Day 5: Handlers, roles

Yesterday we wrote this task:

- name: Compile greeter
  command: >
    /opt/greeter/venv/bin/python -m compileall
    -x ^/opt/greeter/venv/ /opt/greeter

We discussed that the result of the command task is always going to be orange, because Ansible has no way of knowing whether it should or should not execute the command, and it executes it every time. We said there are two ways around this, and briefly discussed one possibility to add an Ansible option that tells it to not account it as changed. This is a valid option (in this case), but we are going to do it in another way: we will convert the task to a handler.


Modify your playbook and make it like this:

  # [...]

  - name: Install greeter
      dest: /opt/greeter
      version: production
  - Compile greeter

 - name: Compile greeter
   command: >
     /opt/greeter/venv/bin/python -m compileall
     -x ^/opt/greeter/venv/ /opt/greeter

So now it’s event-driven; the compilation is an event triggered by the execution of another task. If you try executing the playbook now the handler will not run because the git task will not make any change. You can try modifying something (such as deleting the /opt/greeter directory) if you want so that you’ll see the handler running, but it’s not necessary—we’ll create more handlers later anyway.


We have a long play and we would never actually write it this way.


We wrote it like this for educational purposes, but now we will start writing it the proper way. We will break it into more files. So please break it into files as explained on this image:


That is, copy all the tasks to file roles/greeter/tasks/main.yml, and the handlers to the second file, and reduce the playbook file to what is shown. After you finish execute the playbook to verify that it works.

What we have done is we have taken all these tasks and handlers and converted them to a role. Essentially what it does is it takes the tasks of the role and executes them and also takes the handlers of the role and triggers them if needed. So the role is pretty much a kind of an include statement, it includes the tasks and handlers of the role in the play.

Reusable roles

The roles are good if they are reusable, and the one we’ve made is not reusable the way we wrote it. If you want to install another Django project you would need to create another role and retype essentially the same things. Instead, we will make this role reusable.

Step 1

Rename role greeter to django. All you need to do is rename the roles/greeter directory.

Step 2

Change some of the tasks as shown in this picture:


Step 3

Change the handler in roles/django/handlers/ and make it like this:

- name: Compile {{ django_project }}
  command: >
    /opt/{{ django_project }}/venv/bin/python -m compileall
    -x ^/opt/{{ django_project }}/venv/ /opt/{{ django_project }}

Step 4

Change the playbook, site.yml, and make it like this:

- name: Install greeter server
    - role: django
      django_project: greeter
      django_user: greeter
      django_project_python: python3
      django_project_site_packages: yes

Run it

Now try running it to see if there are any errors.

An error you might have made here is forget some of the quotes in Step 2. The braces have a special meaning in YAML, so if you don’t quote them the YAML parser will attempt to interpret them.  So we quote them, and the YAML parser thinks they are strings, and after that parsing is completed Ansible will give them to the Jinja parser.

Improving the installation of apt packages

We have four tasks for installing apt packages:

- name: Install git
  apt: name=git

- name: Install virtualenv
  apt: name=virtualenv

- name: Install nginx
  apt: name=nginx-light

- name: Install pillow
  apt: name=python3-pillow

This way of installing tasks was educational. We would actually not do it this way. Instead, we would do it like this, which is more elegant and compact and runs much faster:

- name: Install packages required for django
      - git
      - virtualenv
      - nginx-light
      - python3-pillow

One problem is that the installing of python3-pillow is specific to greeter and does not belong in a general, reusable django role. But we’ve gone through enough for one day, so we will solve this problem tomorrow.