Carvel Logo

Blog Posts

Deploying to multiple environments with ytt and kapp

by Yash Sethiya — Mar 10, 2022

One of the most typical challenges when deploying a complex application is the handling of different deployment environments during the software lifecycle.

Commonly, the setup is a trilogy of QA/Staging/Production environments. An application developer needs an easy way to deploy to the different environments and also to understand what version is deployed where.

Unlike many other tools used for templating, ytt takes a different approach to work with YAML files. Instead of interpreting YAML configuration as plain text, it works with YAML structures such as maps, lists, YAML documents, scalars, etc. By doing so ytt is able to eliminate a lot of problems that plague other tools (character escaping, ambiguity, indentation, etc.). Additionally ytt provides Python-like language (Starlark) that executes in a hermetic environment making it friendly, yet more deterministic compared to just using general purpose languages directly or non-familiar custom templating languages.

How to handle different environment configurations

This problem is usually solved in two ways: templating or patching. ytt supports both approaches. In this section, we’ll see how ytt allows to template YAML configuration, and how it can patch YAML configuration via overlays.

Data values

Data values provide a way to inject input data. In ytt, before a Data Value can be used in a template, it must be declared. This is done via Data Values Schema. We will have a common schema file for all the environments.

#! schema.yaml (#! is used for comment in ytt)

#@data/values-schema
---
name: ""
replicas: 1

image:
  name: nginx
  tag: "1.14.2"

appMode: ""
certificatePath: ""
databaseUser: ""
databasePassword: ""

A schema sets the defaults for each data value as they are declared. We will want to override some of those defaults for each of our environments. We do this by creating a values file for each environment. Let’s suppose we have two environments staging and prod.

In values-staging.yaml we will be just putting the values that we want to override from schema

#! values-staging.yaml

#@data/values
---
name: "sample-app"
image:
  tag: "latest"

appMode: staging
certificatePath: /etc/ssl/staging
databaseUser: staging-user
databasePassword: staging-password

In production maybe we want to have more replicas so we can override that in values-prod.yaml

#! values-prod.yaml

#@data/values
---
name: "sample-app"
replicas: 3

appMode: prod
certificatePath: /etc/ssl/prod
databaseUser: prod-user
databasePassword: prod-password

Using Data Values in manifest

Now we will see how we can use the data values that has been declared via data value schema. Here I have put all the resources in single yaml file app.yaml just for the demonstration purpose.

#! app.yaml

#@ load("@ytt:data", "data")

#@ def labels():
environment: #@ data.values.appMode
#@ end

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
metadata:
  name: #@ data.values.name
  labels: #@ labels()
spec:
  selector:
    app: #@ data.values.name
  ports:
    - protocol: TCP
      port: 80
      targetPort: 8080
---
apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: #@ data.values.name
  labels: #@ labels()
spec:
  replicas: #@ data.values.replicas
  selector:
    matchLabels: #@ labels()
  template:
    metadata:
      labels: #@ labels()
    spec:
      containers:
        - name: sample-app
          image: #@ data.values.image.name + ":" + data.values.image.tag
          imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
          ports:
          - containerPort: 8080
---
apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
metadata:
  name: application-settings
stringData:
  app_mode: #@ data.values.appMode
  certificates: #@ data.values.certificatePath
  db_user: #@ data.values.databaseUser
  db_password: #@ data.values.databasePassword

As you can see above file contains lots of ytt annotations (i.e. lines that contain #@), it’s a ytt template. With the help of this annotations we are using the values defined in schema file.

Deploying with kapp

Let’s now look into how we can deploy for different environments by passing environment specific values-*.yaml we created above. First, let’s see the final manifest for staging environment.

$ ytt -f app.yaml -f schema.yaml -f values-staging.yaml

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
metadata:
  name: sample-app
  labels:
    environment: staging
spec:
  selector:
    app: sample-app
  ports:
  - protocol: TCP
    port: 80
    targetPort: 8080
---
apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: sample-app
  labels:
    environment: staging
spec:
  replicas: 1
  selector:
    matchLabels:
      environment: staging
  template:
    metadata:
      labels:
        environment: staging
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: sample-app
        image: nginx:latest
        imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
        ports:
        - containerPort: 8080
---
apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
metadata:
  name: application-settings
stringData:
  app_mode: staging
  certificates: /etc/ssl/staging
  db_user: staging-user
  db_password: staging-password

Try this out in our ytt interactive playground

As our final manifest looks good let’s deploy it with kapp -

$ kapp deploy -a sample-app -f <(ytt -f app.yaml -f schema.yaml -f values-staging.yaml)
Target cluster 'https://127.0.0.1:57418' (nodes: minikube)

Changes

Namespace  Name                  Kind        Conds.  Age  Op      Op st.  Wait to    Rs  Ri  
default    application-settings  Secret      -       -    create  -       reconcile  -   -  
^          sample-app            Deployment  -       -    create  -       reconcile  -   -  
^          sample-app            Service     -       -    create  -       reconcile  -   -  

Op:      3 create, 0 delete, 0 update, 0 noop, 0 exists
Wait to: 3 reconcile, 0 delete, 0 noop

Continue? [yN]: 

Here kapp is showing calculated changes between configuration provided and live cluster state. It then asks for confirmation before actually applying the change. Similarly, for deploying application on prod environment we will be passing values-prod.yaml.

