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Helm 3 Design Proposal

This document contains a proposal for Helm 3. It assumes deep familiarity with Helm 2, and assumes that much of Helm 2's architecture will simply carry over without major change.


  • Tiller is gone, and there is only one functional component (helm)
  • Charts are updated with libraries, schematized values, and the ext directory
  • Helm will use a "lifecycle events" emitter/handler model.
  • Helm has an embedded Lua engine for scripting some event handlers. Scripts are stored in charts.
  • State is maintained with two types of object: Release and a release version Secret
  • Resources created by hooks will now be managed
  • For pull-based DevOps workflow, a new Helm Controller project will be started
  • Cross platform plugins in Lua that only have a runtime dependency on Helm
  • A complementary command to helm fetch to push packages to a repository


The design presented herein is intended to begin with the user profiles identified for helm and match as many of the user stories as could be accommodated

The Basic Architecture

Helm 3 is a single-service architecture. One executable is responsible for implementing Helm. There is no client/server split, nor is the core processing logic distributed among components.

The reference implementation of Helm 3 is a single command-line client with no in-cluster server or controller. This tool exposes command-line operations, and unilaterally handles the package management process.

The reference implementation has two distinct parts:

  1. The command line façade, which translates commands, subcommands, flags, and arguments into a Helm operation
  2. The Helm library, which provides the logic for executing all Helm operations.

By design, the Helm library must be usable as a standalone library.

In Appendix A, we specify a second implementation of Helm 3 that provides a controller-oriented model with no client. The Helm Controller provides a CRD-based façade to receive commands, but executes them via the Helm library.

With this simplification, the following list comprises the components of Helm v3's core implementation:

  • Charts
  • Chart repositories
  • helm, the CLI
  • An extension mechanism (Lua scripts stored in the chart)
  • A new in-cluster CRD: Release

In this model, Tiller is removed and there are no operators or controllers that run in-cluster.

Command/Flag Differences from Helm 2

There are a few major (breaking) changes to the Helm CLI planned:

  • The -n flag will be remapped across the board to --namespace, not -name. This is for consistency with kubectl, which added -n after Helm 2 was released.
  • helm install will require a name, unless --generate-name is specified. This inverts the default behavior for Helm 2.
  • helm serve and helm reset will be removed
  • helm delete will be renamed to helm remove, though helm delete will remain an alias.
  • helm inspect will be renamed helm show, though helm inspect will remain as an alias.

Other changes to commands are described in their relevant sections within this document.

Table of Contents

  1. Charts
  2. Event System
  3. State Storage
  4. Hooks
  5. Plugins
  6. Repositories
  7. Security Considerations
  8. Appendix A: A Helm Controller
  9. Appendix B: What Is A Package Manager
  10. Appendix C: Removed Sections
  11. Appendix D: User Stories