The step toolchain
There are a lot of step related names floating around in these docs:
step-ca, and step certificates to name a few.
These names refer to different parts of the step toolchain — a suite of composable tools and infrastructure components that work together to address a variety of use cases. The step toolchain is standards-based and mostly open source.
Currently, there are two core step toolchain components:
step(github) is the command-line interface (CLI) for all things smallstep, and a swiss-army knife for day-to-day production identity operations. It’s an easy-to-use
opensslreplacement for working with standards like X.509, JWT, and OAuth. It’s also used to configure, operate, and automate other step toolchain components.
step’s functionality is organized in a hierarchy of command groups, with subcommands like
step crypto jwt inspectand
step ca init.
step-cais a certificate authority (CA) that you can run yourself, that exposes a JSON/HTTPS API for automated certificate management.
step cacommand group to streamline certificate management workflows, making automation even easier. For instance, you can use
step ca certificateto get a certificate from
In general, anything highlighted as code — like
step ca certificate — refers to a program name or a subcommand that you can type into the command line. Italicized phrases like step certificates and autocert refer to larger projects and products that compose, extend, and integrate parts of the step toolchain to solve a specific problem.