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Philosophy of ansible-lint

Ansible playbooks, roles, and collections should read like documentation, be production ready, unambiguous, and provide consistent results.

Ansible-lint should be considered a trusted advisor, helping ansible content creators write and package high-quality Ansible content. While not all rules may be applicable in all situations, they should be followed whenever possible.

The goal of ansible-lint is to ensure that content created by different people has a similar look and feel. This makes the adoption and use of Ansible content easier in the community and enterprise. By keeping the number of configurable features at a minimum, consistent outcomes between authors can be achieved.

History and the future

ansible-lint is almost a decade old, and its current list of rules is the result of a collaboration between many people. The tool originated as a community project and is currently part of the Ansible Galaxy submission and validation process.

In the future, it will be an official component of the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, used during the collections certification process and the recommended Ansible content linter for Red Hat customers.

Starting in 2022, additional rules will be added that help content creators ready their content for production use. It will be through the use of ansible-lint and these rules, developers can have confidence their playbooks, roles, and task files are easy to understand and produce consistent results when run against anything, from servers in a home lab to mission-critical systems in the cloud.

Style and formatting

The focus of Ansible content creators should be on automation, outcomes and readability, rather than style or formatting. This is why we follow the same concepts as other code formatting tools like black and prettier.

Adoption of ansible-lint will save time by keeping reviews focused on the quality of the content and less so on the nuances of formatting and style.

As code formatting is not an art, we can save your project time and effort by applying a standardized code style and formatting.


Why does ansible-lint not accept all valid ansible syntax?

ansible-core continues to mature while maintaining backward compatibility with early versions. ansible-lint has never intended to support the whole historical Ansible language syntax variations, but instead only the best of it.

It supports a broad vocabulary of keywords and styles. Over time, changes in the language have led to an improved experience for authors and consumers of Ansible content. The rules in ansible-lint suggest the use of these patterns.

It is these usage patterns that are written as rules in ansible-lint, leading to improved readability of playbooks, roles, and collections. The linter will always be more restrictive and opinionated regarding what it accepts. It is part of its design. We are not forced to keep the same backward compatibility level as Ansible, so we can tell people to avoid specific syntax for various reasons, such as being deprecated, unsafe, or hard to maintain.

Based on the extensive history of ansible-lint and user feedback, it notifies you about discouraged practices, sometimes before ansible-core starts doing so.

What if I do not agree with a specific rule?

We recognize that some projects will find at least one rule that might not suit their needs. Use the skip_list feature to temporarily bypass that rule until you have time to update your Ansible content.

Who decides which best practices get adopted in ansible-lint?

The main source of new ideas was and remains our community. Before proposing a change, check with a few other Ansible users that work on different projects and see if they find it useful or not.

It is better to get enough relevant feedback on our discussion forum before starting to implement new rules. If the proposed rule appears popular and does not conflict with existing rules, a core (maintainer) will tell you that the proposed rule can be added to ansible-lint, so you can start working on it without fear of rejection.

The core team will decide on how a new rule will be added. Usually, they are added as experimental (warnings only) or even as opt-ins, being made implicit only when a major version is released.

Do I need to pass all rules to get my collection certified?

Not really. The certification process is likely to use only a subset of rules. At this time, we are working on building that list.

Why do many official Ansible docs examples fail to pass linting?

Most of the official examples are written to exemplify specific features, and some might conflict with our rules. Still, we plan to include linting of official examples in the future and add specific exclusions where needed, making it more likely that a copy/paste from the docs will not raise a bunch of linter violations.

Why does ansible-lint require an Ansible version newer than what I use in production?

Use ansible-lint as a static analysis tool for your content. You can run it with a version of ansible that is different than what you use in production. This helps you prepare your content for the future, so don't be afraid of using it in such a way.