Resource Authors Guide

Advanced Topic

This is something most people will never have to do. That said, if you know why you’re here, read on…

Contributing Resources

We welcome external resource contributions, and can help you plan out how your resource will work. If you have an idea for a new module, please open an issue on Converge and we’ll help you figure out exactly how to develop it. We’ll also gladly help you with documentation and getting everything imported in the right places. Converge modules must currently be included in the main source of Converge, we hope to be able to make them external at some point in the future (at which point external contributions become even easier!)

Check and Apply

Converge resources have a basic pattern: two operations, check and apply. This pattern is most obvious in the shell task resource:

task "example" {
  check = "test -f hello.txt"
  apply = "touch hello.txt"

When Converge applies this resource, the check statement is run first. If the exit code is non-zero, Converge then runs the apply statement. Afterwards, it runs the check statement again to see if the application was successful.

To implement something like the shell task, you would start by implementing a struct and it’s corresponding methods. resource.Task is the interface you’ll need to implement.

struct MyShellTask struct {

    CheckStmt string
    ApplyStmt string

func (t *MyShellTask) Check(context.Context, resource.Renderer) (resource.TaskStatus, error) {
    // your check implementation, returning t (which embeds a TaskStatus)

func (t *MyShellTask) Apply(context.Context) (resource.TaskStatus, error) {
    // your apply implementation, returning t (which embeds a TaskStatus)

Task Status

Check and Apply both return TaskStatus. You can implement that interface yourself, but the most common pattern is to return Status.

Status provides a number of helper methods to make your integration go more smoothly. Of particular note are:

  1. RaiseLevel which allows you to increase the level of the error
  2. AddMessage which allows you to add a message that will be displayed to the user
  3. AddDifference which inserts a difference that will be displayed to the user
  4. RaiseLevelForDiffs which raises the level to StatusWillChange if there are any differences

Status has three fields: Differences, Output, and Level. They all have accurate documentation on their fields, which we will not repeat here. However, the interaction between Differences and Level deserves special mention. These two fields are how you control execution of your Apply method. They follow these rules:

  1. If the level is equal to resource.StatusWillChange, resource.StatusMayChange, or resource.StatusCantChange, the Status will always show up as having changes
  2. Otherwise, if there are any diffs which say that they contain a difference, the Status will always show as having changes

Dealing with Errors

The default Status implementation has a SetError(error) method. When called, it sets an appropriate error level and an internal error state that will be presented to the user. You can also use the common Go patterm of returning nil, err in your Check and Apply statements. Converge will call SetError(err) automatically in this case. This gives you two options:

  1. call SetError yourself
  2. return an error, which will be handled for you

You shoud choose one of these options and do it consistently across as much of your code as possible.


The resource.Task interface is what you will implement to have converge run your Check and Apply methods. The export and re-export-as tags in your resource.Task implementation are used to define lookup methods from within converge.

Using the Shell module as an example we can see how tasks should be implemented:

type Shell struct {
    CmdGenerator   CommandExecutor
    CheckStmt      string                 `export:"check"`
    ApplyStmt      string                 `export:"apply"`
    Dir            string                 `export:"dir"`
    Env            []string               `export:"env"`
    Status         *CommandResults        `re-export-as:"status"`
    CheckStatus    *CommandResults        `export:"checkstatus"`
    HealthStatus   *resource.HealthStatus `export:"healthstatus"`
    renderer       resource.Renderer
    ctx            context.Context
    exportedFields resource.FieldMap

Exporting Values

Converge will automatically extract values from a resource.Task that are annotated with the export or re-export-as struct tags. For fields that are exported with export, they can be referenced directly. For example if we have the following task which is implemented with Shell:

task "foo" {
  check = "test -f foo.txt"
  apply = "touch foo.txt"

We may reference any of the fields exported by Shell in a lookup by typing "{{lookup '<field name>'}}", where <field name> is any exported field; for example, "{{lookup ''}}" or "{{lookup ''}}". Re-exported fields will provide a namespace for structs that also export values. In our Shell example we are re-exporting a CommandResults struct:

type CommandResults struct {
    ExitStatus uint32 `export:"exitstatus"`
    Stdout     string `export:"stdout"`
    Stderr     string `export:"stderr"`
    Stdin      string `export:"stdin"`
    State      *os.ProcessState

Because CommandResults exports stdout, stderr, and stdin, and has been re-exported by the Shell module as status, we can reference these values under status, for example: "{{lookup ''}}" or "{{lookup ''}}".

