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Developer Guide

This guide explains how to set up your environment for developing on Helm.


  • The latest version of Go
  • The latest version of Dep
  • A Kubernetes cluster w/ kubectl (optional)
  • Git

Building Helm

We use Make to build our programs. The simplest way to get started is:

$ make

NOTE: This will fail if not running from the path $GOPATH/src/helm.sh/helm. The directory helm.sh should not be a symlink or build will not find the relevant packages.

If required, this will first install dependencies, rebuild the vendor/ tree, and validate configuration. It will then compile helm and place it in bin/helm.

To run all the tests (without running the tests for vendor/), run make test.

To run Helm locally, you can run bin/helm.

  • Helm is known to run on macOS and most Linux distributions, including Alpine.

Man pages

Man pages and Markdown documentation are not pre-built in docs/ but you can generate the documentation using make docs.

To expose the Helm man pages to your man client, you can put the files in your $MANPATH:

$ export MANPATH=$GOPATH/src/helm.sh/helm/docs/man:$MANPATH
$ man helm

Docker Images

To build Docker images, use make docker-build.

Pre-build images are already available in the official Kubernetes Helm GCR registry.

Running a Local Cluster

For development, we highly recommend using the Kubernetes Minikube developer-oriented distribution.

Contribution Guidelines

We welcome contributions. This project has set up some guidelines in order to ensure that (a) code quality remains high, (b) the project remains consistent, and © contributions follow the open source legal requirements. Our intent is not to burden contributors, but to build elegant and high-quality open source code so that our users will benefit.

Make sure you have read and understood the main CONTRIBUTING guide:


Structure of the Code

The code for the Helm project is organized as follows:

  • The individual programs are located in cmd/. Code inside of cmd/ is not designed for library re-use.
  • Shared libraries are stored in pkg/.
  • The scripts/ directory contains a number of utility scripts. Most of these are used by the CI/CD pipeline.
  • The docs/ folder is used for documentation and examples.

Go dependencies are managed with Dep and stored in the vendor/ directory.

Git Conventions

We use Git for our version control system. The master branch is the home of the current development candidate. Releases are tagged.

We accept changes to the code via GitHub Pull Requests (PRs). One workflow for doing this is as follows:

  1. Go to your $GOPATH/src directory, then mkdir helm.sh; cd helm.sh and git clone the github.com/helm/helm repository.
  2. Fork that repository into your GitHub account
  3. Add your repository as a remote for $GOPATH/src/helm.sh/helm
  4. Create a new working branch (git checkout -b feat/my-feature) and do your work on that branch.
  5. When you are ready for us to review, push your branch to GitHub, and then open a new pull request with us.

For Git commit messages, we follow the Semantic Commit Messages:

fix(helm): add --foo flag to 'helm install'

When 'helm install --foo bar' is run, this will print "foo" in the
output regardless of the outcome of the installation.

Closes #1234

Common commit types:

  • fix: Fix a bug or error
  • feat: Add a new feature
  • docs: Change documentation
  • test: Improve testing
  • ref: refactor existing code

Common scopes:

  • helm: The Helm CLI
  • pkg/lint: The lint package. Follow a similar convention for any package
  • *: two or more scopes

Read more: - The Deis Guidelines were the inspiration for this section. - Karma Runner defines the semantic commit message idea.

Go Conventions

We follow the Go coding style standards very closely. Typically, running go fmt will make your code beautiful for you.

We also typically follow the conventions recommended by go lint and gometalinter. Run make test-style to test the style conformance.

Read more: