Dropwizard with Fabric8 and Kubernetes

Here are some of my notes from the development of a REST service prototype with Dropwizard, Fabric8 and Kubernetes.


You can check out the following example projects:



I use minikube for my development and on the first start of minikube the definition of the image must be passed as parameters. Any future call of minikube will use the parameters from the first call, no matter what.

You find the minikube image of your first call at $HOME/.minikube/machines.


Your application will be packaged as a docker image. In order for minikube to find the image you built locally on your machine you need to use the docker daemon of your minikube installation. So first start minikube and then use minikube docker-env to get access to the docker daemon of minikube.

  eval $(minikube docker-env)


Fabric8 YAML files

All fabric8 YAML files go into /src/main/fabric8 (if you have a Maven project).

These files are resource fragments.

External Resources

From time to time you want to access resources which are not deployed on your kubernetes nodes, f. e. a database during development or an LDAP server. To get this in a dynamic fashion you can use a Service definition with the type ExternalName. This will register a service at your pod.

kind: Service
apiVersion: v1
  name: testdatabase
  type: ExternalName
  externalName: testdb.domain

You can check the service registration with

  kubectl describe service testdatabase -o yaml

Fabric8 Merged Files

The merged kubernetes files which the fabric8-maven-plugin generates can be found at target/fabric8/kubernetes.


Service Names

If you are using Maven then the service name will be composed from the artifact id.


will result in a service name customer. This can be changed by using a resource fragment like this

  name: ${project.groupId}-${project.artifactId}
  namespace: default

Here the groupid is prepended to the artifact id and results in greenfield-customer.

Service Discovery

Service Discovery by DNS

Every service is available by its DNS name and so you can use that to reach it.

Service Discovery by Environment Variables

Also for every service environment variables will be create like


Which can be used to configure things like REST clients:

String baseUri = "http://"  + System.getenv("GREENFIELD_CUSTOMER_SERVICE_HOST") + ":" + 
List<Customer> services = client.
                              get(new GenericType<List<Customer>>() { });

Caching values like host value (IP address) of services is not a good idea as the IP address may change during a redeployment. Service discovery by DNS is a safer method.

Service Namespaces

You can configure a service to be in a specific namespace. The namespace specifies the subdomain the service is reachable via DNS.

  name: greenfield-service
  namespace: default

This service is reachable by the domain name greenfield-service.default.svc.cluster.local or simply by greenfield-service (depending from where you make the request).



You may add the secrets for accessing the database into the Dropwizard configuration. But Kubernetes offers you a away to remove those credentials from the REST configuration: Kubernetes Secrets

By using Kubernetes Secrets you can mount the credentials as a volume in your filesystem or have the values as environment variables.

The storing of the credentials in Kubernetes can be done manually via the kubectl command or as part of the build and deployment process.

Deploy Secrets with Fabric8

By using a resource fragment you can use the fabric8 maven plugin to install the credentials in kubernetes:

kind: Secret
apiVersion: v1
  name: ${project.groupId}-${project.artifactId}-db-secret
  username: bXktYXBw
  password: Mzk1MjgkdmRnN0piCg==

In the deployment resource fragment you can now specify how to provide the credentials to you application. I choose the environment variables:


        - env:
          - name: GREENFIELD_DB_USERNAME
                name: ${project.groupId}-${project.artifactId}-db-secret
                key: username
          - name: GREENFIELD_DB_PASSWORD
                name: ${project.groupId}-${project.artifactId}-db-secret
                key: password

In the application I use the env vars GREENFIELD_DB_USERNAME and GREENFIELD_DB_PASSWORD to access the credential values.

DBIFactory factory = new DBIFactory();
DataSourceFactory dataSourceFactory = configuration.getDataSourceFactory();
DBI jdbi = factory.build(env, configuration.getDataSourceFactory(), "postgresql");

If you use this technique you don't have to add user and password to the Dropwizard configuration file.
From Kubernetes Docs: If you configure the secret through a manifest (JSON or YAML) file which has the secret data encoded as base64, sharing this file or checking it in to a source repository means the secret is compromised. Base64 encoding is not an encryption method and is considered the same as plain text.


