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Developer Guide

This guide is intended for plugin developers. If you are not developing kubectl plugins, read the User Guide to learn how to use krew.

This guide explains how to package, test, run plugins locally and make them available on the krew index.

Developing a Plugin

Before creating a plugin, read the Kubernetes Plugins documentation.

If you are writing a plugin in Go: Consider using the cli-runtime project which is designed to provide the same command-line arguments, kubeconfig parser, Kubernetes API REST client, and printing logic.

Below you will create a small plugin named foo which prints the environment variables to the screen and exits.

Read the Naming Guide for choosing a name for your plugin.

Create an executable file named kubectl-foo with the following contents:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

Then make this script executable:

chmod +x ./kubectl-foo

(Since this plugin requires bash, it will only work on Unix platforms. If you need to support windows, develop a kubectl-foo.exe executable.)

Now, if you place this plugin to anywhere in your $PATH directories, you should be able to call it like:

kubectl foo

Packaging plugins for krew

To package a plugin via krew, you need to:

  1. Develop a plugin and archive it into a .zip or .tar.gz.
  2. Write a plugin manifest file.
  3. Test installation locally with the archive and the manifest file.

To make a plugin available to everyone via krew, you need to:

  1. Make the archive file (.zip or .tar.gz) publicly downloadable on a URL (you can host it youself or use GitHub releases feature).
  2. Submit the plugin manifest file to the krew index repository.

Plugin packages need to be available to download from the public Internet. A service like GitHub Releases is recommended.

Writing a plugin manifest

Each krew plugin has a "plugin manifest" file that lives in the krew index repository.

This file describes which files krew must copy out of your plugin archive and how to run your plugin. It is also used to determine if an upgrade to your plugin is available and how to install it.

For a plugin named foo, the plugin manifest file should be named foo.yaml. An example manifest for this plugin that runs only on Linux and macOS looks like this (see krew index for all plugin manifests):

kind: Plugin
  name: foo               # plugin name must match your manifest file name (e.g. foo.yaml)
  version: "v0.0.1"       # optional, only for documentation purposes
  # specify installation script for linux and darwin (macOS)
  - selector:             # a regular Kubernetes selector
      - {key: os, operator: In, values: [darwin, linux]}
    # url for downloading the package archive:
    # sha256sum of the file downloaded above:
    sha256: "208fde0b9f42ef71f79864b1ce594a70832c47dc5426e10ca73bf02e54d499d0"
    files:                     # copy the used files out of the zip archive
    - from: "/foo-*/unix/*.sh" # path to the files extracted from archive
      to: "."               # '.' refers to the root of plugin install directory
    bin: "./kubectl-foo"  # path to the plugin executable after copying files above
  shortDescription: Prints the environment variables.
  homepage: # optional, url for the project homepage
  # (optional) use caveats field to show post-installation recommendations
  caveats: |
    This plugin needs the following programs:
    * env(1)
  description: |
    This plugin shows all environment variables that get injected when
    launching a program as a plugin. You can use this field for longer
    description and example usages.

Specifying platform-specific instructions

krew makes it possible to install the same plugin on different operating systems (like windows, darwin (macOS), and linux) and different architectures (like amd64, 386, arm).

To support multiple platforms, you may need to define multiple platforms in the plugin manifest. The selector field matches to operating systems and architectures using the keys os and arch respectively.

Example: Match to Linux:

  - selector:
        os: linux

Example: Match to a Linux or macOS platform, any architecure:

  - selector: # A regular Kubernetes label selector
      - {key: os, operator: In, values: [darwin, linux]}

Example: Match to Windows 64-bit:

  - selector:
        os: windows
        arch: amd64

The possible values for os and arch come from the Go runtime. Run go tool dist list to see all possible platforms and architectures.

Specifying files to install

Each operating system may require a different set of files from the archive to be installed. You can use the files field in the plugin manifest to specify which files should be copied into the plugin directory after extracting the plugin archive.

