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A target is a file that lives under the inventory/targets subdirectory, and that tells Kapitan what you want it to do for you.

Kapitan will recognise all YAML files in the inventory/targets subtree as targets.


Only use .yml as extension for Inventory files. .yaml will not be recognised as a valid Inventory file.

What you do with a target is largely up to you and your setup. Common examples:

  • clusters: Map each target to a cluster, capturing all configurations needed for a given cluster. For instance: targets/clusters/production-cluster1.yml
  • applications: When using Kapitan to manage Kubernetes applications, you might define a target for everything that you would normally deploy in a single namespace, including all its resources, scripts, secrets and documentation. For instance: targets/mysql.yml
  • environments: You might have want to define a different target for each environment you have, like dev.yml, test.yml and prod.yml
  • cloud projects: When working with Terraform, it may be convenient to group target by cloud project. For instance: targets/gcp/projects/engineering-prod.yml.
  • single tenancy: When deploying a single-tenancy application, you might combine the approaches above, and have a target acme.yml that is used to define both Terraform and Kubernetes resources for a given tenant, perhaps also with some ArgoCD or Spinnaker pipelines to go with it.


If you have configured your kapitan repository like in Quick Start instructions, you can run the commands we give during the course of this documentation.

kapitan compile

Compiled gke-pvm-killer (0.09s)
Compiled vault (0.18s)
Compiled pritunl (0.17s)
Compiled mysql (0.07s)
Compiled examples (0.25s)
Compiled postgres-proxy (0.06s)
Compiled echo-server (0.08s)
Compiled global (0.05s)
Compiled tutorial (0.09s)
Compiled guestbook-argocd (0.08s)
Compiled sock-shop (0.30s)
Compiled kapicorp-demo-march (0.04s)
Compiled kapicorp-project-123 (0.03s)
Compiled kapicorp-terraform-admin (0.08s)
Compiled tesoro (0.09s)
Compiled prod-sockshop (0.34s)
Compiled dev-sockshop (0.41s)
Compiled argocd (2.53s)

When you run kapitan compile, you instruct Kapitan to generate for each given target a directory under compiled with the same name. Under this directory you will find all the files that have been generated by Kapitan for that target.

tree compiled/mysql/

├── argocd
├── docs
│   ├──
│   └──
├── manifests
│   ├── mysql-bundle.yml
│   ├── mysql-config.yml
│   ├── mysql-namespace.yml
│   └── mysql-secret.yml
├── pre-deploy
├── rabbitmq
├── scripts
└── terraform

7 directories, 6 files


A typical target might look like this:


  - common
  - components.acme.frontend
  - components.acme.backend

  target_name: dev

Note that it is made of 2 sections:

  • classes is a list of class files you will want to import.
  • parameters allows for local override of what is unique to this target.


the kapitan key under the root parameters is reserved for kapitan usage. Some examples:

    compile:      # input types configuration section
    dependencies: # dependencies configuration section to download resources
    secrets:      # secret encryption/decryption configuration section
    validate:     # items which indicate which compiled output to validate
    vars:         # which are also passed down to input types as context