Write a custom constraint template

This page shows you how to write a custom constraint template and use it to extend Policy Controller if you cannot find a pre-written constraint template that suits your needs.

Policy Controller policies are described by using the OPA Constraint Framework and are written in Rego. A policy can evaluate any field of a Kubernetes object.

Writing policies using Rego is a specialized skill. For this reason, a library of common constraint templates is installed by default. You can likely invoke these constraint templates when creating constraints. If you have specialized needs, you can create your own constraint templates.

Constraint templates let you separate a policy's logic from its specific requirements, for reuse and delegation. You can create constraints by using constraint templates developed by third parties, such as open source projects, software vendors, or regulatory experts.

Before you begin

Example constraint template

Following is an example constraint template that denies all resources whose name matches a value provided by the creator of the constraint. The rest of this page discusses the contents of the template, highlighting important concepts along the way.

If you are using Config Sync with a hierarchical repository, we recommend that you create your constraints in the cluster/ directory.

apiVersion: templates.gatekeeper.sh/v1beta1
kind: ConstraintTemplate
  name: k8sdenyname
        kind: K8sDenyName
        # Schema for the `parameters` field
              type: string
    - target: admission.k8s.gatekeeper.sh
      rego: |
        package k8sdenynames
        violation[{"msg": msg}] {
          input.review.object.metadata.name == input.parameters.invalidName
          msg := sprintf("The name %v is not allowed", [input.parameters.invalidName])

Example constraint

Following is an example constraint that you might implement to deny all resources named policy-violation:

apiVersion: constraints.gatekeeper.sh/v1beta1
kind: K8sDenyName
  name: no-policy-violation
    invalidName: "policy-violation"

Parts of a constraint template

Constraint templates have two important pieces:

  • The schema of the constraint that you want users to create. The schema of a constraint template is stored in the crd field.

  • The Rego source code that is executed when the constraint is evaluated. The Rego source code for a template is stored in the targets field.

Schema (crd field)

The CRD field is a blueprint for creating the Kubernetes Custom Resource Definition that defines the constraint resource for the Kubernetes API server. You only need to populate the following fields.

Field Description
spec.crd.spec.names.kind The Kind of the constraint. When lower-cased, the value of this field must be equal to metadata.name.

The schema for the spec.parameters field of the constraint resource (Policy Controller automatically defines the rest of the constraint's schema). It follows the same conventions as it would in a regular CRD resource.

Prefixing the constraint template with the name K8s is a convention that lets you avoid collisions with other kinds of constraint templates, such as Forseti templates that target Google Cloud resources.

Rego source code (targets field)

The following sections provide you with more information about the Rego source code.


The Rego source code is stored under the spec.targets field, where targets is an array of objects of the following format:

{"target": "admission.k8s.gatekeeper.sh","rego": REGO_SOURCE_CODE, "libs": LIST_OF_REGO_LIBRARIES}
  • target: tells Policy Controller what system we are looking at (in this case Kubernetes); only one entry in targets is allowed.
  • rego: the source code for the constraint.
  • libs: an optional list of libraries of Rego code that is made available to the constraint template; it is meant to make it easier to use shared libraries and is out of scope for this document.

Source code

Following is the Rego source code for the preceding constraint:

package k8sdenynames

violation[{"msg": msg}] {
   input.review.object.metadata.name == input.parameters.invalidName
   msg := sprintf("The name %v is not allowed", [input.parameters.invalidName])

Note the following:

  • package k8sdenynames is required by OPA (Rego's runtime). The value is ignored.
  • The Rego rule that Policy Controller invokes to see if there are any violations is called violation. If this rule has matches, a violation of the constraint has occurred.
  • The violation rule has the signature violation[{"msg": "violation message for the user"}], where the value of "msg" is the violation message that is returned to the user.
  • The parameters provided to the constraint are made available under the keyword input.parameters.
  • The request-under-test is stored under the keyword input.review.

The keyword input.review has the following fields.

Field Description
uid The unique ID for this particular request; it is not available during audit.

The Kind information for the object-under-test. It has the following format:

  • kind: the resource kind
  • group: the resource group
  • version: the resource version
name The resource name. It might be empty if the user is relying on the API server to generate the name on a CREATE request.
namespace The resource namespace (not provided for cluster-scoped resources).
operation The operation requested (for example, CREATE or UPDATE); it is not available during audit.

The requesting user's information; it is not available during audit. It has the following format:

  • username: the user making the request
  • uid: the user's UID
  • groups: a list of groups that the user is a member of
  • extra: any extra user information provided by Kubernetes
object The object that the user is attempting to modify or create.
oldObject The original state of the object; it is only available on UPDATE operations.
dryRun Whether this request was invoked with kubectl --dry-run; it is not available during audit.

Write referential constraint templates

Referential constraint templates are templates that let the user constrain one object with respect to other objects. An example of this might be "don't allow a Pod to be created before a matching Ingress is known to exist". Another example might be "do not allow two services to have the same hostname".

Policy Controller lets you write referential constraints by watching the API Server for a user-provided set of resources. When a resource is modified, Policy Controller caches it locally so that it can be easily referenced by Rego source code. Policy Controller makes this cache available under the data.inventory keyword.

Cluster-scoped resources are cached in the following location:


For example, a Node named my-favorite-node could be found under


Namespace-scoped resources are cached here:


For example, a ConfigMap named production-variables in the namespace shipping-prod could be found under


The full contents of the object are stored at this cache location and can be referenced in your Rego source code however you see fit.

More information about Rego

The preceding information provides the unique features of Policy Controller that make it easy to write constraints on Kubernetes resources in Rego. A full tutorial about how to write in Rego is out of scope for this guide. However, Open Policy Agent's documentation has information on the syntax and features of the Rego language itself.

Install your constraint template

After you've created your constraint template, use kubectl apply to apply it, and Policy Controller takes care of ingesting it. Be sure to check the status field of your constraint template to make sure that there were no errors instantiating it. On successful ingestion, the status field should show created: true and the observedGeneration noted in the status field should equal the metadata.generation field.

After the template is ingested, you can apply constraints for it as described in Creating constraints.

Remove a constraint template

To remove a constraint template, complete the following steps:

  1. Verify that no constraints that you want to preserve are using the constraint template:

    kubectl get TEMPLATE_NAME

    If there's a naming conflict between the constraint template's name and a different object in the cluster, use the following command instead:

    kubectl get TEMPLATE_NAME.constraints.gatekeeper.sh
  2. Remove the constraint template:

    kubectl delete constrainttemplate CONSTRAINT_TEMPLATE_NAME

When you remove a constraint template, you can no longer create constraints that reference it.

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