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11 contributors

Users who have contributed to this file

@bacongobbler @technosophos @bridgetkromhout @mattfarina @thomastaylor312 @stuartleeks @imroc @michelleN @mbssaiakhil @jsoref @bryangunn

Contributing Guidelines

The Helm project accepts contributions via GitHub pull requests. This document outlines the process to help get your contribution accepted.

Reporting a Security Issue

Most of the time, when you find a bug in Helm, it should be reported using GitHub issues. However, if you are reporting a security vulnerability, please email a report to This will give us a chance to try to fix the issue before it is exploited in the wild.

Sign Your Work

The sign-off is a simple line at the end of the explanation for a commit. All commits needs to be signed. Your signature certifies that you wrote the patch or otherwise have the right to contribute the material. The rules are pretty simple, if you can certify the below (from

Developer Certificate of Origin
Version 1.1

Copyright (C) 2004, 2006 The Linux Foundation and its contributors.
1 Letterman Drive
Suite D4700
San Francisco, CA, 94129

Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this
license document, but changing it is not allowed.

Developer's Certificate of Origin 1.1

By making a contribution to this project, I certify that:

(a) The contribution was created in whole or in part by me and I
    have the right to submit it under the open source license
    indicated in the file; or

(b) The contribution is based upon previous work that, to the best
    of my knowledge, is covered under an appropriate open source
    license and I have the right under that license to submit that
    work with modifications, whether created in whole or in part
    by me, under the same open source license (unless I am
    permitted to submit under a different license), as indicated
    in the file; or

(c) The contribution was provided directly to me by some other
    person who certified (a), (b) or (c) and I have not modified

(d) I understand and agree that this project and the contribution
    are public and that a record of the contribution (including all
    personal information I submit with it, including my sign-off) is
    maintained indefinitely and may be redistributed consistent with
    this project or the open source license(s) involved.

Then you just add a line to every git commit message:

Signed-off-by: Joe Smith <>

Use your real name (sorry, no pseudonyms or anonymous contributions.)

If you set your and git configs, you can sign your commit automatically with git commit -s.

Note: If your git config information is set properly then viewing the git log information for your commit will look something like this:

Author: Joe Smith <>
Date:   Thu Feb 2 11:41:15 2018 -0800

    Update README

    Signed-off-by: Joe Smith <>

Notice the Author and Signed-off-by lines match. If they don't your PR will be rejected by the automated DCO check.

Support Channels

Whether you are a user or contributor, official support channels include:

Before opening a new issue or submitting a new pull request, it's helpful to search the project - it's likely that another user has already reported the issue you're facing, or it's a known issue that we're already aware of. It is also worth asking on the Slack channels.


We use milestones to track progress of specific planned releases.

For example, if the latest currently-released version is 3.2.1, an issue/PR which pertains to a specific upcoming bugfix or feature release could fall into one of two different active milestones: 3.2.2 or 3.3.0.

Issues and PRs which are deemed backwards-incompatible may be added to the discussion items for Helm 4 with label:v4.x. An issue or PR that we are not sure we will be addressing will not be added to any milestone.

A milestone (and hence release) can be closed when all outstanding issues/PRs have been closed or moved to another milestone and the associated release has been published.

Semantic Versioning

Helm maintains a strong commitment to backward compatibility. All of our changes to protocols and formats are backward compatible from one major release to the next. No features, flags, or commands are removed or substantially modified (unless we need to fix a security issue).

We also try very hard to not change publicly accessible Go library definitions inside of the pkg/ directory of our source code.

For a quick summary of our backward compatibility guidelines for releases between 3.0 and 4.0:

  • Command line commands, flags, and arguments MUST be backward compatible
  • File formats (such as Chart.yaml) MUST be backward compatible
  • Any chart that worked on a previous version of Helm 3 MUST work on a new version of Helm 3 (barring the cases where (a) Kubernetes itself changed, and (b) the chart worked because it exploited a bug)
  • Chart repository functionality MUST be backward compatible
  • Go libraries inside of pkg/ SHOULD remain backward compatible, though code inside of cmd/ and internal/ may be changed from release to release without notice.

Support Contract for Helm 2

With Helm 2's current release schedule, we want to take into account any migration issues for users due to the upcoming holiday shopping season and tax season. We also want to clarify what actions may occur after the support contract ends for Helm 2, so that users will not be surprised or caught off guard.

After Helm 2.15.0 is released, Helm 2 will go into "maintenance mode". We will continue to accept bug fixes and fix any security issues that arise, but no new features will be accepted for Helm 2. All feature development will be moved over to Helm 3.

