The Ansible Development Cycle¶
The Ansible development cycle happens on two levels. At a macro level, the team plans releases and tracks progress with roadmaps and projects. At a micro level, each PR has its own lifecycle.
If you want to follow the conversation about what features will be added to Ansible for upcoming releases and what bugs are being fixed, you can watch these resources:
Ansible accepts code through pull requests (“PRs” for short). GitHub provides a great overview of how the pull request process works in general. The ultimate goal of any pull request is to get merged and become part of Ansible Core. Here’s an overview of the PR lifecycle:
Contributor opens a PR
Ansibot reviews the PR
Ansibot assigns labels
Ansibot pings maintainers
Shippable runs the test suite
Developers, maintainers, community review the PR
Contributor addresses any feedback from reviewers
Developers, maintainers, community re-review
PR merged or closed
Because Ansible receives many pull requests, and because we love automating things, we’ve automated several steps of the process of reviewing and merging pull requests with a tool called Ansibullbot, or Ansibot for short.
Ansibullbot serves many functions:
Responds quickly to PR submitters to thank them for submitting their PR
Identifies the community maintainer responsible for reviewing PRs for any files affected
Tracks the current status of PRs
Pings responsible parties to remind them of any PR actions for which they may be responsible
Provides maintainers with the ability to move PRs through the workflow
Identifies PRs abandoned by their submitters so that we can close them
Identifies modules abandoned by their maintainers so that we can find new maintainers
Ansibullbot runs continuously. You can generally expect to see changes to your issue or pull request within thirty minutes. Ansibullbot examines every open pull request in the repositories, and enforces state roughly according to the following workflow:
If a pull request has no workflow labels, it’s considered new. Files in the pull request are identified, and the maintainers of those files are pinged by the bot, along with instructions on how to review the pull request. (Note: sometimes we strip labels from a pull request to “reboot” this process.)
If the module maintainer is not
$team_ansible, the pull request then goes into the community_review state.
If the module maintainer is
$team_ansible, the pull request then goes into the core_review state (and probably sits for a while).
If the pull request is in community_review and has received comments from the maintainer:
If the maintainer says
shipit, the pull request is labeled shipit, whereupon the Core team assesses it for final merge.
If the maintainer says
needs_info, the pull request is labeled needs_info and the submitter is asked for more info.
If the maintainer says needs_revision, the pull request is labeled needs_revision and the submitter is asked to fix some things.
If the submitter says
ready_for_review, the pull request is put back into community_review or core_review and the maintainer is notified that the pull request is ready to be reviewed again.
If the pull request is labeled needs_revision or needs_info and the submitter has not responded lately:
The submitter is first politely pinged after two weeks, pinged again after two more weeks and labeled pending action, and the issue or pull request will be closed two weeks after that.
If the submitter responds at all, the clock is reset.
If the pull request is labeled community_review and the reviewer has not responded lately:
The reviewer is first politely pinged after two weeks, pinged again after two more weeks and labeled pending_action, and then may be reassigned to
$team_ansibleor labeled core_review, or often the submitter of the pull request is asked to step up as a maintainer.
If Shippable tests fail, or if the code is not able to be merged, the pull request is automatically put into needs_revision along with a message to the submitter explaining why.
There are corner cases and frequent refinements, but this is the workflow in general.
There are two types of PR Labels generally: workflow labels and information labels.
community_review: Pull requests for modules that are currently awaiting review by their maintainers in the Ansible community.
core_review: Pull requests for modules that are currently awaiting review by their maintainers on the Ansible Core team.
needs_info: Waiting on info from the submitter.
needs_rebase: Waiting on the submitter to rebase.
needs_revision: Waiting on the submitter to make changes.
shipit: Waiting for final review by the core team for potential merge.
backport: this is applied automatically if the PR is requested against any branch that is not devel. The bot immediately assigns the labels backport and
bugfix_pull_request: applied by the bot based on the templatized description of the PR.
cloud: applied by the bot based on the paths of the modified files.
docs_pull_request: applied by the bot based on the templatized description of the PR.
easyfix: applied manually, inconsistently used but sometimes useful.
feature_pull_request: applied by the bot based on the templatized description of the PR.
networking: applied by the bot based on the paths of the modified files.
owner_pr: largely deprecated. Formerly workflow, now informational. Originally, PRs submitted by the maintainer would automatically go to shipit based on this label. If the submitter is also a maintainer, we notify the other maintainers and still require one of the maintainers (including the submitter) to give a shipit.
pending_action: applied by the bot to PRs that are not moving. Reviewed every couple of weeks by the community team, who tries to figure out the appropriate action (closure, asking for new maintainers, and so on).
After Ansibot reviews the PR and applies labels, the PR is ready for human review. The most likely reviewers for any PR are the maintainers for the module that PR modifies.
