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Changing the API

This document describes the steps that need to be performed when changing the API. It provides guidance for API changes to both (Gardener system in general or component configurations).

Generally, as Gardener is a Kubernetes-native extension, it follows the same API conventions and guidelines like Kubernetes itself. The Kubernetes API Conventions as well as Changing the API topics already provide a good overview and general explanation of the basic concepts behind it. We are following the same approaches.

Gardener API

The Gardener API is defined in the pkg/apis/{core,extensions,settings} directories and is the main point of interaction with the system. It must be ensured that the API is always backwards-compatible.

Changing the API

Checklist when changing the API:

  1. Modify the field(s) in the respective Golang files of all external versions and the internal version.
    1. Make sure new fields are being added as “optional” fields, i.e., they are of pointer types, they have the // +optional comment, and they have the omitempty JSON tag.
    2. Make sure that the existing field numbers in the protobuf tags are not changed.
    3. Do not copy protobuf tags from other fields but create them with make generate WHAT="protobuf".
  2. If necessary, implement/adapt the conversion logic defined in the versioned APIs (e.g., pkg/apis/core/v1beta1/conversions*.go).
  3. If necessary, implement/adapt defaulting logic defined in the versioned APIs (e.g., pkg/apis/core/v1beta1/defaults*.go).
  4. Run the code generation: make generate
  5. If necessary, implement/adapt validation logic defined in the internal API (e.g., pkg/apis/core/validation/validation*.go).
  6. If necessary, adapt the exemplary YAML manifests of the Gardener resources defined in example/*.yaml.
  7. In most cases, it makes sense to add/adapt the documentation for administrators/operators and/or end-users in the docs folder to provide information on purpose and usage of the added/changed fields.
  8. When opening the pull request, always add a release note so that end-users are becoming aware of the changes.

Removing a Field

If fields shall be removed permanently from the API, then a proper deprecation period must be adhered to so that end-users have enough time to adapt their clients.

Once the deprecation period is over, the field should be dropped from the API in a two-step process, i.e., in two release cycles. In the first step, all the usages in the code base should be dropped. In the second step, the field should be dropped from API. We need to follow this two-step process cause there can be the case where gardener-apiserver is upgraded to a new version in which the field has been removed but other controllers are still on the old version of Gardener. This can lead to nil pointer exceptions or other unexpected behaviour.

The steps for removing a field from the code base is:

  1. The field in the external version(s) has to be commented out with appropriate doc string that the protobuf number of the corresponding field is reserved. Example:

    -	SeedTemplate *gardencorev1beta1.SeedTemplate `json:"seedTemplate,omitempty" protobuf:"bytes,2,opt,name=seedTemplate"`
    +	// SeedTemplate is tombstoned to show why 2 is reserved protobuf tag.
    +	// SeedTemplate *gardencorev1beta1.SeedTemplate `json:"seedTemplate,omitempty" protobuf:"bytes,2,opt,name=seedTemplate"`

    The reasoning behind this is to prevent the same protobuf number being used by a new field. Introducing a new field with the same protobuf number would be a breaking change for clients still using the old protobuf definitions that have the old field for the given protobuf number. The field in the internal version can be removed.

  2. A unit test has to be added to make sure that a new field does not reuse the already reserved protobuf tag.

Example of field removal can be found in the Remove seedTemplate field from ManagedSeed API PR.

Component Configuration APIs

Most Gardener components have a component configuration that follows similar principles to the Gardener API. Those component configurations are defined in pkg/{controllermanager,gardenlet,scheduler},pkg/apis/config. Hence, the above checklist also applies for changes to those APIs. However, since these APIs are only used internally and only during the deployment of Gardener, the guidelines with respect to changes and backwards-compatibility are slightly relaxed. If necessary, it is allowed to remove fields without a proper deprecation period if the release note uses the breaking operator keywords.

In addition to the above checklist:

  1. If necessary, then adapt the Helm chart of Gardener defined in charts/gardener. Adapt the values.yaml file as well as the manifest templates.