A collection of useful tips and tricks for Ansible which don't really justify a full blog post on their own. I'll keep updating this post when I come across something of value.


Convert the output of a playbook run to json. Either set the stdout_callback = json setting in the ansible.cfg or alternatively set the ANSIBLE_STDOUT_CALLBACK=json variable at the CLI on playbook execution.

ANSIBLE_STDOUT_CALLBACK=json ansible-playbook some-playbook.yml

Doc: https://github.com/ansible/ansible/issues/36928


There is a fair bit of boilerplate involved in creating a role. There is an ansible-galaxy command to aid in the process of building a role. Optionaly add the --offline flag if the role is not intended for Ansible galaxy.

ansible-galaxy init role-name --offline

# output
- role-name was created successfully

# role-name directory contents
├── defaults
│   └── main.yml
├── files
├── handlers
│   └── main.yml
├── meta
│   └── main.yml
├── README.md
├── tasks
│   └── main.yml
├── templates
├── tests
│   ├── inventory
│   └── test.yml
└── vars
    └── main.yml

8 directories, 8 files

Doc: https://docs.ansible.com/ansible/latest/reference_appendices/galaxy.html#create-roles


Get a json dict of all vars that will be applicable to a host at playbook runtime. The following command also shows you which groups a host belongs to and all groups that are available.

ansible -i inventory a.example.com -m debug -a "var=hostvars[inventory_hostname]"

# output
a.example.com | success >> {
    "var": {
        "hostvars": {
            "ansible_ssh_host": "",
            "ansible_ssh_user": "user",
            "group_names": [
            "groups": {
                "all": [
                "group1": [
                "group2": [
                "groups": [
                "ungrouped": [
            "inventory_hostname": "a.example.com",
            "inventory_hostname_short": "a"

Credit: https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/208854/294891

Find the source file that a variable was derived from. This is quite useful when you are using the Ansible variable precedence system to see which file a variable actually came from.

ansible -i inventory leaf01 -m debug -a "var=hostvars[inventory_hostname]['bgp']['asn']._data_source"

# output
leaf01 | SUCCESS => {
    "hostvars[inventory_hostname]['bgp']['asn']._data_source": "/path/to/host_vars/leaf01.yml"

Credit: https://twitter.com/codethenetwork/status/936733364089794560

Updated: 2018-09-02 - Added JSON callback

Updated: 2018-06-12 - Variable source file

Published: 2018-06-11