NL GOV profile for CloudEvents

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Gershon Jansen (VNG Realisatie)
Ad Gerrits (VNG Realisatie)
Edwin Wisse (Logius)
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This document is also available in these non-normative format: pdf

This document is an adaptation of the CloudEvents specification for describing event data in common formats to provide interoperability across services, platforms and systems. This does not indicate an endorsement by the CloudEvents working group. As far as the specification is incorporated in this document, the CloudEvents License applies.


1. Conformance

As well as sections marked as non-normative, all authoring guidelines, diagrams, examples, and notes in this specification are non-normative. Everything else in this specification is normative.

The key words MAY, MUST, MUST NOT, OPTIONAL, RECOMMENDED, REQUIRED, SHALL, SHALL NOT, SHOULD, and SHOULD NOT in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.


CloudEvents is a vendor neutral specification for defining the format of event data. This specification profiles the CloudEvents specification to standardize the automated exchange of information about events, specifically applicable to the Dutch government.

Status of This Document

This is a draft that could be altered, removed or replaced by other documents. It is not a recommendation approved by TO.

Note: the format used is the format used by the Logius Centrum voor standaarden (e.g. NL GOV Assurance profile for OAuth 2.0). This makes it easier for reviewers to assess things. The format may also be used to publish the profile in the future.

Dutch government profile for CloudEvents

This profile is based upon the CloudEvents 1.0.1 specification [CloudEvents] as published by the Serverless Working Group of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. It should be considered a fork of this profile as the CloudEvents specification is geared more towards generic use and in the Netherlands we want to add a number of requirements for the Dutch situation with the goal to agree on how to use the CloudEvents specification.

The goal of the CloudEvents specification is to define interoperability of event systems that allow services to produce or consume events, where the producer and consumer can be developed and deployed independently. The ability to keep services loosely coupled within a distributed system such as the Dutch government makes it possible to work more often and in a better event-driven way. Using the CE standard supports this and makes maximum use of existing worldwide standards.

The CloudEvents standard is based on the principle of not imposing more requirements on the parties involved than necessary. This means, among other things, that there are no requirements for how consumers should interpret and process received notifications. Constraints pertaining to consumers are therefore more often formulated with 'MAY' than with 'SHOULD' or 'MUST' (e.g. "Consumers MAY assume that Events with identical source and id are duplicates")) The GOV NL profile endorses this principle. In practice, the parties involved are of course allowed to apply stricter constraints.

We have added a number of Use Cases to illustrate the specific usage the CloudEvents-NL profile is aimed at. Starting with chapter Introduction we follow the structure of the CloudEvents profile. Where we do not use content from CloudEvents we use strikethrough to indicate it is not part of CloudEvents-NL. Where we have added more specific requirements for the Dutch situation this is indicated with the CloudEvents-NL tag.


Pubsub image
Figure 1 Publish-subscribe pattern


The basic pattern for use cases describes a (public/governmental) application in the role of 'producer' publishes 'events': data records expressing an occurrence and its context. Published events can be consumed by applications in the role of 'consumer'. Consumers are subscribed to receiving certain types of events. There may or may not be one or more applications in the rol of 'intermediary' that take care of routing events to consumers based on contextual information. The basic pattern used here is the publish-subscribe pattern.

Within this context, it concerns standardization of the automated exchange of event information via applications. In practice, agreements at business level are often also required between the parties involved.

A number of use cases have been described that clarify the use of the GOV NL profile.

2. Overview

Events are everywhere. However, event producers tend to describe events differently.

The lack of a common way of describing events means developers are constantly re-learning how to consume events. This also limits the potential for libraries, tooling and infrastructure to aid the delivery of event data across environments, like SDKs, event routers or tracing systems. The portability and productivity that can be achieved from event data is hindered overall.

CloudEvents is a specification for describing event data in common formats to provide interoperability across services, platforms and systems.

Event Formats specify how to serialize a CloudEvent with certain encoding formats. Compliant CloudEvents implementations that support those encodings MUST adhere to the encoding rules specified in the respective event format. All implementations MUST support the JSON format.

For more information on the history, development and design rationale behind the specification, see the CloudEvents Primer document.

3. Notations and Terminology

Notational Conventions

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

For clarity, when a feature is marked as "OPTIONAL" this means that it is OPTIONAL for both the Producer and Consumer of a message to support that feature. In other words, a producer can choose to include that feature in a message if it wants, and a consumer can choose to support that feature if it wants. A consumer that does not support that feature will then silently ignore that part of the message. The producer needs to be prepared for the situation where a consumer ignores that feature. An Intermediary SHOULD forward OPTIONAL attributes.


