Custom Modules and Plugins in Ansible

Ansible provides the flexibility to create custom modules and plugins, allowing you to extend its functionality and tailor it to your specific needs. In this tutorial, we will explore the process of creating custom modules and plugins in Ansible.

Introduction to Custom Modules and Plugins

Custom modules and plugins enable you to integrate your own code and logic into Ansible. They allow you to perform specialized tasks, interact with unique systems, or customize existing functionality. Ansible provides a framework that makes it straightforward to develop and use custom modules and plugins.

Let's take a look at a couple of examples:

Example 1: Creating a custom module

Suppose you need a module to interact with a proprietary database system. You can create a custom module that encapsulates the necessary logic to perform database operations and incorporate it into your Ansible automation workflows.

Example 2: Developing a custom plugin

Let's say you want to extend Ansible's capabilities by adding a custom lookup plugin that retrieves sensitive information from a secure vault. You can create a custom plugin that integrates with your vault solution and use it within your playbooks to access encrypted secrets.

Developing Custom Modules and Plugins in Ansible

Here are the steps to develop custom modules and plugins in Ansible:

Step 1: Understand Ansible's Plugin Architecture

Before diving into custom module and plugin development, familiarize yourself with Ansible's plugin architecture. Understand the different types of plugins available, such as action, lookup, filter, and inventory plugins. This knowledge will guide you in selecting the appropriate plugin type for your custom functionality.

Step 2: Choose the Plugin Type

Determine the type of plugin you need to develop based on the functionality you want to add or modify. For example, if you require a module-like functionality, you would develop a custom module, while a lookup-related task would involve creating a lookup plugin.

Step 3: Write the Plugin Code

Develop the custom module or plugin using the appropriate programming language, which is typically Python. Follow the Ansible plugin development guidelines and best practices. Leverage Ansible's provided libraries and modules to simplify the development process.

Step 4: Organize the Plugin Structure

Ensure that the plugin is organized and structured correctly within the Ansible directory structure. Place your custom module or plugin in the appropriate directory, such as library/ for modules or lookup_plugins/ for lookup plugins. This ensures Ansible can discover and load your custom functionality.

Step 5: Test and Refine

Thoroughly test your custom module or plugin to ensure it functions as expected. Validate that it integrates seamlessly with your Ansible playbooks and performs the desired tasks. Iterate on your code as necessary, refining and improving its functionality based on feedback and testing results.

Common Mistakes with Custom Modules and Plugins

  • Not adhering to Ansible's plugin development guidelines.
  • Failing to provide proper documentation and examples for your custom module or plugin.
  • Not thoroughly testing the custom functionality, leading to unexpected behavior.
  • Overcomplicating the code when a simpler solution is available.
  • Not considering security implications and best practices when dealing with sensitive data in custom plugins.

FAQs about Custom Modules and Plugins

  1. Q: Can I distribute and share my custom modules and plugins with others?

    A: Yes, you can share your custom modules and plugins with the Ansible community by packaging them as Ansible collections. Collections allow you to bundle your custom functionality and make it easily accessible to others.

  2. Q: Are there any pre-existing custom modules and plugins available?

    A: Yes, the Ansible community maintains a wide range of custom modules and plugins that you can leverage in your automation workflows. You can find these modules and plugins in various community-driven repositories and Ansible Galaxy.

  3. Q: Can I modify or override existing Ansible modules?

    A: Ansible discourages modifying or overriding its built-in modules to ensure compatibility and maintain consistency. Instead, create a custom module that extends or enhances the functionality of an existing module.


Custom modules and plugins in Ansible provide a powerful way to extend the functionality of the automation tool. By following the steps outlined in this tutorial, you can develop custom modules and plugins to meet your specific requirements. Utilize Ansible's plugin architecture and adhere to best practices to create robust and reusable custom functionality in your Ansible automation workflows.