PCF Tile Developers Guide v2.0

Development Steps at Each Level

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This topic describes the typical steps that tile developers follow when developing a tile at a given integration level, such as brokered service tile, a managed service tile, or an on-demand service tile.


The ultimate deliverable of a Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) integration is almost always a tile, a PCF installation package that is delivered through our Marketplace and installed through Pivotal’s Ops Manager. But when developing an integration, it is advisable to start with smaller components of that tile, as it allows you to iterate on those components much faster. Pivotal recommends that you approach development in the following phases:

  1. Develop and test the Tile Generator inputs individually
  2. Describe your tile in tile.yml and use Tile Generator to create the tile components
  3. Test the generated deploy errands individually
  4. Deploy and test the generated BOSH release and the complete tile
  5. Implement Continuous Integration (CI) for the complete tile


If you follow this approach, you may not have a dependency on a complete PCF installation until step 3, and your iterations on the components will be much faster than if you attempt to test them through actual deployment to PCF.

Each of the development phases is described in more detail below.

Develop the Tile Generator Inputs

Tiles are a packaging format to deliver ISV software to PCF customers. Most tiles contain one or more of the following types of components:

  • Service Brokers
  • Managed Services
  • Buildpacks
  • Apps

It is much more efficient to develop and test these components individually than it is to test them through tile deployment. So before you start generating and deploying tiles, always make sure that the components you are deploying already work, individually and in whatever combination you intend to deploy them as a tile.

In most cases, you do not need a full PCF installation to complete these early phases. You can set up a light-weight PCF development environment on your laptop or desktop, possibly including BOSH-Lite if your are developing managed services.

Describe and Generate Your Tile

After your components are in working order, download and install the Tile Generator and follow the instructions to describe and generate your actual tile. This is where you list all the components that are to be included, add an icon and a description, and have the option to add forms for values that are to be configured by the PCF operator at installation time.

Deploy Your Generated BOSH Release and Full Tile

After you have verified that all individual components and errands work, you are ready to deploy your tile’s generated BOSH release from the command line.

Finally, test deploy your tile as your customers would, by uploading it to Ops Manager, installing and configuring the tile, and having Ops Manager apply your changes to the PCF deployment.

The only things you should be testing in this phase are the things that could not be tested in earlier ones:

  • The appearance of the tile forms in Ops Manager
  • The upgrade/migration steps from one version of a tile to another (if applicable)

Everything else should work exactly as it did in prior steps.

Tile Testing

Good testing assures tile developers that their product installs and runs properly on diverse platforms, and assures PCF platform operators that the tile they install can provide its service successfully on their platform.

Pivotal recommends a pyramid structure for testing, starting with unit tests and stepping up to successively broader and more automated levels of integration. Pivotal uses and recommends Concourse for creating build pipelines that follow this test structure. Other continuous integration tools should also support a pyramid testing approach.

Tile Test Pyramid

For PCF tiles, a typical test pyramid progresses as follows:

  1. Unit tests for each tile component (e.g. service components, broker, adapter, and metrics emitter), manual by developer and in automated pipeline.

  2. System tests of the tile’s BOSH release, including:

    • Functional tests covering the main features of the service. The main features typically interact with almost all important external integration points, so these tests confirm product functionality.
    • Smoke tests (lifecycle tests) for service instances that create and bind a service instance, call it from a test app, check the logs it generates, and delete it. For a typical end-to-end test sequence, see Smoke Tests below.
  3. System tests of tile operation within Ops Manager.

    • These include:
      • Configuration checks that test every external configurable integration point and connection to remote servers using configured credentials
      • Default checks that confirm “happy path” functionality.
    • Use the Ops Manager API to verify that property blueprints in the tile metadata are correct and that they translate correctly to the BOSH manifest that Ops Manager generates.
    • Use the Om tool to call the Ops Manager API programmatically from Go. Avoid the unsupported opsmgr gem that called the Ops Manager API from Ruby.
    • Confirm manually that the tile wires property blueprints to the expected pane and form controls in the UI.

Note: System tests might incur costs from using third party services, IaaS resources, etc.

Smoke Tests

Smoke tests are end-to-end lifecycle tests for service instances that you can include as post-deploy errands within a tile and also automate in Concourse or other integration platforms.

A typical smoke test runs as follows:

  1. Create an org and space for the test to run in.

  2. Register the tile’s service broker.

  3. Enable service access for the created org.

  4. Iterate through all service plans (or a subset of them) to do the following:

    1. Create a service instance for the plan.
    2. Push a test app.
    3. Bind the service instance to the app.
    4. Use the app in a way that exercises the service instance. For a data service, for example, write and read from the service instance.
    5. Unbind the service instance.
    6. Delete the service instance.
    7. Delete the test app.
  5. Delete the service broker.

  6. Delete the test org and space.

General Recommendations

The following are general recommendations for designing and running tests on PCF tiles:

  • Clean up after yourself. Leave the environment exactly as it was before the test was run.

  • Generate verbose logging with lots of contextual data to make troubleshooting easier.

  • Design test suites for re-usability by making them highly parameterizable. Important parameters include:

    • External settings such as domains, creds, and certs
    • Plans to test against. For example, the Redis for PCF smoke tests use identical code for two different service plans, pre-provisioned and on-demand.
    • Timeouts, numbers of retries, and other things that you need to adjust for different environments
    • Switches to include or exclude portions of the tests such as generating metrics or backups
  • Re-use tests that exist already, for example in Concourse.

  • Use an example CF app that uses your service. This app can serve for testing, demoing your tile capabilities, and as a code code example. See the MySQL Test App an example.

  • When testing manually, using the UI is better than calling the underlying API directly. Use UIs and APIs the way a customer would.

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