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Resource Tracking

Tracking Kubernetes resources by label

Argo CD identifies resources it manages by setting the application instance label to the name of the managing Application on all resources that are managed (i.e. reconciled from Git). The default label used is the well-known label


apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: my-deployment
  namespace: default
  labels: some-application

This approach works ok in most cases, as the name of the label is standardized and can be understood by other tools in the Kubernetes ecosystem.

There are however several limitations:

  • Labels are truncated to 63 characters. Depending on the size of the label you might want to store a longer name for your application
  • Other external tools might write/append to this label and create conflicts with Argo CD. For example several Helm charts and operators also use this label for generated manifests confusing Argo CD about the owner of the application
  • You might want to deploy more than one Argo CD instance on the same cluster (with cluster wide privileges) and have an easy way to identify which resource is managed by which instance of Argo CD

Additional tracking methods via an annotation


To offer more flexible options for tracking resources and solve some of the issues outlined in the previous section Argo CD can be instructed to use the following methods for tracking:

  1. label (default) - Argo CD uses the label
  2. annotation+label - Argo CD uses the label but only for informational purposes. The label is not used for tracking purposes, and the value is still truncated if longer than 63 characters. The annotation is used instead to track application resources. Use this for resources that you manage with Argo CD, but still need compatibility with other tools that require the instance label.
  3. annotation - Argo CD uses the annotation to track application resources. Use this when you don't need to maintain both the label and the annotation.

Here is an example of using the annotation method for tracking resources:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: my-deployment
  namespace: default
  annotations: my-app:apps/Deployment:default/nginx-deployment

The advantages of using the tracking id annotation is that there are no clashes any more with other Kubernetes tools and Argo CD is never confused about the owner of a resource. The annotation+label can also be used if you want other tools to understand resources managed by Argo CD.

Choosing a tracking method

To actually select your preferred tracking method edit the resourceTrackingMethod value contained inside the argocd-cm configmap.

apiVersion: v1
  application.resourceTrackingMethod: annotation
kind: ConfigMap

Possible values are label, annotation+label and annotation as described in the previous section.

Note that once you change the value you need to sync your applications again (or wait for the sync mechanism to kick-in) in order to apply your changes.

You can revert to a previous choice, by changing again the configmap.