Getting Started with kapp

Tiffany Jernigan

kapp (part of the open source Carvel suite) is a lightweight application-centric tool for deploying resources on Kubernetes. Being both explicit and application-centric it provides an easier way to deploy and view all resources created together regardless of what namespace they’re in. Being dependency-aware, it is able to wait for resources to be created, updated, or deleted, and provides a live status on the progress of the actions. Continue on to see how to get started with kapp.


Before you get started you will need to do the following:

  • Create a Kubernetes cluster:
  • Install kubectl locally
  • Install the kapp CLI via one of these options:
    brew tap vmware-tanzu/carvel
    brew install kapp
    • GitHub releases: move it to /usr/local/bin or add it to your $PATH and run chmod +x to make it executable

Note: This guide uses Kapp v0.35.0, and we suggest you download and install the same version to ensure the best experience as you follow through this guide.

Deploy App

Let’s go ahead and deploy our first application with kapp!

First Run

  1. Create a namespace to use as a state namespace:

    kubectl create namespace kapp-demo
  2. Create kapp-spring-petclinic.yaml file with a Spring PetClinic namespace, deployment, and service:

    cat <<EOF > kapp-spring-petclinic.yaml
    apiVersion: v1
    kind: Namespace
      name: spring-petclinic
    apiVersion: apps/v1
    kind: Deployment
      name: spring-petclinic
      namespace: spring-petclinic
          app: spring-petclinic
      replicas: 2
            app: spring-petclinic
          - name: spring-petclinic
            image: springcommunity/spring-framework-petclinic
            - name: http
              containerPort: 8080
    apiVersion: v1
    kind: Service
      name: spring-petclinic
      namespace: spring-petclinic
        app: spring-petclinic
      - port: 80
        protocol: TCP
        targetPort: 8080
        app: spring-petclinic
  3. Here is where kapp gets involved. We will use it to create our deployment and service.

    kapp deploy -n kapp-demo -a spring-petclinic -f kapp-spring-petclinic.yaml

    This format is fairly similar to kubectl apply -f kapp-spring-petclinic.yaml, but it also has an application name. You can also provide a directory instead of a single file.

    The next difference you will notice is it prompts you if you want to actually run the command. You can shortcut this by adding the -y flag.

    It should give you an output similar to the following before hit y.

    Target cluster '' (nodes: demo-default-pool-0f8526ab-rb7b, 2+)
    Namespace         Name              Kind        Conds.  Age  Op      Op st.  Wait to    Rs  Ri
    (cluster)         spring-petclinic  Namespace   -       -    create  -       reconcile  -   -  
    spring-petclinic  spring-petclinic  Deployment  -       -    create  -       reconcile  -   -  
    ^                 spring-petclinic  Service     -       -    create  -       reconcile  -   -  
    Op:      3 create, 0 delete, 0 update, 0 noop
    Wait to: 3 reconcile, 0 delete, 0 noop

    You can see that it’s creating the spring-petclinic namespace, deployment, and service inside that namespace.

    Here is a more significant difference with kubectl. kapp will wait on the resources to become available before terminating and will also show the progress for each resource and tell you if it succeeded or failed. Don’t worry, I didn’t set you up for failure :).

  4. Now that we have the deployment and service up, we can verify it’s working properly. First we can just take a look and see that they are up.

    kubectl -n spring-petclinic get all

    And then we can create a container and curl the service from within it. We need to do this right now since the service type is ClusterIP (default) so we can’t see it from outside of the cluster itself.

    kubectl run -it --rm --restart=Never curl --image=curlimages/curl spring-petclinic.spring-petclinic.svc.cluster.local

Looking At the App with kapp

Okay, so let’s use kapp instead to take a look at our application.

  1. We can take a look at everything we have running with kapp using the following command:

    kapp list -A

    If you didn’t run anything else prior, we should just see Spring PetClinic. You will notice here kapp uses kapp-demo as the state namespace. This is separate from the spring-petclinic namespace(s) used in the deployment/service.

