Developing network resource modules

Understanding network and security resource modules

Network and security devices separate configuration into sections (such as interfaces, VLANs, and so on) that apply to a network or security service. Ansible resource modules take advantage of this to allow users to configure subsections or resources within the device configuration. Resource modules provide a consistent experience across different network and security devices. For example, a network resource module may only update the configuration for a specific portion of the network interfaces, VLANs, ACLs, and so on, for a network device. The resource module:

  1. Fetches a piece of the configuration (fact gathering), for example, the interfaces configuration.
  2. Converts the returned configuration into key-value pairs.
  3. Places those key-value pairs into an internal agnostic structured data format.

Now that the configuration data is normalized, the user can update and modify the data and then use the resource module to send the configuration data back to the device. This results in a full round-trip configuration update without the need for manual parsing, data manipulation, and data model management.

The resource module has two top-level keys - config and state:

  • config defines the resource configuration data model as key-value pairs. The type of the config option can be dict or list of dict based on the resource managed. That is, if the device has a single global configuration, it should be a dict (for example, a global LLDP configuration). If the device has multiple instances of configuration, it should be of type list with each element in the list of type dict (for example, interfaces configuration).
  • state defines the action the resource module takes on the end device.

The state for a new resource module should support the following values (as applicable for the devices that support them):

Ansible merges the on-device configuration with the provided configuration in the task.
Ansible replaces the on-device configuration subsection with the provided configuration subsection in the task.
Ansible overrides the on-device configuration for the resource with the provided configuration in the task. Use caution with this state as you could remove your access to the device (for example, by overriding the management interface configuration).
Ansible deletes the on-device configuration subsection and restores any default settings.
Ansible displays the resource details gathered from the network device and accessed with the gathered key in the result.
Ansible renders the provided configuration in the task in the device-native format (for example, Cisco IOS CLI). Ansible returns this rendered configuration in the rendered key in the result. Note this state does not communicate with the network device and can be used offline.
Ansible parses the configuration from the running_configuration option into Ansible structured data in the parsed key in the result. Note this does not gather the configuration from the network device so this state can be used offline.

Modules in Ansible-maintained collections must support these state values. If you develop a module with only “present” and “absent” for state, you may submit it to a community collection.


The states rendered, gathered, and parsed do not perform any change on the device.

See also

Deep Dive on VLANs Resource Modules for Network Automation
Walkthrough of how state values are implemented for VLANs.

Developing network and security resource modules

The Ansible Engineering team ensures the module design and code pattern within Ansible-maintained collections is uniform across resources and across platforms to give a vendor-agnostic feel and deliver good quality code. We recommend you use the resource module builder to develop a resource module.

The highlevel process for developing a resource module is:

  1. Create and share a resource model design in the resource module models repository as a PR for review.
  2. Download the latest version of the resource module builder.
  3. Run the resource module builder to create a collection scaffold from your approved resource model.
  4. Write the code to implement your resource module.
  5. Develop integration and unit tests to verify your resource module.
  6. Create a PR to the appropriate collection that you want to add your new resource module to. See Contributing to Ansible-maintained Collections for details on determining the correct collection for your module.

Understanding the model and resource module builder

The resource module builder is an Ansible Playbook that helps developers scaffold and maintain an Ansible resource module. It uses a model as the single source of truth for the module. This model is a yaml file that is used for the module DOCUMENTATION section and the argument spec.

The resource module builder has the following capabilities:

  • Uses a defined model to scaffold a resource module directory layout and initial class files.
  • Scaffolds either an Ansible role or a collection.
  • Subsequent uses of the resource module builder will only replace the module arspec and file containing the module docstring.
  • Allows you to store complex examples along side the model in the same directory.
  • Maintains the model as the source of truth for the module and use resource module builder to update the source files as needed.
  • Generates working sample modules for both <network_os>_<resource> and <network_os>_facts.

Accessing the resource module builder

To access the resource module builder:

  1. clone the github repository:
git clone
  1. Install the requirements:
pip install -r requirements.txt

Creating a model

You must create a model for your new resource. The model is the single source of truth for both the argspec and docstring, keeping them in sync. Once your model is approved, you can use the resource module builder to generate three items based on the model:

  • The scaffold for a new module
  • The argspec for the new module
  • The docstring for the new module

For any subsequent changes to the functionality, update the model first and use the resource module builder to update the module argspec and docstring.