The file: list specifies the copy operations (like mv(1) <from> <to>) to the files from the archive to the installation destination.

Example: Copy all files in the bin/ directory of the extracted archive to the root of your plugin:

    - from: bin/*.exe
      to: .

Given the file operation above, if the extracted plugin archive looked like this:

β”œβ”€β”€ README.txt
β”œβ”€β”€ README.txt
└── bin
β”‚Β Β  └── kubectl-foo-linux
    └── kubectl-foo-windows.exe

The resulting installation directory would up just with:

└── krew-foo-windows.exe

Specifying plugin executable

Each platform field requires a path to the plugin executable in the plugin's installation directory.

krew creates a symbolic link to the plugin executable specified in the bin field in $HOME/.krew/bin/ (which all krew users need to add to their $PATH).

For example, if your plugin executable is named, specify:

  - bin: "./"

krew will create a symbolic link named kubectl-foo (and kubectl-foo.exe on Windows) to your plugin executable after installation is complete. The name of the symbolic link comes from the plugin name.

Note on underscore conversion: If your plugin name contains dashes, krew will automatically convert them to underscores for kubectl to be able to find your plugin.

For example, if your is named view-logs and your plugin binary is named, krew will create a symbolic named kubectl-view_logs automatically.

Specifying a plugin download URL

krew plugins must be packaged as .zip or .tar.gz archives and should be made available to download publicly.

There are two ways to specify a plugin archive location in the plugin manifest:

  1. Download from a URL pointing and verify its checksum with sha256: This uses url and sha256 fields. (recommended)
  2. Download from a URL without verifying its checksum: This uses the head field. This is intended for development purposes where the contents of the URL may change frequently.

Downloading from a versioned URL requires fields:

  • uri: URL to the archive file (.zip or .tar.gz)
  • sha256: sha256 sum of the archive file

Specifying head field makes it possible to install a file without verifying its checksum. If you are downloading from master branch of a GitHub repository, this can be useful. Users can install a plugin using the head with:

kubectl krew install --HEAD <PLUGIN>

It is possible to specify only the head, as well as alongside uri and sha256. In this case, the uri and sha256 fields will be used by default:

  - head:
    sha256: "29C9C411AF879AB85049344B81B8E8A9FBC1D657D493694E2783A2D0DB240775"

Installing Plugins Locally

After you have:

  • written your <PLUGIN>.yaml
  • archived your plugin into a .zip or .tar.gz file

you can now test whether your plugin installs correctly on krew by running:

kubectl krew install --manifest=foo.yaml --archive=foo.tar.gz
  • --manifest flag specifies a custom manifest rather than picking it up from the default krew index
  • --archive overrides the download url specified in the plugin manifest and uses a local file instead.

If the installation fails, run the command with -v=4 flag for verbose logs. If your installation has succeeded, you should be able to run:

kubectl foo

If you made your archive file available to download on the Internet, run the same command without --archive and actually test downloading the file from url.

If you need other platforms definitions that don't match your current machine, you can use KREW_OS and/or KREW_ARCH environment variables. For example, if you're on a Linux machine, you can test Windows installation with:

KREW_OS=windows krew install --manifest=[...]

After you have tested your plugin, remove it with kubectl krew remove foo.

Publishing Plugins

Submitting a plugin to krew

After you have tested that the plugin can be installed and works you should create a pull request to the Krew Index with your <PLUGIN>.yaml manifest file.

The new plugin file should be submitted to the plugins/ directory in the index repository.

After the pull request gets accepted into the main index, the plugin will be available for all users.

Please make sure to include dependencies of your plugin and extra configuration needed to run the plugin in the caveats: field.

Updating existing plugins

When you have a newer version of your plugin, create a new pull request that updates uri and sha256 fields of the plugin manifest file.

Optionally, you can use the version field to match to your plugin's released version string.

You can’t perform that action at this time.