6 months after Helm 3.0.0's public release, Helm 2 will stop accepting bug fixes. Only security issues will be accepted.

12 months after Helm 3.0.0's public release, support for Helm 2 will formally end. Download links for the Helm 2 client through Google Cloud Storage, the Docker image for Tiller stored in Google Container Registry, and the Google Cloud buckets for the stable and incubator chart repositories may no longer work at any point. Client downloads through will continue to work, and we will distribute a Tiller image that will be made available at an alternative location which can be updated with helm init --tiller-image.


Issues are used as the primary method for tracking anything to do with the Helm project.

Issue Types

There are 5 types of issues (each with their own corresponding label):

  • question/support: These are support or functionality inquiries that we want to have a record of for future reference. Generally these are questions that are too complex or large to store in the Slack channel or have particular interest to the community as a whole. Depending on the discussion, these can turn into feature or bug issues.
  • proposal: Used for items (like this one) that propose a new ideas or functionality that require a larger community discussion. This allows for feedback from others in the community before a feature is actually developed. This is not needed for small additions. Final word on whether or not a feature needs a proposal is up to the core maintainers. All issues that are proposals should both have a label and an issue title of "Proposal: [the rest of the title]." A proposal can become a feature and does not require a milestone.
  • feature: These track specific feature requests and ideas until they are complete. They can evolve from a proposal or can be submitted individually depending on the size.
  • bug: These track bugs with the code
  • docs: These track problems with the documentation (i.e. missing or incomplete)

Issue Lifecycle

The issue lifecycle is mainly driven by the core maintainers, but is good information for those contributing to Helm. All issue types follow the same general lifecycle. Differences are noted below.

  1. Issue creation
  2. Triage
    • The maintainer in charge of triaging will apply the proper labels for the issue. This includes labels for priority, type, and metadata (such as good first issue). The only issue priority we will be tracking is whether or not the issue is "critical." If additional levels are needed in the future, we will add them.
    • (If needed) Clean up the title to succinctly and clearly state the issue. Also ensure that proposals are prefaced with "Proposal: [the rest of the title]".
    • Add the issue to the correct milestone. If any questions come up, don't worry about adding the issue to a milestone until the questions are answered.
    • We attempt to do this process at least once per work day.
  3. Discussion
    • Issues that are labeled feature or proposal must write a Helm Improvement Proposal (HIP). See Proposing an Idea. Smaller quality-of-life enhancements are exempt.
    • Issues that are labeled as feature or bug should be connected to the PR that resolves it.
    • Whoever is working on a feature or bug issue (whether a maintainer or someone from the community), should either assign the issue to themself or make a comment in the issue saying that they are taking it.
    • proposal and support/question issues should stay open until resolved or if they have not been active for more than 30 days. This will help keep the issue queue to a manageable size and reduce noise. Should the issue need to stay open, the keep open label can be added.
  4. Issue closure

Proposing an Idea

Before proposing a new idea to the Helm project, please make sure to write up a Helm Improvement Proposal. A Helm Improvement Proposal is a design document that describes a new feature for the Helm project. The proposal should provide a concise technical specification and rationale for the feature.

It is also worth considering vetting your idea with the community via the cncf-helm mailing list. Vetting an idea publicly before going as far as writing a proposal is meant to save the potential author time. Many ideas have been proposed; it's quite likely there are others in the community who may be working on a similar proposal, or a similar proposal may have already been written.

HIPs are submitted to the helm/community repository. HIP 1 describes the process to write a HIP as well as the review process.

After your proposal has been approved, follow the developer's guide to get started.

How to Contribute a Patch

  1. Identify or create the related issue. If you're proposing a larger change to Helm, see Proposing an Idea.
  2. Fork the desired repo; develop and test your code changes.
  3. Submit a pull request, making sure to sign your work and link the related issue.

Coding conventions and standards are explained in the official developer docs.

Pull Requests

Like any good open source project, we use Pull Requests (PRs) to track code changes.

