Tiers of Support in Wasmtime

Wasmtime's support for platforms and features can be distinguished with three different tiers of support. The description of these tiers are intended to be inspired by the Rust compiler's support tiers for targets but are additionally tailored for Wasmtime. Wasmtime's tiered support additionally applies not only to platforms/targets themselves but additionally features implemented within Wasmtime itself.

The purpose of this document is to provide a means by which to evaluate the inclusion of new features and support for existing features within Wasmtime. This should not be used to "lawyer" a change into Wasmtime on a precise technical detail or similar since this document is itself not 100% precise and will change over time.

Current Tier Status

For explanations of what each tier means see below.

Tier 1

CategoryDescription
Targetx86_64-apple-darwin
Targetx86_64-pc-windows-msvc
Targetx86_64-unknown-linux-gnu
WASI Proposalwasi_snapshot_preview1
WASI Proposalwasi_unstable
WebAssembly Proposalbulk-memory
WebAssembly Proposalreference-types
WebAssembly Proposalsimd

Tier 2

CategoryDescriptionMissing Tier 1 Requirements
Targetaarch64-unknown-linux-gnuContinuous fuzzing
Targets390x-unknown-linux-gnuContinuous fuzzing
Targetx86_64-pc-windows-gnuClear owner of the target
WebAssembly Proposalmemory64Unstable wasm proposal
WebAssembly Proposalmulti-memoryUnstable wasm proposal

Tier 3

CategoryDescriptionMissing Tier 2 Requirements
Targetaarch64-apple-darwinCI testing
WASI Proposalwasi-nnMore expansive CI testing
WASI Proposalwasi-cryptoCI testing, clear owner
WebAssembly ProposalthreadsComplete implementation
WebAssembly Proposalcomponent-modelComplete implementation
miscNon-Wasmtime Cranelift usage 1CI testing, full-time maintainer
miscDWARF debugging 2CI testing, full-time maintainer, improved quality
1

This is intended to encompass features that Cranelift supports as a general-purpose code generator such as integer value types other than i32 and i64, non-Wasmtime calling conventions, code model settings, relocation restrictions, etc. These features aren't covered by Wasmtime's usage of Cranelift because the WebAssembly instruction set doesn't leverage them. This means that they receive far less testing and fuzzing than the parts of Cranelift exercised by Wasmtime.

2

Currently there is no active maintainer of DWARF debugging support and support is currently best-effort. Additionally there are known shortcomings and bugs. At this time there's no developer time to improve the situation here as well.

Tier Details

Wasmtime's precise definitions of tiers are not guaranteed to be constant over time, so these descriptions are likely to change over time. Tier 1 is classified as the highest level of support, confidence, and correctness for a component. Each tier additionally encompasses all the guarantees of previous tiers.

Features classified under a particular tier may already meet the criteria for later tiers as well. In situations like this it's not intended to use these guidelines to justify removal of a feature at any one point in time. Guidance is provided here for phasing out unmaintained features but it should be clear under what circumstances work "can be avoided" for each tier.

Tier 3 - Not Production Ready

The general idea behind Tier 3 is that this is the baseline for inclusion of code into the Wasmtime project. This is not intended to be a catch-all "if a patch is sent it will be merged" tier. Instead the goal of this tier is to outline what is expected of contributors adding new features to Wasmtime which might be experimental at the time of addition. This is intentionally not a relaxed tier of restrictions but already implies a significant commitment of effort to a feature being included within Wasmtime.

Tier 3 features include:

  • Inclusion of a feature does not impose unnecessary maintenance overhead on other components/features. Some examples of additions to Wasmtime which would not be accepted are:

    • An experimental feature doubles the time of CI for all PRs.
    • A change which makes it significantly more difficult to architecturally change Wasmtime's internal implementation.
    • A change which makes building Wasmtime more difficult for unrelated developers.

    In general Tier 3 features are off-by-default at compile time but still tested-by-default on CI.

  • New features of Wasmtime cannot have major known bugs at the time of inclusion. Landing a feature in Wasmtime requires the feature to be correct and bug-free as best can be evaluated at the time of inclusion. Inevitably bugs will be found and that's ok, but anything identified during review must be addressed.

