My experience with Krew to manage kubectl plugins

16 Jan 2020 · Two minute read · on Gianluca's blog

I wrote a good number of kubectl plugins so far, but there is a lot more I can do with them. Every time I write a new one I discover something new and that is why I am always excited to see what will happen with the next one.

“Unit Testing Kubernetes Client in Go” and “Kubectl flags in your kubectl plugin” are two of the lessons learned along the way.

With kubectl-profefe I decided to have a look at krew. It is a package manager for kubectl plugins. It is a plugin itself with the end goal to help you installing and managing the lifecycle for your plugin.

$ kubectl krew install profefe

It gives you the ability, with a single command to install, update or delete the kubectl-profefe cli command.

Twitter got pretty excited recently about kubectl-tree, a plugin from @ahmetb an old friend of mine and active Kubernetes contributor and maintainer for krew as well. It helps you to visualize kubernetes resources as a tree to simplify the comprehension of the hierarchy and the connection between resources.

Two other examples that I would like to mention are from @ahmetb too. Kubectl plugins don’t need to be extremely complicated, but you always have to keep in mind the mantra “usability first.” It doesn’t matter how many lines of code you write: the end goal should be to develop something usable and well-integrated with kubernetes! kubectl ctx and kubectl ns are fabulous examples of something easy but helpful. We switch between context and namespace more than once a day between production clusters, local development, and so on. It is not a very complicated thing to do natively: for example, changing context with kubectl is just a matter of typing:

$ kubectl config use new-context

Worst case scenario for the namespace, you have to type the -n flags every time you run a kubectl command that is not in the namespace you have set by default for the context you are using.

But kubectl ctx and kubectl ns simplify this process even more. You only have to type:

$ kubectl ctx new-context


$ kubectl ns new-namespace

If you are developing an open-source kubectl plugin and you need a friendly and easy way to distribute it, you should have a look at krew. The publication process is straightforward, this is the PR I had to submit for profefe, you have to type some YAML as usual.

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