This specification defines the following terms:


An "occurrence" is the capture of a statement of fact during the operation of a software system. This might occur because of a signal raised by the system or a signal being observed by the system, because of a state change, because of a timer elapsing, or any other noteworthy activity. For example, a device might go into an alert state because the battery is low, or a virtual machine is about to perform a scheduled reboot.


An "event" is a data record expressing an occurrence and its context. Events are routed from an event producer (the source) to interested event consumers. The routing can be performed based on information contained in the event, but an event will not identify a specific routing destination. Events will contain two types of information: the Event Data representing the Occurrence and Context metadata providing contextual information about the Occurrence. A single occurrence MAY result in more than one event.


The "producer" is a specific instance, process or device that creates the data structure describing the CloudEvent.


The "source" is the context in which the occurrence happened. In a distributed system it might consist of multiple Producers. If a source is not aware of CloudEvents, an external producer creates the CloudEvent on behalf of the source.


A "consumer" receives the event and acts upon it. It uses the context and data to execute some logic, which might lead to the occurrence of new events.


An "intermediary" receives a message containing an event for the purpose of forwarding it to the next receiver, which might be another intermediary or a Consumer. A typical task for an intermediary is to route the event to receivers based on the information in the Context.


Context metadata will be encapsulated in the Context Attributes. Tools and application code can use this information to identify the relationship of Events to aspects of the system or to other Events.


Domain-specific information about the occurrence (i.e. the payload). This might include information about the occurrence, details about the data that was changed, or more. See the Event Data section for more information.

Event Format

An Event Format specifies how to serialize a CloudEvent as a sequence of bytes. Stand-alone event formats, such as the JSON format, specify serialization independent of any protocol or storage medium. Protocol Bindings MAY define formats that are dependent on the protocol.


Events are transported from a source to a destination via messages.

A "structured-mode message" is one where the event is fully encoded using a stand-alone event format and stored in the message body.

A "binary-mode message" is one where the event data is stored in the message body, and event attributes are stored as part of message meta-data.


Messages can be delivered through various industry standard protocol (e.g. HTTP, AMQP, MQTT, SMTP), open-source protocols (e.g. Kafka, NATS), or platform/vendor specific protocols (AWS Kinesis, Azure Event Grid).

Protocol Binding

A protocol binding describes how events are sent and received over a given protocol.

Protocol bindings MAY choose to use an Event Format to map an event directly to the transport envelope body, or MAY provide additional formatting and structure to the envelope. For example, a wrapper around a structured-mode message might be used, or several messages could be batched together into a transport envelope body.

4. Context Attributes

Every CloudEvent conforming to this specification MUST include context attributes designated as REQUIRED, MAY include one or more OPTIONAL context attributes and MAY include one or more extension attributes.

These attributes, while descriptive of the event, are designed such that they can be serialized independent of the event data. This allows for them to be inspected at the destination without having to deserialize the event data.

Attribute Naming Convention

The CloudEvents specifications define mappings to various protocols and encodings, and the accompanying CloudEvents SDK targets various runtimes and languages. Some of these treat metadata elements as case-sensitive while others do not, and a single CloudEvent might be routed via multiple hops that involve a mix of protocols, encodings, and runtimes. Therefore, this specification limits the available character set of all attributes such that case-sensitivity issues or clashes with the permissible character set for identifiers in common languages are prevented.

CloudEvents attribute names MUST consist of lower-case letters ('a' to 'z') or digits ('0' to '9') from the ASCII character set. Attribute names SHOULD be descriptive and terse and SHOULD NOT exceed 20 characters in length.

Type System

The following abstract data types are available for use in attributes. Each of these types MAY be represented differently by different event formats and in protocol metadata fields. This specification defines a canonical string-encoding for each type that MUST be supported by all implementations.

All context attribute values MUST be of one of the types listed above. Attribute values MAY be presented as native types or canonical strings.

A strongly-typed programming model that represents a CloudEvent or any extension MUST be able to convert from and to the canonical string-encoding to the runtime/language native type that best corresponds to the abstract type.

For example, the time attribute might be represented by the language's native datetime type in a given implementation, but it MUST be settable providing an RFC3339 string, and it MUST be convertible to an RFC3339 string when mapped to a header of an HTTP message.

A CloudEvents protocol binding or event format implementation MUST likewise be able to convert from and to the canonical string-encoding to the corresponding data type in the encoding or in protocol metadata fields.