For example, the resource model builder includes the myos_interfaces.yml sample in the models directory, as seen below:


RESOURCE: interfaces
COPYRIGHT: Copyright 2019 Red Hat
LICENSE: gpl-3.0.txt

  module: myos_interfaces
  version_added: 1.0.0
  short_description: 'Manages <xxxx> attributes of <network_os> <resource>'
  description: 'Manages <xxxx> attributes of <network_os> <resource>.'
  author: Ansible Network Engineer
    - 'Tested against <network_os> <version>'
      description: The provided configuration
      type: list
      elements: dict
          type: str
          description: The name of the <resource>
          type: str
          - The some_string_01
          - choice_a
          - choice_b
          - choice_c
          default: choice_a
          - The some_bool.
          type: bool
          - The some_int.
          type: int
          version_added: '1.1'
          type: dict
          - The some_dict.
              - The property_01
              type: str
      - The state of the configuration after module completion.
      type: str
      - merged
      - replaced
      - overridden
      - deleted
      default: merged
  - deleted_example_01.txt
  - merged_example_01.txt
  - overridden_example_01.txt
  - replaced_example_01.txt

Notice that you should include examples for each of the states that the resource supports. The resource module builder also includes these in the sample model.

Share this model as a PR for review at resource module models repository. You can also see more model examples at that location.

Creating a collection scaffold from a resource model

To use the resource module builder to create a collection scaffold from your approved resource model:

ansible-playbook -e rm_dest=<destination for modules and module utils> \
                 -e structure=collection \
                 -e collection_org=<collection_org> \
                 -e collection_name=<collection_name> \
                 -e model=<model> \

Where the parameters are as follows:

  • rm_dest: The directory where the resource module builder places the files and directories for the resource module and facts modules.
  • structure: The directory layout type (role or collection)
    • role: Generate a role directory layout.
    • collection: Generate a collection directory layout.
  • collection_org: The organization of the collection, required when structure=collection.
  • collection_name: The name of the collection, required when structure=collection.
  • model: The path to the model file.

To use the resource module builder to create a role scaffold:

ansible-playbook -e rm_dest=<destination for modules and module utils> \
                 -e structure=role \
                 -e model=<model> \


Collection directory layout

This example shows the directory layout for the following:

  • network_os: myos
  • resource: interfaces
ansible-playbook -e rm_dest=~/github/rm_example \
                 -e structure=collection \
                 -e collection_org=cidrblock \
                 -e collection_name=my_collection \
                 -e model=models/myos/interfaces/myos_interfaces.yml \
├── docs
├── LICENSE.txt
├── playbooks
├── plugins
|   ├── action
|   ├── filter
|   ├── inventory
|   ├── modules
|   |   ├──
|   |   ├──
|   |   └──
|   └──  module_utils
|       ├──
|       └──  network
|           ├──
|           └──  myos
|               ├── argspec
|               |   ├── facts
|               |   |   ├──
|               |   |   └──
|               |   ├──
|               |   └──  interfaces
|               |       ├──
|               |       └──
|               ├── config
|               |   ├──
|               |   └──  interfaces
|               |       ├──
|               |       └──
|               ├── facts
|               |   ├──
|               |   ├──
|               |   └──  interfaces
|               |       ├──
|               |       └──
|               ├──
|               └──  utils
|                   ├──
|                   └──
└──  roles

Role directory layout

This example displays the role directory layout for the following:

  • network_os: myos
  • resource: interfaces
ansible-playbook -e rm_dest=~/github/rm_example/roles/my_role \
                 -e structure=role \
                 -e model=models/myos/interfaces/myos_interfaces.yml \
└── my_role
    ├── library
    │   ├──
    │   ├──
    │   └──
    ├── LICENSE.txt
    ├── module_utils
    │   ├──
    │   └── network
    │       ├──
    │       └── myos
    │           ├── argspec
    │           │   ├── facts
    │           │   │   ├──
    │           │   │   └──
    │           │   ├──
    │           │   └── interfaces
    │           │       ├──
    │           │       └──
    │           ├── config
    │           │   ├──
    │           │   └── interfaces
    │           │       ├──
    │           │       └──
    │           ├── facts
    │           │   ├──
    │           │   ├──
    │           │   └── interfaces
    │           │       ├──
    │           │       └──
    │           ├──
    │           └── utils
    │               ├──
    │               └──

