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Brigade Docs

Hacking on Brigade

This section is the primary technical primer on how to successfully make changes to Brigade’s code base, test those changes, and when necessary, build Brigade from source and deploy it to a local development-grade Kubernetes cluster.

⚠️  Most of this information is also generally applicable to other projects owned by the @brigadecore GitHub org.

⚠️  Special Note About Windows

All development-related tasks should “just work” on Linux and macOS systems. When developing on Windows, the maintainers strongly recommend utilizing the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2. See more details here.

Development Environment

Most Brigade components are implemented in Go. A few are implemented in TypeScript. For maximum productivity in your text editor or IDE, it is recommended that you have installed the latest stable releases of Go, Node.js, and applicable editor/IDE extensions, however, this is not strictly required to be successful.

Containerized Tests

In order to minimize the setup required to successfully apply small changes and in order to reduce the incidence of “it worked on my machine,” wherein changes that pass tests locally do not pass the same tests in CI due to environmental differences, Brigade has adopted a “container-first” approach to testing. This is to say we have made it the default that unit tests, linters, and a variety of other validations, when executed locally, automatically execute in a Docker container that is maximally similar to the container in which those same tasks will run during the continuous integration process.

To take advantage of this, you only need to have Docker and make installed.

If you wish to opt-out of tasks automatically running inside a container, you can set the environment variable SKIP_DOCKER to the value true. Doing so will require that any tools involved in tasks you execute have been installed locally.

Working with Go Code

If you make modifications to Go code, it is recommended that you run corresponding unit tests and linters before opening a PR.

To run lint checks for all Go-based components:

$ make lint-go

To run unit tests for all Go-based components:

$ make test-unit-go

Working with TypeScript Code

If you make modifications to TypeScript code, it is recommended that you run corresponding unit tests, style checks, and linters before opening a PR.

⚠️  We use Prettier to enforce consistent syntax/style and linters to catch potential problems that aren’t directly syntax/style-related.

To run style checks for all TypeScript-based components:

$ make style-check-js

If this turns up any issues, you can correct them automatically by running:

$ make style-fix-js

To run lint checks for all TypeScript-based components:

$ make lint-js

To run unit tests for all TypeScript-based components:

$ make test-unit-js

Building & Pushing Docker Images from Source

You will rarely, if ever, need to directly / manually build Docker images from source. This is because of tooling we use (see next section) that does this for you. Unless you have a specific need for doing this, you can safely skip this section.

In the event that you do need to manually build images from source you can execute the same make targets that are used by CI and our release process, but be advised that this involves multiarch builds using buildx. This can be somewhat slow and is not guaranteed to be supported on all systems.

First, list all available builders:

$ docker buildx ls

You will require a builder that lists both linux/amd64 and linux/arm64 as supported platforms. If one is present, select it using the following command:

$ docker buildx use <NAME/NODE>

If you do not have an adequate builder available, you can try to launch one:

$ docker buildx create --use 

Because buildx utilizes a build server, the images built will not be present locally. (Even though your build server is running locally, it’s remote from the perspective of your local Docker engine.) To make them available for use, you must push them somewhere. The following environment variables give you control over where the images are pushed to:

  • DOCKER_REGISTRY: Host name of an OCI registry. If this is unset, Docker Hub is assumed.

  • DOCKER_ORG: For multi-tenant registries, set this to a username or organization name for which you have permission to push images. This is not always required for private registries, but if you’re pushing to Docker Hub, for instance, you will want to set this.

If applicable, you MUST log in to whichever registry you are pushing images to in advance.

The example below shows how to build a single component and push it to Docker Hub:

$ DOCKER_ORG=<Docker Hub username or org name> make push-<component name>

In this example, we push to a local registry instead:

$ DOCKER_REGISTRY=localhost:5000 make push-<component name>

To build and push all components:

$ <env vars> make push-images

Building the CLI

If you would like to build the brig CLI (command line interface) from source using the same process that is used during CI and during release, you can execute:

$ make build-cli

The commands above will build the CLI for a variety of OSes and CPU architectures, which, cumulatively, can take quite some time. If you would like to bypass this and build the CLI for you native OS and operating system only, run the following instead:

$ make hack-build-cli

Iterating Quickly

This section focuses on the best approaches for gaining rapid feedback on changes you make to Brigade’s code base.

By far, the fastest path to learning whether changes you have applied work as desired is to execute unit tests as described in previous sections. If, however, the changes you are applying are not well-covered by unit tests, it can become advantageous to build Brigade from source, including your changes, and deploy it to a live Kubernetes cluster. After doing so, you can execute our integration test suite or you can test changes manually. Under these circumstances, a pressing question is one of how Brigade can be built/re-built and deployed as quickly as possible.

Building and deploying Brigade as quickly as possible requires minimizing the the process' dependency on remote systems – including Docker registries and Kubernetes. To that end, we recommend a specific configuration wherein Docker images are built and pushed to a local image registry and a local Kubernetes cluster is configured such that it can pull images from that local registry.

Brigade’s maintainers have never elected lightly to incorporate new third-party tools into our recommended development processes, since we’ve learned from years of experience that requiring any extensive development environment setup can be a source of frustration for would-be contributors. Even so, we have identified three tools that, combined, have streamlined Brigade development to such an extreme extent that they’ve become part of our recommended development environment.

To continue, you will need to install the latest stable versions of:

  • KinD: Runs development-grade Kubernetes clusters in Docker.

  • ctlptl: Launches development-grade Kubernetes clusters (in KinD, for instance) that are pre-connected to a local image registry.

  • Tilt: Builds components from source and deploys them to a development-grade Kubernetes cluster. More importantly, it enables developers to rebuild and replace running components with the click of a button.

  • Helm: The package manager for Kubernetes. Tilt will use this to help deploy Brigade from source.

Follow the installation instructions for each of the above.

To launch a brand new Kind cluster pre-connected to a local image registry:

$ make hack-kind-up

To build and deploy all of Brigade from source, first make sure that all of the Helm chart’s dependencies are satisfied:

$ helm dep up charts/brigade


$ tilt up

Tilt will also launch a web-based UI running at http://localhost:10350. Visit this in your web browser and you will be able to see the build and deployment status of each Brigade component, complete with logs. Once Tilt has all of Brigade up and running, the Brigade API server will be exposed (without TLS) on localhost:31600, so if you wish to log in using the brig CLI as the “root” user:

$ brig login --server http://localhost:31600 --root

The root user’s password is F00Bar!!!.

⚠️  Tilt is often configured to watch files and automatically rebuild and replace running components when their source code is changed. We have deliberately disabled this. Each of our components takes long enough to build that we have discovered it’s better for our CPUs if things aren’t constantly building and rebuilding in the background and build instead only when we choose. The web UI makes it easy to identify components whose source has been altered. They can be rebuilt and replaced with one mouse click.

When you are done with Tilt, interrupt the running tilt up process with ctrl + c. Components will remain running in the cluster, but Tilt will no longer be in control. If Tilt is restarted later, it will retake control of the already-running components.

If you wish to undeploy everything Tilt has deployed for you, use tilt down.

To destroy your KinD cluster, use make hack-kind-down.

⚠️  make hack-kind-down deliberately leaves your local registry running so that if you resume work later, you are doing so with a local registry that’s already primed with most layers of each of Brigade’s images. If you wish to destroy the registry, use:

$ docker rm -f brigade-dev-registry