An attribute value of type Timestamp might indeed be routed as a string through multiple hops and only materialize as a native runtime/language type at the producer and ultimate consumer. The Timestamp might also be routed as a native protocol type and might be mapped to/from the respective language/runtime types at the producer and consumer ends, and never materialize as a string.

The choice of serialization mechanism will determine how the context attributes and the event data will be serialized. For example, in the case of a JSON serialization, the context attributes and the event data might both appear within the same JSON object.

REQUIRED Attributes

The following attributes are REQUIRED to be present in all CloudEvents:










OPTIONAL Attributes

The following attributes are OPTIONAL to appear in CloudEvents. See the Notational Conventions section for more information on the definition of OPTIONAL.













Extension Context Attributes

A CloudEvent MAY include any number of additional context attributes with distinct names, known as "extension attributes". Extension attributes MUST follow the same naming convention and use the same type system as standard attributes. Extension attributes have no defined meaning in this specification, they allow external systems to attach metadata to an event, much like HTTP custom headers.

Extension attributes are always serialized according to binding rules like standard attributes. However this specification does not prevent an extension from copying event attribute values to other parts of a message, in order to interact with non-CloudEvents systems that also process the message. Extension specifications that do this SHOULD specify how receivers are to interpret messages if the copied values differ from the cloud-event serialized values.

Defining Extensions

See CloudEvent Attributes Extensions for additional information concerning the use and definition of extensions.

The definition of an extension SHOULD fully define all aspects of the attribute - e.g. its name, type, semantic meaning and possible values. New extension definitions SHOULD use a name that is descriptive enough to reduce the chances of name collisions with other extensions. In particular, extension authors SHOULD check the documented extensions document for the set of known extensions - not just for possible name conflicts but for extensions that might be of interest.

Many protocols support the ability for senders to include additional metadata, for example as HTTP headers. While a CloudEvents receiver is not mandated to process and pass them along, it is RECOMMENDED that they do so via some mechanism that makes it clear they are non-CloudEvents metadata.

Here is an example that illustrates the need for additional attributes. In many IoT and enterprise use cases, an event could be used in a serverless application that performs actions across multiple types of events. To support such use cases, the event producer will need to add additional identity attributes to the "context attributes" which the event consumers can use to correlate this event with the other events. If such identity attributes happen to be part of the event "data", the event producer would also add the identity attributes to the "context attributes" so that event consumers can easily access this information without needing to decode and examine the event data. Such identity attributes can also be used to help intermediate gateways determine how to route the events.




The following example shows a CloudEvent in which the event producer has included both data and dataref (serialized as JSON):

    "specversion" : "1.0",
    "type" : "com.github.pull_request.opened",
    "source" : "",
    "id" : "A234-1234-1234",
    "datacontenttype" : "text/xml",
    "data" : "<much wow="\&quot;xml\&quot;/">",
    "dataref" : ""



This extension defines two attributes that can be included within a CloudEvent to describe the position of an event in the ordered sequence of events produced by a unique event source. The sequence attribute represents the value of this event's order in the stream of events. The exact value and meaning of this attribute is defined by the sequencetype attribute. If the sequencetype is missing, or not defined in this specification, event consumers will need to have some out-of-band communication with the event producer to understand how to interpret the value of the attribute.




SequenceType Values

This specification defines the following values for sequencetype. Additional values MAY be defined by other specifications.


If the sequencetype is set to Integer, the sequence attribute has the following semantics:


5. Event Data

As defined by the term Data, CloudEvents MAY include domain-specific information about the occurrence. When present, this information will be encapsulated within data.

6. Size Limits

In many scenarios, CloudEvents will be forwarded through one or more generic intermediaries, each of which might impose limits on the size of forwarded events. CloudEvents might also be routed to consumers, like embedded devices, that are storage or memory-constrained and therefore would struggle with large singular events.

The "size" of an event is its wire-size and includes every bit that is transmitted on the wire for the event: protocol frame-metadata, event metadata, and event data, based on the chosen event format and the chosen protocol binding.

If an application configuration requires for events to be routed across different protocols or for events to be re-encoded, the least efficient protocol and encoding used by the application SHOULD be considered for compliance with these size constraints:

In effect, these rules will allow producers to publish events up to 64KB in size safely. Safely here means that it is generally reasonable to expect the event to be accepted and retransmitted by all intermediaries. It is in any particular consumer's control, whether it wants to accept or reject events of that size due to local considerations.

