Third party source management

This document reviews the policies and best practices for ensuring clear separation between third party and first party code.

Third party code in Fuchsia

Third party code is part of the Fuchsia checkout but is neither copyrighted by the Fuchsia authors nor subject to Fuchsia's license. In other words, any code that is not 100% owned by the Fuchsia authors should be managed as third party code.

The Fuchsia project maintains copies of third party code dependencies under the //third_party/ directory in the checkout. This is also known as vendoring. Vendoring ensures that third party code is served from Fuchsia-owned source repositories and is served at revisions that are known to work with other code in the Fuchsia checkout.

To ensure that third party code is in compliance with the the Fuchsia project policies, follow the best practices in the section below. These best practices also help simplify maintenances tasks, for instance, when updating third party code to newer revisions from upstream repositories.

Third party source layout best practices

This section describes the recommended strategy for manually managing third party code. However, if possible, automated dependency management solutions are preferred.

Below is the recommended source layout, using googletest as an example:

root []
      src/ []

Note the following:

  • //third_party/googletest/src/ is the root of a Fuchsia-owned mirror repository that contains a copy of the upstream repository for googletest.
  • //third_party/googletest/ is within the fuchsia.git repository.
  • //third_party/googletest/README.fuchsia contains structured metadata regarding googletest. See README.fuchsia file syntax.
  • //third_party/googletest/ defines build targets for the googletest library. Since this file belongs to fuchsia.git (not the googletest repository), it can be updated in lockstep with other Fuchsia files that depend on googletest. This makes build refactors and other large-scale changes easier.
  • //third_party/googletest/OWNERS is the associated OWNERS file. Because it's defined in fuchsia.git, it is possible to include owners from other files elsewhere in the Fuchsia project.

Additional files that are required to adapt the third party code to the Fuchsia project may be present under (in this case) //third_party/googletest.

Applying best practices

Third party repositories that had been introduced before the best practices were established do not necessarily follow the recommended source layout in the section above. For instance, these legacy repositories often mix first party files (mainly with third party files.

To migrate legacy third party repositories to the new layout, follow these steps:

  1. Move Fuchsia-specific files to //build/secondary.

    1. Copy files from //third_party/<name> to //build/secondary/third_party/<name>. If there is more than one file, maintain the same subtree under //build/secondary.
    2. In the copied files, update references to paths to third party files in the form of //third_party/<name>/ to the form of //third_party/<name>/src/.
    3. Copy OWNERS from //third_party/<name> to //build/secondary/<name>, or create it if it does not exist. Review the OWNERS file to ensure that it follows the best practices.
    4. Copy README.fuchsia from //third_party/<name> to //build/secondary/<name>. Review the contents of this file and ensure that the metadata is correct. In uncommon cases there are modifications made to third party code in third party repositories, and such changes are listed in README.fuchsia. Local modifications will often require you to make special accommodations that are not covered in this guide.
    5. Review //third_party/<name> for any other first party .gni files and move those to //build/secondary/<name> as well.
    6. Update //build/secondary/third_party/<name>/ (and other files containing source paths such as .gni files) to use the new source location //third_party/<name>/src. This requires updating all sources, including directory paths and more.


  2. Update the integration manifest.

    Replace path (not name) of the existing third party project at //third_party/<name> with //third_party/<name>/src, while keeping the revision unchanged. With this change merged, the Fuchsia build will switch to using the files from the previous step.

    Example: http://tqr/457911

  3. Move Fuchsia-specific files added in step 1 to //third_party/<name>.

    Now that third party code is nested under //third_party/<name>/src and //third_party/<name> is part of fuchsia.git, you can undo the transitional step 1.

    1. Wait for the integration manifest change to merge and roll, then run jiri update. Or stage the integration manifest change from the previous step in your local checkout, then run jiri update -local-manifest.

    2. Move and other Fuchsia-specific files from //build/secondary/<name> to //third_party/<name>.

    3. Update //.gitignore so that //third_party/<name> is tracked but //third_party/<name>/src is not tracked.


  4. Turn //third_party/<name>/src into a mirror.

    Change //third_party/<name>/src to track upstream such that it only has upstream changes in its git log. You can do this by updating the integration manifest to reference an upstream commit hash.

    Example: http://tqr/427570

Language-specific dependency management solutions

For automated dependency management solutions, see the following:

There are currently no solutions for automated management of C/C++ and Python dependencies. Please refer to the source layout section above.

Exceptional cases

The majority of third party dependencies can follow the practices described above. However, a small minority of dependencies that are subject to uncommon circumstances are managed differently.

Having exotic dependencies can increase complexity and maintenance costs, which are incurred by direct dependencies of the third party code. Additionally, they add complexity to common global maintenance tasks such as:

  • Performing git administration tasks.
  • Updating and maintaining toolchains.
  • Responding to disclosed security vulnerabilities by updating vulnerable third party code from upstream sources.
  • Refactoring build rules, such as to enforce new compile-time checks.

Please exercise careful deliberation when stepping off the beaten path.

Additional reading