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An Ansible action plugin to explicitly merge inventory variables

Project description

ansible_merge_vars: An action plugin for Ansible

Travis PyPI

An Ansible plugin to merge all variables in context with a certain suffix (lists or dicts only) and create a new variable that contains the result of this merge. This is an Ansible action plugin, which is basically an Ansible module that runs on the machine running Ansible rather than on the host that Ansible is provisioning.

Requirements

This plugin requires Ansible release >= 2.1.0.0.

Additionally, there are some releases of Ansible for which this plugin does not work because of bugs in those releases:

Installation

  1. Pick a name that you want to use to call this plugin in Ansible playbooks. This documentation assumes you're using the name merge_vars.

  2. pip install ansible_merge_vars

  3. Create an action_plugins directory in the directory in which you run Ansible.

    By default, Ansible will look for action plugins in an action_plugins folder adjacent to the running playbook. For more information on this, or to change the location where ansible looks for action plugins, see the Ansible docs.

  4. Create a file called merge_vars.py (or whatever name you picked) in the action_plugins directory, with one line:

    from ansible_merge_vars import ActionModule
    
  5. For Ansible less than 2.4:

    1. Create the library directory if it's not created yet:

      mkdir -p library
      
    2. Create an empty merge_vars (or whatever name you picked) file in your library directory:

      touch library/merge_vars
      

Ansible action plugins are usually paired with modules (which run on the hosts being provisioned), and Ansible will automatically run an action plugin when you call of a module of the same name in a task. Prior to Ansible 2.4, if you want to call an action plugin by its name (merge_vars) in our tasks, you need an empty file called merge_vars in the place where ansible checks for custom modules; by default, this is a library directory adjacent to the running playbook.

Usage

The variables that you want to merge must be suffixed with __to_merge. They can be defined anywhere in the inventory, or by any other means; as long as they're in the context for the running play, they'll be merged.

Merging dicts

Let's say we've got a group someenvironment in group_vars with a file users.yml, with these contents:

users__someenvironment_users__to_merge:
  user1: bob
  user2: henry

and a group somedatacenter in groups_vars with a file users.yml, with these contents:

users__somedatacenter_users__to_merge:
  user3: sally
  user4: jane

and we're running a play against hosts that are in both of those groups. Then this task:

name: Merge user vars
merge_vars:
  suffix_to_merge: users__to_merge
  merged_var_name: merged_users
  expected_type: 'dict'

will set a merged_users var (fact) available to all subsequent tasks that looks like this (if it were to be declared in raw yaml):

merged_users:
  user1: bob
  user2: henry
  user3: sally
  user4: jane

Note that the variables get merged in alphabetical order of their names, with values from later dicts replacing values from earlier dicts. So this setup:

users__someenvironment_users__to_merge:
  user1: bob
  user2: jekyll
users__somedatacenter_users__to_merge:
  user2: hyde
  user3: sally
name: Merge user vars
merge_vars:
  suffix_to_merge: users__to_merge
  merged_var_name: merged_users
  expected_type: 'dict'

would set a merged_users var that looks like this (if it were to be declared in raw yaml):

merged_users:
  user1: bob
  user2: jekyll
  user3: sally

With great power comes great responsibility...

Merging lists

Let's say we've got a someenvironment group with an open_ports.yml file that looks like this:

open_ports__someenvironment_open_ports__to_merge:
  - 1
  - 2
  - 3

and a somedatacenter group with an open_ports.yml file that looks like this:

open_ports__somedatacenter_open_ports__to_merge:
  - 3
  - 4
  - 5

Then this task:

name: Merge open ports
merge_vars:
  suffix_to_merge: open_ports__to_merge
  merged_var_name: merged_ports
  expected_type: 'list'

will set a merged_ports fact that looks like this (because the variables are merged in alphabetical order):

merged_ports:
  - 3
  - 4
  - 5
  - 1
  - 2

Notice that 3 only appears once in the merged result. By default, this merge_vars plugin will de-dupe the resulting merged value. If you don't want to de-dupe the merged value, you have to declare the dedup argument:

name: Merge open ports
merge_vars:
  suffix_to_merge: open_ports__to_merge
  merged_var_name: merged_ports
  dedup: false
  expected_type: 'list'

which will set this fact:

merged_ports:
  - 3
  - 4
  - 5
  - 1
  - 2
  - 3

A note about dedup:

  • It has no effect when the merged vars are dictionaries.

Recursive merging

When dealing with complex data structures, you may want to do a deep (recursive) merge.

Suppose you have variables that define lists of users to add and select who should have admin privileges:

users__someenvironment_users__to_merge:
  users:
    - bob
    - henry
  admins:
    - bob

and

users__somedatacenter_users__to_merge:
  users:
    - sally
    - jane
  admins:
    - sally

You can request a recursive merge with:

name: Merge user vars
merge_vars:
  suffix_to_merge: users__to_merge
  merged_var_name: merged_users
  expected_type: 'dict'
  recursive_dict_merge: True

and get:

merged_users:
  users:
    - sally
    - jane
    - bob
    - henry
  admins:
    - sally
    - bob

When merging dictionaries and the same key exists in both, the recursive merge checks the type of the value:

  • if the entry value is a list, it merges the values as lists (merge_list)
  • if the entry value is a dict, it merges the values (recursively) as dicts (merge_dict)
  • any other values: just replace (use last)

Module options

parameter required default choices comments
suffix_to_merge yes Suffix of variables to merge. Must end with __to_merge.
merged_var_name yes <identifier> Name of the target variable.
expected_type yes dict, list Expected type of the merged variable (one of dict or list)
dedup no yes yes / no Whether to remove duplicates from lists (arrays) after merging.
cacheable no no yes / no If set to yes, the merged variable will be stored in the facts cache
recursive_dict_merge no no yes / no Whether to do deep (recursive) merging of dictionaries, or just merge only at top level and replace values

Verbosity

Running ansible-playbook with -v will cause this plugin to output the order in which the keys are being merged:

PLAY [Example of merging lists] ************************************************

TASK [Merge port vars] *********************************************************
Merging vars in this order: [ u'group1_ports__to_merge', u'group2_ports__to_merge', u'group3_ports__to_merge']
ok: [localhost] => {"ansible_facts": {"merged_ports": [22, 1111, 443, 2222, 80]}, "changed": false}

TASK [debug] *******************************************************************
ok: [localhost] => {
    "merged_ports": [
        22,
        1111,
        443,
        2222,
        80
    ]
}

PLAY RECAP *********************************************************************
localhost                  : ok=6    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0

Example Playbooks

There are some example playbooks in the examples directory that show how the various features work in the context of an actual Ansible playbook. These example playbooks are run as part of the test suite for this plugin; if you would like to run them yourself, please see the Contributing section for instructions on how to run the test suite.

Contributing

Please note that this project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By participating in this project you agree to abide by its terms.

These are the only prerequisites to working on this project locally:

  1. You have Pipenv installed.
  2. You have the Python versions in the .python-version installed and on your path (probably with pyenv

A development workflow may look like this:

  1. Clone this repository

  2. Run make deps

    • This will use Pipenv to install all of the dependencies needed to build a release and run tests.
  3. Run make test-all

    • This will use tox to run the tests against different combinations of python versions and ansible releases.
    • It will also use a script to query PyPI for the latest versions of Ansible, and add them to the tox.ini file if they're not there.
  4. Updating the tox.ini file and running all the tests against all of the combinations of Ansible releases and Python versions takes a lot of time. To run aginst just one combination, you can list all of the combinations available and tell tox to only run the tests for one combination:

$ pipenv run tox -l

py27-ansible-2.1.0.0
py27-ansible-2.1.1.0
py27-ansible-2.1.2.0
py27-ansible-2.1.3.0
py27-ansible-2.2.0.0
py27-ansible-2.2.1.0
...
py35-ansible-2.5.1
py35-ansible-2.5.2
py36-ansible-2.5.0
py36-ansible-2.5.1
py36-ansible-2.5.2
...

$ pipenv run tox -e py36-ansible-2.5.2
...
```

If you have any ideas about things to add or improve, or find any bugs to fix, we're all ears! Just a few guidelines:

  1. Please write or update tests (either example-based tests, property-based tests, or both) for any code that you add, change, or remove.

  2. Please add an example playbook or update an existing example playbook in the examples folder. These example playbooks serve as the integration tests for this plugin.

  3. Please make sure that make test-all exits zero. This runs a code linter, all of the tests, and all of the examples against all supported versions of Python and Ansible.

  4. If the linting seems too annoying, it probably is! Feel free to do what you need to do in the .pylintrc at the root of this repository to maintain sanity. Add it to your PR, and we'll most likely take it.

Happy merging!

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