The maintainer’s job is to review PRs that affect that module and decide whether they should be merged (
shipit) or revised (
needs_revision). We’d like to have at least one community maintainer for every module. If a module has no community maintainers assigned, the maintainer is listed as
Once a human applies the
shipit label, the committers decide whether the PR is ready to be merged. Not every PR that gets the
shipit label is actually ready to be merged, but the better our reviewers are, and the better our guidelines are, the more likely it will be that a PR that reaches shipit will be mergeable.
We don’t merge every PR. Here are some tips for making your PR useful, attractive, and merge-worthy.
Changelogs help users and developers keep up with changes to Ansible. Ansible builds a changelog for each release from fragments. You must add a changelog fragment to any PR that changes functionality or fixes a bug. You don’t have to add a changelog fragment for PRs that add new modules and plugins, because our tooling does that for you automatically.
We build short summary changelogs for minor releases as well as for major releases. If you backport a bugfix, include a changelog fragment with the backport PR.
A basic changelog fragment is a
.yaml file placed in the
changelogs/fragments/ directory. Each file contains a yaml dict with
major_changes followed by a list of
changelog entries of bugfixes or features. Each changelog entry is
rst embedded inside of the yaml file which means that certain
constructs would need to be escaped so they can be interpreted by rst
and not by yaml (or escaped for both yaml and rst if that’s your
desire). Each PR must use a new fragment file rather than adding to
an existing one, so we can trace the change back to the PR that introduced it.
To create a changelog entry, create a new file with a unique name in the
changelogs/fragments/ directory. The file name should include the PR number and a description of the change. It must end with the file extension
.yaml. For example:
A single changelog fragment may contain multiple sections but most will only contain one section. The toplevel keys (bugfixes, major_changes, and so on) are defined in the config file for our release note tool. Here are the valid sections and a description of each:
Major changes to Ansible itself. Generally does not include module or plugin changes.
Minor changes to Ansible, modules, or plugins. This includes new features, new parameters added to modules, or behavior changes to existing parameters.
Features that have been deprecated and are scheduled for removal in a future release.
Features that were previously deprecated and are now removed.
Fixes that resolve issues. If there is a specific issue related to this bugfix, add a link in the changelog entry.
Known issues that are currently not fixed or will not be fixed.
Most changelog entries will be
minor_changes. When writing a changelog entry that pertains to a particular module, start the entry with
- [module name] - and include a link to the related issue if one exists.
Here are some examples:
bugfixes: - win_updates - fixed issue where running win_updates on async fails without any error
minor_changes: - lineinfile - add warning when using an empty regexp (https://github.com/ansible/ansible/issues/29443)
bugfixes: - copy module - The copy module was attempting to change the mode of files for remote_src=True even if mode was not set as a parameter. This failed on filesystems which do not have permission bits.
You can find more example changelog fragments in the changelog directory for the 2.6 release. You can also find documentation of the format, including hints on embedding rst in the yaml, in the reno documentation.
Once you’ve written the changelog fragment for your PR, commit the file and include it with the pull request.
All Ansible PRs must be merged to the
devel branch first.
After a pull request has been accepted and merged to the
devel branch, the following instructions will help you create a
pull request to backport the change to a previous stable branch.
We do not backport features.
These instructions assume that:
stable-2.9is the targeted release branch for the backport
https://github.com/ansible/ansible.gitis configured as a
upstream. If you do not use a
upstream, adjust the instructions accordingly.
https://github.com/<yourgithubaccount>/ansible.gitis configured as a
origin. If you do not use a
origin, adjust the instructions accordingly.
Prepare your devel, stable, and feature branches:
git fetch upstream git checkout -b backport/2.9/[PR_NUMBER_FROM_DEVEL] upstream/stable-2.9
Cherry pick the relevant commit SHA from the devel branch into your feature branch, handling merge conflicts as necessary:
git cherry-pick -x [SHA_FROM_DEVEL]
Add a changelog fragment for the change, and commit it.
Push your feature branch to your fork on GitHub:
git push origin backport/2.9/[PR_NUMBER_FROM_DEVEL]
Submit the pull request for
The Release Manager will decide whether to merge the backport PR before the next minor release. There isn’t any need to follow up. Just ensure that the automated tests (CI) are green.
The choice to use
backport/2.9/[PR_NUMBER_FROM_DEVEL] as the
name for the feature branch is somewhat arbitrary, but conveys meaning
about the purpose of that branch. It is not required to use this format,
but it can be helpful, especially when making multiple backport PRs for
multiple stable branches.
If you prefer, you can use CPython’s cherry-picker tool
pip install --user 'cherry-picker >= 1.3.2') to backport commits
from devel to stable branches in Ansible. Take a look at the cherry-picker
details on installing, configuring, and using it.