Last modified June 13, 2022

Creating an app catalog


An app catalog is a collection of apps that can be deployed using the Giant Swarm App Platform. We extend Helm and an app catalog is also a Helm chart repository. Each app catalog has its own Catalog CR in the management cluster.

The app catalog is a Git repository that contains

  • a Helm repository index (index.yaml),
  • chart tarballs for each version of the app that has been published.

These files must be served over HTTP(S).

You can register community Helm chart repositories with app platform or create your own app catalog.

You can search for Helm charts from the community using Artifact Hub. Not all community chart repositories are currently supported. If you encounter a problem installing an app please let us know. If you’re registering a community catalog you can skip to the section Register the catalog.

When creating your own app catalog we recommend using our app-build-suite tool to publish apps to your catalog. It adds additional metadata files that allows app platform to extend Helm. Such as only allowing an app to be installed once in a cluster. You can learn more about the tool by reading its tutorial.

These metadata files and the Helm index.yaml are used to generate app metadata that is stored in the management cluster in App Catalog Entry CRs.

There are multiple options for serving the catalog over HTTP(S) including GitHub Pages or tools like Harbor or ChartMuseum which run in a Kubernetes cluster. At Giant Swarm we use GitHub Pages and this is what we will cover in this guide.

Create an app catalog hosted using GitHub Pages

First, you should choose a name for your catalog Git repository. At Giant Swarm, we follow the convention to have the name end with the -catalog suffix, however any name will work.

Create the Git repository in GitHub as a public repository and enable GitHub Pages for the main branch.

Publish an app to the app catalog

Now you can configure your apps to be published to your catalog. We have created a GitHub action for app-build-suite that will automate this.

# .github/workflows/push-to-app-catalog.yaml
name: 'Push to App Catalog'

      - 'v*'

    uses: giantswarm/app-build-suite/.github/workflows/push-to-app-catalog.yaml@v1.1.0
      app_catalog: example-catalog
      chart: hello-world-app
      organization: example-org
      envPAT: ${{ secrets.PAT }}

To configure the action you need to add a secret called PAT to the app’s Git repository. This must contain a personal access token that has write permission to the app catalog git repository.

We recommend using Dependabot to keep the GitHub action up to date.

Register the catalog

To register the catalog with app platform you need to create a Catalog CR in the management cluster. This can be done using kubectl gs template catalog.

For community catalogs the URL should match the URL used for the helm repo add command and is the location of the Helm index.yaml.

When registering your own app catalog served using GitHub Pages the URL is the same URL as the GitHub Pages website.

You should create the Catalog CR in the organization namespace where the apps will be used. Or if it needs to be used in multiple organizations it can be created in the default namespace.

kubectl gs template catalog \
  --name example \
  --namespace org-example \
  --description "An example Catalog" \
  --url \
kind: Catalog
  creationTimestamp: null
  name: example
  namespace: org-example
  labels: public
  description: An example Catalog
    type: helm
  - URL:
    type: helm
  title: example

The --visibility flag is used to set the label If its value is public it will appear in the web UI. If the label is missing or has any other value it will be hidden in the web UI.

Install an app from the catalog

If the Catalog CR is not in the default namespace you need to set the catalog namespace to the organization namespace where it is stored. This can be done using kubectl gs template app.

kubectl gs template app \
  --catalog example \
  --catalog-namespace org-example \
  --name hello-world-app \
  --namespace default \
  --cluster 2hr7z  \
  --version 0.1.0
kind: App
  name: example-app
  namespace: 2hr7z
  catalog: example
  catalogNamespace: org-example
    inCluster: false
  name: example-app
  namespace: default
  version: 0.1.0

Inspect the catalog

You can see the published apps for a catalog by listing its app catalog entry CRs.

kubectl get appcatalogentry -n org-example -l

To avoid creating excessive load on the management cluster we only store the 5 most recent versions for each app according to semantic versioning.