Using Ansible Templates

Ansible templates provide a powerful way to dynamically generate configuration files and other text-based files based on variables and logic. With templates, you can eliminate manual configuration file management and ensure consistency across multiple systems. In this tutorial, we will explore how to use Ansible templates.

Introduction to Ansible Templates

Ansible templates use the Jinja2 templating engine to generate dynamic content. With templates, you can combine static text with variables, conditionals, loops, and filters to create customized files based on specific requirements. This flexibility allows you to generate configuration files, scripts, documentation, and other text-based artifacts tailored to your infrastructure.

Let's take a look at an example playbook that uses an Ansible template:

- name: Configure Nginx
  hosts: webservers
    - name: Copy Nginx configuration file
        src: nginx.conf.j2
        dest: /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
      notify: Restart Nginx

In this example, the playbook copies an Nginx configuration file from a template file (nginx.conf.j2) to the target server's destination path. The template file may contain variables, conditionals, and loops that generate the appropriate configuration based on the target server's specific requirements.

Using Ansible Templates

Here are the steps to use Ansible templates:

1. Create the Template File

Create a template file with the extension .j2. Inside the template file, you can include Jinja2 tags, which are enclosed in {{ }} for variables and {% %} for control structures like conditionals and loops.

2. Define the Variables

Declare the necessary variables in your playbook or inventory file. These variables will be used to populate the template file with dynamic content.

3. Load and Render the Template

Use the template module in your playbook to load the template file and render it with the specified variables. Specify the source template file path and the destination file path where the rendered file will be copied or created.

4. Notify Changes (Optional)

If the rendered template file triggers a configuration change that requires a service restart or any other action, you can use the notify directive to trigger a handler or task upon changes.

Common Mistakes when Using Ansible Templates

  • Not properly configuring the Jinja2 tags or syntax within the template file.
  • Forgetting to define the necessary variables or using incorrect variable names.
  • Not escaping special characters within the template file, leading to syntax errors or unexpected rendering results.
  • Overcomplicating the template file with excessive logic and calculations, making it harder to maintain and troubleshoot.
  • Not properly handling line breaks or indentation within the template file, resulting in misformatted output.

FAQs about Using Ansible Templates

  1. Q: Can I use conditionals and loops within an Ansible template?

    A: Yes, you can use conditionals and loops within an Ansible template using Jinja2 syntax. This allows you to create dynamic content based on specific conditions or iterate over a list of items.

  2. Q: Can I include other template files within a template?

    A: Yes, you can include other template files within a template using the Jinja2 include statement. This allows you to modularize your templates and reuse common parts across multiple files.

  3. Q: Can I use filters to modify variables within a template?

    A: Yes, you can use Jinja2 filters to modify variables within a template. Filters allow you to perform operations such as string manipulation, date formatting, and mathematical calculations on variables before rendering them.


Using Ansible templates provides a flexible and efficient way to generate dynamic configuration files and other text-based files. By following the steps and best practices outlined in this tutorial, you can leverage the power of Jinja2 templating to create customized files tailored to your infrastructure. Templates eliminate manual configuration file management, improve consistency, and enhance the automation capabilities of Ansible.