FAQ

What is ARA ?

ARA Records Ansible playbooks and makes them easier to understand and troubleshoot.

ARA is currently composed of three different free and open source projects:

How does it work ?

ARA Records Ansible playbooks through an Ansible callback plugin.

_images/recording-workflow.png
  1. ARA is installed and Ansible is configured to use the callback plugin
  2. An ansible-playbook command is executed
  3. Ansible triggers the callback plugin for every event (v2_playbook_on_start, v2_runner_on_failed, etc.)
  4. The relevant information is retrieved from the Ansible playbook execution context and is sent to the API server
  5. The API server validates and serializes the data before storing it the configured database backend
  6. The API server sends a response back to the API client with the results
  7. The callback plugin returns, ending the callback hook
  8. Ansible continues running the playbook until it fails or is completed (back to step 2)

Once the data has been saved in the database, it is made available for query by the API.

What’s an Ansible callback ?

Ansible Callbacks are essentially hooks provided by Ansible. Ansible will send an event and you can react to it with a callback. You could use a callback to do things like print additional details or, in the case of ARA, record the playbook run data in a database.

Are there live demos available ?

Yes, you can find persistent and up-to-date live demos at api.demo.recordsansible.org for the API and web.demo.recordsansible.org for the ara-web standalone interface.

What versions of Ansible are supported ?

The upstream Ansible community and maintainers provide support for the latest three major stable releases and ARA follows the same support cycle.

For example, if the latest version of Ansible is 2.8, then the latest release of ARA will support 2.8 as well as 2.7 and 2.6.

For more information on Ansible’s release and maintenance cycle, you can refer to the Ansible documentation.

If you are using a release of Ansible that is no longer supported, we strongly encourage you to upgrade as soon as possible in order to benefit from the latest features and security fixes.

Older unsupported versions of Ansible can contain unfixed security vulnerabilities (CVE).

What versions of Python are supported ?

Before version 1.0 of ARA, both python2 and python3 were supported. Versions of ARA after 1.0 are not designed to support python2 in consideration that python2 will reach end of life in January 2020.

Why ARA instead of <X> ?

Ansible is an awesome tool. It can be used for a lot of things.

Reading and interpreting the output of an ansible-playbook run, especially one that is either long running, involves a lot of hosts or prints a lot of output can be hard to understand and troubleshoot.

This is especially true when you happen to be running Ansible hundreds of times during the day, through automated means – for example when doing continuous integration or continuous delivery.

ARA aims to do one thing and do it well: Record Ansible playbooks and provide you with the tools you need to make your playbook results intuitive for you and for your systems.

The great thing about ARA is that it is not mutually exclusive with other software and systems you might already be using Ansible with today.

There is nothing preventing you from using ARA with other tools such as Ansible Tower (or AWX), Zuul, Jenkins or Rundeck since all you need to get started is to install and enable the ARA Ansible callback plugin.

Can I set up the different components of ARA on different servers ?

Yes.

The defaults are set to have the callback use the offline API client which expects the server dependencies installed and the data is saved to a local sqlite database.

However, the callback can also be configured to send data to a specified API server address and the API server can be configured to use a remote database server such as PostgreSQL or MySQL.

The web client interface provided by ara-web is stateless and requires an API server address to connect to. It can be installed anywhere that has access to the API server.