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GEP-2257: Gateway API Duration Format

  • Issue: #2257
  • Status: Experimental


As we extend the Gateway API to have more functionality, we need a standard way to represent duration values. The first instance is the HTTPRoute Timeouts GEP; doubtless others will arise.

Gateway API Duration Format

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 8174.

A Gateway API Duration or GEP-2257 Duration is a string value that:

Since both of these conditions MUST be true, the effect is that GEP-2257 Durations are a subset of what time.ParseDuration supports:

  • A GEP-2257 Duration MUST be one to four components, each of which consists of an integer value followed immediately by a unit. For example, 1h, 5m, 1h5m, and 1h30m30s500ms are all valid GEP-2257 Durations.

  • For each component, the value MUST be one to five decimal digits. Floating point is not allowed. Leading zeroes do not mean octal; the value MUST always be interpreted as a decimal integer. For example, 1h, 60m, 01h, and 00060m are all equivalent GEP-2257 Durations.

  • For each component, the unit MUST be one of h (hour), m (minute), s (second), or ms (millisecond). No units larger than hours or smaller than milliseconds are supported.

  • The total duration expressed by a GEP-2257 Duration string is the sum of each of its components. For example, 1h30m would be a 90-minute duration, and 1s500ms would be a 1.5-second duration.

  • There is no requirement that all units must be used. A GEP-2257 Duration of 1h500ms is supported (although probably not terribly useful).

  • Units MAY be repeated, although users SHOULD NOT rely on this support since this GEP is Experimental, and future revisions may remove support for repeated units. If units are repeated, the total duration remains the sum of all components: a GEP-2257 duration of 1h2h20m10m is a duration of 3 hours 30 minutes.

  • Since the value and the unit are both required within a component, 0 is not a valid GEP-2257 duration string (though 0s is). Likewise the empty string is not a valid GEP-2257 duration.

  • Users SHOULD represent the zero duration as 0s, although they MAY use any of 0h, 0m, etc. Implementations formatting a GEP-2257 Duration for output MUST render the zero duration as 0s.

  • The “standard” form of a GEP-2257 Duration uses descending, nonrepeating units, using the largest unit possible for each component (so 1h rather than 60m or 30m1800s, and 1h30m rather than either 90m or 30m1h). Users SHOULD use this standard form when writing GEP-2257 Durations. Implementations formatting GEP-2257 Durations MUST render them using this standard form.

    • Note: Implementations of Kubernetes APIs MUST NOT modify user input. For example, implementations MUST NOT normalize 30m1800s to 1h in a CRD spec. This "standard form" requirement is limited to instances where an implementation needs to format a GEP-2257 Duration value for output.

A GEP-2257 Duration parser can be easily implemented by doing a regex-match check before calling a parser equivalent to Go's time.ParseDuration. Such parsers are readily available in (at least) Go itself, Rust's kube_core crate from kube-rs, and Python's durationpy package. We expect that these three languages cover the vast majority of the Kubernetes ecosystem.


We considered three main alternatives:

  • Raw Golang time.ParseDuration format. This is very widely used in the Go ecosystem -- however, it is a very open-ended specification and, in particular, its support for floating-point values and negative durations makes it difficult to validate.

  • Golang strfmt.ParseDuration as used in the APIServer's OpenAPI validation code. It turns out that strfmt.ParseDuration is a superset of time.ParseDuration, so all the problems in validation are still present. Additionally, strfmt.ParseDuration supports day and week units, requiring discussion of leap seconds.

  • ISO8601/RFC3339 durations. These are considerably less user-friendly than our proposal: PT0.5S is simply not as immediately clear as "500ms".

There is (a lot) more discussion in PR 2155.

Graduation Criteria

To graduate GEP-2257 to Standard channel, we need to meet the following criteria:

  • Publish a set of test vectors for the GEP-2257 duration format.

  • Have Go, Rust, and Python implementations of the parser, with a test suite covering all the test vectors.

  • Have a custom CEL validator for GEP-2257 Duration fields.

  • Have support for GEP-2257 Durations in standard Kubernetes libraries.