Below is a complete example of using a lookup to reference the exported and re-exported fields from the Shell module:

task "echo" {
  check = "test -f example.txt"
  apply = "echo 'executing script' | tee example.txt"

file.content "task-results" {
  destination = "results.txt"
  content = "{{lookup `task.echo.check`}}; {{lookup `task.echo.apply`}} -> {{lookup `task.echo.status.stdout`}}"

This example shows how we can reference specific exported fields such as check and apply, and also the re-exported fields from our status.

Semantics of Exported Fields

  1. Fields that are tagged with export will be exported
  2. Named structs that are tagged with export will be exported as a struct
  3. Embedded structs will have their exported fields exported in the namespace of the containing struct
  4. Embedded interfaces will not be exported, nor have their fields exported
  5. If an embedded struct field name collides with a field from the struct it’s embedded in, both will be exported with the embedded struct being accessible with ‘StructName.FieldName’
  6. Fields exported with re-export-as must be structs or pointers to structs
  7. Structs exported with re-export-as will have their exported elements available under the name that the struct is re-exported as


Before you can use your resource, it has to be deserialized from HCL. For this, we will write a resource.Resource. Resource exists to render a Task’s fields and return it in it’s executable state. In our case, our Resource would look like this (they’re typically called Preparer).

type Preparer struct {
    Check string `hcl:"check"`
    Apply string `hcl:"apply"`

func (p *Preparer) Prepare(context.Context, resource.Renderer) (resource.Task, error) {
    return &MyShellTask{CheckStmt: check, ApplyStmt: apply}, nil

To get values other than strings (bools, ints, et cetera), you just need to specify them. Converge will render the values and parse them from strings, if necessary.

Zero Values

Sometimes you need to disambiguate between a zero value the user provided and one that Go did. In this case, use a pointer to that type. For example, your preparer may look like this:

type Preparer struct {
    Field int `hcl:"field"`

But in this case, the value of Field would be zero in each of the two calls below!

mymodule "test" {
    field = 0

mymodule "test" {
    # field is unspecified!

If you need to tell which case happened, use a pointer. In other words, your preparer will now look like this:

type Preparer struct {
    Field *int `hcl:"field"`

If the user provides a zero, the value will be *0. Otherwise, it wil be nil.

Struct Tags

Other than hcl (which is used to specify the field name you’ll accept) the following struct tags control the values you get:

  • base: used with numeric types to indicate a base for parsing. Does not work with floats. Example: file.mode needs an octal number, and specifies that in this tag.

We can also do some basic validation tasks with tags:

  • required: one valid value: true. If set, this field must be set in the HCL, but may still have a zero value (for example, int can still be 0.) Example: docker.container uses this to require an image for the container.

  • mutually_exclusive: a comma-separated list of fields that cannot be set together. Example: user uses this to disallow setting both groupname and gid.

  • valid_values: a comma-separated list of values that will be accepted for this field. Example: docker.container uses this to enforce status is only running or created.

The Renderer

The renderer is what allows your values to take input from the environment (like calls to param or lookup.) Normally you won’t need to use this, but if you’re doing something extremely custom it will be handy. If you get an error while using the Renderer, return it exactly as received or wrap it with errors.Wrap or errors.Wrapf. Converge uses these signals to calculate execution order, so it needs to be able to inspect the returned error value.


The last thing you’ll need to do is register your new resource with the loader under it’s HCL-usable name. To do so, call registry.Register with both the preparer and task, then empty-import your new module in load/resource.go.

func init() {
    registry.Register("mytask", (*Preparer)(nil), (*MyShellTask)(nil))