Dependency on GitLab Charts

The GitLab Operator (also just known as “Operator”) depends on the GitLab Helm Charts (also just known as “Chart”). as described in ADR 0004.

Understanding impact from changes to GitLab Chart

When Operator ingests new versions of Chart, it also ingests the changes within Chart. Sometimes adjustments must be made to Operator to support the changes in Chart.

For example, Chart merge request 3278 updated the version of the NGINX Ingress Controller image tag, along with an update to the NGINX RBAC objects to support the change. This caused Operator issue 1324, where the pipeline on master was broken. The problem was resolved by Operator merge request 655.

When the Chart merge request was submitted, ideally an accompanying merge request in the Operator should have been opened and marked as dependent on the Chart merge request. This approach ensures that changes to Chart are considered in the context of Operator, which helps the team ensure that the two components work together as seamlessly as possible.

Evaluating impact from changes to GitLab Chart

The impact to Operator must be considered when submitting a change to Chart. This is included as an item in the approval checklist of Chart merge request template as a reminder.

To evaluate the impact of changes to Chart on Operator, consider whether the change will be automatically ingested by Operator or not. The only way to accomplish this with certainty is to inspect the Operator codebase manually, searching for related references to resources that are sourced from Chart, and see if Operator interacts with the related change in any way that requires adjustment. Providing an automated mechanism of testing this is being investigated in Chart issue 4900.

In the meantime, the following examples can help with identifying the possible impacts:

  • Changes to resource naming or labeling scheme, such as and/or .metadata.labels
  • Changes to resource group and/or version, such as .apiVersion
  • Changing ServiceAccount names or RBAC policies
  • Upgrading Chart dependencies, such as Redis or PostgreSQL chart versions
  • Chart-breaking changes that are introduced in major releases or stop versions

An example of a change that is automatically ingested is Chart merge request 3247. It added a new field inside of resources that Operator does not manipulate directly, only retrieving them from the rendered Helm template and reconciling them in the cluster.