
label:lbl AND

SubmitRequirements are defined as (proto representation chosen only for illustrative purposes):

message SubmitRequirement {
  string name = 1;                 // Name of the condition
  string description = 2;          // (Markdown, HTML?) Long-form description
  string applicable_condition = 3; // Query, that if it evaluates to false
                                   // will regard this requirement as irrelevant.
  string fulfilled_condition = 4;  // Query, that if it evaluates to false will
                                   // make this requirement block submission.
  string override_condition = 5;   // Query, that if it evaluates to true will
                                   // make this requirement not block submission
                                   // and mark it as overridden.
  bool can_override = 6            // If true, child projects can remove or modify
         [default = true];         // this requirement.

This data model was validated against large, complex setups on including Android, Fuchsia and Chromium’s current rules.

Submit requirements are inherited by default and can be overridden and deactivated in child projects unless “can_override” is set to false. This is the equivalent of submit_rule/submit_filter in Prolog. We use the same inheritance model as for labels: A rule can only be overridden in full or disabled in full, never in parts.

Example Submit Requirement:

Name API Review
Description This requirement ensures that changes that modify the API got an additional API review. API reviews are based on . Bot accounts are exempt from this requirement. Build cops can override this requirement by voting `Build-Cop-Override +1`.
Applicable Condition NOT commit_author:'' AND commit_filepath_contains:'/api/.*'
Fulfilled Condition label:API-Review,MAX_WITH_BLOCK
Override Condition label:Build-Cop-Override,MAX_WITH_BLOCK
Can Override false


Labels will serve solely as state definition and votes as state. Thus labels by themselves have no impact on the submittability of a change. We will migrate existing label functions, branch, ignoreSelfApproval out of label definitions into their own SubmitRequirements. What remains inside the label definition is score-copy configuration, name and scores as well as permissions on who can vote (kept separately). SubmitRequirements will then be the sole authority of submitability.

A new label SubmitPredicate allows to write a SubmitRequirement referencing label votes and existing functions.

// Using existing function

// Working directly with votes
label:Code-Review+2 AND NOT label:Code-Review-2

Through this predicate, Gerrit will also know the relation between labels and Submit Requirements and can base UX decisions on that. For example: Show a vote button next to the SubmitRequirement or highlight labels that are currently blocking submission.

It will still be possible to have labels that serve only as markers (e.g. CQ-Ready) and have no impact on submittabilty.

Persistence, Auditability and Caching

Submit requirements are persisted in NoteDb when a change gets merged to enable after-the-fact audits. SubmitRequirements don’t get re-evaluated for merged changes, instead the state-upon-merge is presented.

SubmitRequirements will not be cached since the evaluation of the boolean expressions is cheap. The evaluation of most predicates is cheap as well since they are solely based on cached state of the change. Complex predicates - such as Code Owners - have to define a caching strategy on their own, based on the domain knowledge of the implementation.

We will continue to store the evaluation result of submit requirements in the change index but switch from JSON to proto serialization to be in line with how we serialize the Change entity and have a standard model for field deprecation.

Predicates and Evaluation

We will implement a bridge between change index predicates and submit predicates that allows us to expose selected change index predicates as submit predicates. This allows for a good set of base predicates. We’ll further implement any remaining predicates from the Prolog implementation. Plugins can contribute their own SubmitPredicates.

// Example of a plugin-provided predicate used together with a core predicate
pluginName:argument AND NOT label:Code-Review-2

The evaluation of Submit Requirements will use the existing Antlr integration used for search queries to evaluate submit requirement queries.

Prolog allows admins to return a custom label that is used to communicate extra information back to the user. An example for this is that the owners plugin uses this string to inform the user about who can provide missing owners approvals. We will retain this option either through the SubmitPredicate interface or a separate interface.

Prolog Support

We will implement a “prolog()” SubmitPredicate that can be used to call out to the Prolog engine from a requirement. This predicate will be able to return an additional field (“labels”) that we serve as “labels” alongside the actual labels on the API. This preserves the current behavior and allows for an online migration of each rule implemented in Prolog to a new Submit Requirement. We will continue to support this behavior for the time being.

Conditional Submit Type

The current Prolog implementation allows to define the SubmitType at runtime. We will therefore implement a plugin endpoint to allow plugins to change the submit type of a change. The two use cases (change in directory, branch or by certain user) will be catered by a single plugin. This will also allow moving the Prolog interpreter into a plugin.

Submittability and Mergeability

Submittability is whether or not a change has all required approvals and meets the bar for being submitted. Mergeability is whether or not a change is mergeable without a conflict in git, irrespective of any approvals it might need. While this distinction will remain, the UI will show ‘Mergeability’ as an additional submit requirement. Computing ‘Mergeability’ is much slower than evaluating submit requirements, which is why we keep these concepts separate and augment them only on the change page.

UI Support for project owners

Gerrit currently offers a poor experience for admins that want to write and test their Prolog rules forcing them to write locally and perform a Git push and debug in production. For composable submit requirements, we will offer a UI to write, test and save submit requirements. The UI will allow for project owners to add SRs. Illegal queries will be called out directly and the UI will offer to test the modifications against existing changes to see if they would pass or fail on these changes. Direct modification of the configs will still be possible and Gerrit will ensure that SRs contain valid queries using validation listeners that act upon push.


There are three flavours that we have to migrate to the new world:

1) Projects that only use Labels and functions, no Prolog and no custom SubmitRules We’ll implement a SchemaMigration to migrate existing label functions to SubmitRequirements as an online migration. The migration will create one submit requirement for each existing, blocking label. A cleanup will remove Label functions. 2) Projects that use Prolog We’ll implement a PrologPredicate as outlined above. The migration from (1) will create a “Prolog requirement” for each project that has a file on the evaluation path. This allows for an online migration 1-by-1 of parts of the Prolog rule to a dedicated SubmitRequirement. Plugins that currently expose a custom prolog fact will need to expose a custom submit predicate instead. 3) Projects that use custom SubmitRules by implementing the existing interface There aren’t many implementations of SubmitRule as of now. We’ll change the API of SubmitRules to SubmitPredicates. The new interface is very close to the old. This requires implementers of SubmitRule to make only minimal changes.

On the REST API and in the Gerrit UI, we will work only with the new entities. The Prolog glue code will be contained in the backend and is narrow-scoped. While we want to remove Prolog support from Gerrit-on-Borg, we will continue to support the existing implementation in an open-source plugin, so that projects that like Prolog aren’t forced to move over.

Future Work

In a future iteration, we want to allow SubmitRequirements to expose actions to the frontend. These turn into buttons for the user to work towards resolving an unfulfilled requirement. For example: Users can invite reviewers who have the permission to vote on a required label or code-owners whose approval is missing.

Alternatives Considered

  • Single query, no separation: Instead of having individual submit rules that are composed of predicates, we could just have a single query per project composed of predicates that defines submittability. This would make it much harder to show actionable results to the user or would complicate the query evaluation to generate actionable output.
  • One query per requirement: We could skip the applicability_query/override_query and just have a single query that blocks if it evaluates to false. However, we think it’s an important UX decision to make that not all requirements apply to a given change. It also allows admins to write simpler, more concise queries.

Project Plan and Commitment

The Gerrit@Google team will work on this in Q4/2020 and Q1/2021. The target release is 3.4.