    Target cluster '' (nodes: demo-default-pool-0f8526ab-rb7b, 2+)
    Apps in namespace 'kapp-demo'
    Name              Namespaces             Lcs    Lca
    spring-petclinic  spring-petclinic       false  22h
    Lcs: Last Change Successful
    Lca: Last Change Age
    1 apps
  2. If we had other applications running in the spring-petclinic namespace when we ran kubectl -n spring-petclinic get all, then we would see everything there and not just our application. We could add labels and filter on them, but then we have to make sure to do that with everything in that application. Well, the good news is that kapp does it for you. You can see the labels by running this:

    kubectl -n spring-petclinic get all --show-labels

    And if we want to dig into one resource we can see labels there:

    kubectl -n spring-petclinic get deployment spring-petclinic -o=jsonpath='{.metadata.labels}'

    To see all of the resources kapp created for the app, we use kapp inspect:

    kapp -n kapp-demo inspect -a spring-petclinic

    We’ll come back to this in a bit to dig further into what kapp does to keep track of resources and changes.

  3. We can also look at logs, which is especially useful if something fails after the pods are up. kapp logs will show all pod logs in the app.

    kapp -n kapp-demo logs -a spring-petclinic

Update App

Well, now we want to make it so we can share our app with other people without them needing to be in the cluster.

  1. Let’s make a change to the YAML file and try running it again. To reach the service externally, we can change it to type LoadBalancer.

    echo '  type: LoadBalancer' >> kapp-spring-petclinic.yaml

    And let’s run our kapp command again.

    kapp deploy -n kapp-demo -a spring-petclinic -f kapp-spring-petclinic.yaml

    This time our output should like this where we see the change is that the service is being updated.

    Target cluster '' (nodes: demo-default-pool-0f8526ab-rb7b, 2+)
    Namespace         Name              Kind     Conds.  Age  Op      Op st.  Wait to    Rs  Ri
    spring-petclinic  spring-petclinic  Service  -       1m   update  -       reconcile  ok  -  
    Op:      0 create, 0 delete, 1 update, 0 noop
    Wait to: 1 reconcile, 0 delete, 0 noop

    Here we can see that kapp knows that only the service should be changing. Kapp keeps track by creating a ConfigMap when the resources are first created and then every time there is a change. To see the ConfigMaps in this namespace you can run:

    kubectl -n spring-petclinic get configmaps

    Let’s continue on.

  2. Now if we run kubectl get, we should see an EXTERNAL_IP for the service.

    kubectl -n spring-petclinic get all

    You can use curl, or you can open that IP in your browser which will look like the following:

    Congrats, you did it!

    To see what else you can do, run the following or go to the docs.

    kapp -h


Now, if you want, you can delete what was created in this guide.

  1. To delete the app you can run the following command. Make sure it is wanting to only delete what you are trying to delete before agreeing.

    kapp delete -n kapp-demo -a spring-petclinic

    Mine looks like the following:

    Target cluster '' (nodes: demo-default-pool-0f8526ab-rb7b, 2+)
    Namespace         Name                               Kind        Conds.  Age  Op      Op st.  Wait to  Rs  Ri
    spring-petclinic  spring-petclinic                   Deployment  2/2 t   4h   delete  -       delete   ok  -
    ^                 spring-petclinic                   Endpoints   -       4h   -       -       delete   ok  -
    ^                 spring-petclinic                   Service     -       4h   delete  -       delete   ok  -
    ^                 spring-petclinic-6bdff5c97c        ReplicaSet  -       4h   -       -       delete   ok  -
    ^                 spring-petclinic-6bdff5c97c-84ksw  Pod         4/4 t   4h   -       -       delete   ok  -
    ^                 spring-petclinic-6bdff5c97c-bdhd5  Pod         4/4 t   4h   -       -       delete   ok  -
    ^                 spring-petclinic-6bdff5c97c-bdhd5  PodMetrics  -       1s   -       -       delete   ok  -
    Op:      0 create, 2 delete, 0 update, 5 noop
    Wait to: 0 reconcile, 7 delete, 0 noop
  2. Delete namespace:

    kubectl delete namespace kapp-demo

Learn More

To learn more, here are some resources: