RFC-0216: Fuchsia Hosted Repository Guidelines

RFC-0216: Fuchsia Hosted Repository Guidelines
  • Developer
  • Governance
  • General

Guidelines for developing Fuchsia hosted code outside of fuchsia.git

Gerrit change
Date submitted (year-month-day)2022-1-17
Date reviewed (year-month-day)2023-04-20


With the advent of full Bazel support for Fuchsia and the increasing focus on a fully featured Fuchsia SDK, the advantages of developing Fuchsia components inside of fuchsia.git have significantly diminished. This RFC outlines requirements and best practices for developing components in other Fuchsia hosted repositories. It does not address the needs of assembly outside of fuchsia.git.


Since the inception of the Fuchsia project, most development has taken place in a single environment managed by the jiri tool, which coordinates development in multiple source code repositories as if they were a single repository. Today, we informally refer to that environment as fuchsia.git, as most of Fuchsia's development is centered in that repository.

A single managed environment, mostly in a single repository, has significant advantages for development. Code can be updated quickly across the codebase, typically in a single change, reducing the need for complicated coordination between versions in different repositories. Updates to developer tools and third party / library code can be centralized, which means that the entire organization can share the benefits of upgrades and code cleanup. Common code standards remove the need for arguments about code style or directory layout. Developers know what repository to search for any given code.

However, a centralized repository does not meet the needs of all Fuchsia developers. Fuchsia's repository requires developers to build entire system images and SDKs, significantly impacting developer velocity. The need to build system images and SDKs in fuchsia.git means that, for many developers, the experience building is very different.

Perhaps more importantly, the Fuchsia team creates abstractions for developers who do not work in fuchsia.git, but we often don't use them ourselves. This creates a problem for developers who start working in fuchsia.git expecting standard Fuchsia workflows, but instead encounter the fx tool and a variety of scripts that are almost, but not quite, completely unlike what we share with SDK-based developers. It also makes it much harder for fuchsia.git based developers to empathize with SDK based developers - because they don't use the same workflows, they do not have the same incentives to make those workflows great.

The Fuchsia Build Team is working to resolve some of the differences between fuchsia.git-based and SDK-based workflows, but some gap will always remain, if only because developers using SDK-based workflows in other repositories never have to build the SDK or system images as part of those workflows.

We do not expect all developers to move their code to SDK-based workflows in the near term. In 2023, the team is focusing on support for migrating drivers out of fuchsia.git. For other projects, moving out of fuchsia.git is optional. In the near term, we expect mostly components that can be built entirely on SDK-based API to be migrated out of fuchsia.git.

To increase developer productivity for projects that do not have to contribute to the SDK, and to increase empathy for SDK-based developers on the Fuchsia team, the Fuchsia community wants to encourage developers to use SDK-based workflows outside of fuchsia.git. However, we do not have clear guidelines for how to do so. This RFC, based on our experience with SDK-based workflows and fuchsia.git workflows over the past few years, exists to start to fill in those gaps.



  • David Moore (davemoore@google.com)


  • Adam Barth (abarth@google.com) - FEC
  • Chase Latta (chaselatta@google.com) - Bazel support
  • Nathan Mulcahey (nmulcahey@google.com) - EngProd
  • Suraj Malhotra (surajmalhotra@google.com) - Drivers


The following additional people were consulted on this RFC:

  • Andres Oportus (andresoportus@google.com)
  • Christopher Anderson (cja@google.com)
  • Clayton Wilkinson (wilkinsonclay@google.com)
  • Danny Rosen (dannyrosen@google.com)
  • Harsh Priya NV (harshanv@google.com)
  • Janna Shaftan (jshaftan@google.com)
  • John Wittrock (wittrock@google.com)
  • Renato Mangini Dias
  • Marc-Antoine Ruel (maruel@google.com)
  • Nico Haley (nicoh@google.com)
  • Niraj Majmudar (nirajm@google.com)
  • Seth Ladd (sethladd@google.com)
  • Tim Kilbourn (tkilbourn@google.com)


A short version of this RFC was socialized with the EngProd, FHCP, Drivers, Eng Council, Bazel SDK Integration, and DevRel teams.


