Experimental Features

Cluster API now ships with a new experimental package that lives under exp/ directory which has new features. This is a temporary location for features which will be moved to their permanent locations after graduation. Users can experiment with these features by enabling them using feature gates.

Enabling Experimental Features for Management Clusters Started with clusterctl

Users can enable/disable features by setting OS environment variables before running clusterctl init, e.g.:


clusterctl init --infrastructure vsphere

As an alternative to environment variables, it is also possible to set variables in the clusterctl config file located at $HOME/.cluster-api/clusterctl.yaml, e.g.:

# Values for environment variable substitution

In case a variable is defined both in the config file and as an OS environment variable, the latter takes precedence. For more information on how to set variables for clusterctl, see clusterctl Configuration File

Some features like MachinePools may require infrastructure providers to implement a separate CRD that handles infrastructure side of the feature too. For such a feature to work, infrastructure providers should also enable their controllers as well if it is also implemented as features; if it is not implemented as features, no additional step is necessary. As an example, Cluster API Provider Azure (CAPZ) has support for MachinePool through the infrastructure type AzureMachinePool.

Enabling Experimental Features for e2e Tests

One way is to set experimental variables on the clusterctl config file. For CAPI, these configs are under ./test/e2e/config/... such as docker-ci.yaml:


Another way is to set them as environmental variables before running e2e tests.

Enabling Experimental Features on Tilt

On development environments started with Tilt, features can be enabled by setting the feature variables in kustomize_substitutions, e.g.:

  "enable_providers": ["kubeadm-bootstrap","kubeadm-control-plane"],
  "allowed_contexts": ["kind-kind"],
  "default_registry": "gcr.io/cluster-api-provider",
  "provider_repos": [],
  "kustomize_substitutions": {
    "EXP_MACHINE_POOL": "true"

For more details on setting up a development environment with tilt, see Developing Cluster API with Tilt

Enabling Experimental Features on Existing Management Clusters

To enable/disable features on existing management clusters, users can modify CAPI controller manager deployment which will restart all controllers with requested features.

#  kubectl edit -n capi-system deployment.apps/capi-controller-manager
   // Enable/disable available feautures by modifying Args below. 

Similarly, to validate if a particular feature is enabled, see cluster-api-provider deployment arguments by:

# kubectl describe -n capi-system deployment.apps/capi-controller-manager

Active Experimental Features

Warning: Experimental features are unreliable, i.e., some may one day be promoted to the main repository, or they may be modified arbitrarily or even disappear altogether. In short, they are not subject to any compatibility or deprecation promise.