Big News!  Tilt is joining Docker

Resource Dependencies

Tilt defines your dev environment as a list of resources.

How Tilt Brings up Resources

While a Tilt environment is running, you can use the CLI to explore the list of resources that Tilt is aware of. This command will print all the resources in the UI:

tilt get uiresources

Here’s example output of what this might look like:

$ tilt get uiresources
docs-site    2021-10-19T19:51:21Z
make-api     2021-10-19T19:51:21Z
(Tiltfile)   2021-10-19T19:51:21Z

Tilt will try to start up the resources as fast as it’s safe to do so. Here’s the heuristic it uses by default:

  • Run the Tiltfile to create resources.

  • Run local_resource definitions first.

  • Run one local_resource at a time (so that they can’t step on each others’ local output).

  • Run up to 3 image build and deploys at a time in parallel (for both Kubernetes resources and Docker Compose resources). Make educated guesses about the correct order of resources and which can be run in parallel based on the YAML.

  • Continue until all resources have been built.

Sometimes the right startup order depends on application logic that Tilt can’t guess! For example, you might have a resource frontend that requires a running database before it starts.

This can lead to distracting errors on startup (especially, e.g., if you have 5 services all depending on the same backend!)

That’s why Tilt gives you a way to specify startup order manually.

Adding resource_deps for Startup Order

Tilt has 3 built-in functions for configuring a resource:

  • local_resource (for local jobs and servers)

  • dc_resource (for docker compose services)

  • k8s_resource (for Kubernetes workloads - see Tiltfile concepts for more details about how YAML is divided into workloads)

All 3 functions have a resource_deps argument. To specify that frontend depends on database:

k8s_resource('frontend', resource_deps=['database'])

This has two effects:

  1. frontend will not be deployed until database has been ready at least once since Tilt was started.

  2. If you run tilt up frontend to run only the frontend resource, that also implicitly brings up all of frontend’s transitive dependencies.

Adding Readiness Checks for Startup Waiting

Once a resource is ready, Tilt will start building the resources that depend on it.

By default, a resource is “ready” when:

  • For k8s_resource: the pod is running and Kubernetes considers all of its containers ready. A job is considered ready when it has completed.

  • For dc_resource: the container is started (NB: Tilt doesn’t currently observe docker-compose health checks).

  • For local_resource: the command has succeeded at least once.

But Tilt also has ways to customize the definition of readiness. This will change both when dependent servers start building, and how the servers show up in the UI.

Kubernetes Readiness Checks

Kubernetes has a built-in notion of readiness. Tilt will use the built-in readiness probe when it’s available.

For any Kubernetes object type, including built-ins and CRDs, that creates pods, Tilt will consider it ready when the pod is running and all of its containers are ready. The exception to this rule is jobs, which are considered ready by Tilt when the job has completed.

If an object does not create pods, there isn’t a way for Tilt to determine readiness. Instead, you’ll want to configure the resource to let Tilt know that it shouldn’t try to use pods to determine readiness. Resources configured to ignore pods for readiness will appear as ready in the Tilt UI as soon as they are applied to the Kubernetes cluster.

To ignore pod readiness:

k8s_resource('frontend', pod_readiness='ignore')

If you’re using custom Kubernetes resources, you can also specify the default readiness settings for a particular API Kind. See the Custom Resource Definition guide for more info.

Local Resource Readiness Checks

local_resource allows you to define readiness probes for servers running locally.

The API borrows liberally from the Kubernetes readiness probe API.

Read the guide to Local Resource Readiness Probes for more info.


By default, image build and deploys can run 3 at a time (for both k8s_resource and dc_resource). To change this setting, you can set the max_parallel_updates option in update_settings.

To allow 10 in parallel:


To force all deploys to happen in serial:


To run local_resource commands in parallel, you will need to manually mark the resource as parallelizable:

local_resource(name, cmd, allow_parallel=True)

See the local_resource guide for more info.

Other Types of Dependencies

Resource dependencies are designed to help when different versions of services are broadly compatible with each other.

They focus on ensuring that some instance of a resource’s dependencies exist. They are not concerned with whether it’s a current version.

For this reason, resource_deps currently only affects the first build after a tilt up. Once any version of database has been running at least once, its dependencies are unblocked to build for the rest of Tilt’s lifetime.

For discussions on other types of dependencies in Tilt that could exist in the future, see these issues: