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Python Fabric Extended: Making roles more good

Project description

Fabex is a set of extensions to Python Fabric that fully develop the utility of roles.

The Fabric Way

In standard Fabric roles provide a many-to-many mapping between tasks and hosts. Once roles are decided, roledefs map hosts to roles. For example, in the case of a “dev branch” web server, all the roles of a system might collapse onto a single server. Roledefs can nicely relate install and deploy tasks to the hosts via roledefs.

For the a production cluster, roles might be on seperate hosts. Some roles might be duplicated across different hosts, such as a pool of webapp or memcache servers.

However, Fabric’s roles stop short of the “collapse roles onto host” use case because roles are only used to construct a host list for a task. A role has no configuration state, once hosts are assigned to tasks, and a single task will only be invoked once per host, even if that host has multiple roles.

A concrete example: the following fabfile runs my_func on each server:

from fabric.api import *

    'webserver': ['www1', 'www2'],
    'dbserver': ['db1']

env.roles = ('webserver', 'dbserver')

@roles('webserver', 'dbserver')
def my_func():
    print("{command} invoked on host {host}".format(**env))

# outputs...
# [www1] Executing task 'my_func'
# my_func invoked on host www1
# [www2] Executing task 'my_func'
# my_func invoked on host www2
# [db1] Executing task 'my_func'
# my_func invoked on host db1

And, as advertised, the next fabfile runs my_func only once, as host ‘dev’ is of both role ‘webserver’ and ‘dbserver’:

from fabric.api import *

    'webserver': ['dev'],
    'dbserver': ['dev']

env.roles = ('webserver', 'dbserver')

@roles('webserver', 'dbserver')
def my_func():
    print("{command} invoked on host {host}".format(**env))

# outputs...
# [dev] Executing task 'my_func'
# my_func invoked on host dev

But, what if we really want my_func to run once per role, where a role is a key in the roledefs dict? If we want that, then we surely also want the role based invocations to be able to inject unique state into Fabric’s env dict.

The Fabex Way

To continue the theme: One might want an install_packages task would install a different set of packages on a webserver than on a dbserver. Ok, so we can have seperate install_web_packages and install_db_packages tasks, but the only difference between the two is the list of packages, not very DRY. The next step would be an install_packages invoked in turn by the web and db install tasks each with their unique package list.

Let’s capture that into the first Fabex spec requirement.

  • Requirement 1: Roles should have state, injected into Fabric’s global env object and thereby available to tasks invoked via that role.

This feature would let us write a single install_packages task across all our roles. That’s great if no two roles are on the same server; if they are, as in the case of the multi-role devserver, then Fabric will only run the task once. Hence,

  • Requirement 2: A task with multiple roles assigned should execute
    once per role, per host. Fabric already provides per host execution. What’s needed is invocation for each role on a host, even if a host has many roles. That capability should be combined with the “role state” injection of Requirement 1.

A common pattern in designing Fabric tasks is to roll several like tasks together, e.g.,

def install_packages():

def install_pips():

def install():

We can install pips and packages together, or each seperately. A “task group” is such a common pattern in Fabric scripts and dovetails nicely with roles. Not having to write all those aggregrate tasks helps tighten up the fabfile, the DRY way:

  • Requirement 3: There should be an easy way to group tasks into a wrapper task. The wrapper task invokes all of it’s children using standard Fabric and Fabex host and role rules.

We have Fabex’s role based host invocations, along with Fabric’s standard host-task mapping. Fabric also gives us a runs_once decorator, for tasks that don’t need to be rerun after the first host. However, there’s another case: a task that gets run on any server it’s mapped to, but only once per host. We might have an install_upgrades in our group of install tasks that runs apt-get upgrade. This task needs to be run on every host, but not more than once per host. Hence,

  • Requirement 4: A decorator runs_once_per_host, analogous to runs_once, to run on every associated host, but at most once for any given host.

