Looping Constructs in Ansible

Looping constructs in Ansible allow you to iterate over a list of items and perform tasks repeatedly. They enable you to automate repetitive actions and manage multiple hosts or groups efficiently. In this tutorial, we will explore how to use looping constructs in Ansible.

Introduction to Looping Constructs

Ansible provides various looping constructs, including loop, with_items, and with_dict. These constructs allow you to repeat tasks for each item in a list or dictionary, providing flexibility and scalability to your playbooks.

Let's take a look at an example playbook that uses a looping construct:

- name: Install multiple packages
    name: "{{ item }}"
    state: present
    - package1
    - package2
    - package3

In this example, the playbook iterates over a list of packages and installs them one by one using the apt module.

Using Looping Constructs in Ansible

Here are the steps to use looping constructs in Ansible:

1. Define the Looping Construct

Choose the appropriate looping construct based on your requirements. Ansible provides several options, such as loop, with_items, and with_dict. Specify the list or dictionary of items that you want to iterate over.

2. Specify the Tasks

Specify the tasks that should be executed for each item in the loop. Use the looping variable (e.g., item) to reference the current item in the loop within the task definition.

3. Execute the Playbook

Execute the playbook using the ansible-playbook command. Ansible will iterate over the items in the loop and execute the tasks accordingly.

Common Mistakes with Looping Constructs

  • Forgetting to specify the looping construct (loop, with_items, etc.) before the list or dictionary of items.
  • Not using the looping variable (e.g., item) within the task definition, leading to incorrect or incomplete task execution.
  • Using an incorrect syntax for specifying the items in the loop, resulting in syntax errors or unexpected behavior.
  • Not considering the scope of variables used within the loop, causing incorrect evaluations or conflicts.
  • Overcomplicating loops by nesting multiple loops or using unnecessary constructs, leading to complex and hard-to-maintain playbooks.

FAQs about Looping Constructs in Ansible

  1. Q: Can I use conditional statements within a loop?

    A: Yes, you can use conditional statements within a loop to control the execution of tasks based on specific conditions. Use the when keyword along with the conditional statement to define the condition.

  2. Q: How can I loop over a dictionary in Ansible?

    A: You can loop over a dictionary using the with_dict construct. Access the dictionary keys and values using the looping variables item.key and item.value within the task definition.

  3. Q: Can I loop over a subset of items in a list?

    A: Yes, you can use slicing to loop over a subset of items in a list. For example, to loop over the first three items, use loop: my_list[:3].


Looping constructs in Ansible provide a powerful mechanism for automating repetitive tasks and managing multiple hosts or groups efficiently. By using looping constructs, you can iterate over lists and dictionaries, perform actions for each item, and make your playbooks dynamic and scalable. By following the steps and best practices outlined in this tutorial, you can leverage looping constructs effectively in Ansible and streamline your automation workflows.