During the development of the prototype a simple deployment from the local codebase was enough for me:

  mvn fabric8:run

This compiles, packages and deploys the application in the minikube instance.

Dropwizard CLI Arguments

Dropwizards normally gets started with some arguments on the command line. Fabric8 doesn't do this out of the box. You need to tell it explicitly. I used a resource fragment for this:

    configmap.fabric8.io/update-on-change: ${project.artifactId}

        - name: config
            name: ${project.artifactId}
        - command : [ "/deployments/run-java.sh" ]
          args : [ "server", "/etc/greenfield-customer/config.json" ]
            - containerPort: 8181
              name: dropwizard
              protocol: TCP
            - name: config
              mountPath: /etc/greenfield-customer

This does multiple things:

  • sets the command to be executed on container startup
  • sets the arguments to be passed to the command (for dropwizard: server config.yml)
  • defines what ports should be opened up on the docker image (http port of the dropwizard application)
  • defines where to find the configuration and mounts a configmap as the configuration

The definition of the deployment syntax can be found here.

The values for the entries are expected in a specific format. F. e. command and args values are always arrays and need brackets, even if there is only one value for the entry.

Dropwizard Configuration

The dropwizard configuration is normally in a YAML file. Though lately I have found out that you can also use JSON as a syntax. This comes quite handy because now it is quite easy to place the dropwizard configuration in JSON format into a fabric8 YAML file.

  name: ${project.groupId}-${project.artifactId}-rs
  config.json: |
    { "server": { 
            "applicationConnectors": [{ "type": "http", "port": 8181 }], 
            "adminConnectors": [{ "type": "http", "port": 8081 }],
            "requestLog" : {
                "appenders" : [
                        "type" : "file",
                        "currentLogFilename" : "/var/log/application/access.log",
                        "archivedLogFilenamePattern" : "/var/log/application/access.log.%d.gz",
                        "archivedFileCount" : 10,
                        "type" : "console",
                        "target" : "stdout" 
      "logging": {
            "level" : "INFO",
            "appenders" : [
                    "type" : "console",
                    "threshold" : "INFO",
                    "target" : "stdout" 
                    "type" : "file",
                    "currentLogFilename" : "/var/log/application/log",
                    "archivedLogFilenamePattern" : "/var/log/application/log.%d.gz",
                    "archivedFileCount" : 10,
                    "timeZone" : "UTC"
      "database": { 
            "driverClass": "org.postgresql.Driver", 
            "url": "jdbc:postgresql://greenfield-service-db:5432/greenfield", 
            "properties": { "charSet": "UTF-8" }, 
            "maxWaitForConnection": "1s", 
            "validationQuery": "/* MyService Health Check */ SELECT 1", 
            "initialSize": 2, 
            "minSize": 2, 
            "maxSize": 8, 
            "checkConnectionWhileIdle": false, 
            "evictionInterval": "10s", 
            "minIdleTime": "1 minute" 

By this the dropwizard configuration is registered as a kubernetes ConfigMap.

To access this configuration as a file the configuration must be mounted as a volume into the filesystem of the docker image, see deployment.yml.


Log into Docker instance

  kubectl exec -ti $(kubectl get pods | cut -d " " -f 1 | grep maven.artifact.id) bash

Display Pod Log

  kubectl logs -f $(kubectl get pods | cut -d " " -f 1 | grep maven.artifact.id)

Application Logging

Kubernetes uses by default the stack fluentd, ElasticSearch and Kibana for logging. This can be installed in the Runtime via the template logging. This will install the necessary pods.

Everything your application outputs to STDOUT and STDERR will automatically be logged.

So the easiest way to get the application logs into the logging stack is to output the log data to STDOUT and STDERR. The same goes for the access log.

You may need to modify the used indexes in the Kibana UI. You can check which indexes exist in ElasticSearch by querying its REST service:
  curl -v