09 June 2021 / Last updated: 09 Jun 2021

Five ways you can contribute to the balena community

Calling all balenaCloud and openbalena users-- we’d love to hear from you and see what amazing things you’re doing with the platform. Learn five ways you can contribute to the balena community, share your work with the world, and get some cool swag while you’re at it.

Why should you contribute?

We’re always on the lookout for community members who do amazing things with balena, like create edge projects, provide bug fixes, or give us prototyping tips and tricks. Our team keeps an eye out for outstanding community contributions and rewards these efforts by sending “swag packs” that could include devices and accessories, and, of course, amazing t-shirts and stickers.
Responding to user feedback about how it’s often not clear how to get involved, we’re better defining this program to include other ways for community members to get involved. Besides the fun swag, we’ve heard from many users that contributing to or creating a project with balena also comes with many other benefits:
  • Learning more about the balena platform: Whether you’re starting with openbalena or learning via a free balenaCloud trial, your very first project opens the door to other possible explorations of physical computing and IoT fleet management.
  • Skilling up in a programming language of your choice: Many balena projects require programming skills using NodeJS, Python, TypeScript, C++, and more.
  • Getting hands-on IoT experience: Every new push, squashed bug, or added feature means more experience gained on single board computers, IoT projects, and managing fleets of devices.
  • Being part of a thoughtful, interesting, and inclusive community: We welcome IoT and edge enthusiasts of all walks of life, technical skill level, and experience, who are interested in joining like-minded others.
  • Meet more of the balena team: We enjoy meeting and talking to members of our community, learning about the diverse ways you are using balena, and getting your feedback on how we can improve our products further. You might get to meet the person who built your favorite tool, or get the chance to hang out and hack with our labs team.

BONUS: Build your case to become a balena Ambassador

Community contributions can help you build a strong portfolio if you’re interested in joining the balena Ambassador Program. This group is constantly looking for potential candidates who want to help spread the word about balena and help fellow edge developers and fleet managers succeed with balena.

Ways to contribute

Now you understand the benefits, let’s get to the ways of contributing.

1. Create a project tutorial

You’ve probably seen our guides on the balena blog, on the Forums, or on sites like Hackster. Sharing a tutorial is one way to show off your prototype or production-grade projects built with balena. All projects should include clear build steps, links to working code, and a list of materials that help users build a usable replica of your project. You can publish the guide on our own site, the Forums, or get in touch and we can set you up with a community contributed post on the balena blog.
Many users who contribute these guides are also motivated to add their Project or Fleet to balenaHub (click on the link for more information).

2. Share build logs, tips, and tricks

Many ongoing and/or half-completed projects can be amazing teaching moments. If you have something you are or have been working on that isn’t quite finished, but you want to share your experiences, we encourage that as well. Sharing build log steps on the blog or the Forums is also a great way to meet other community members and get some help on your balena project.

3. Helping others on the Forums

Our users post requests for help daily on the balenaForums and we’re always amazed to see how many threads are solved by other community members. We encourage anyone to do this as it helps solve problems together, but also gives people new opportunities to meet and work with one another.
We keep our eyes open for community members who go above and beyond consistently and want to reward them for taking the extra time to help.

4. Help maintain our projects

All growing platforms start to experience the difficulties of maintaining Projects and Blocks. We invite any interested community members to help our balenaLabs team. GitHub repo links are available for every Project or Block to go learn more details and take a look at the code.
Ways to help include:
  • Creating useful, detailed issues in balena-io and balenaLabs repos (we have a snazzy template to help with this)
  • Dependency updates and maintenance
  • Addressing issues in repos
  • Bug fixes
  • Adding device or component support for projects/blocks
For example, the balenaSound project has a healthy record of Issues and PRs created and addressed by our wonderful community members and staff.

5. Contribute to balenaHub

For the most ambitious community members, we invite you to contribute your amazing app to balenaHub, our catalog of ready-to-use edge projects. We’ve recently updated balenaHub to support self-serve submissions of Fleets, Projects, and Blocks to make the contribution process smoother. Visit the balenaHub site to learn more.

Contribute, get in touch, and get some swag

We’re looking forward to seeing what our amazing community creates next with balena.
There are probably more ways to help the community, and if we’ve missed
something, we’d love to hear your recommendations. This is just a short list to generate ideas and to keep the energy up as we continue to grow and build out balena for our users to enjoy. See you all around!
by Andrew NhemAndrew is the Content Strategy Lead / Product Builder at balena, and enjoys tinkering on web content, building stuff, music, hydroponics, and homeschooling