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Related Objects#

A Controller needs to specify related resources if changes to them is meant to trigger the reconciler.

These relations are generally set up with Controller::owns, but we will go through the different variants below.

Owned Relation#

The Controller::owns relation is the most straight-forward and most ubiquitous one. One object controls the lifecycle of a child object, and cleanup happens automatically via gc#Owner-References.

let cmgs = Api::<ConfigMapGenerator>::all(client.clone());
let cms = Api::<ConfigMap>::all(client.clone());

Controller::new(cmgs, watcher::Config::default())
    .owns(cms, watcher::Config::default())

This configmapgen example uses one custom resource ConfigMapGenerator whose controller is in charge of the lifecycle of the child ConfigMap.

  • What happens if we delete a ConfigMapGenerator instance here? Well, there will be a ConfigMap with ownerReferences matching the ConfigMapGenerator so Kubernetes will automatically cleanup the associated ConfigMap.
  • What happens if we modify the managed ConfigMap? The Controller sees a change and associates the change with the owning ConfigMapGenerator, ultimately triggering a reconciliation of the root ConfigMapGenerator.

This relation relies on ownerReferences being created on the managed/owned objects for Kubernetes automatic cleanup, and the Controller relies on it for association with its owner.

Streams Variant

To configure or share the watcher for the owned resource, see streams#owned-stream.

Watched Relations#

The Controller::watches relation is for related Kubernetes objects without ownerReferences, i.e. without a standard way for the controller to map the object to the root object. Thus, you need to define this mapper yourself:

let main = Api::<MainObj>::all(client);
let related = Api::<RelatedObject>::all(client);

let mapper = |obj: RelatedObject| {|oref| {

Controller::new(main, watcher::Config::default())
    .watches(related, watcher::Config::default(), mapper)

In this case we are extracing an object reference from the spec of our object. Regardless of how you get the information, your mapper must return an iterator of ObjectRef for the root object(s) that must be reconciled as a result of the change.

As a theoretical example; every HPA object bundles a scale ref to the workload, so you could use this to build a Controller for Deployment using HPA as a watched object.

Streams Variant

To configure or share the watcher for watched resource, see streams#watched-stream.

External Relations#

Free-form relations to external apis often serve to lift an external resource into your cluster via either a ConfigMap or a CRD (see the tradeoff table). This relation can go in both directions.

External Watches#

If you want changes on an external API to cause changes in the cluster, you will need to a way to stream changes from the external api.

The change events must be be provided as a Stream<Item = ObjectRef> and passed to Controller::reconcile_on. As an example:

struct ExternalObject {
    name: String,
let external_stream = watch_external_objects().map(|ext| {

Controller::new(Api::<MyCr>::namespaced(client, &ns), Config::default())

In this case we have some opaque fn watch_external_objects() which here returns -> impl Stream<Item = ExternalObject>. It is meant to return changes from the external API. Whenever a new item is found on the stream, the controller will reconcile the matching cluster object.

(The example assumes matching names between the external resource and cluster resource, and a fixed namespace for the cluster resources.)

Streaming Interface

If you do not have a streaming interface (like if you are doing periodic HTTP GETs), you can wrap your data in a Stream via either async_stream or by using channels (say tokio::sync::mpsc, using the Receiver side as a stream).

External Writes#

If you want to populate an external API from a cluster resource, the you must update the external api from your reconciler (using the necessary client libraries for that API).

To avoid build-up of generated objects on the external side, you will want to use gc#finalizers, to ensure the external resource gets safely cleaned up on kubectl delete.


Depending on what type of child object and its relation with the main object, you will need the following setup and cleanup:

Child Controller relation Setup Cleanup
Kubernetes object Owned Controller::owns ownerReferences
Kubernetes object Related Controller::watches n/a
External API Managed Controller::reconcile_on finalizers
External API Related Controller::reconcile_on n/a