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Welcome to community! This document is the single source of truth for how to contribute to the code base.

Before you get started

Code of Conduct

We follows the CNCF Code of Conduct.

Community Expectations and Roles is a community project. Consequently, it is wholly dependent on its community to provide a productive, friendly, and collaborative environment.

  • See Community Membership for a list the various responsibilities of contributor roles. You are encouraged to move up this contributor ladder as you gain experience.

Your First Contribution

Would you like to help make robust, modern telemetry a built-in feature of modern software? We will help you understand the organization of the project and direct you to the best places to get started. You'll be able to pick up issues, write code to fix them, and get your work reviewed and merged.

Please be aware that, due to the number of issues our triage team deals with, we cannot offer technical support in GitHub issues. If you have questions about the development process, feel free to jump into our Gitter Channel . You can also ask questions on Stack Overflow.

Find something to work on

Help is always welcome! For example, documentation (like the text you are reading now) can always use improvement. There's always code that can be clarified and variables or functions that can be renamed or commented. There's always a need for more test coverage. You get the idea: if you ever see something you think should be fixed, you should own it.

You can also find issues crafted for contributions using the tag opentelemetry at

Those interested in contributing without writing code may help documenting, evangelizing or helping answer questions about OpenTelemetry on various forums.

Find a good first topic

There are multiple repositories within the OpenTelemetry organization. Each repository has beginner-friendly issues that provide a good stepping stone to larger contributions. For example, Java SDK has help wanted and good first issue labels for issues that should not need deep knowledge of the system. The good first issue label indicates that members have committed to providing extra assistance for new contributors.

Issue Assignment in Github

Often, new contributors ask to be assigned an issue they are willing to take on. Unfortunately, due to GitHub limitations we can only assign issues to org members or repo collaborators. Instead, please state in a comment that you intend to work on this issue and it will be assumed to be yours.

Learn about SIGs

SIG structure

You may have noticed that some repositories in the OpenTelemetry Organization are owned by Special Interest Groups, or SIGs. We organize the community into SIGs in order to improve our workflow and more easily manage a community project. The developers within each SIG have autonomy and ownership over that SIG's part of OpenTelemetry.

A SIG is an open, community effort. Anybody is welcome to jump into a SIG and begin fixing issues, critiquing design proposals and reviewing code. SIGs have regular video meetings which everyone is welcome to attend.

SIG-specific contributing guidelines

Some SIGs have their own files, which may contain extra information or guidelines in addition to these general ones. These are located in the SIG-specific GitHub repositories.

File an Issue

Not ready to contribute code, but see something that needs work? While the community encourages everyone to contribute code, it is also appreciated when someone reports an issue (aka problem). Issues should be filed under the appropriate OpenTelemetry subrepository.

Make sure to adhere to the repository specific policies or issue templates to provide detailed information that will help prompt answer and resolution of an issue.


OpenTelemetry is open source, but many of the people working on it do so as their day job. In order to avoid forcing people to be "at work" effectively 24/7, we want to establish some semi-formal protocols around development. Hopefully, these rules make things go more smoothly. If you find that this is not the case, please complain loudly.

As a potential contributor, your changes and ideas are welcome at any hour of the day or night, weekdays, weekends, and holidays. Please do not ever hesitate to ask a question or send a pull request.


It is best to contact your SIG for issues related to the SIG's topic. Your SIG will be able to help you much more quickly than a general question would.

For general questions and troubleshooting, use the standard lines of communication.

GitHub workflow

To check out code to work on, please refer to the GitHub Workflow Guide from Kubernetes. OpenTelemetry uses the same workflow. One of the main highlights - all the work should happen on forks, to minimize the number of branches on a given repository.

Open a Pull Request

Pull requests are often called simply "PR". OpenTelemetry follows the standard github pull request process.

Common new contributor PR issues are:

  • not having correctly signed the CLA ahead of your first PR (please Sign the CLA)
  • following any SIG or repository specific contributing guidelines (see of the corresponding repository)
  • dealing with test cases which fail on your PR, unrelated to the changes you introduce
  • Introducing change that should be first be approved by TSC, for instance, the introduction of new terminology

Code Review

There are two aspects of code review: giving and receiving.

To make it easier for your PR to receive reviews, consider the reviewers will need you to:

  • follow the project and repository coding conventions
  • write good commit messages
  • break large changes into a logical series of smaller patches which individually make easily understandable changes, and in aggregate solve a broader issue
  • label PRs with appropriate SIGs and reviewers: to do this read the messages the bot sends you to guide you through the PR process

Reviewers, the people giving the review, are highly encouraged to revisit the Code of Conduct and must go above and beyond to promote a collaborative, respectful community.

When reviewing PRs from others The Gentle Art of Patch Review suggests an iterative series of focuses which is designed to lead new contributors to positive collaboration without inundating them initially with nuances:

  • Is the idea behind the contribution sound?
  • Is the contribution architected correctly?
  • Is the contribution polished?

Note: if your pull request isn't getting enough attention, you can explicitly mention approvers or maintainers of this repository.


If you haven't noticed by now, we have a large, lively, and friendly open-source community. We depend on new people becoming members and regular code contributors, so we would like you to come join us! The Community Membership Document covers membership processes and roles.



OpenTelemetry participates in KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, held three times per year in China, Europe and in North America. Information about these and other community events is available on the CNCF events pages.

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