Chart Hooks

Helm provides a hook mechanism to allow chart developers to intervene at certain points in a release's life cycle. For example, you can use hooks to:

  • Load a ConfigMap or Secret during install before any other charts are loaded.
  • Execute a Job to back up a database before installing a new chart, and then execute a second job after the upgrade in order to restore data.
  • Run a Job before deleting a release to gracefully take a service out of rotation before removing it.

Hooks work like regular templates, but they have special annotations that cause Helm to utilize them differently. In this section, we cover the basic usage pattern for hooks.

The Available Hooks

The following hooks are defined:

Annotation ValueDescription
pre-installExecutes after templates are rendered, but before any resources are created in Kubernetes
post-installExecutes after all resources are loaded into Kubernetes
pre-deleteExecutes on a deletion request before any resources are deleted from Kubernetes
post-deleteExecutes on a deletion request after all of the release's resources have been deleted
pre-upgradeExecutes on an upgrade request after templates are rendered, but before any resources are updated
post-upgradeExecutes on an upgrade after all resources have been upgraded
pre-rollbackExecutes on a rollback request after templates are rendered, but before any resources are rolled back
post-rollbackExecutes on a rollback request after all resources have been modified
testExecutes when the Helm test subcommand is invoked ( view test docs)

Note that the crd-install hook has been removed in favor of the crds/ directory in Helm 3.

Hooks and the Release Lifecycle

Hooks allow you, the chart developer, an opportunity to perform operations at strategic points in a release lifecycle. For example, consider the lifecycle for a helm install. By default, the lifecycle looks like this:

  1. User runs helm install foo
  2. The Helm library install API is called
  3. After some verification, the library renders the foo templates
  4. The library loads the resulting resources into Kubernetes
  5. The library returns the release object (and other data) to the client
  6. The client exits

Helm defines two hooks for the install lifecycle: pre-install and post-install. If the developer of the foo chart implements both hooks, the lifecycle is altered like this:

  1. User runs helm install foo
  2. The Helm library install API is called
  3. CRDs in the crds/ directory are installed
  4. After some verification, the library renders the foo templates
  5. The library prepares to execute the pre-install hooks (loading hook resources into Kubernetes)
  6. The library sorts hooks by weight (assigning a weight of 0 by default) and by name for those hooks with the same weight in ascending order.
  7. The library then loads the hook with the lowest weight first (negative to positive)
  8. The library waits until the hook is "Ready" (except for CRDs)
  9. The library loads the resulting resources into Kubernetes. Note that if the --wait flag is set, the library will wait until all resources are in a ready state and will not run the post-install hook until they are ready.
  10. The library executes the post-install hook (loading hook resources)
  11. The library waits until the hook is "Ready"
  12. The library returns the release object (and other data) to the client
  13. The client exits

What does it mean to wait until a hook is ready? This depends on the resource declared in the hook. If the resource is a Job or Pod kind, Helm will wait until it successfully runs to completion. And if the hook fails, the release will fail. This is a blocking operation, so the Helm client will pause while the Job is run.

For all other kinds, as soon as Kubernetes marks the resource as loaded (added or updated), the resource is considered "Ready". When many resources are declared in a hook, the resources are executed serially. If they have hook weights (see below), they are executed in weighted order. Otherwise, ordering is not guaranteed. (In Helm 2.3.0 and after, they are sorted alphabetically. That behavior, though, is not considered binding and could change in the future.) It is considered good practice to add a hook weight, and set it to 0 if weight is not important.

Hook resources are not managed with corresponding releases

The resources that a hook creates are currently not tracked or managed as part of the release. Once Helm verifies that the hook has reached its ready state, it will leave the hook resource alone. Garbage collection of hook resources when the corresponding release is deleted may be added to Helm 3 in the future, so any hook resources that must never be deleted should be annotated with helm.sh/resource-policy: keep.

Practically speaking, this means that if you create resources in a hook, you cannot rely upon helm uninstall to remove the resources. To destroy such resources, you need to either add a custom helm.sh/hook-delete-policy annotation to the hook template file, or set the time to live (TTL) field of a Job resource.

Writing a Hook

Hooks are just Kubernetes manifest files with special annotations in the metadata section. Because they are template files, you can use all of the normal template features, including reading .Values, .Release, and .Template.

For example, this template, stored in templates/post-install-job.yaml, declares a job to be run on post-install:

apiVersion: batch/v1
kind: Job
metadata:
  name: "{{ .Release.Name }}"
  labels:
    app.kubernetes.io/managed-by: {{ .Release.Service | quote }}
    app.kubernetes.io/instance: {{ .Release.Name | quote }}
    app.kubernetes.io/version: {{ .Chart.AppVersion }}
    helm.sh/chart: "{{ .Chart.Name }}-{{ .Chart.Version }}"
  annotations:
    # This is what defines this resource as a hook. Without this line, the
    # job is considered part of the release.
    "helm.sh/hook": post-install
    "helm.sh/hook-weight": "-5"
    "helm.sh/hook-delete-policy": hook-succeeded
spec:
  template:
    metadata:
      name: "{{ .Release.Name }}"
      labels:
        app.kubernetes.io/managed-by: {{ .Release.Service | quote }}
        app.kubernetes.io/instance: {{ .Release.Name | quote }}
        helm.sh/chart: "{{ .Chart.Name }}-{{ .Chart.Version }}"
    spec:
      restartPolicy: Never
      containers:
      - name: post-install-job
        image: "alpine:3.3"
        command: ["/bin/sleep","{{ default "10" .Values.sleepyTime }}"]

What makes this template a hook is the annotation:

annotations:
  "helm.sh/hook": post-install

One resource can implement multiple hooks:

annotations:
  "helm.sh/hook": post-install,post-upgrade

Similarly, there is no limit to the number of different resources that may implement a given hook. For example, one could declare both a secret and a config map as a pre-install hook.

When subcharts declare hooks, those are also evaluated. There is no way for a top-level chart to disable the hooks declared by subcharts.

It is possible to define a weight for a hook which will help build a deterministic executing order. Weights are defined using the following annotation:

annotations:
  "helm.sh/hook-weight": "5"

Hook weights can be positive or negative numbers but must be represented as strings. When Helm starts the execution cycle of hooks of a particular Kind it will sort those hooks in ascending order.

Hook deletion policies

It is possible to define policies that determine when to delete corresponding hook resources. Hook deletion policies are defined using the following annotation:

annotations:
  "helm.sh/hook-delete-policy": before-hook-creation,hook-succeeded

You can choose one or more defined annotation values:

Annotation ValueDescription
before-hook-creationDelete the previous resource before a new hook is launched (default)
hook-succeededDelete the resource after the hook is successfully executed
hook-failedDelete the resource if the hook failed during execution

If no hook deletion policy annotation is specified, the before-hook-creation behavior applies by default.