Role Dependencies and Variables in Ansible

Ansible provides the capability to manage complex infrastructure by allowing role dependencies and variables. Role dependencies enable you to define relationships between roles, ensuring they are executed in the correct order. Role variables, on the other hand, allow you to configure and customize roles based on specific requirements. In this tutorial, we will explore role dependencies and variables in Ansible.

Introduction to Role Dependencies and Variables

When working with large-scale automation projects, it is common to have roles that depend on each other or require specific configurations. Role dependencies and variables help organize and streamline the execution of roles by defining their relationships and enabling dynamic configurations.

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

Example 1: Defining role dependencies

Suppose you have a role called "webserver" that depends on another role called "database." By specifying the dependency relationship, Ansible ensures that the "database" role is executed before the "webserver" role. This ensures that the required infrastructure components are in place before configuring the web server.

Example 2: Configuring role variables

If you need to customize a role based on specific requirements, you can use role variables. For instance, you may have a role called "application" that requires specific configuration values such as database connection details or application-specific settings. By defining and assigning appropriate variables, you can tailor the role to meet the desired configuration.

Working with Role Dependencies and Variables

Here are the steps to work with role dependencies and variables in Ansible:

Step 1: Define Role Dependencies

In your playbook, define the dependencies between roles using the roles: keyword. Specify the dependent roles in the desired order of execution. Ansible will automatically resolve the dependencies and execute the roles accordingly.

Step 2: Configure Role Variables

To configure role variables, create a separate file or directory to store the variable definitions. You can use the vars/ directory within the role or define variables in the playbook itself. Assign appropriate values to the variables based on your specific requirements.

Step 3: Access Role Variables

Within a role, access the defined variables using the {{ variable_name }} syntax. You can utilize the variables within task definitions, templates, or other files associated with the role. The variables will be substituted with their assigned values during the execution.

Common Mistakes with Role Dependencies and Variables

  • Defining circular dependencies between roles, causing playbook execution failures.
  • Not properly specifying the role dependency order, resulting in incorrect execution sequence.
  • Overcomplicating role variable assignments instead of utilizing defaults or proper scoping.
  • Forgetting to define necessary variables for a role, leading to configuration errors.
  • Not considering the impact of variable overrides when using multiple roles with shared variable names.

FAQs about Role Dependencies and Variables

  1. Q: Can I have multiple role dependencies?

    A: Yes, you can specify multiple role dependencies by separating them with commas. The roles will be executed in the order they are defined.

  2. Q: Can I override role variables at runtime?

    A: Yes, you can override role variables by defining them in your playbook or by passing them as command-line arguments. The overridden values will take precedence over the default or defined values.

  3. Q: Are role variables accessible across different roles?

    A: By default, role variables are scoped to the specific role in which they are defined. However, you can make them accessible across roles by using the set_fact module to create global variables.


Role dependencies and variables in Ansible provide a flexible way to manage complex automation projects. By defining role dependencies, you can ensure the proper order of execution and guarantee that dependent roles are executed as required. Utilizing role variables allows you to configure and customize roles based on specific needs, enhancing the flexibility and reusability of your Ansible codebase.