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GEP-2659: Document and improve the GEP process

  • Issue: #2659
  • Type: Memorandum
  • Status: Accepted

(See status definitions here.)


This GEP clarifies some details about GEPs, and adds relationships and a new status.


  • Enumerate how we should use RFC2119 language
  • Add relationships between GEPs
  • Add a metadata YAML schema for GEPs, including the new relationships
  • Add a new status to cover some only recently noticed cases
  • Update existing documentation outside this GEP to support the new material


As part of preparing for work to split up GEP-713, we (the Gateway API and GAMMA maintainers) have noticed a few shortcomings in our GEP process.

In particular, we have some GEPs that are very different to other GEPs. GEP-1324 is a good example, as it lays out the general agreement and use cases for the GAMMA initiative, but has no firm deliverables of its own. In fact, its main purpose was to ensure that the community was in agreement on the language around and scope of the problem of representing Mesh config using Gateway API primitives. Essentially, it lays out a shared understanding of the problem space, as a basis for further work (in the form of subsequent GEPs). However, our current GEP system of checklists for graduating levels fits this type of GEP poorly.

Additionally, we've had two GEPs moved to Declined (GEP-735: TCP and UDP address matching and GEP-1282: Describing Backend Properties). In the case of GEP-1282, we now have a replacement GEP, GEP-1897: BackendTLSPolicy which obsoletes the older GEP. But we have no way of representing this relationship (or any other, in fact) between GEPs at the moment.

With these previous two changes, the addition of a metadata YAML file, similar to what the KEP process uses, seems like it is increasingly necessary. This GEP introduces a schema, which will be detailed in .go files rather than completely in this document.

Lastly, we should clarify our use of RFC2119 language - we use MUST, SHOULD, MAY and so on as per that RFC in general, but there is an extension in RFC8174 that adds that these words are only to be interpreted per the RFC when they are in ALL CAPS, and "must" "should", "may" are to be interpreted in their usual English meaning (which is not as strong as the RFC2119 one). This seems like a very good idea to adopt to me.


Adopt the RFC8174 modification to RFC2119 language

RFC8174 clarifies that the reserved words MUST be in all-caps to have their assigned meaning. This should make the spec clearer over time as we migrate.

Addition of a new GEP status

We will introduce a new GEP status, Memorandum, that marks a GEP as recording an agreement on either the definition of a problem, its scope and a common language, or further process changes to the GEP process itself.

The defining characteristic here is that the GEP MUST NOT result in any changes to the Gateway API spec, and MAY result in further GEPs to further clarify. For GEPs that do make changes to the API, but also require further GEPs to clarify, they SHOULD use the new "Extended By" relationship instead.

Memorandum GEPs should be used sparingly, and should form the umbrella for a significant amount of work, particularly work that may have parts that can move through the GEP phases at different speeds.

The status is reached when a Memorandum GEP is merged, although as we will document in the "Addition of GEP relationships" section, it can still be Extended or Obsoleted.

Existing GEPs that meet this criteria will be gradually moved to be proper Memorandum GEPs after this GEP is merged.

Addition of YAML metadata file

The core Gateway API mainatainers were hoping not to need metadata YAMLs for a while, but the addition of relationships has turbocharged the need for machine parseable GEP metadata.

This should also help with building display for GEPs; theoretically we can build tooling that will let people slice the list of GEPs by whatever dimensions we (or they) wish.

Similarly to the ConformanceReport object, I'm proposing to make CRD definitions for this GEPDetails object, which will not be included in the usual CRD definitions for Gateway API, nor will it be part of the regular API spec.

The use of a CRD is just to make the schema more similar to the other schemas in this repository.

With that said, here's a rough sample of what a GEPMetadata object will look like:

kind: GEPDetails
number: 2659
name: Document and improve the GEP process
status: Memorandum
  - youngnick
  # obsoletes indicates that a GEP makes the linked GEP obsolete, and completely
  # replaces that GEP. The obsoleted GEP MUST have its obsoletedBy field
  # set back to this GEP, and MUST be moved to Declined.
  obsoletes: {}
  obsoletedBy: {}
  # extends indicates that a GEP extends the linkned GEP, adding more detail
  # or additional implementation. The extended GEP MUST have its extendedBy
  # field set back to this GEP.
  extends: {}
  extendedBy: {}
  # seeAlso indicates other GEPs that are relevant in some way without being
  # covered by an existing relationship.
  seeAlso: {}
# references is a list of hyperlinks to relevant external references.
# It's intended to be used for storing Github discussions, Google docs, etc.
references: {}
# featureNames is a list of the feature names introduced by the GEP, if there
# are any. This will allow us to track which feature was introduced by which GEP.
featureNames: {}
# changelog is a list of hyperlinks to PRs that make changes to the GEP, in
# ascending date order.
  - ""

Addition of GEP relationships

As you can see in the previous section, this GEP adds three relationships between GEPs: - Obsoletes and its backreference ObsoletedBy - when a GEP is made obsolete by another GEP, and has its functionality completely replaced. - Extends and its backreference ExtendedBy - when a GEP has additional details or implementation added in another GEP. - SeeAlso - when a GEP is relevant to another GEP, but is not affected in any other defined way.

Each stanza in relationships includes a number, name, and a optional free-form description field, which can be used to better describe the relationship.

At this time it's the updater's responsibility to ensure that both directions are created for bidirectional relationships.

Further relationships may be added at a later date (at which time that GEP will have an Extends relationship to this one).

Because of the addition of structured definitions for these relationships, the relationships will not be recorded in the main GEP file (it's anticipated that the metadata will eventually be rendered in table form in the canonical display on the website for general consumption, and PRs will need to create or update a YAML file for each GEP change).