The Value of Design in OpenTelemetry

The Value of Design in OpenTelemetry

May 20, 2021

This talk was presented at o11yfest 2021, an amazing observability conference and charity event rolled into one. o11yfest is community driven; 100% of ticket sales are donated to important causes. Want to view the rest of the o11yfest talks? Head over to and check them out!

In this talk, we go over the motivations behind the architectural design of the OpenTelemetry project.

Telemetry is a cross-cutting concern. Millions of lines of instrumentation need to be written. Popular libraries containing native instrumentation will be composed into thousands of applications. It is critical that instrumentation should never break or cause a dependency conflict. At the same time, it is also critical that OTel users upgrade seamlessly, in order to receive security patches and remain compatible with the latest instrumentation.

How do we meet these stringent requirements? Why are these design choices so important? This advice applies to any OSS library seeking wide adoption.

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