Documenting a feature for a release

Each major Kubernetes release introduces new features that require documentation. New releases also bring updates to existing features and documentation (such as upgrading a feature from alpha to beta).

Generally, the SIG responsible for a feature submits draft documentation of the feature as a pull request to the appropriate development branch of the kubernetes/website repository, and someone on the SIG Docs team provides editorial feedback or edits the draft directly. This section covers the branching conventions and process used during a release by both groups.

For documentation contributors

In general, documentation contributors don't write content from scratch for a release. Instead, they work with the SIG creating a new feature to refine the draft documentation and make it release ready.

After you've chosen a feature to document or assist, ask about it in the #sig-docs Slack channel, in a weekly SIG Docs meeting, or directly on the PR filed by the feature SIG. If you're given the go-ahead, you can edit into the PR using one of the techniques described in Commit into another person's PR.

Find out about upcoming features

To find out about upcoming features, attend the weekly SIG Release meeting (see the community page for upcoming meetings) and monitor the release-specific documentation in the kubernetes/sig-release repository. Each release has a sub-directory in the /sig-release/tree/master/releases/ directory. The sub-directory contains a release schedule, a draft of the release notes, and a document listing each person on the release team.

The release schedule contains links to all other documents, meetings, meeting minutes, and milestones relating to the release. It also contains information about the goals and timeline of the release, and any special processes in place for this release. Near the bottom of the document, several release-related terms are defined.

This document also contains a link to the Feature tracking sheet, which is the official way to find out about all new features scheduled to go into the release.

The release team document lists who is responsible for each release role. If it's not clear who to talk to about a specific feature or question you have, either attend the release meeting to ask your question, or contact the release lead so that they can redirect you.

The release notes draft is a good place to find out about specific features, changes, deprecations, and more about the release. The content is not finalized until late in the release cycle, so use caution.

Feature tracking sheet

The feature tracking sheet for a given Kubernetes release lists each feature that is planned for a release. Each line item includes the name of the feature, a link to the feature's main GitHub issue, its stability level (Alpha, Beta, or Stable), the SIG and individual responsible for implementing it, whether it needs docs, a draft release note for the feature, and whether it has been merged. Keep the following in mind:

  • Beta and Stable features are generally a higher documentation priority than Alpha features.
  • It's hard to test (and therefore to document) a feature that hasn't been merged, or is at least considered feature-complete in its PR.
  • Determining whether a feature needs documentation is a manual process. Even if a feature is not marked as needing docs, you may need to document the feature.

For developers or other SIG members

This section is information for members of other Kubernetes SIGs documenting new features for a release.

If you are a member of a SIG developing a new feature for Kubernetes, you need to work with SIG Docs to be sure your feature is documented in time for the release. Check the feature tracking spreadsheet or check in the #sig-release Kubernetes Slack channel to verify scheduling details and deadlines.

Open a placeholder PR

  1. Open a draft pull request against the dev-1.31 branch in the kubernetes/website repository, with a small commit that you will amend later. To create a draft pull request, use the Create Pull Request drop-down and select Create Draft Pull Request, then click Draft Pull Request.
  2. Edit the pull request description to include links to kubernetes/kubernetes PR(s) and kubernetes/enhancements issue(s).
  3. Leave a comment on the related kubernetes/enhancements issue with a link to the PR to notify the docs person managing this release that the feature docs are coming and should be tracked for the release.

If your feature does not need any documentation changes, make sure the sig-release team knows this, by mentioning it in the #sig-release Slack channel. If the feature does need documentation but the PR is not created, the feature may be removed from the milestone.

PR ready for review

When ready, populate your placeholder PR with feature documentation and change the state of the PR from draft to ready for review. To mark a pull request as ready for review, navigate to the merge box and click Ready for review.

Do your best to describe your feature and how to use it. If you need help structuring your documentation, ask in the #sig-docs Slack channel.

When you complete your content, the documentation person assigned to your feature reviews it. To ensure technical accuracy, the content may also require a technical review from corresponding SIG(s). Use their suggestions to get the content to a release ready state.

If your feature needs documentation and the first draft content is not received, the feature may be removed from the milestone.

Feature gates

If your feature is an Alpha or Beta feature and is behind a feature gate, you need a feature gate file for it inside content/en/docs/reference/command-line-tools-reference/feature-gates/. The name of the file should be the feature gate, converted from UpperCamelCase to kebab-case, with .md as the suffix. You can look at other files already in the same directory for a hint about what yours should look like. Usually a single paragraph is enough; for longer explanations, add documentation elsewhere and link to that.

Also, to ensure your feature gate appears in the Alpha/Beta Feature gates table, include the following details in the front matter of your Markdown description file:

  - stage: <alpha/beta/stable/deprecated>  # Specify the development stage of the feature gate
    defaultValue: <true or false>     # Set to true if enabled by default, false otherwise
    fromVersion: <Version>            # Version from which the feature gate is available
    toVersion: <Version>              # (Optional) The version until which the feature gate is available

With net new feature gates, a separate description of the feature gate is also required; create a new Markdown file inside content/en/docs/reference/command-line-tools-reference/feature-gates/ (use other files as a template).

When you change a feature gate to disabled-by-default to enabled-by-default, you may also need to change other documentation (not just the list of feature gates). Watch out for language such as ”The exampleSetting field is a beta field and disabled by default. You can enable it by enabling the ProcessExampleThings feature gate.”

If your feature is GA'ed or deprecated, include an additional stage entry within the stages block in the description file. Ensure that the Alpha and Beta stages remain intact. This step transitions the feature gate from the Feature gates for Alpha/Feature table to Feature gates for graduated or deprecated features table. For example:

  - stage: alpha 
    defaultValue: false
    fromVersion: "1.12"
    toVersion: "1.12"
  - stage: beta 
    defaultValue: true
    fromVersion: "1.13"
    toVersion: "1.18"    
  # Added 'stable' stage block to existing stages.  
  - stage: stable     
    defaultValue: true
    fromVersion: "1.19"
    toVersion: "1.27"   

Eventually, Kubernetes will stop including the feature gate at all. To signify the removal of a feature gate, include removed: true in the front matter of the respective description file. This action triggers the transition of the feature gate from Feature gates for graduated or deprecated features section to a dedicated page titled Feature Gates (removed), including its description.

All PRs reviewed and ready to merge

If your PR has not yet been merged into the dev-1.31 branch by the release deadline, work with the docs person managing the release to get it in by the deadline. If your feature needs documentation and the docs are not ready, the feature may be removed from the milestone.

Last modified December 28, 2023 at 2:50 PM PST: Revise guidance about documenting feature gate changes (98c5caf14c)