Overlays

When the user would like to configure fields beyond what the original author has exposed as data values, they should turn to Overlays. Here we look into a way to specify locations within configuration and either add to, remove from, or replace within that existing configuration.

#! add-namespace.yaml

#@ load("@ytt:overlay", "overlay")

#@overlay/match by=overlay.all, expects="1+"
---
metadata:
  #@overlay/match missing_ok=True
  namespace: my-namespace

Let’s now consider a usecase where we want to patch the namespace for all of the resources we have and we don’t want to edit all the documents to add the namespace field. This can easily be achieved by something called as Overlays in ytt. In add-namespace.yaml file we have defined an overlay to add the namespace field inside metadata for all the resources. Here #@overlay/match missing_ok=True means that let’s add the field even if it not exists and if it exists let’s change the namespace to my-namespace.

On applying overlay, final manifest will look like -

$ ytt -f app.yaml -f schema.yaml -f values-prod.yaml -f add-namespace.yaml

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
metadata:
  name: sample-app
  labels:
    environment: prod
  namespace: my-namespace
spec:
  selector:
    app: sample-app
  ports:
  - protocol: TCP
    port: 80
    targetPort: 8080
---
apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: sample-app
  labels:
    environment: prod
  namespace: my-namespace
spec:
  replicas: 3
  selector:
    matchLabels:
      environment: prod
  template:
    metadata:
      labels:
        environment: prod
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: sample-app
        image: nginx:1.14.2
        imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
        ports:
        - containerPort: 8080
---
apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
metadata:
  name: application-settings
  namespace: my-namespace
stringData:
  app_mode: prod
  certificates: /etc/ssl/prod
  db_user: prod-user
  db_password: prod-password

Try this out in our ytt interactive playground.

Now let’s deploy it using kapp -

$ kapp deploy -a sample-app -f <(ytt -f app.yaml -f schema.yaml -f values-prod.yaml -f add-namespace.yaml) -y
Target cluster 'https://127.0.0.1:57418' (nodes: minikube)

Changes

Namespace     Name                  Kind        Conds.  Age  Op      Op st.  Wait to    Rs  Ri  
my-namespace  application-settings  Secret      -       -    create  -       reconcile  -   -  
^             sample-app            Deployment  -       -    create  -       reconcile  -   -  
^             sample-app            Service     -       -    create  -       reconcile  -   -  

Op:      3 create, 0 delete, 0 update, 0 noop, 0 exists
Wait to: 3 reconcile, 0 delete, 0 noop

6:55:46PM: ---- applying 1 changes [0/3 done] ----
6:55:46PM: create secret/application-settings (v1) namespace: my-namespace
6:55:46PM: ---- waiting on 1 changes [0/3 done] ----
6:55:46PM: ok: reconcile secret/application-settings (v1) namespace: my-namespace
6:55:46PM: ---- applying 2 changes [1/3 done] ----
6:55:46PM: create deployment/sample-app (apps/v1) namespace: my-namespace
6:55:46PM: create service/sample-app (v1) namespace: my-namespace
6:55:46PM: ---- waiting on 2 changes [1/3 done] ----
...
6:55:50PM: ---- applying complete [3/3 done] ----
6:55:50PM: ---- waiting complete [3/3 done] ----

Succeeded

This time I deployed using kapp -y flag which will not ask for confirmation before applying the changes. It also shows a progress log while reconciling for the changes to provide details on for which resources it is waiting and what all got applied successfully.

Here, just to limit the scope of this article I have used some basic but powerful features of ytt for templating and patching but there are many advanced features provided by ytt which will be worth exploring and can match your specific use case.

To learn more…

Hope you enjoyed reading this blog and believe it will make your life easier in handling different deployment environments. Share your experience in our Carvel’s slack channel.

Join the Carvel Community

We are excited to hear from you and learn with you! Here are several ways you can get involved:

  • Join Carvel’s slack channel, #carvel in Kubernetes workspace, and connect with over 1000+ Carvel users.
  • Find us on GitHub. Suggest how we can improve the project, the docs, or share any other feedback.
  • Attend our Community Meetings! Check out the Community page for full details on how to attend.