The following is a set of guidelines for starting and developing SDK-based, Fuchsia-hosted repositories. They are not intended to be exhaustive. For example, while we lay out some guidelines for how to keep SDKs in Fuchsia hosted repositories updated, we do not have a detailed design for that process.

Repository Naming

Repository names depend on the content of the repository. We break down the guidance into driver and non-driver repositories.


Driver code that is not specific to a particular vendor shall be hosted in repositories named after the driver area (e.g., drivers/audio.git, drivers/wlan.git). This includes, for example, code for generic drivers, like keyboards and mice. Closed source code should also not go into these repositories.

We recognize that the names of these areas may change over time. Moving a repository to a new path can be difficult. We encourage developers to choose the name of their area carefully, and to ensure that due diligence is done when changing names later.

Driver code that is specific to a particular vendor shall be hosted in drivers///. For example, drivers/wlan/intel/iwlwifi. Teams have flexibility about where the repository boundaries are (for example, whether drivers/wlan/intel/iwlwifi is a separate repository, or whether it goes in the drivers/wlan repository). We can provide some guidance based on our existing experience; we believe we will develop more experience with this over time:

  • If a driver requires closed-source software to build, we recommend keeping it in a different repository from fully open sourced drivers.

  • If multiple drivers share substantial code (see code sharing below), keeping them in a single repository with that code avoids the difficulty of rolling out updates to that code across multiple repositories. Developers in such situations often find it difficult to locate all of the relevant repositories, build the software in them, and test them. For most code, fewer repositories means less work in keeping up with the latest updates to libraries, SDKs, and toolchains.

  • Sometimes, multiple drivers share substantical code, but circumstances dictate keeping them in separate repositories. Gerrit support for repos with name overlap (e.g, if drivers/<area> and drivers/<area>/<vendor> are both repos) is awkward, and the overlap creates the possibility of accidental collisions when developers want to check both repositories out into the same directory. We recommend placing common code in a repository with the name drivers/<area>/common instead of one called drivers/<area>. Code may be developed in common areas before multiple drivers need it, to avoid the costs of code migration.

  • Driver teams may decide to release their drivers for certification off of a stabilization branch. If they do so, they might find it easier to manage one branch than multiple branches. The Fuchsia team is developing best practices for driver certification, which is likely to be a topic of a future RFC.

Non-driver components

Component source code that is unrelated to drivers may be hosted in one of two locations. Developers have flexibility about the choice.

A component may be hosted in a repository named after the functional area that sponsors that component (e.g., experiences.git). We recommend this for components that are not likely to be of interest to developers outside of the functional area.

A component may be hosted in a repository named after the project (e.g., workstation.git, cobalt.git). We recommend this for larger projects and projects that may be of interest to developers outside of the functional area.

As with driver code, there are pros and cons to shared source bases. The considerations described in that section apply to components, as well.

Repository Layout

The code layout shall be the same as it is in the Fuchsia source code layout document. The source code layout document must be updated to reflect allowable use of the Bazel build system; i.e., allowing BUILD.bazel instead of BUILD.gn, and the presence of WORKSPACE files.

There will be a base template repo that developers can clone to make a new repo. We may have additional repos with tools and layout specialized for drivers, components, and, if we develop the need for it, product integration. The template will contain required basics for a Fuchsia repository. This currently includes, for example, a LICENSE file, a Bazel build file with pre-defined targets that infrastructure can read to know what to build and test, and top-level OWNERS file with at least two owners listed.