  • Code included into the Wasmtime project must be of an acceptable level of quality relative to the rest of the code in Wasmtime.

  • There must be a path to a feature being finished at the time of inclusion. Adding a new backend to Cranelift for example is a significant undertaking which may not be able to be done in a single PR. Partial implementations of a feature are acceptable so long as there's a clear path forward and schedule for completing the feature.

  • New components in Wasmtime must have a clearly identified owner who is willing to be "on the hook" for review, updates to the internals of Wasmtime, etc. For example a new backend in Cranelift would need to have a maintainer who is willing to respond to changes in Cranelift's interfaces and the needs of Wasmtime.

This baseline level of support notably does not require any degree of testing, fuzzing, or verification. As a result components classified as Tier 3 are generally not production-ready as they have not been battle-tested much.

Features classified as Tier 3 may be disabled in CI or removed from the repository as well. If a Tier 3 feature is preventing development of other features then the owner will be notified. If no response is heard from within a week then the feature will be disabled in CI. If no further response happens for a month then the feature may be removed from the repository.

Tier 2 - Almost Production Ready

This tier is meant to encompass features and components of Wasmtime which are well-maintained, tested well, but don't necessarily meet the stringent criteria for Tier 1. Features in this category may already be "production ready" and safe to use.

Tier 2 features include:

  • Tests are run in CI for the Wasmtime project for this feature and everything passes. For example a Tier 2 platform runs in CI directly or via emulation. Features are otherwise fully tested on CI.

  • Complete implementations for anything that's part of Tier 1. For example all Tier 2 targets must implement all of the Tier 1 WebAssembly proposals, and all Tier 2 features must be implemented on all Tier 1 targets.

  • All existing developers are expected to handle minor changes which affect Tier 2 components. For example if Cranelift's interfaces change then the developer changing the interface is expected to handle the changes for Tier 2 architectures so long as the affected part is relatively minor. Note that if a more substantial change is required to a Tier 2 component then that falls under the next bullet.

  • Maintainers of a Tier 2 feature are responsive (reply to requests within a week) and are available to accommodate architectural changes that affect their component. For example more expansive work beyond the previous bullet where contributors can't easily handle changes are expected to be guided or otherwise implemented by Tier 2 maintainers.

  • Major changes otherwise requiring an RFC that affect Tier 2 components are required to consult Tier 2 maintainers in the course of the RFC. Major changes to Tier 2 components themselves do not require an RFC, however.

Features at this tier generally are not turned off or disabled for very long. Maintainers are already required to be responsive to changes and will be notified of any unrelated change which affects their component. It's recommended that if a component breaks for one reason or another due to an unrelated change that the maintainer either contributes to the PR-in-progress or otherwise has a schedule for the implementation of the feature.

Tier 1 - Production Ready

This tier is intended to be the highest level of support in Wasmtime for any particular feature, indicating that it is suitable for production environments. This conveys a high level of confidence in the Wasmtime project about the specified features.

Tier 1 features include:

  • Continuous fuzzing is required for WebAssembly proposals. This means that any WebAssembly proposal must have support in the wasm-smith crate and existing fuzz targets must be running and exercising the new code paths. Where possible differential fuzzing should also be implemented to compare results with other implementations.

  • Continuous fuzzing is required for the architecture of supported targets. For example currently there are three x86_64 targets that are considered Tier 1 but only x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu is fuzzed.

  • CVEs and security releases will be performed as necessary for any bugs found in features and targets.

  • Major changes affecting this component may require help from maintainers with specialized expertise, but otherwise it should be reasonable to expect most Wasmtime developers to be able to maintain Tier 1 features.

  • Major changes affecting Tier 1 features require an RFC and prior agreement on the change before an implementation is committed.

A major inclusion point for this tier is intended to be the continuous fuzzing of Wasmtime. This implies a significant commitment of resources for fixing issues, hardware to execute Wasmtime, etc. Additionally this tier comes with the broadest expectation of "burden on everyone else" in terms of what changes everyone is generally expected to handle.

Features classified as Tier 1 are rarely, if ever, turned off or removed from Wasmtime.