Welcoming Alice Ryhl as the first paid Tokio contributor

April 21, 2021

Thanks to sponsors like Fly.io, Discord, Embark, we are happy to announce that Tokio will be funding Alice Ryhl to devote more time to Tokio. This is the beginning of a program to pay contributors to work on Tokio, funded through donations via Github sponsorships.

Building a library like Tokio is a monumental task. Since releasing the project in 2016, many hours have been spent experimenting, refining, and optimizing the API and runtime. This work would not have been possible without the hundreds of volunteers and companies, like Mozilla, Dropbox, Buoyant, and AWS, who have funded engineering time to build Tokio. Yet, we are only at the beginning of the journey that is Rust and asynchronous I/O. We want to add support for io-uring, improve windows support, and add functionality to improve debugging, profiling, and testing Tokio applications.

To achieve our goals and ensure Tokio’s longevity, we must build and support a healthy and diverse base of contributors that spans a wide array of use-cases, skillsets, and affiliations. Open source sustainability is a hot topic. Today, AWS and Buoyant employ engineers to work on Tokio and hope to see that number grow. We value this sort of corporate contribution and hope to see other companies join. Still, we also know that hiring engineers to focus on open source full-time is cost-prohibitive for many. We need to increase the number of contributors who dedicate regular time to Tokio and the number of companies committed to supporting Tokio to keep up with the maintenance overhead that comes with a growing ecosystem while also shipping new features.

In that vein, the Tokio project will start paying select contributors, enabling them to spend more time contributing to Tokio. This program will start small as it is something new for us, and we want to work out the kinks. Alice Ryhl will be working on Tokio part-time. If you have participated in our issue tracker or discord channel, you are probably already familiar with Alice. For over a year, she has been the front line for answering questions, responding to issues, reviewing and merging pull requests. She also is constantly fixing bugs and adding new functionality requested by our users. As a participant in this program, she will do more of the same and have more time to help foster new contributors. We see this as an opportunity to grow the contributor community.

So how will we fund this program? That is where you come in! We are asking companies to contribute via Github sponsorships. If you work somewhere that relies on Tokio, bring up this program with your team and consider participating. These contributions will help sustain the project that you use.

We have already raised enough to start paying Alice, thanks to our initial donors. The rate at which we expand the program will depend on available funds, as well as being able to find suitable candidates. Candidates will be people who have already successfully contributed to Tokio and are in a position to be able to contribute even more with the support of funding.

We are very excited about this program. We see it as a mechanism to make contributing even more accessible, which will lead to a more sustainable Tokio for all users. If you have any questions or want to get involved, please reach out to us on the Tokio Discord channel, and please consider sponsoring Tokio.