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Core Concepts

For users of Heighliner, there are certain concepts which are central to its design and functionality. We will explain these core concepts in the following.


A stack is a collection of execution plans to one-command setup the development environment. The plan is written as a CUE program. The benefits of CUE is that it is a declarative language and expose high level APIs to abstract away the underlying implementation.

A stack comes with inputs/outputs interfaces to interact with. For example, you can specify your own GitHub token, kubeconfig, etc. After you specify the input and execute the plan, it will produce outputs like the public DNS name of your app.

Here's an example:

package github

import (

#Instance: {
input: #Input

_file: core.#Source & {
path: "terraform"

_copy: docker.#Copy & {
"input": input.image
contents: _file.output
dest: "/terraform"

src: core.#Source & {
path: "."

do: bash.#Run & {
env: {
GITHUB_TOKEN: input.personalAccessToken
GITHUB_ORGANIZATION: input.organization
VISIBILITY: input.visibility
// for terraform
TF_VAR_github_token: input.personalAccessToken
TF_VAR_organization: input.organization
TF_VAR_namespace: "default"
TF_VAR_secret_suffix: strings.ToLower(input.organization)
// for terraform backend
mounts: kubeconfig: {
dest: "/kubeconfig"
contents: input.kubeconfig
always: true
"input": _copy.output
workdir: "/scaffold"
script: {
directory: src.output
filename: ""
output: #Output & {
image: do.output

#Input: {
organization: string
personalAccessToken: dagger.#Secret
image: docker.#Image
visibility: string
kubeconfig: dagger.#Secret

#Output: {
image: docker.#Image
success: bool | *true

For users, you can choose a specific stack (e.g. Go-Gin, Spring, Remix), and Heighliner will orchestrate the environment setup. It will automatically optimize for your apps with cloud native best practice.

For more details and examples, please refer to the Stack page.


An application is a collection of services, secrets, and resources that are instantiated by a stack. It includes things like Github repos, CI/CD pipelines, deployments, ingress routing, monitoring dashboards, middlewares, etc. These are all encoded in stacks and orchestrated by Heighliner.


A service is a tightly-coupled component unit that serves for a single purpose. For example, frontend service, backend service, database service, prometheus service, etc.


A component is a definition unit that defines a series of behaviors to achieve a single purpose. For example, a spring framework component, a prometheus component. It will be used to create a service.