Skip to content vs. Helmfile: Managing Kubernetes Helm Charts

Kubernetes, with its dynamic and versatile nature, requires efficient tools to manage its deployments. Two tools that have gained significant attention for this purpose are and Helmfile. Both are designed to manage Kubernetes Helm charts but with varying focuses and features. This article offers a comparative analysis of and Helmfile, spotlighting their respective strengths.

1. Introduction

  • A versatile tool designed for managing cloud-native infrastructures with declarative manifests, known as stack templates.
  • Integrates with various technologies, including Terraform modules, Kubernetes manifests, Helm charts, and more.
  • Promotes a unified approach to deploying, testing, and distributing infrastructure components.


  • A declarative specification for deploying and synchronizing Helm charts.
  • Provides automation and workflow tooling around the Helm tool, making it easier to deploy and manage Helm charts across several clusters or environments.

2. Core Features & Abilities

Declarative Manifests

  • Uses stack templates, allowing integration with various technologies. This versatility makes suitable for describing and deploying an entire infrastructure.

  • Helmfile: Uses a specific declarative structure for Helm charts. Helmfile's helmfile.yaml describes the desired state of Helm releases, promoting consistent deployments across environments.

Integration and Flexibility

  • Supports a wide array of technologies beyond Helm, such as Terraform and Kubernetes manifests. This broad scope makes it suitable for diverse cloud-native projects.

  • Helmfile: Exclusively focuses on Helm, providing tailored utilities, commands, and functions that enhance the Helm experience.

Configuration Management

  • Uses stack templates to handle configurations, integrating them with the respective technology modules. For Helm, it provides a dedicated "helm" unit type.

  • Helmfile: Employs helmfile.yaml, where users can specify Helm chart details, dependencies, repositories, and values. Helmfile also supports templating and layering of values, providing powerful configuration management.

Workflow and Automation

  • Offers a GitOps Development experience across different technologies, ensuring consistent deployment practices.

  • Helmfile: Provides a suite of commands (apply, sync, diff, etc.) tailored for Helm workflows, making it easy to manage Helm releases in an automated manner.

Values and Templating

  • Supports values templating for Helm units, and offers functions like remoteState and insertYAML for dynamic inputs.

  • Helmfile: Robustly supports values templating, with features like environment-specific value files and Go templating. It allows for dynamic generation of values based on the environment or external commands.

3. Ideal Use Cases

  • Large-scale cloud-native projects integrating various technologies.
  • Unified deployment and management of multi-technology stacks.
  • Organizations aiming for a consistent GitOps approach across their stack.


  • Projects heavily reliant on Helm for deployments.
  • Organizations needing advanced configuration management for Helm charts.
  • Scenarios requiring repetitive and consistent Helm chart deployments across various clusters or environments.

4. Conclusion and Helmfile, while both capable of managing Helm charts, cater to different spectrums of the Kubernetes deployment landscape. aims for a holistic approach to cloud-native infrastructure management, integrating various technologies. Helmfile, on the other hand, delves deep into Helm's ecosystem, offering advanced tooling for Helm chart management.

Your choice between the two should depend on the specifics of your infrastructure needs, the technologies you're predominantly using, and your desired management granularity.

Note: Always consider evaluating the tools in your specific context, and it may even be beneficial to use them in tandem if they fit the project's requirements.