Python API


This API is intended for internal Ansible use. Ansible may make changes to this API at any time that could break backward compatibility with older versions of the API. Because of this, external use is not supported by Ansible.

There are several ways to use Ansible from an API perspective. You can use the Ansible Python API to control nodes, you can extend Ansible to respond to various Python events, you can write plugins, and you can plug in inventory data from external data sources. This document gives a basic overview and examples of the Ansible execution and playbook API.

If you would like to use Ansible programmatically from a language other than Python, trigger events asynchronously, or have access control and logging demands, please see the Ansible Tower documentation.


Because Ansible relies on forking processes, this API is not thread safe.

Python API example

This example is a simple demonstration that shows how to minimally run a couple of tasks:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import json
import shutil
from ansible.module_utils.common.collections import ImmutableDict
from ansible.parsing.dataloader import DataLoader
from ansible.vars.manager import VariableManager
from ansible.inventory.manager import InventoryManager
from import Play
from ansible.executor.task_queue_manager import TaskQueueManager
from ansible.plugins.callback import CallbackBase
from ansible import context
import ansible.constants as C

class ResultCallback(CallbackBase):
    """A sample callback plugin used for performing an action as results come in

    If you want to collect all results into a single object for processing at
    the end of the execution, look into utilizing the ``json`` callback plugin
    or writing your own custom callback plugin
    def v2_runner_on_ok(self, result, **kwargs):
        """Print a json representation of the result

        This method could store the result in an instance attribute for retrieval later
        host = result._host
        print(json.dumps({ result._result}, indent=4))

# since the API is constructed for CLI it expects certain options to always be set in the context object
context.CLIARGS = ImmutableDict(connection='local', module_path=['/to/mymodules'], forks=10, become=None,
                                become_method=None, become_user=None, check=False, diff=False)

# initialize needed objects
loader = DataLoader() # Takes care of finding and reading yaml, json and ini files
passwords = dict(vault_pass='secret')

# Instantiate our ResultCallback for handling results as they come in. Ansible expects this to be one of its main display outlets
results_callback = ResultCallback()

# create inventory, use path to host config file as source or hosts in a comma separated string
inventory = InventoryManager(loader=loader, sources='localhost,')

# variable manager takes care of merging all the different sources to give you a unified view of variables available in each context
variable_manager = VariableManager(loader=loader, inventory=inventory)

# create data structure that represents our play, including tasks, this is basically what our YAML loader does internally.
play_source =  dict(
        name = "Ansible Play",
        hosts = 'localhost',
        gather_facts = 'no',
        tasks = [
            dict(action=dict(module='shell', args='ls'), register='shell_out'),
            dict(action=dict(module='debug', args=dict(msg='{{shell_out.stdout}}')))

# Create play object, playbook objects use .load instead of init or new methods,
# this will also automatically create the task objects from the info provided in play_source
play = Play().load(play_source, variable_manager=variable_manager, loader=loader)

# Run it - instantiate task queue manager, which takes care of forking and setting up all objects to iterate over host list and tasks
tqm = None
    tqm = TaskQueueManager(
              stdout_callback=results_callback,  # Use our custom callback instead of the ``default`` callback plugin, which prints to stdout
    result = # most interesting data for a play is actually sent to the callback's methods
    # we always need to cleanup child procs and the structures we use to communicate with them
    if tqm is not None:

    # Remove ansible tmpdir
    shutil.rmtree(C.DEFAULT_LOCAL_TMP, True)


Ansible emits warnings and errors via the display object, which prints directly to stdout, stderr and the Ansible log.

The source code for the ansible command line tools (lib/ansible/cli/) is available on GitHub.

See also

Developing dynamic inventory

Developing dynamic inventory integrations

Should you develop a module?

How to develop modules

Developing plugins

How to develop plugins

Development Mailing List

Mailing list for development topics

#ansible IRC chat channel