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Discovery and Subscription Primer - WIP

Discovery and Subscroption Primer - WIP


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

Status of this document

This document is a working draft.

Table of Contents

  • History
  • Design Goals
  • Architecture
  • Design Considerations
  • Examples


The CNCF working group created the CloudEvents specification to help with the delivery of events from event producers to event consumers. The specification defines some common eventing metadata (that were already part of most events being generated), and where that data should appear based on how the event is serialized and over which transport protocol it is being sent.

By doing this, readers of those messages, whether they be the final recipient of the event or an intermediary, can find and use this metadata without the need to understand the business logic of the event itself. Often, this is needed to help properly route the message to the next hop in the event's journey to its final recipient.

With that specification reaching verson 1.0 status, the project members then considered what additional pain-points might need to be addressed in this space. And, it seemed only natural that once there was some standardization around the format of the events, that the group's attention should be to help with consumers finding the event producers of interest, and programmatically subscribing to receive events from those producers.

Within that scope, two obvious items popped up:

1 - Discovery: This includes things such as: how does an event consumer know which events a producer will generated? Which transport, and encoding, mechanisms do they support? How should a consumer subscribe for events?

2 - Subscriptions: Once the consumer determines if a particular producer will generate events that are of interest to them, how can they subscribe? Ideally, in an interoperable way so as to not need to have custom logic for each producer.

And with that, the 'Discovery' and 'Subscription API' specifications were born.

Design Goals

  • Re-use existing specifications and technology as much as possible
  • Focus on the bare minimum, but have well defined extensibility points


Use Cases

The following list of use cases were driving considerations during the development of these specifications. These are not meant to imply that other use cases are not supported, rather they are enumerated here to help provide insight into the team's focus during the development cycle.

  • Consumer wants to programmatically determine the list of events (event types) that a producer will generate so they can properly specify the list of events they are interested in as part of the subscribe() operation.

  • Consumer wants to know which producers support certain event types so as to allow for the consumer to subscribe only to those producers since those are the only events that the consumer is interested in, or can support.

  • Consumer wants to know which event delivery mechansims a producer can support. This will allow them to pick a transport that best suits their needs. For example, a push vs pull delivery model.

  • Consumer wants to know if a producer can support filtering of events, and which mechanisms, the producer supports. This can help consumers determine which producer might be the best choice to reduce the amount of messages sent, and whether filtering can be done by the producer or whether the consumer will need to to it themselves.

  • ...


  • picts
  • flows


Design Considerations

  • The Data Model
  • Relationship to CE - CE required? ...
  • REST vs ...
  • REST Queries vs GraphQL ...



Simple Discovery and Subscribe

$ curl


- services:
  - service: Github
    - protocol: HTTP
    - type: com.github.pull_request.opened
      datacontenttype: application/json
    - type: com.github.pull_request.edited
      datacontenttype: application/json
    - type: com.github.pull_request.closed
      datacontenttype: application/json
    - type: com.github.issue.opened
      datacontenttype: application/json
    - type: com.github.issue.edited
      datacontenttype: application/json
    - type: com.github.issue.closed
      datacontenttype: application/json

Now subscribe:

$ curl -d @- <<
"id": "mysub1",
"protocol": "http",
"sink": ""


"id": "mysub1",
"protocol": "http",
"sink": ""



Using 'sourcetemplate' for routing

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