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OWNERS files are a way of specifying a set of reviewers whose review is required to modify certain areas of code.

When contributing code, for each file modified in a changelist, a "LGTM" review is required from someone listed in the OWNERS file in that directory, or in the OWNERS file in a parent / higher-level directory of that file. That means that the approver must type "lgtm" (case insensitive) into a comment on the code review.
In certain circumstances ex post approval is acceptable or preferred, in which case the owner is instead listed in the TBR (To Be Reviewed) field.

An example:

You want to change code in src/chrome/browser/tab_contents/tab_contents_delegate.h.

Either you or one of the change’s reviewers must be an owner of src/chrome/browser/tab_contents/. (If you are an owner, another committer must still review the change, but they need not be an owner.)

Who owns src/chrome/browser/tab_contents/? Everyone named in src/chrome/browser/tab_contents/OWNERS. In addition, everyone named in src/chrome/browser/OWNERS can review this code, and so on up the directory tree. If no OWNERS file exists in the directory containing a modified file, crawl up the hierarchy to find the nearest one. 

Another example:

You want to do a refactoring and make some changes to ChildProcessHost that require you touch code in many different directories due to a renamed method. You make changes to src/chrome/common/child_process_host.h and to callsites in src/chrome/browser, src/chrome/service, /src/chrome/common, and elsewhere, across 20 different sub directories. You could either get a LGTM from someone listed in the OWNERS file of each of these 20 subdirectories, or you could get a LGTM from someone listed in /src/chrome/OWNERS.


OWNERS are people who are intimately familiar with specific areas of code. They have a deep understanding of how the code works, why it was built the way it was and what needs to happen to the code to improve it.

OWNERS are responsible for ensuring the quality of code in their directory remains high and improves over time.

Who should be in an OWNERS file?

Only the people who are actively investing energy in the improvement of a directory should be listed as OWNERS.

OWNERS are expected to have demonstrated excellent judgment, teamwork and ability to uphold Chrome development principles. They must understand the development process.

Additionally, for someone to be listed as an OWNER of a directory they must be approved by the other OWNERS of the affected directory. Some guidelines:
  • already acting as an OWNER, providing high-quality reviews and design feedback
  • be a Chromium project member with full svn commit access of at least 6 months tenure 
  • have submitted a substantial number of non-trivial changes to the affected directory
  • have committed or reviewed substantial work to the affected directory within the last 90 days
  • have the bandwidth to contribute with other OWNERS to review of code within the affected directory
It is up to OWNERS of a directory to keep the list up to date. OWNERS lists should be as small as possible to encourage better code modularization. When a directory has many hundreds of files, it becomes hard to understand which OWNERS are familiar with which files.

OWNERS file format

Refer to the depot_tools source for the syntax of the OWNERS file.
Email addresses must follow the "" short form. Filename globs follow the simple UNIX shell conventions ("*" and "?" are supported), and relative and absolute paths are not allowed (globs may only refer to the files in the current directory).

If a user's email is one of the email_addresses in the file, the user is considered an "OWNER" for all files in the directory. A "*" (wildcard) indicates that all committers are owners. If the file contains "set noparent", then OWNERS in parent directories are not searched when checking for reviewers.

If the "per-file" directive is used, the line only applies to files in that directory that match the filename glob specified. If the "set noparent" directive used, then only entries in this OWNERS file apply to files in this directory; if the "set noparent" directive is not used, then entries in OWNERS files in enclosing (upper) directories also apply (up until a "set noparent is encountered"). If "per-file glob=set noparent" is used, then global directives are ignored for the glob, and only the "per-file" owners are used for files matching that glob.


% cat dir/OWNERS

per-file *

Committing Notes

  • git-cl/commit queue will enforce that relevant OWNERS have given a positive review to a changelist before it will be committed.
  • A review can (and should) be sought from qualified engineers (not exclusively OWNERS); if an OWNER is satisfied with the review (s)he may just approve it.

When to use To Be Reviewed (TBR)

  • A developer (e.g. a sheriff) who is trying to correct a broken build can submit changes TBR=OWNER.
  • For widespread or refactoring changes that are mechanical or global in nature, it is acceptable to TBR the OWNERS required for submission, as long as your changes have had the appropriate level of review or general approval.  (For example, if touching hundreds of files across the codebase, a thread on the chromium-dev mailing list may be better than getting individual approval from dozens of different OWNERS.)
  • A developer relanding a CL can TBR the OWNERS for changes which are exactly the same in the reverted CL and in the relanding CL, provided:
    • somebody reviews and approves the changes which are different in the relanding CL from the reverted CL before landing,
    • the TBR-ed owners approved the changes in the reverted CL already, and
    • the developer uploaded first an up-to-date patch set with the exact content of the reverted CL, and only after that the patch set to be relanded.
      (The last bit is important for the reviewers to understand what the fix for relanding was.)