How To Develop Kubernetes CLIs Like a Pro

A short one today. Just wanted you to meet my new favorite Go library to work with Kubernetes - It's probably the most underappreciated package in the whole* family based on its value to the number of stars ratio.

Here is what the README file says about it:

Set of helpers for creating kubectl commands, as well as kubectl plugins.

This library is a shared dependency for clients to work with Kubernetes
API infrastructure which allows to maintain kubectl compatible behavior.

If the above description didn't sound too impressive, let me try to decipher it for you - with the cli-runtime library, you can write CLI tools that behave like and are as potent as the mighty kubectl!

Here is what you actually can achieve with just a few lines of code using the cli-runtime library:

  • Register the well-know flags like --kubeconfig|--context|--namespace|--server|--token|... and pass their values to one or more client-go instances.
  • Look up cluster objects by their resources, kinds, and names with the full-blown support of familiar shortcuts like deploy for deployments or po for pods.
  • Read and kustomize YAML/JSON Kubernetes manifests into the corresponding Go structs.
  • Pretty-print Kubernetes objects as YAML, JSON (with JSONPath support), and even human-readable tables!

Interested? Then have a look at the usage examples below 😉

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How To Extend Kubernetes API - Kubernetes vs. Django

There are many ways to extend Kubernetes with custom functionality, starting from writing kubectl plugins and ending with implementing scheduler extensions. The exhaustive list of extension points can be found in the official docs, but if there were a ranking based on the hype around the approach, I bet developing custom controllers or operators, if you will, would win.

The idea behind Kubernetes controllers is simple yet powerful - you describe the desired state of the system, persist it to Kubernetes, and then wait until controllers do their job and bring the actual state of the cluster close enough to the desired one (or report a failure).

However, while controllers get a lot of the press attention, in my opinion, writing custom controllers most of the time should be seen as just one (potentially optional) part of the broader task of extending the Kubernetes API. But to notice that, a decent familiarity with a typical workflow is required.

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How To Call Kubernetes API using Go - Types and Common Machinery

The official Kubernetes Go client comes loaded with high-level abstractions - Clientset, Informers, Cache, Scheme, Discovery, oh my! When I tried to use it without learning the moving parts first, I ran into an overwhelming amount of new concepts. It was an unpleasant experience, but more importantly, it worsened my ability to make informed decisions in the code.

So, I decided to unravel client-go for myself by taking a thorough look at its components.

But where to start? Before dissecting client-go itself, it's probably a good idea to understand its two main dependencies - and modules. It'll simplify the main task, but that's not the only benefit. These two modules were factored out for a reason - they can be used not only by clients but also on the server-side or by any other piece of software dealing with Kubernetes objects.

How to learn Kubernetes API Go client.

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How To Call Kubernetes API using Simple HTTP Client

There are plenty of reasons to call the Kubernetes API using a CLI (like curl) or GUI (like postman) HTTP client. For instance, you may need finer-grained control over Kubernetes Objects than kubectl provides or just want to explore the API before trying to access it from code.

This article is not a mere list of handy commands but a thoughtful walk-through revealing some interesting problems you may stumble upon while calling the Kubernetes API from the command line. It covers the following topics:

  • How to get the Kubernetes API server address
  • How to authenticate the API server to clients
  • How to authenticate clients to the API server using certificates
  • How to authenticate clients to the API server using tokens
  • Bonus: How to call the Kubernetes API from inside a Pod
  • How to perform the basic CRUD operations on Kubernetes Objects with curl
  • How to access the Kubernetes API directly using the kubectl's raw mode
  • Bonus: How to see what API requests a kubectl command like apply sends.

Happy reading!

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Kubernetes API Basics - Resources, Kinds, and Objects

This is the first post in the series of articles on how to work with the Kubernetes API from code. The Kubernetes API is a bit more advanced than just a bunch of HTTP endpoints thrown together. Therefore, it's vital to understand the Kubernetes API structure and be fluent in the terminology before trying to access it from code. Otherwise, the attempt will be quite painful - the official Go client comes with so many bells and whistles that trying to wrap your head around the client and the API concepts simultaneously might overwhelm you quickly.

The Kubernetes API is massive - it has hundreds of endpoints. Luckily, it's pretty consistent, so one needs to understand just a limited number of ideas and then extrapolate this knowledge to the rest of the API. In this post, I'll try to touch upon the concepts I found the most fundamental. I'll favor simplicity and digestability over academic correctness and completeness of the material. And as usual, I just share my understanding of things and my way of thinking about the topic - so, it's not an API manual but a record of personal learning experience.

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