Generally, CloudEvents publishers SHOULD keep events compact by avoiding embedding large data items into event payloads and rather use the event payload to link to such data items. From an access control perspective, this approach also allows for a broader distribution of events, because accessing event-related details through resolving links allows for differentiated access control and selective disclosure, rather than having sensitive details embedded in the event directly.

7. Advanced CloudEvents Security Options

Interoperability is the primary driver behind this specification, enabling such behavior requires some information to be made available in the clear resulting in the potential for information leakage.

Consider the following to prevent inadvertent leakage especially when leveraging 3rd party platforms and communication networks:

8. Example

The following example shows a CloudEvent serialized as JSON:

    "specversion" : "1.0",
    "type" : "com.github.pull_request.opened",
    "source" : "",
    "subject" : "123",
    "id" : "A234-1234-1234",
    "time" : "2018-04-05T17:31:00Z",
    "comexampleextension1" : "value",
    "comexampleothervalue" : 5,
    "datacontenttype" : "text/xml",
    "data" : "<much wow="\&quot;xml\&quot;/">"


In the example below, a number of agreements are visible as they apply within the CloudEvents-NL profile. In order to show as much things as possible, this is done in the form of a very extensive message. In minimal form, a message contains only four mandatory attributes: id, source, specversion and type. For more information about a particular attribute, see the detailed attribute description.

  "specversion": "1.0",
  "type": "nl.overheid.zaken.zaakstatus-gewijzigd",
  "source": "urn:nld:oin:00000001823288444000:systeem:BRP-component",
  "subject": "123456789",
  "id": "f3dce042-cd6e-4977-844d-05be8dce7cea",
  "time": "2021-12-10T17:31:00Z",
  "nlbrpnationaliteit": "0083",
  "geheimnummer": null,
  "dataref": "https://gemeenteX/api/persoon/123456789",
  "sequence": "1234",
  "sequencetype": "integer",
  "datacontenttype": "application/json",
  "data": {
    "bsn": "1234567789",
    "naam": "Jan Jansen",
    "gecontroleerd": "ja"
Attribute Explanation
  specversion Always '1.0'
  type Reverse DNS notation
  source Urn notation with 'nld' namespace identifier
  subject BSN as example; yet to be seen if and how attribute 'subject' will be used
  id Uuid (unique)
  time Time when event was recorded
  nlbrpnationaliteit Extension attribute with a BRP-domain specific meaning
  geheimnummer Extension attribute, to be treated as the equivalent of unset or omitted
  dataref Extension attribute with a reference to where to get additional information
  sequence Extension attribute with an event tracking number
  sequencetype Extension attribut with indication of the type of sequence used
  datacontenttype Indication of content type in attribute 'data'
  data Content information for consumer ('payload')

Attribute names meet the CloudEvents specification requirements:

9. Appendix 1: Use of JSON, HTTP and Webhook

This appendix describes how the CloudEvent-NL profile can be applied when using the JSON format, the HTTP protocol and the Webhook pattern.

The CloudEvent-NL message format can be used when using different formats and protocols. CloudEvents has a layered architecture for this. In order to be able to use the GOV-NL profile properly in practice, agreements must also be made when a certain format and/or protocol is used.

In addition to the CloudEvent specification the Serverless Working Group has described for several commonly used formats and protocols how they can be used in a standardized way in combination with the CloudEvents message format.

Within the Dutch government, frequent use is made of the JSON format, the HTTP protocol and the Webhook pattern for data exchange. For example, a common way to send events to consumers is to use the webhook pattern where a message in JSON format is sent via the HTTP protocol. Further standardization than just event description via the NL GOV profile therefore benefits most from agreements around these 3 areas. In addition to standardization through the use of the NL GOV profile, we therefore work towards standardization on exchanging event information when using JSON, HTTP and Webhook.

The NL GOV profile is intended to be used as a government-wide standard. This does not yet apply to the additional specification for the use of JSON, HTTP and Webhook. The specifications for them have the character of 'guidelines' ("a statement by which to determine a course of action", Wikipedia).

Similar to what happened in the NL GOV profile for the CloudEvents specification, the guidelines make recommendations about the use of the specifications within the context of the Dutch government. These are intended to make use of the specifications more unambiguous and to work towards standardisation in the long term.

For the time being, the following constraints apply:

10. List of Figures

A. References


A.1 Normative references

CloudEvents - Version 1.0.1. @@@. @@@. May 2011. URL:
Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels. S. Bradner. IETF. March 1997. Best Current Practice. URL:
Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words. B. Leiba. IETF. May 2017. Best Current Practice. URL:
Logius Standard - Draft