These are the motivational requirements for Fabex. Fabex includes a few other niceties to make deploy scripts “more better”:

  • Yaml based definition of most env settings, especially those for hosts and roles.
  • A more flexible template facility, including Jinja2 based substitution; “restart” commands, and flexible remote path construction.
  • Fab “dryuns”, to check basic fabfile logic, without having to deal with any remote servers.

Fabex Features and Usage

Fabex wraps several of the standard fabric.api * functions. (See, for example, the dryrun feature below.) To pull in Fabex, along with all of the usual Fabric functionality simply start your fab or task file with

from fabex.api import *
from fabex.contrib.files import *

and then use fabex_config to initialize other bits of Fabex.

  • @task_roles - Function decorator to make a Fabric task that will be invoked once per role with role settings injected into env for the scope of that task. The task_roles requires one or more strings as positional arguments with the role names. The role names may also be specific by a single iterable as the first argument.

    task_roles also supports a group keyword argument of string type. That task will be added to a “wrapper task” with that name, appended to a list of tasks to invoke if the wrapper task is called (see assertion 4).

    task_roles supports all of the other keyword arguments of the Fabric task decorator, with function per the Fabric documentation.


@task_roles(['webapp', 'cache', 'db'], group='install')
def install_packages():
    """Install system packages"""

    sudo('DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive apt-get install --yes {}'
         .format(' '.join(env.packages)))
  • @runs_once_per_host - Similar to the Fabric runs_once decorator, the task is invoked only the first time for any host, regardless of the “once per role per host” rule implemented by task_roles.

  • fabex_config - A normal python function that takes a Fabex config dictionary, or path to a yaml file with a Fabex config. This function initializes several env attributes used elsewhere in Fabex. Note: Should be called before any other Fabex tasks are invoked, typically at the top of a fabfile.


fabex_config(config={'target_dir': 'targets',
                     'template_dir': 'templates',
                     'template_config': 'templates.yaml'})
  • target - A (normal) Fabric task that reads a yaml file and builds a “target configuration” into env. In particular, this configuration can contain roledefs (a la Fabric), hostenvs (env settings injected on a per host basis via task_roles), and roleenvs (env settings injected on a per role basis via task_roles).

    Example target.yaml:

timezone: America/Los_Angeles

    app: [app1 app2 app3]
    cache: [db_cache]
    db: [db_cache]

    app1: {ip:, ssh_host:, ssh_user: ubuntu}
    app2: {ip:, ssh_host:, ssh_user: ubuntu}
    app3: {ip:, ssh_host:, ssh_user: ubuntu}
    db_cache: {ip:, ssh_host:, ssh_user: ubuntu}

        packages: [ntp, git, python-django, libpq-dev, postgresql-client]
        secret_key: ty5s3(d4jjexdror_ti$-ga+q_zs(!byj)k3d8i^iyxl-$r^*j
        db_name: c240
        db_user: c240
        db_pass: c240
        packages: [ntp, memcached]
        memory: 128
        packages: [ntp, postgresql]
  • template_config - Specified in the fabex_config call, a yaml based dictionay referencing Jinja2 templates. The templates themselves will be search for in the template_dir specified in fabex_config. Both the template_config file, and the templates themselves have access to the env as a Jinja2 context, and can instatiate env values.

    Referenced templates are processed and pushed by the Fabex upload_project_template function. In addition to the Jinja2 processing, uploaded file ownership can be set with owner and group attributes. A reload_command attribute may contain a sudo-able command that is executed if the remote file is changed by the upload.

    Example templates.yaml:

    remote_path: "{{project_home}}/{{project_name}}/"
    reload_command: supervisorctl {{project}} restart
    owner: ubuntu
    group: ubuntu
  • dryrun - A Fabric task that short circuits all of the remote client calls. Invoking this task before other tasks allows Fabric scripts to be debugged (somewhat) before executing on actual servers.
  • quiet - Fabex will hide the ‘running’ and ‘output’ streams for sudo and run in Fabric if this task is invoked. Note, this feature is not the quiet keyword arg to those functions, which has other effects on tasks.

Complete Fabex Example

…is not quite ready yet.

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