PR Lifecycle

  1. PR creation
    • PRs are usually created to fix or else be a subset of other PRs that fix a particular issue.
    • We more than welcome PRs that are currently in progress. They are a great way to keep track of important work that is in-flight, but useful for others to see. If a PR is a work in progress, it must be prefaced with "WIP: [title]". Once the PR is ready for review, remove "WIP" from the title.
    • It is preferred, but not required, to have a PR tied to a specific issue. There can be circumstances where if it is a quick fix then an issue might be overkill. The details provided in the PR description would suffice in this case.
  2. Triage
    • The maintainer in charge of triaging will apply the proper labels for the issue. This should include at least a size label, bug or feature, and awaiting review once all labels are applied. See the Labels section for full details on the definitions of labels.
    • Add the PR to the correct milestone. This should be the same as the issue the PR closes.
  3. Assigning reviews
    • Once a review has the awaiting review label, maintainers will review them as schedule permits. The maintainer who takes the issue should self-request a review.
    • PRs from a community member with the label size/S or larger requires 2 review approvals from maintainers before it can be merged. Those with size/XS are per the judgement of the maintainers. For more detail see the Size Labels section.
  4. Reviewing/Discussion
    • All reviews will be completed using GitHub review tool.
    • A "Comment" review should be used when there are questions about the code that should be answered, but that don't involve code changes. This type of review does not count as approval.
    • A "Changes Requested" review indicates that changes to the code need to be made before they will be merged.
    • Reviewers should update labels as needed (such as needs rebase)
  5. Address comments by answering questions or changing code
  6. LGTM (Looks good to me)
    • Once a Reviewer has completed a review and the code looks ready to merge, an "Approve" review is used to signal to the contributor and to other maintainers that you have reviewed the code and feel that it is ready to be merged.
  7. Merge or close
    • PRs should stay open until merged or if they have not been active for more than 30 days. This will help keep the PR queue to a manageable size and reduce noise. Should the PR need to stay open (like in the case of a WIP), the keep open label can be added.
    • Before merging a PR, refer to the topic on Size Labels below to determine if the PR requires more than one LGTM to merge.
    • If the owner of the PR is listed in the OWNERS file, that user must merge their own PRs or explicitly request another OWNER do that for them.
    • If the owner of a PR is not listed in OWNERS, any core maintainer may merge the PR.

Documentation PRs

Documentation PRs will follow the same lifecycle as other PRs. They will also be labeled with the docs label. For documentation, special attention will be paid to spelling, grammar, and clarity (whereas those things don't matter as much for comments in code).

The Triager

Each week, one of the core maintainers will serve as the designated "triager" starting after the public stand-up meetings on Thursday. This person will be in charge triaging new PRs and issues throughout the work week.


The following tables define all label types used for Helm. It is split up by category.


Label Description
bug Marks an issue as a bug or a PR as a bugfix
critical Marks an issue or PR as critical. This means that addressing the PR or issue is top priority and must be addressed as soon as possible
docs Indicates the issue or PR is a documentation change
feature Marks the issue as a feature request or a PR as a feature implementation
keep open Denotes that the issue or PR should be kept open past 30 days of inactivity
refactor Indicates that the issue is a code refactor and is not fixing a bug or adding additional functionality

Issue Specific

Label Description
help wanted Marks an issue needs help from the community to solve
proposal Marks an issue as a proposal
question/support Marks an issue as a support request or question
good first issue Marks an issue as a good starter issue for someone new to Helm
wont fix Marks an issue as discussed and will not be implemented (or accepted in the case of a proposal)

PR Specific

Label Description
awaiting review Indicates a PR has been triaged and is ready for someone to review
breaking Indicates a PR has breaking changes (such as API changes)
in progress Indicates that a maintainer is looking at the PR, even if no review has been posted yet
needs rebase Indicates a PR needs to be rebased before it can be merged
needs pick Indicates a PR needs to be cherry-picked into a feature branch (generally bugfix branches). Once it has been, the picked label should be applied and this one removed
picked This PR has been cherry-picked into a feature branch

Size labels

Size labels are used to indicate how "dangerous" a PR is. The guidelines below are used to assign the labels, but ultimately this can be changed by the maintainers. For example, even if a PR only makes 30 lines of changes in 1 file, but it changes key functionality, it will likely be labeled as size/L because it requires sign off from multiple people. Conversely, a PR that adds a small feature, but requires another 150 lines of tests to cover all cases, could be labeled as size/S even though the number of lines is greater than defined below.

Any changes from the community labeled as size/S or larger should be thoroughly tested before merging and always requires approval from 2 core maintainers. PRs submitted by a core maintainer, regardless of size, only requires approval from one additional maintainer. This ensures there are at least two maintainers who are aware of any significant PRs introduced to the codebase.

Label Description
size/XS Denotes a PR that changes 0-9 lines, ignoring generated files. Very little testing may be required depending on the change.
size/S Denotes a PR that changes 10-29 lines, ignoring generated files. Only small amounts of manual testing may be required.
size/M Denotes a PR that changes 30-99 lines, ignoring generated files. Manual validation should be required.
size/L Denotes a PR that changes 100-499 lines, ignoring generated files.
size/XL Denotes a PR that changes 500-999 lines, ignoring generated files.
size/XXL Denotes a PR that changes 1000+ lines, ignoring generated files.