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RFC Title Author Status Type
Chef RFC Process and Guidelines
Noah Kantrowitz <>

Chef RFC Process and Guidelines

A Chef RFC is a design document describing improvements to Chef. We as a community use RFCs to document, discuss, and plan improvements to Chef and other Chef ecosystem tools. You can always find the list of accepted RFCs at

The specific projects covered by this process are detailed in RFC002 (Scope).

RFC Types

  • A Standards Track RFC describes a new feature or improvement for Chef or the Chef ecosystem.
  • An Informational RFC describes a standard or guideline in the Chef community. It is not intended to be a binding requirement.
  • A Process RFC describes a change to development process of Chef or related projects.


  • The Decider has final say to accept or reject an RFC. The top-level decider is Adam Jacob. The decider can delegate their authority on a per-subsystem or per-RFC basis.
  • The Editors manage the Chef RFC repository and assist with the RFC workflow. They are not responsible for managing the content of RFCs, only formatting and procedure. To volunteer as an editor please create a pull request against this document that adds your name to the list. The existing editors will vote on the request, with the Decider retaining veto power. The current editors are:
  • The Author(s) submit RFCs and shepherd them through the process with the assistance of the editors. Unless otherwise specified, the author(s) of an RFC also implement the feature or process once accepted.

Submitting an RFC

RFCs are managed in the chef-rfc GitHub repository. When creating a new RFC, add it to the new/ folder. A template is provided below. Submit a pull-request with your new RFC. The Editors will review your submission to ensure it is formatted correctly.

The community will discuss the proposed changes on the pull-request and during regular community meetings (see RFC001). When the Decider feels consensus has been reached, they will accept or reject the RFC.

The Editors will then assign it an RFC number which will be added to the filename and metadata.

Unless otherwise stated, the RFC author is also volunteering to implement the feature or process if accepted.

When should I submit an RFC?

There's no rule by which to determine the need for a RFC. Some examples to consider are:

  • Adding a new feature that would impact multiple parts of the project, e.g. audit mode.
  • Establishing or changing a public API, e.g. mixlib-authentication.
  • A policy or process for the project, e.g. platform support policy.

What belongs in a successful RFC?

Each RFC will generally include the following sections:

  1. Metadata – Yaml frontmatter including the RFC ID number, author(s), status, and type.
  2. Description – A short (~200 word) description of the technical issue being addressed.
  3. Motivation – The why of this change, especially if the change has an impact on compatibility. To the greatest extent possible, realistic use cases should be cited. This generally includes an agile user story.
  4. Specification – The what of this change. The technical specification should describe the new feature or enhancement being proposed. This includes any DSL or server API changes.
  5. Rationale – The how of this change. The rationale fleshes out the specification by describing what motivated the design and why particular design decisions were made. It should describe alternate designs that were considered and related work, e.g. how the feature is supported in other tools. The rationale should provide evidence of consensus within the community and discuss important objections or concerns raised during discussion.
  6. Copyright – All RFCs must be placed in the public domain.

This is neither an exhaustive list nor a set of requirements, but it is a good place to start.

RFC Review and Workflow

All new RFCs start off as drafts. At any point the author(s) can withdraw the RFC if they feel it doesn't merit further discussion. Once consensus is reached, the Decider for the RFC will accept or reject the RFC. For Standards Track RFCs, once the feature is implemented in a released version of the relevant software the RFC is marked as Final, indicating discussion of further changes to the feature should take place in a new RFC. If an RFC is superseded by a later RFC, the original one should be marked as Replaced.

  +-------+        +----------+       +-------+
  |       |        |          |       |       |
  | Draft +--------> Accepted +---+---> Final |
  |       |        |          |   |   |       |
  +---+---+        +----+-----+   |   +---+---+
      |                 |         |       |
      |                 |         +-------+
      |                 |                 |
      |                 |                 |
+-----v-----+      +----v-----+    +------v---+
|           |      |          |    |          |
| Withdrawn |      | On Hold  |    | Replaced |
|           |      |          |    |          |
+-----------+      +----------+    +----------+

RFC Status Reference

  • Draft – The RFC is under discussion by the community.
  • Accepted – The RFC is approved for implementation.
  • On Hold – The RFC is approved but not currently under development.
  • Withdrawn – The RFC has been voluntarily withdrawn from consideration.
  • Final – The RFC has been implemented. (Standards Track type only)
  • Replaced – The RFC has been superseded by another RFC.

Changing an Accepted RFC

An accepted RFC may be modified in two ways, depending on the type of RFC:

  1. Most RFCs can be updated by opening a pull request against them with the proposed changes. Once the changes are approved by the Decider, the pull request is merged and considered Accepted.

  2. To support software implementations meeting the specifications of an RFC, Standards Track RFCs that are Final must be replaced by a new RFC. The Author should specify the RFC that is being replaced using the Replaces header in the metadata of the new RFC. Once Accepted, the replaced RFC with have its status updated to Replaced by an Editor.

RFC Template

RFC: unassigned
Title: Title Goes Here
Author: Alan Smithee <>
Status: Draft
Type: <Standards Track, Informational, Process>
<Replaces: RFCxxx>
<  ->

# Title

Description and rationale.

## Motivation

    As a <<user_profile>>,
    I want to <<functionality>>,
    so that <<benefit>>.

## Specification

A detailed description of the planned implementation, which the RFC author agrees to execute.

## Downstream Impact

Which other tools will be impacted by this work?

## Copyright

This work is in the public domain. In jurisdictions that do not allow for this,
this work is available under CC0. To the extent possible under law, the person
who associated CC0 with this work has waived all copyright and related or
neighboring rights to this work.


This document is heavily based on PEP 1. It also draws from Django's DEP process, and OpenStack's Blueprints.


This work is in the public domain. In jurisdictions that do not allow for this, this work is available under CC0. To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with this work has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.