How to Become an Istio Contributor

Want to join the Istio Community? Here are 8 tips for new contributors from Istio’s founders and leaders.

Want to become an Istio contributor? Advice from the Open Source Community

  1. Join the community on Slack.The Istio Community is large, but it is also very open. Anyone can request to join our Slack channels, even without making a contribution. There’s a form to join.
  2. Read up! This is a relatively complex system, and it may be hard to understand why specific things need to happen at the beginning. Take time to get to know the system before you begin contributing.
  3. Communicate with issue creators. Particularly when you are new to the project, talk about the approach with the person who created the issue you are interested in working on. Solutions must be done in a way that align with the project and its goals, and they must be maintainable. There may be some particular approaches that work better than others, so communication is key.
  4. Submit a pull request. The moment you have your first pull request merged, you can apply for membership within the community. That will grant you the ability to be an Istio contributor, and you’ll get developer access to GitHub. Once you’re a contributor, you can start to assign issues to yourself, start to tag people, and become a powerful user.
  5. Focus your attention on one specific problem or thing you want to improve. Then spend some time to determine who might be a good expert or mentor to help you, who is best to seek out to get questions answered, and who the potential reviewers and approvers are.
  6. Join our open working group meetings! You should be able to associate your work with a particular work group, and then if you need help, just show up to the work group meeting and ask.
  7. Start small. There is no change too small to submit. Some of the highest impact changes may seem insignificant, but a better explanation for a concept, or a link or reference that can help make something more approachable or more adoptable can be among the most valuable additions and one of the easiest ways for a new contributor to have a lot of impact.
  8. Have patience, & follow up as needed. It may take some time to get your PR merged, but stay persistent, and you can become a valuable member of the community.

These tips were drawn from Tetrate interviews with Istio leaders Lin Sun, Mandar Jog, Sven Mawson, Shriram Rajagopalan, Zack Butcher, Lizan Zhou, and Varun Talwar. Go to for more information on getting involved in the Istio Community.


Eileen AJ Connelly is a business writer and content creator for Tetrate.Tetrate helps enterprises adopt the Istio mesh and is a leading contributor to the open source project, and home to a plurality of its founders.