Typecheck, template and modularize your Kubernetes definitions with Dhall
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dhall-kubernetes contains Dhall bindings to Kubernetes, so you can generate Kubernetes objects definitions from Dhall expressions. This will let you easily typecheck, template and modularize your Kubernetes definitions.

Why do I need this

Once you build a slightly non-trivial Kubernetes setup, with many objects floating around, you'll encounter several issues:

  1. Writing the definitions in YAML is really verbose, and the actually important things don't stand out that much
  2. Ok I have a bunch of objects that'll need to be configured together, how do I share data?
  3. I'd like to reuse an object for different environments, but I cannot make it parametric..
  4. In general, I'd really love to reuse parts of some definitions in other definitions
  5. Oh no, I typoed a key and I had to wait until I pushed to the cluster to get an error back :(

The natural tendency is to reach for a templating language + a programming language to orchestrate that + some more configuration for it... But this is just really messy (been there), and we can do better.

Dhall solves all of this, being a programming language with builtin templating, all while being non-Turing complete, strongly typed and strongly normalizing (i.e.: reduces everything to a normal form, no matter how much abstraction you build), so saving you from the "oh-noes-I-made-my-config-in-code-and-now-its-too-abstract" nightmare.

For a Dhall Tutorial, see the readme of the project, or the full tutorial.


NOTE: dhall-kubernetes requires at least version 1.20.1 of the interpreter (version 5.0.0 of the language).

You can install the latest version with the following:

stack install dhall-1.20.1 dhall-json-1.2.6 --resolver=nightly-2019-01-17

Quickstart - main API

We provide a simple API for the most common cases (For a list, see the api folder).

Let's say we'd like to configure a Deployment exposing an nginx webserver. In the following example, we:

  1. Define a config for our service, by merging a default config (with the Dhall record-merge operator //) with a record with our parameters.
  2. In there we define the details of the Deployment we care about (note that we do the same "merging with defaults" operation for our container as well, so we don't have to specify all the parameters)
  3. We call the mkDeployment function on our config
-- examples/deployment.dhall
let config =
  { name = "nginx"
  , replicas = 2
  , containers =
    [ ../api/Deployment/defaultContainer
      { name = "nginx"
      , imageName = "nginx"
      , imageTag = "1.15.3"
      , port = [ 80 ] : Optional Natural

in ../api/Deployment/mkDeployment config

We then run this through dhall-to-yaml to generate our Kubernetes definition:

dhall-to-yaml --omitNull < deployment.dhall

And we get:

## examples/out/deployment.yaml
apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  revisionHistoryLimit: 20
      app: nginx
      maxSurge: 5
      maxUnavailable: 0
    type: RollingUpdate
      - image: nginx:1.15.3
        imagePullPolicy: Always
        env: []
        volumeMounts: []
            cpu: 500m
            cpu: 10m
        name: nginx
        - containerPort: 80
      volumes: []
      name: nginx
        app: nginx
  replicas: 2
  name: nginx

Advanced usage - raw API

If the main API is not enough (e.g. the object you'd like to generate is not in the list), you can just fall back on using the raw Types and defaults the library provides (and Pull Request here your program afterwards!).

Let's say we want to generate an Ingress definition (for an Nginx Ingress) that contains TLS certs and routes for every service. For more examples of using this API see the ./examples folder.

In the types folder you'll find the types for the Kubernetes definitions. E.g. here's the type for the Ingress.

Since most of the fields in all definitions are optional, for better ergonomics while coding Dhall we also generate default values for all types, in the default folder. When some fields are required, the default value is a function whose input is a record of required fields, that returns the object with these fields set. E.g. the default for the Ingress is this function.

