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GEP-922: Gateway API Versioning

  • Issue: #922
  • Status: Memorandum


Although this GEP serves as a reference for how we developed the Gateway API versioning model, it is not meant to be the current source of truth. Instead, please refer to our official Versioning Policy for the most up-to-date guidelines.


Each Gateway API release will be represented by a bundle version that represents that specific combination of CRDs, API versions, and validating webhook. To enable experimental fields, future releases of the API will include standard and experimental CRD tracks. Users will be able to access experimental features by installing the experimental CRDs. A cluster can contain either an experimental or standard CRD for any resource at a given time.


Provide a path for implementations to support:

  • Users should have a predictable experience when interacting with Gateway API.
  • The API should be able to continue to safely evolve, including:
    • Loosening validation
    • Transitioning required fields to optional
    • Adding new fields at an experimental stability level


This GEP details how we should approach future releases of Gateway API. This is intended as another step towards building consensus. Once merged, it will be considered implemented once this content is fully documented.

Version Terminology

Gateway API has two related but different versioning schemes:

1. API Versions (ex: v1alpha2)

Each API version provides a unique way to interact with the API. Significant changes such as removing or renaming fields will be represented here.

2. Bundle Versions (ex: v0.4.0)

Bundle versions are broader in scope. They use semantic versioning and include the following:

  • API Types/CRDs
  • Validating Webhook

Each bundle may include multiple API versions, potentially introducing new ones and/or removing old ones as part of a new bundle.

Limitations of Webhook and CRD Validation

CRD and webhook validation is not the final validation i.e. webhook is “nice UX” but not schema enforcement. This validation is intended to provide immediate feedback to users when they provide an invalid configuration, but can not completely be relied on because it:

  • Is not guaranteed to be present or up to date in all clusters.
  • Will likely never be sufficient to cover all edge cases.
  • May be loosened in future API releases.

Persona Requirements

When implementing or using Gateway API, each persona has a unique set of responsibilities to ensure we're providing a consistent experience.

API Authors:

  • MUST provide conversion between API versions (excluding experimental fields), starting with v1alpha2.
  • MAY include the following changes to an existing API version with a new bundle patch version:
    • Clarifications to godocs
    • Updates to CRDs and/or code to fix a bug
    • Fixes to typos
  • MAY include the following changes to an existing API version with a new bundle minor version:
    • Everything that is valid in a patch release
    • New experimental API fields or resources
    • Loosened validation
    • Making required fields optional
    • Removal of experimental fields
    • Removal of experimental resources
    • Graduation of fields or resources from experimental to standard track
  • MAY introduce a new API version with a new bundle minor version, which may include:
    • Everything that is valid in a minor release
    • Renamed fields
    • Anything else that is valid in a new Kubernetes API version
    • Removal/tombstoning of beta fields
  • MAY release a new major bundle version (v1.0) as part of graduating the API to GA and releasing a new API version.

Note that each new bundle version, no matter how small, may include updated CRDs, webhook, or both. Implementations may read annotations on Gateway API CRDs (defined below) to determine the version and channel of CRDs that have been installed in the cluster.


  • MUST handle fields with loosened validation without crashing
  • MUST handle fields that have transitioned from required to optional without crashing
  • MUST NOT rely on webhook or CRD validation as a security mechanism. If field values need to be escaped to secure an implementation, both webhook and CRD validation can be bypassed and cannot be relied on. Instead, implementations should implement their own escaping or validation as necessary. To avoid duplicating work, Gateway API maintainers are considering adding a shared validation package that implementations can use for this purpose. This is tracked by #926.


  • MUST install a full Gateway API bundle, with matching CRD and webhook versions.

Adding Experimental Fields

Over time, it will be useful to add experimental fields to the API. In upstream Kubernetes, those would generally be guarded with feature gates. With Gateway API we will accomplish by releasing experimental versions of our CRDs.

With this approach, we achieve a similar result. Instead of using feature gates and validation to prevent fields from being set, we just release separate CRDs. Once the API reaches beta, each bundle release can include 2 sets of CRDs, standard and experimental.

New fields will be added to the experimental set of CRDs first, and may graduate to the standard set of APIs later. Experimental fields will be marked with the +experimental annotation in Go type definitions. Gateway API CRD generation will exclude these fields from standard set of CRDs. Experimental fields may be removed from the API. Due to the experimental nature of these CRDs, they are not recommended for production use.

If experimental fields are removed or renamed, the original field name should be removed from the go struct, with a tombstone comment ensuring the field name will not be reused.

Each CRD will be published with annotations that indicate their bundle version and channel: v0.4.0 standard|experimental

Alternatives Considered

1. Use Webhook to Implement Feature Gates

This option would involve using the webhook to prevent experimental fields from being set unless the corresponding feature gate was enabled. This would make use of the existing Kubernetes feature gate tooling.

This approach would be familiar to Kubernetes users, but would put a lot of emphasis on the webhook. It would require webhook versioning to be precisely in line with the CRDs, and edge cases during the upgrade process could get rather messy.

2: Reuse Alpha API versions

With this approach, we would only allow the use of these fields when using the alpha API.

To simplify conversion, new fields will be added to all versions of the API, with some key exceptions:

  • New fields will be added with an alpha prefix to beta and GA API versions.
  • Webhook validation would ensure that new fields will only be writable when using alpha API versions.
  • New fields may be removed without replacement while they are still considered alpha.

An alpha API field could graduate to beta in the subsequent minor release of the API. That process would involve:

  • Loosening webhook validation to allow writes to the field with beta API versions.
  • Removing the alpha prefix from the field name in the beta API Changing the alpha prefix to a beta prefix in the GA API.

A beta API field could graduate to GA in the subsequent minor release of the API. That process would involve:

  • Loosening webhook validation to allow writes to the field with GA API versions.
  • Removing the beta prefix from the field name in the GA API.

This is potentially the most complex of all the options presented. It would effectively require us to consistently maintain an alpha API version. Of all the options presented, this is probably the most likely to confuse users and implementers of the API.