A CDEvents primer

CDEvents Primer - Draft


This non-normative document provides an overview of the CDEvents specification. It is meant to complement the CDEvents specification to provide additional background and insight into the history and design decisions made during the development of the specification. This allows the specification itself to focus on the normative technical details.

Table of Contents


The Events in CI/CD Worksteam was originally formed by the CDF Interoperability Special Interest Group with the mission to Standardize events to be used in a CI/CD process. The workstream later evolved into Event Special Interest Group, which defined the initial vocabulary for CI/CD events, developed a golang SDK and a first proof of concept which involved Tekton and keptn.

The initial vocabulary then became CDEvents, a new standalone CDF incubated project.

Design reflections

How does CDEvents enable tools to communicate in an interoperable way?

By creating a language, we define how tools and services communicate with each other about occurrences in a CI/CD system. As this language does not tie to a specific tool it serves a neutral ground for communication.

Using this language we define a set of events with purpose and semantic meaning. With such a well-defined language, tools know what events to send, and receivers know how to interpret the information received. This enables tools to have a common understanding of the information sent in the events.

The language enables creating an ecosystem of tools for monitoring, tracing, measuring, and orchestrating using our events without having to write a “plugin” for every tool.

Why use events?

Reading from the CloudEvents primer - design goals

The goal of the CloudEvents specification is to define interoperability of event systems that allow services to produce or consume events, where the producer and consumer can be developed and deployed independently. A producer can generate events before a consumer is listening, and a consumer can express an interest in an event or class of events that is not yet being produced.

We believe that using events will lead to a more decoupled systems with services and tools developed and deployed independently. This makes us agnostic of the underlying infrastructure

Why not point-to-point communication?

We believe that using integrations based on point-to-point communication will create a system that will:

  • Not scale - when trying to add new consumers or producers each tool have to make an update
  • Create a coupled architecture - using point-to-point communication creates a tightly intertwined architecture difficult to expand and monitor.

Relations to CloudEvents

CDEvents defines a specification that provides a set of JSON object schemas (one for each event type, covering mandatory and optional attributes etc.)

When used with CloudEvents, CDEvents passes the JSON schema via the dataschema attribute and provide the corresponding JSON object through the data attribute.

CDEvents aims to use existing CloudEvents extension attributes (e.g. partitionkey from the Partitioning extension) before defining its own extensions. When no appropriate extension attributes exists, CDEvents aims to make an official CloudEvents extension for the CloudEvents specification and listed with other documented extensions.


The initial structure of the CDEvents specification format was based on the specification of the CloudEvents project.

Use Cases

There are two root use cases that we are considering:

  • Interoperability through CDEvents: In this use case, platforms from the CD landscape either produce or consume CDEvents. On the producing side, a system broadcasts that certain value has been produced, like a code change, an artifact or a test result. On the consumer side, a system takes an action that takes advantage of that value that has been produced.

  • Observability & Metrics: In this use case, platforms from the CD landscape produce CDEvents that describe the start and end of parts of an end of end CD workflow, for instance build started and finished, artifact packaged and published and deployment started and finished. We want to visualize the end to end CD workflow, for instance from a change being written, through its build, test, release, deployment and possibly rollback in case a remediation is required. To achieve that, events are sent to an event router and collected by a pipeline visualization application, that uses the information in the events to correlate them with each other and build an end to end view. With the same events, we want to measure DevOps performance as well. The same events can be used to track different metrics over time, to be visualized through a dashboard.

The use cases are work in progress - the list is being drafted in a separate document.

Design Decisions

Keys, Values and Types

The CDEvents specification defines event types, keys and, for ENUM types, values.

Event types are defined as all lowercase, separated by dots. The first part of each type is always “dev.cdevents” which is the reverse DNS domain of the CDEvents project.

Keys and ENUM values are always written in lowerCamelCase for readability purposes.