Drivers require certification tests. The certification program is called the Fuchsia Hardware Certification Program, or FHCP. FHCP tests that are hosted in fuchsia.git shall be in the top level directory called tests/conformance in the relevant source area. Note that the top level directory of a source area is not necessarily the same thing as the repository root directory, so tests/conformance directories in fuchsia.git do not necessarily have to be located in the repository root. FHCP tests that are hosted in other Fuchsia-hosted SDK-based repositories must be under a directory called tests/conformance in the top level source area for the repository corresponding to the relevant driver area (e.g., drivers/wlan.git, drivers/audio.git).

Code Sharing

The Fuchsia organization supports several methods of sharing code between repositories.

Sharing via the Fuchsia SDK

The primary mechanism for code sharing between Fuchsia hosted repositories is the Fuchsia SDK. The Fuchsia SDK is used to develop software that runs on Fuchsia products. The parts of the SDK that are developed by the Fuchsia organization (excluding, for example, the emulator) are currently developed exclusively in fuchsia.git, although this may change over time.

The Fuchsia SDK is composed of multiple software artifacts, or elements. RFC-0165 describes several SDK categories; each element is assigned one of these categories. The categories roughly describe how stable we consider each artifact to be, and where we think they can appropriately be used. Three of these categories are relevant to this RFC:

  • internal: supported for use within the Fuchsia platform source tree;
  • partner: supported for use by select partners;
  • public: supported for use by the general public.

Fuchsia developers may be familiar with the IDK, which currently consists of a group of partner SDK elements.

Because of their proximity to the platform, we primarily expect Fuchsia-hosted, SDK-based repositories to use partner and internal category SDK elements. Whether they use partner or internal depends on their use case:

  • Fuchsia hosted drivers should be developed using partner category SDK elements that are delivered out of fuchsia.git. This includes, for example, everything that can be found in the IDK.

  • Fuchsia hosted components that are downstream consumers of the SDK should be developed using partner category SDK elements that can be delivered out of fuchsia.git.

  • Fuchsia hosted components that implement partner category SDK interfaces may use internal SDK elements.

In cases where developers need to share platform API or ABI, they should use the Fuchsia SDK. In particular, FIDL definitions are interfaces to the platform, and should be shared via the SDK. If a developer believes that there is an advantage to sharing their FIDL definition another way, they should consult with the Fuchsia API Council.

Sharing via git submodules

The sharing of code via git submodules is a common pattern in fuchsia.git. A git submodule is a git project used within another project. The advice in this section is intended to apply to both repositories managed by the jiri tool and git submodules.

There are a number of cases where it is inappropriate to share code using an SDK. We do not want to redistribute most third party code via the SDK, because then it is incumbent on us (rather than the third party) to support that code for all SDK users. We also have libraries that are intended for use exclusively by the Fuchsia team, such as fbl. These libraries may be included in the internal SDK, but may also be acceptable for use by Fuchsia teams that use the partner SDK.

In addition, there are a number of tools that are used for engineering productivity purposes but are specific to Fuchsia's infrastructure and code standards, such as the code formatter and the various fx tools that query gerrit.

Shared code that should not be in the partner SDK may be shared by migrating it to a git submodule and sharing it between repositories that need it. The API council and the RFC process arbitrate what can be included in the partner SDK.

We may use this mechanism for code currently stored in fuchsia.git that we want to share among Fuchsia organization developers, but do not want to put in the SDK, like the fbl or boringssl libraries.

Sharing via binary

Some tools may be shared via binary. For example, we use CIPD to make copies of our toolchain available to fuchsia.git based developers. We will continue this practice. Best practices are the same as they are for git submodules above: developers are encouraged to keep up to date with the latest tools available for their repository.

Staying up to date

It is critical for Fuchsia hosted repositories to stay up to date with the latest published software.

  • All repositories must use autorollers that update their dependencies on a daily (or faster) cadence.

  • As described in RFC-0148, each project should attempt to release and roll their own contents at a fast cadence. That RFC does not define what a fast cadence is, although it suggests the ideal state is one where new dependencies are rolled within hours of release. We leave the interpretation of fast cadence to the repository owners, with the following caveats.

