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Contributing Process

Project Management

The Code, our TODOs and Documentation is maintained on GitHub. All Issues should be opened in that repository. We have a Roadmap to track progress for our road towards GA.


Features, bugs and any issues regarding the documentation should be filed as GitHub Issue in our repository. We use labels like kind/feature, kind/bug, area/aws to organize the issues. Issues labeled good first issue and help wanted are especially good for a first contribution. If you want to pick up an issue just leave a comment.

Submitting a Pull Request

This project uses the well-known pull request process from GitHub. To submit a pull request, fork the repository and push any changes to a branch on the copy, from there a pull request can be made in the main repo. Merging a pull request requires the following steps to be completed before the pull request will be merged:

  • ideally, there is an issue that documents the problem or feature in depth.
  • code must have a reasonable amount of test coverage
  • tests must pass
  • PR needs be reviewed and approved

Once these steps are completed the PR will be merged by a code owner. We're using the pull request assignee feature to track who is responsible for the lifecycle of the PR: review, merging, ping on inactivity, close. We close pull requests or issues if there is no response from the author for a period of time. Feel free to reopen if you want to get back on it.

Triggering e2e tests

We have an extensive set of e2e tests that test the integration with real cloud provider APIs. Maintainers must trigger these kind of tests manually for PRs that come from forked repositories. These tests run inside a kind cluster in the GitHub Actions runner:

/ok-to-test sha=xxxxxx

Executing e2e tests locally

You have to prepare your shell environment with the necessary variables so the e2e test runner knows what credentials to use. See e2e/ for the variables that are passed in. If you e.g. want to test AWS integration make sure set all AWS_* variables mentioned in that file.

Use ginkgo labels to select the tests you want to execute. You have to specify !managed to ensure that you do not run managed tests.

make test.e2e GINKGO_LABELS='gcp&&!managed'

Managed Kubernetes e2e tests

There's another suite of e2e tests that integrate with managed Kuberentes offerings. They create real infrastructure at a cloud provider and deploy the controller into that environment. This is necessary to test the authentication integration (GCP Workload Identity, EKS IRSA...).

These tests are time intensive (~20-45min) and must be triggered manually by a maintainer when a particular provider or authentication mechanism was changed:

/ok-to-test-managed sha=xxxxxx provider=aws
# or
/ok-to-test-managed sha=xxxxxx provider=gcp

Both tests can run in parallel. Once started they add a dynamic GitHub check integration-managed-(gcp|aws) to the PR that triggered the test.

Executing Managed Kubernetes e2e tests locally

You have to prepare your shell environment with the necessary variables so the e2e test runner knows what credentials to use. See .github/workflows/e2e-managed.yml for the variables that are passed in. If you e.g. want to test AWS integration make sure set all variables containing AWS_* and TF_VAR_AWS_* mentioned in that file.

Then execute or tf.apply.gcp to create the infrastructure.


Then run the managed testsuite. You will need push permissions to the external-secrets ghcr repository. You can set IMAGE_REGISTRY to control which image registry is used to store the controller and e2e test images in.

You also have to setup a proper Kubeconfig so the e2e test pod gets deployed into the managed cluster.

aws eks update-kubeconfig --name ${AWS_CLUSTER_NAME}
gcloud container clusters get-credentials ${GCP_GKE_CLUSTER} --region europe-west1-b

Use ginkgo labels to select the tests you want to execute.

# you may have to set
make test.e2e.managed GINKGO_LABELS='gcp'

Proposal Process

Before we introduce significant changes to the project we want to gather feedback from the community to ensure that we progress in the right direction before we develop and release big changes. Significant changes include for example:

  • creating new custom resources
  • proposing breaking changes
  • changing the behavior of the controller significantly

Please create a document in the design/ directory based on the template and fill in your proposal. Open a pull request in draft mode and request feedback. Once the proposal is accepted and the pull request is merged we can create work packages and proceed with the implementation.

Release Planning

We have a GitHub Project Board where we organize issues on a high level. We group issues by milestone. Once all issues of a given milestone are closed we should prepare a new feature release. Issues of the next milestone have priority over other issues - but that does not mean that no one is allowed to start working on them.

Issues must be manually added to that board (at least for now, see GH Roadmap). Milestones must be assigned manually as well. If no milestone is assigned it is basically a backlog item. It is the responsibility of the maintainers to:

  1. assign new issues to the GH Project
  2. add a milestone if needed
  3. add appropriate labels

If you would like to raise the priority of an issue for whatever reason feel free to comment on the issue or ping a maintainer.

Support & Questions

Providing support to end users is an important and difficult task. We have three different channels through which support questions arise:

  1. Kubernetes Slack #external-secrets
  2. GitHub Discussions
  3. GitHub Issues

We use labels to identify GitHub Issues. Specifically for managing support cases we use the following labels to identify the state a support case is in:

  • triage/needs-information: Indicates an issue needs more information in order to work on it.
  • triage/not-reproducible: Indicates an issue can not be reproduced as described.
  • triage/support: Indicates an issue that is a support question.

Cutting Releases

The external-secrets project is released on a as-needed basis. Feel free to open a issue to request a release. Details on how to cut a release can be found in the release page.