Guide for New Contributors

This is a guide for new contributors to the Lance project. Even if you have no previous experience with python, rust, and open source, you can still make an non-trivial impact by helping us improve documentation, examples, and more. For experienced developers, the issues you can work on run the gamut from warm-ups to serious challenges in python and rust.

If you have any questions, please join our Discord for real-time support. Your feedback is always welcome!

Getting Started

  1. Join our Discord and say hi

  2. Setup your development environment

  3. Pick an issue to work on. See for good first issues.

  4. Have fun!

Development Environment

Currently Lance is implemented in Rust and comes with a Python wrapper. So you’ll want to make sure you setup both.

  1. Install Rust:

  2. Install Python 3.8+:

  3. Install protoctol buffers: (make sure you have version 3.20 or higher)

Sample Workflow

  1. Fork the repo

  2. Pick Github issue

  3. Create a branch for the issue

  4. Make your changes

  5. Create a pull request from your fork to lancedb/lance

  6. Get feedback and iterate

  7. Merge!

  8. Go back to step 2


We use black isort and ruff for python and cargo fmt and clippy for rust.

To run the python linters:

isort python
black python
ruff check python

To run the rust linters:

cargo fmt --all
cargo clippy --all-features --tests

Repo Structure

Core Format

The core format is implemented in Rust under the rust directory. Once you’ve setup Rust you can build the core format with:

cargo build

This builds the debug build. For the optimized release build:

cargo build -r

To run the Rust unit tests:

cargo test

If you’re working on a performance related feature, benchmarks can be run via:

cargo bench

Python Bindings

The Python bindings for Lance uses a mix of Rust (pyo3) and Python. The Rust code that directly supports the Python bindings are under python/src while the pure Python code lives under python/python.

To build the Python bindings, first install requirements:

pip install maturin

To make a dev install:

maturin develop

To run the Python unit tests:

pytest python/tests


The documentation is built using Sphinx and lives under docs. To build the docs, first install requirements:

pip install -r docs/requirements.txt

Then build the docs:

cd docs
make html

The docs will be built under docs/build/html.

Example Notebooks

Example notebooks are under examples. These are standalone notebooks you should be able to download and run.

DuckDB Extension

In python, Lance integrates with DuckDB via Apache Arrow. Outside of python, the highly experimental duckdb extension for Lance lives under integration/duckdb_lance. This uses the DuckDB Rust extension framework. The main code lives under integration/duckdb_lance/src. Follow the integration README for more details.


Our Rust benchmarks are run multiple times a day and the history can be found here.

Separately, we have vector index benchmarks that test against the sift1m dataset, as well as benchmarks for tpch. These live under benchmarks.

Code of Conduct

See and for details.