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Generating CRDs

Kubebuilder uses a tool called controller-gen to generate utility code and Kubernetes object YAML, like CustomResourceDefinitions.

To do this, it makes use of special “marker comments” (comments that start with // +) to indicate additional information about fields, types, and packages. In the case of CRDs, these are generally pulled from your _types.go files. For more information on markers, see the marker reference docs.

Kubebuilder provides a make target to run controller-gen and generate CRDs: make manifests.

When you run make manifests, you should see CRDs generated under the config/crd/bases directory. make manifests can generate a number of other artifacts as well – see the marker reference docs for more details.


CRDs support declarative validation using an OpenAPI v3 schema in the validation section.

In general, validation markers may be attached to fields or to types. If you’re defining complex validation, if you need to re-use validation, or if you need to validate slice elements, it’s often best to define a new type to describe your validation.

For example:

type ToySpec struct {
	// +kubebuilder:validation:MaxLength=15
	// +kubebuilder:validation:MinLength=1
	Name string `json:"name,omitempty"`

	// +kubebuilder:validation:MaxItems=500
	// +kubebuilder:validation:MinItems=1
	// +kubebuilder:validation:UniqueItems=true
	Knights []string `json:"knights,omitempty"`

	Alias   Alias   `json:"alias,omitempty"`
	Rank    Rank    `json:"rank"`

// +kubebuilder:validation:Enum=Lion;Wolf;Dragon
type Alias string

// +kubebuilder:validation:Minimum=1
// +kubebuilder:validation:Maximum=3
// +kubebuilder:validation:ExclusiveMaximum=false
type Rank int32

Additional Printer Columns

Starting with Kubernetes 1.11, kubectl get can ask the server what columns to display. For CRDs, this can be used to provide useful, type-specific information with kubectl get, similar to the information provided for built-in types.

The information that gets displayed can be controlled with the additionalPrinterColumns field on your CRD, which is controlled by the +kubebuilder:printcolumn marker on the Go type for your CRD.

For instance, in the following example, we add fields to display information about the knights, rank, and alias fields from the validation example:

// +kubebuilder:printcolumn:name="Alias",type=string,JSONPath=`.spec.alias`
// +kubebuilder:printcolumn:name="Rank",type=integer,JSONPath=`.spec.rank`
// +kubebuilder:printcolumn:name="Bravely Run Away",type=boolean,JSONPath=`.spec.knights[?(@ == "Sir Robin")]`,description="when danger rears its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled",priority=10
// +kubebuilder:printcolumn:name="Age",type="date",JSONPath=".metadata.creationTimestamp"
type Toy struct {
	metav1.TypeMeta   `json:",inline"`
	metav1.ObjectMeta `json:"metadata,omitempty"`

	Spec   ToySpec   `json:"spec,omitempty"`
	Status ToyStatus `json:"status,omitempty"`


CRDs can choose to implement the /status and /scale subresources as of Kubernetes 1.13.

It’s generally recommended that you make use of the /status subresource on all resources that have a status field.

Both subresources have a corresponding marker.


The status subresource is enabled via +kubebuilder:subresource:status. When enabled, updates at the main resource will not change status. Similarly, updates to the status subresource cannot change anything but the status field.

For example:

// +kubebuilder:subresource:status
type Toy struct {
	metav1.TypeMeta   `json:",inline"`
	metav1.ObjectMeta `json:"metadata,omitempty"`

	Spec   ToySpec   `json:"spec,omitempty"`
	Status ToyStatus `json:"status,omitempty"`


The scale subresource is enabled via +kubebuilder:subresource:scale. When enabled, users will be able to use kubectl scale with your resource. If the selectorpath argument pointed to the string form of a label selector, the HorizontalPodAutoscaler will be able to autoscale your resource.

For example:

type CustomSetSpec struct {
	Replicas *int32 `json:"replicas"`

type CustomSetStatus struct {
	Replicas int32 `json:"replicas"`
    Selector string `json:"selector"` // this must be the string form of the selector

// +kubebuilder:subresource:status
// +kubebuilder:subresource:scale:specpath=.spec.replicas,statuspath=.status.replicas,selectorpath=.status.selector
type CustomSet struct {
	metav1.TypeMeta   `json:",inline"`
	metav1.ObjectMeta `json:"metadata,omitempty"`

	Spec   CustomSetSpec   `json:"spec,omitempty"`
	Status CustomSetStatus `json:"status,omitempty"`

Multiple Versions

As of Kubernetes 1.13, you can have multiple versions of your Kind defined in your CRD, and use a webhook to convert between them.

For more details on this process, see the multiversion tutorial.

By default, Kubebuilder disables generating different validation for different versions of the Kind in your CRD, to be compatible with older Kubernetes versions.

You’ll need to enable this by switching the line in your makefile that says CRD_OPTIONS ?= "crd:trivialVersions=true,preserveUnknownFields=false to CRD_OPTIONS ?= crd:preserveUnknownFields=false if using v1beta CRDs, and CRD_OPTIONS ?= crd if using v1 (recommended).

Then, you can use the +kubebuilder:storageversion marker to indicate the GVK that should be used to store data by the API server.

Supporting older cluster versions

By default, kubebuilder create api will create CRDs of API version v1, a version introduced in Kubernetes v1.16. If your project intends to support Kubernetes cluster versions older than v1.16, you must use the v1beta1 API version:

kubebuilder create api --crd-version v1beta1 ...

To support Kubernetes clusters of version v1.14 or lower, you’ll also need to remove the controller-gen option preserveUnknownFields=false from your Makefile. This is done by switching the line that says CRD_OPTIONS ?= "crd:trivialVersions=true,preserveUnknownFields=false to CRD_OPTIONS ?= crd:trivialVersions=true

Under the hood

Kubebuilder scaffolds out make rules to run controller-gen. The rules will automatically install controller-gen if it’s not on your path using go install with Go modules.

You can also run controller-gen directly, if you want to see what it’s doing.

Each controller-gen “generator” is controlled by an option to controller-gen, using the same syntax as markers. controller-gen also supports different output “rules” to control how and where output goes. Notice the manifests make rule (condensed slightly to only generate CRDs):

# Generate manifests for CRDs
manifests: controller-gen
	$(CONTROLLER_GEN) rbac:roleName=manager-role crd webhook paths="./..." output:crd:artifacts:config=config/crd/bases

It uses the output:crd:artifacts output rule to indicate that CRD-related config (non-code) artifacts should end up in config/crd/bases instead of config/crd.

To see all the options including generators for controller-gen, run

$ controller-gen -h

or, for more details:

$ controller-gen -hhh