The Guide to your First Contribution to Pontoon

Welcome to Pontoon!

This document is going to guide you as you discover Pontoon and make valuable contributions. It will walk you step by step until you are in a position to write code that you can reliably run, test, and send for review.

1. Make sure it’s a good match

Before contributing to an open source project, it is important to make sure that the project uses technologies that you know and want to learn more about.

Pontoon is a web application, with both back-end and front-end code. The two languages we use are Python (back-end) and JavaScript (front-end). On the back-end, we use the Django framework. On the front-end, we use the React framework. To be able to contribute, you will want to have knowledge of either Python and Django or JavaScript and React. Having experience with both pairs is of course even better!

We use git to version our code, and we use GitHub to handle pull requests and code reviews. Basic knowledge of git is required to be able to send your contributions our way.


Expected Level



Basic knowledge


Some experience

Python 3


Basic knowledge


Some experience

ECMAScript 2018


Basic knowledge

2. Install Pontoon

In order to be able to contribute code to an open source project, you first need to be able to run that project on your computer.

The recommended method of installing Pontoon is using docker and our scripts. It is straightforward if your computer is running with Linux or macOS, and a tad more difficult for Windows. In all cases, follow the instructions in our Developer Setup page.

3. Populate your database

After installing a tool, it is likely that its database is empty. You will need to create some data in order to have things show up in the interface.

Once Pontoon is installed and you have it running, you will want to create some data so that you can play with it, and test it in action. You can create any kind of data you want, of course, but to make it easier we have a special git repository that we made for testing Pontoon. Here are the steps to add that project to your Pontoon instance:

  1. Log in to your local instance with the superuser account you created during the previous step.

  2. Click the avatar in the top-right corner, and in the menu click “Admin”.

  3. You will see the Admin panel, with a table of projects that will likely be empty. Click the “Add New Project” button.

  4. Fill the project creation form as follows:

    1. Name: Pontoon Test

    2. Slug (auto-filled): pontoon-test

    3. Locales: select Slovenian (sl), then add any locales you want

    4. Repositories - URL:

  5. Leave the rest as it is, then scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the “Save Project” button.

  6. Once the project is saved, scroll to the bottom of the page again, and click the “Sync” button. This will pull the data from the repository, and create entries for each of the locales you have enabled.

  7. And that’s it! You should now have a project enabled for some locale.

4. Verify your setup

Setting up a project means more than installing it: it also means making sure that the tool runs and that tests pass.

Once you have successfully installed and populated Pontoon on your computer, you will need to make a few verifications. First and foremost, make sure the site works correctly, and the data you created previously shows up. Make sure you can log in, that you can send some translations, that projects appear on the dashboards, etc.

Second, you will want to run the tests and make sure they pass. We have a few test suites for Pontoon, some for the front-end, others for the back-end, as well as a few code-quality tests. To run all of the tests (same as what will happen when you open a pull request in GitHub), use the command make test.

When you have successfully verified that your setup works correctly, you can safely move to the next part.

5. Choose an issue to work on

You are now ready to make a contribution! Open source projects usually have a list of mentored issues that are appropriate to work on first, and on which mentors will be available to help you.

Work that needs to be done on Pontoon is tracked in GitHub, where we maintain a list of what we deem good first issues.

Look through that list for unassigned issues, choose one that is appealing to you and seems appropriate for your skill set, then comment on that issue asking to be assigned to it. Feel free to start working on it right away — even if you end up not being assigned for some reason, it will still be a good experience for you.

6. Read the contributing rules

Most projects have strict contributing rules, and your contributions risk not being accepted if you don’t respect them.

To make developer’s lives easier, we enforce a few contribution rules around Pontoon. They range from how to style your code to how to write commit messages. All these rules are written in our Contributing page. Please read it before opening a pull request!

There is more documentation around Pontoon, and it is often worth reading it, if only to understand better how the tool works and how and where to make your contributions. Here are a few links to important documentation resources:

7. Communicate with us

Open source projects are usually built around a community of people. Communicating with that community is an important part of contributing to such projects.

There are two main places where we communicate about Pontoon’s development. The first one is, used for real-time chat, quick questions, side-track conversations, etc. Find us in the #pontoon channel.

The second is discourse, a forum platform that we use for more long-term conversations. We use Mozilla’s community discourse instance, posting in the pontoon category.

These are both places that we strongly encourage you to join, and they are where you should introduce yourself, ask questions, show your work, etc.

Pontoon’s core developer team is currently composed of Matjaž and Eemeli. We also regularly receive invaluable help from community members.






Pontoon Core Developer





Pontoon Core Developer