Realms (Components v2)


A realm is a subtree of the component instance tree. Every component instance is the root instance of a realm, known as the “component instance's realm”, which is closely associated with the component instance.

Component instances may contain children. Each child component instance in turn defines its own sub-realm. The union of these sub-realms, along with the parent component instance, is equivalent to a subtree. Therefore, it is common to conceive of a realm as a component instance along with its set of children.

Realms play a special role in the component framework. A realm is an encapsulation boundary for component instances. This means:

  • Realms act as a capability boundary. It's up to the realm to decide whether a capability originating in the realm can be routed to component instances outside of the realm. This is accomplished through an expose declaration in a component manifest.
  • The internal structure of a sub-realm is opaque to the parent component instance. For example, the sub-realm could be structured either as one or multiple component instances, and from the perspective of the parent component instance this looks the same as long as the sub-realm exposes the same set of capabilities.

A realm also acts as an ownership boundary, that is, a child component instance is the root of a sub-realm which is owned by the parent, who controls its existence. See Child component instances for more information.


This section contains definitions for basic terminology about realms.

  • A realm is a subtree of the component instance tree.
  • A child component instance is a component instance that is owned by another instance, the parent.
  • A sub-realm is the realm corresponding to a child component instance.


Here is an example of a realm with a capability routed through it:

Realm example

In this example, the shell component has two children: tools and services. services has two children, logger and echo, while tools has one child echo_tool. Components encapsulate their children, so while the shell component sees its own children, it has no direct knowledge of its grandchildren echo_tool, logger, or echo. Nevertheless, all of these component instances are considered part of the shell realm.

The arrows illustrate the path of an fuchsia.Echo service capability that is routed through the realm from echo to echo_tool. The upward arrows correspond to expose declarations, while the downward arrows represent offer declarations. The expose declarations cause fuchsia.Echo to be exposed outside of the capability boundary of the corresponding realms. For example, if services did not expose fuchsia.Echo, shell would not be aware that fuchsia.Echo exists, and could not offer the service to its children or access it at runtime.

For a more detailed walkthrough of capability routing with this example, see the component manifest capability routing example.

Child component instances

Component instances may contain children. Child component instances are considered part of the parent instance's definition and are wholly owned by the parent. This has the following implications:

  • A component instance decides what children it contains, and when its children are created and destroyed.
  • A component instance cannot exist without its parent.
  • A component instance may not execute unless its parent is executing.
  • A component instance determines the capabilities available to its children by making offer declarations to them.
  • A component instance has some degree of control over the behavior of its children. For example, a component instance may bind to capabilities exposed from the child's realm through the Realm framework service, or set hooks to intercept child lifecycle events. This control is not absolute, however. For example, a component instance cannot use a capability from a sub-realm that was not explicitly exposed to it.

There are two varieties of child component instances, static and dynamic.

Static children

A static child is a component instance that was statically declared in the component‘s manifest by a children declaration. This declaration is necessary and sufficient to establish the child component instance’s existence.

Typically, a child should be statically declared unless it has a reason to be dynamic (see Dynamic children). When a child is statically declared, its definition and capabilities can be audited and capabilities can be statically routed from it.

A static child is defined, foremost, by two pieces of information:

  • The child instance's name. The name is local to the parent component instance, and is used to form monikers. It is valid to declare multiple children with the same URL and different names.
  • The child instance's component URL.

For information on providing additional configuration information to child declarations, see children.

Dynamic children

A dynamic child is a component instance that was created at runtime in a component collection. A dynamic child is always scoped to a particular collection. Dynamic children can be used to support use cases where the existence or cardinality of component instances cannot be determined in advance. For example, a testing realm might declare a collection in which test component instances can be created.

Most of the metadata to create a dynamic child is identical to that used to declare a static instance, except that it's provided at runtime. The name of a dynamic child is implicitly scoped to its collection; thus it is possible to have two dynamic children in two different collections with the same name.

Capabilities cannot be statically routed from dynamic instances. This is an inherent restriction: there's no way to statically declare a route from a capability exposed by a dynamic instance. However, certain capabilities can be routed from the collection as a whole. TODO: service directories as an example

Component collections

A collection is a container for dynamic children which may be created and destroyed at runtime using the Realm framework service.

Collections support two modes of durability:

  • Transient: The instances in a transient collection are automatically destroyed when the instance containing the collection is stopped.
  • Persistent: The instances in a persistent collection exist until they are explicitly destroyed or the entire collection is removed. meta storage must be offered to the component for this option to be available.

For more information about component execution and persistence, see lifecycle.

Collections are declared in the collections section of a component manifest. When an offer declaration targets a collection, the offered capability is made available to every instance in the collection. Some capabilities can be exposed or offered from the collection as a whole, as an aggregation over the corresponding capabilities exposed by the instances in the collection.

TODO: service directories as an example


The following diagram illustrates a realm with a collection:

Collection example

In this example, the shell component declares a static child console and a collection (tools), highlighted by the grey background (the () notation denotes a collection). (tools) contains two dynamic instances, ls and grep. These instances are dynamic children of shell, scoped to (tools). The use of a collection implies that the existence of ls and grep is not known in advance. This is plausible if you imagine that ls and grep are command-line tools that are instantiated on demand as the user requests them.

The example also illustrates a capability routing path with the arrows. First, console exposes fuchsia.Console to its parent shell, which offers it to (tools). fuchsia.Console then becomes available for any component instance in the collection to use -- it does not need to be routed to the dynamic instances independently.


Every realm is assigned an environment, which configures certain choices the framework makes for components in a realm. For example, runner capabilities are registered to an environment, which makes them available to any component instance in the realm. Read Environments for information on what properties are configurable through the environment.

The Realm framework protocol

There is a framework protocol available to every component, fuchsia.sys2.Realm. The Realm protocol provides APIs for a component instance to manage the children in its realm, such as binding to children and creating dynamic children. See the linked FIDL definitions for full documentation.