Using the collection

This example shows how to use the generated collection in a playbook:

- hosts: myos101
  gather_facts: False
  - cidrblock.my_collection.myos_interfaces:
    register: result
  - debug:
      var: result
  - cidrblock.my_collection.myos_facts:
  - debug:
      var: ansible_network_resources

Using the role

This example shows how to use the generated role in a playbook:

- hosts: myos101
  gather_facts: False
  - my_role

- hosts: myos101
  gather_facts: False
  - myos_interfaces:
    register: result
  - debug:
      var: result
  - myos_facts:
  - debug:
      var: ansible_network_resources

Resource module structure and workflow

The resource module structure includes the following components:

  • library/<ansible_network_os>_<resource>.py.
  • Imports the module_utils resource package and calls execute_module API:
def main():
    result = <resource_package>(module).execute_module()
Module argspec
  • module_utils/<ansible_network_os>/argspec/<resource>/.
  • Argspec for the resource.
  • module_utils/<ansible_network_os>/facts/<resource>/.
  • Populate facts for the resource.
  • Entry in module_utils/<ansible_network_os>/facts/ for get_facts API to keep <ansible_network_os>_facts module and facts gathered for the resource module in sync for every subset.
  • Entry of Resource subset in FACTS_RESOURCE_SUBSETS list in module_utils/<ansible_network_os>/facts/ to make facts collection work.
Module package in module_utils
  • module_utils/<ansible_network_os>/<config>/<resource>/.
  • Implement execute_module API that loads the configuration to device and generates the result with changed, commands, before and after keys.
  • Call get_facts API that returns the <resource> configuration facts or return the difference if the device has onbox diff support.
  • Compare facts gathered and given key-values if diff is not supported.
  • Generate final configuration.
  • module_utils/<ansible_network_os>/utils.
  • Utilities for the <ansible_network_os> platform.

Running ansible-test sanity and tox on resource modules

You should run ansible-test sanity and tox -elinters from the collection root directory before pushing your PR to an Ansible-maintained collection. The CI runs both and will fail if these tests fail. See Testing Ansible for details on ansible-test sanity.

To install the necessary packages:

  1. Ensure you have a valid Ansible development environment configured. See Environment setup for details.
  2. Run pip install -r requirements.txt from the collection root directory.

Running tox -elinters:

  • Reads tox.ini from the collection root directory and installs required dependencies (such as black and flake8).
  • Runs these with preconfigured options (such as line-length and ignores.)
  • Runs black in check mode to show which files will be formatted without actually formatting them.

Testing resource modules

The tests rely on a role generated by the resource module builder. After changes to the resource module builder, the role should be regenerated and the tests modified and run as needed. To generate the role after changes:

rm -rf rmb_tests/roles/my_role
ansible-playbook -e rm_dest=./rmb_tests/roles/my_role \
                 -e structure=role \
                 -e model=models/myos/interfaces/myos_interfaces.yml \

Resource module integration tests

High-level integration test requirements for new resource modules are as follows:

  1. Write a test case for every state.
  2. Write additional test cases to test the behavior of the module when an empty config.yaml is given.
  3. Add a round trip test case. This involves a merge operation, followed by gather_facts, a merge update with additional configuration, and then reverting back to the base configuration using the previously gathered facts with the state set to overridden.
  4. Wherever applicable, assertions should check after and before dicts against a hard coded Source of Truth.

We use Zuul as the CI to run the integration test.

  • To view the report, click Details on the CI comment in the PR
  • To view a failure report, click ansible/check and select the failed test.
  • To view logs while the test is running, check for your PR number in the Zull status board.
  • To fix static test failure locally, run the tox -e black inside the root folder of collection.

To view The Ansible run logs and debug test failures:

  1. Click the failed job to get the summary, and click Logs for the log.
  2. Click console and scroll down to find the failed test.
  3. Click > next to the failed test for complete details.

Integration test structure

Each test case should generally follow this pattern:

  • setup —> test —> assert —> test again (for idempotency) —> assert —> tear down (if needed) -> done. This keeps test playbooks from becoming monolithic and difficult to troubleshoot.
  • Include a name for each task that is not an assertion. You can add names to assertions as well, but it is easier to identify the broken task within a failed test if you add a name for each task.
  • Files containing test cases must end in .yaml


For platforms that support connection: local and connection: network_cli use the following guidance:

  • