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May 1, 2019

OpenTelemetry Specification

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Curious about what OpenTelemetry is? Check out our website for an explanation!

The OpenTelemetry specification describes the cross-language requirements and expectations for all OpenTelemetry implementations. Substantive changes to the specification must be proposed using the OpenTelemetry Enhancement Proposal process. Small changes, such as clarifications, wording changes, spelling/grammar corrections, etc. can be made directly via pull requests.

Questions that need additional attention can be brought to the regular specifications meeting. EU and US timezone friendly meeting is held every Tuesday at 8 AM pacific time. Meeting notes are held in the google doc. APAC timezone friendly meeting is held Tuesdays, 4PM pacific time. See OpenTelemetry calendar.

Escalations to technical committee may be made over the e-mail. Technical committee holds regular meetings, notes are held here.

Table of Contents

Project Timeline

The current project status as well as information on notable past releases is found at the OpenTelemetry project page.

Information about current work and future development plans is found at the specification development milestones.

Notation Conventions and Compliance

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in the specification are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

An implementation of the specification is not compliant if it fails to satisfy one or more of the "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", or "SHALL NOT" requirements defined in the specification. Conversely, an implementation of the specification is compliant if it satisfies all the "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", and "SHALL NOT" requirements defined in the specification.

Versioning the Specification

Changes to the specification are versioned according to Semantic Versioning 2.0 and described in Layout changes are not versioned. Specific implementations of the specification should specify which version they implement.

Changes to the change process itself are not currently versioned but may be independently versioned in the future.


The official acronym used by the OpenTelemetry project is "OTel".

Please refrain from using "OT" in order to avoid confusion with the now deprecated "OpenTracing" project.


See for details on contribution process.


By contributing to OpenTelemetry Specification repository, you agree that your contributions will be licensed under its Apache 2.0 License.