  • All repositories must use an SDK that is within the compatibility window. The compatibility window for an SDK is the length of time that code built with that SDK will work with Fuchsia products built from head.

  • Repositories under active development - where the SDK they use is actively changing to better support the use cases in that repository - should update their SDKs daily (adjusting for the time it takes to resolve incompatibilities, broken infrastructure, and other reasonable difficulties).

The Fuchsia organization will create a process for performing updates / LSCs across all Fuchsia-hosted repositories. Each repository owner must provide a point of contact who will respond quickly to urgent update requests (e.g., for security issues, fixes for toolchain updates, and so on). This process should allow developers making large scale change to track their changes over time.

All repository owners must respond promptly to requests to update for security or compatibility reasons.

Multi-repository development

Although all checked-in code will need to be shared using one of the above mechanisms, we expect developers will have use cases for which it makes sense to be changing code in multiple repositories at the same time. For example, a developer may need to develop new FIDL APIs in fuchsia.git intended for use by a driver in an SDK based workflow, and be working on the code for both at the same time.

The Fuchsia team has experience making multi-repository workflows function. For the most part, they fall into one of the following categories:

  • A developer working in fuchsia.git makes a change to the SDK, which they then export for use in another (destination) repository.

  • A developer working on a component in one source repository needs to publish that component to a package repository hosted in another (destination) source repository.

  • A developer working on a component in one source repository needs to make that component available for system assembly in another (destination) source repository.

The Fuchsia team will develop tools that make it easy to support these workflows.

Build system

Fuchsia hosted repositories must use the Bazel build system. Fuchsia's commitment to Bazel for new repositories is laid out in detail in RFC-0095 and RFC-0139, and does not need to be reiterated here.

Product Integration

Because of the limited number of product builds we support, we will not require special product integration repositories for products at this time. The Workstation product will continue to perform assembly in workstation.git (2023Q3 note: this plan to do assembly in workstation.git was deprecated by RFC-0220).


This RFC gives high-level guidelines on how projects should lay out and manage their repositories, but is intentionally light on implementation details. Each project may follow the guidelines in a number of ways, and we don't want to create artificial constraints by prescribing too many specifics. New Fuchsia-hosted SDK-based projects are still starting, and anything we map out here is likely to go stale as the projects evolve.


We do not believe that the presence of multiple repositories will have a meaningful impact on performance.

Currently, because all code in fuchsia.git is built from head with the same dependencies and toolchain configuration, shared code among different components is bit-for-bit identical. Fuchsia's file systems use this feature to deduplicate binaries, thereby saving space on target devices. Splitting code among multiple repositories causes version skew among toolchains and dependencies, potentially resulting in different versions of the same binary being deployed to the device, costing space. This can be mitigated by trying hard to keep the same SDKs and toolchains across all repositories (see the Staying up to date section above).


As described in the motivation section, we believe the increased use of Bazel and the SDK will result in faster development cycles for driver and component developers.

Backwards Compatibility

The chances of backwards incompatibilities increase as repositories let their shared code go out of date. We therefore provide the recommendations in the Staying up to date section.

Security considerations

We do not believe that Fuchsia hosted repositories will create security risks.

Privacy considerations

We do not believe that Fuchsia hosted repositories will create privacy concerns.


We do not believe substantial new testing is required. Fuchsia infrastructure still runs all relevant tests, regardless of source location.


We will create how-to guides and references for starting new repositories. We will also create example repositories that can be cloned easily (these already exist, to some extent).

Drawbacks, alternatives, and unknowns

We are promulgating this RFC in advance of significant development being done in Fuchsia-hosted, SDK-based repositories. Many of the standards here are best guesses based on experience, and may not meet our needs. We will likely revisit the guidance in this document as we gain more experience with these workflows, and as we encourage more code to be developed outside of fuchsia.git.