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Contributor Guide

This guide is intended for people who want to start working on krew itself. If you intend to write a new plugin, see the Developer Guide instead.

Setting up the environment

Krew is built with go 1.10, but newer versions will do as well. Most toolchains will expect that the krew repository is on the GOPATH. To set it up correctly, do

mkdir -p $(go env GOPATH)/src/
cd $(go env GOPATH)/src/
git clone .
git remote set-url origin --push no_push   # to avoid pushes

Using macOS for development

The tools provided in the hack folder expect you to use GNU binaries, the easiest way to install them is to use brew

brew install coreutils grep gnu-sed

And remember to add them to your $PATH to make them your default binaries

export PATH=$(brew --prefix coreutils)/libexec/gnubin:$PATH
export PATH="$(brew --prefix grep)/libexec/gnubin:$PATH"
export PATH="$(brew --prefix gnu-sed)/libexec/gnubin:$PATH"

Code style

Krew adheres to standard golang code formatting conventions, and also expects imports sorted properly. To automatically format code appropriately, install goimports via:

go get

and run:

goimports -local -w cmd pkg integration_test

Shell scripts are automatically formatted by shfmt, to install and to validate run:


If format is in expected format, there will be no output. Otherwise, problematic scripts will be listed and a command will be provided to format them:

shfmt -w -i=2 hack/

In addition, a boilerplate license header is expected in all source files.

All new code should be covered by tests.


Use hack/ to make a binary in out/bin/ for your current platform. You can use hack/ to build binaries for all supported platforms.

Running tests

To run tests locally, the easiest way to get started is with


This will run all unit tests and code quality tools. To run a single tool independently of the other code checks, have a look at the other scripts in hack/.

In addition, there are integration tests to cover high-level krew functionality. To run integration tests, you will need to build the krew binary beforehand:


Testing krew in a sandbox

After making changes to krew, you should also check that it behaves as expected. You can do this without messing up the krew installation on the host system by setting the KREW_ROOT environment variable. For example:

mkdir playground
KREW_ROOT="$PWD/playground" krew update

Any changes that krew is going to apply will then be applied in the playground/ folder, instead of the standard ~/.krew folder.

Testing in a docker sandbox

Alternatively, if the isolation provided by KREW_ROOT is not enough, there is also a script to run krew in a docker sandbox: