Writing new DNS providers

Writing a new DNS provider is a relatively straightforward process. You essentially need to implement the providers.DNSServiceProvider interface. and the system takes care of the rest.
Please do note that if you submit a new provider you will be assigned bugs related to the provider in the future (unless you designate someone else as the maintainer). More details here.


I'll ignore all the small stuff and get to the point.
A provider's GetDomainCorrections() function is the workhorse of the provider. It is what gets called by dnscontrol preview and dnscontrol push.
How does a provider's GetDomainCorrections() function work?
The goal of GetDomainCorrections() is to return a list of corrections. Each correction is a text string describing the change ("Delete CNAME record foo") and a function that, if called, will make the change (i.e. call the API and delete record foo). Preview mode simply prints the text strings. dnscontrol push prints the strings and calls the functions. Because of how Go's functions work, the function will have everything it needs to make the change. Pretty cool, eh?
So how does GetDomainCorrections() work?
First, some terminology: The DNS records specified in the dnsconfig.js file are called the "desired" records. The DNS records stored at the DNS service provider are called the "existing" records.
Every provider does the same basic process. The function GetDomainCorrections() is called with a list of the desired DNS records (dc.Records). It then contacts the provider's API and gathers the existing records. It converts the existing records into a list of *models.RecordConfig.
Now that it has the desired and existing records in the appropriate format, differ.IncrementalDiff(existingRecords) is called and does all the hard work of understanding the DNS records and figuring out what changes need to be made. It generates lists of adds, deletes, and changes.
GetDomainCorrections() then generates the list of models.Corrections() and returns. DNSControl takes care of the rest.
So, what does all this mean?
It basically means that writing a provider is as simple as writing code that (1) downloads the existing records, (2) converts each records into models.RecordConfig, (3) write functions that perform adds, changes, and deletions.
If you are new to Go, there are plenty of providers you can copy from. In fact, many non-Go programmers have learned Go by contributing to DNSControl.
Oh, and what if the API simply requires that the entire zonefile be uploaded every time? We still generate the text descriptions of the changes (so that dnscontrol preview looks nice) but the functions are just no-ops, except for one that uploads the new zonefile.
Now that you understand the general process, here are the details.

Step 1: General advice

A provider can be a DnsProvider, a Registrar, or both. We recommend you write the DnsProvider first, release it, and then write the Registrar if needed.
If you have any questions, please discuss them in the GitHub issue related to the request for this provider. Please let us know what was confusing so we can update this document with advice for future authors (or even better, update this document yourself.)

Step 2: Pick a base provider

Pick a similar provider as your base. Providers basically fall into three general categories:
  • zone: The API requires you to upload the entire zone every time. (BIND, NAMECHEAP).
  • incremental-record: The API lets you add/change/delete individual DNS records. (CLOUDFLARE, DNSIMPLE, NAMEDOTCOM, GCLOUD, HEXONET)
  • incremental-label: Like incremental-record, but if there are multiple records on a label (for example, example www.example.com has A and MX records), you have to replace all the records at that label. (GANDI_V5)
  • incremental-label-type: Like incremental-record, but updates to any records at a label have to be done by type. For example, if a label (www.example.com) has many A and MX records, even the smallest change to one of the A records requires replacing all the A records. Any changes to the MX records requires replacing all the MX records. If an A record is converted to a CNAME, one must remove all the A records in one call, and add the CNAME record with another call. This is deceptively difficult to get right; if you have the choice between incremental-label-type and incremental-label, pick incremental-label. (DESEC, ROUTE53)
  • registrar only: These providers are registrars but do not provide DNS service. (EASYNAME, INTERNETBS, OPENSRS)
All DNS providers use the "diff" module to detect differences. It takes two zones and returns records that are unchanged, created, deleted, and modified. The zone providers use the information to print a human-readable list of what is being changed, but upload the entire new zone. The incremental providers use the differences to update individual records or recordsets.

Step 3: Create the driver skeleton

Create a directory for the provider called providers/name where name is all lowercase and represents the commonly-used name for the service.
The main driver should be called providers/name/nameProvider.go. The API abstraction is usually in a separate file (often called api.go).

Step 4: Activate the driver

Edit providers/_all/all.go. Add the provider list so DNSControl knows it exists.

Step 5: Implement

If you are implementing a DNS Service Provider:
Implement all the calls in the providers.DNSServiceProvider interface.
The function GetDomainCorrections() is a bit interesting. It returns a list of corrections to be made. These are in the form of functions that DNSControl can call to actually make the corrections.
If you are implementing a DNS Registrar:
Implement all the calls in the providers.Registrar interface.
The function GetRegistrarCorrections() returns a list of corrections to be made. These are in the form of functions that DNSControl can call to actually make the corrections.

Step 6: Unit Test

Make sure the existing unit tests work. Add unit tests for any complex algorithms in the new code.
Run the unit tests with this command:
cd dnscontrol
go test ./...

Step 7: Integration Test

This is the most important kind of testing when adding a new provider. Integration tests use a test account and a real domain.
For example, this will run the tests using BIND:
cd dnscontrol/integrationTest
go test -v -verbose -provider BIND
(BIND is a good place to start since it doesn't require any API keys.)
This will run the tests on Amazon AWS Route53:
export R53_DOMAIN=dnscontroltest-r53.com # Use a test domain.
go test -v -verbose -provider ROUTE53
Some useful go test flags:
  • Slow tests? Add -timeout n to increase the timeout for tests
    • go test kills the tests after 10 minutes by default. Some providers need more time.
    • This flag must be before the -verbose flag. Usually it is the first flag after go test.
    • Example: go test -timeout 20m -v -verbose -provider CLOUDFLAREAPI
  • Run only certain tests using the -start and -end flags.
    • Rather than running all the tests, run just the tests you want.
    • These flags must be after the -provider FOO flag.
    • Example: go test -v -verbose -provider ROUTE53 -start 10 -end 20 run tests 10-20 inclusive.
    • Example: go test -v -verbose -provider ROUTE53 -start 5 -end 5 runs only test 5.
    • Example: go test -v -verbose -provider ROUTE53 -start 20 skip the first 19 tests.
    • Example: go test -v -verbose -provider ROUTE53 -end 20 only run the first 20 tests.
  • If a test will always fail because the provider doesn't support the feature, you can opt out of the test. Look at func makeTests() in integrationTest/integration_test.go for more details.

Step 8: Manual tests

There is a potential bug in how TXT records are handled. Sadly we haven't found an automated way to test for this bug. The manual steps are here in docs/testing-txt-records.md

Step 9: Update docs

  • Edit README.md: Add the provider to the bullet list.
  • Edit docs/providers.md: Add the provider to the provider list.
  • Create docs/providers/PROVIDERNAME.md: Use one of the other files in that directory as a base.
  • Edit OWNERS: Add the directory name and your GitHub username.

Step 10: Submit a PR

At this point you can submit a PR.
Actually you can submit the PR even earlier if you just want feedback, input, or have questions. This is just a good stopping place to submit a PR if you haven't already.

Step 11: Capabilities

Some DNS providers have features that others do not. For example some support the SRV record. A provider announces what it can do using the capabilities system.
If a provider doesn't advertise a particular capability, the integration test system skips the appropriate tests. Therefore you might want to initially develop the provider with no particular capabilities advertised and code until all the integration tests work. Then enable capabilities one at a time to finish off the project.
Don't feel obligated to implement everything at once. In fact, we'd prefer a few small PRs than one big one. Focus on getting the basic provider working well before adding these extras.
Operational features have names like providers.CanUseSRV and providers.CanUseAlias. The list of optional "capabilities" are in the file dnscontrol/providers/providers.go (look for CanUseAlias).
Capabilities are processed early by DNSControl. For example if a provider doesn't support SRV records, DNSControl will error out when parsing dnscontrol.js rather than waiting until the API fails at the very end.
Enable optional capabilities in the nameProvider.go file and run the integration tests to see what works and what doesn't. Fix any bugs and repeat, repeat, repeat until you have all the capabilities you want to implement.
FYI: If a provider's capabilities changes, run go generate to update the documentation.

Step 12: Clean up

Run "go vet" and "golint" and clean up any errors found.
go vet ./...
golint ./...
Please use go vet from the newest release of Go.
If golint isn't installed on your machine:
go get -u golang.org/x/lint/golint

Step 13: Dependencies

See docs/release-engineering.md for tips about managing modules and checking for outdated dependencies.

Step 14: Check your work

Here are some last-minute things to check before you submit your PR.
  1. 1.
    Run go generate to make sure all generated files are fresh.
  2. 2.
    Make sure all appropriate documentation is current. (See Step 8)
  3. 3.
    Check that dependencies are current (See Step 13)
  4. 4.
    Re-run the integration test one last time (See Step 7)

Step 15: After the PR is merged

  1. 1.
    Remove the "provider-request" label from the PR.
  2. 2.
    Verify that docs/providers.md no longer shows the provider as "requested"