Let's say we have a Service with the following configuration:

-- examples/myConfig.dhall
{ name    = "foo"
, host    = "foo.example.com"
, version = "1.0.1"

That has the following type:

-- examples/Config.dhall
{ name    : Text
, host    : Text
, version : Text

We can now expose this service out to the world with the Ingress:

-- examples/ingressRaw.dhall

-- Prelude imports
   let map    = https://raw.githubusercontent.com/dhall-lang/Prelude/v2.0.0/List/map

-- dhall-kubernetes types and defaults
in let TLS     = ../types/io.k8s.api.extensions.v1beta1.IngressTLS.dhall
in let Rule    = ../types/io.k8s.api.extensions.v1beta1.IngressRule.dhall
in let RuleVal = ../types/io.k8s.api.extensions.v1beta1.HTTPIngressRuleValue.dhall
in let Spec    = ../types/io.k8s.api.extensions.v1beta1.IngressSpec.dhall
in let Ingress = ../types/io.k8s.api.extensions.v1beta1.Ingress.dhall
in let defaultIngress = ../default/io.k8s.api.extensions.v1beta1.Ingress.dhall
in let defaultMeta    = ../default/io.k8s.apimachinery.pkg.apis.meta.v1.ObjectMeta.dhall
in let defaultSpec    = ../default/io.k8s.api.extensions.v1beta1.IngressSpec.dhall
in let IntOrString    = ../types/io.k8s.apimachinery.pkg.util.intstr.IntOrString.dhall

-- Our Service type
in let Service = ./Config.dhall
in let Config = { services : List Service }

-- A function to generate an ingress given a configuration
in let mkIngress : Config -> Ingress =

  \(config : Config) ->

  -- Given a service, make a TLS definition with their host and certificate
     let makeTLS = \(service : Service) ->
    { hosts = Some [ service.host ]
    , secretName = Some "${service.name}-certificate"

  -- Given a service, make an Ingress Rule
  in let makeRule = \(service : Service) ->
    { host = Some service.host
    , http = Some
        { paths = [ { backend =
                        { serviceName = service.name
                        , servicePort = IntOrString.Int 80
                    , path = None Text

  -- Nginx ingress requires a default service as a catchall
  in let defaultService =
    { name = "default"
    , host = "default.example.com"
    , version = " 1.0"

  -- List of services
  in let services = config.services # [ defaultService ]

  -- Some metadata annotations
  -- NOTE: `dhall-to-yaml` will generate a record with arbitrary keys from a list
  -- of records where mapKey is the key and mapValue is the value of that key
  in let genericRecord = List { mapKey : Text, mapValue : Text }
  in let kv = \(k : Text) -> \(v : Text) -> { mapKey = k, mapValue = v }

  in let annotations = Some
    [ kv "kubernetes.io/ingress.class"      "nginx"
    , kv "kubernetes.io/ingress.allow-http" "false"

  -- Generate spec from services
  in let spec = defaultSpec //
    { tls   = Some (map Service TLS  makeTLS  services)
    , rules = Some (map Service Rule makeRule services)

  in defaultIngress
    { metadata = defaultMeta
      { name = "nginx" } //
      { annotations = annotations }
    } //
    { spec = Some spec }

-- Here we import our example service, and generate the ingress with it
in mkIngress { services = [ ./myConfig.dhall ] }

As before we get the yaml out by running:

dhall-to-yaml --omitNull < ingress.yaml.dhall


## examples/out/ingressRaw.yaml
apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Ingress
  - http:
      - backend:
          servicePort: 80
          serviceName: foo
    host: foo.example.com
  - http:
      - backend:
          servicePort: 80
          serviceName: default
    host: default.example.com
  - hosts:
    - foo.example.com
    secretName: foo-certificate
  - hosts:
    - default.example.com
    secretName: default-certificate
    kubernetes.io/ingress.class: nginx
    kubernetes.io/ingress.allow-http: 'false'
  name: nginx



All tests are defined in release.nix. We run these tests in CI in a Hydra project.

You can run the tests locally with the following command:

nix build --file ./release.nix

Changing the README

We build README.md from docs/README.md.dhall and check it into source control. The build script ./scripts/build-readme.sh inlines source code from the examples directory. If you make changes to the readme or the examples you need to run scripts/build-readme.sh.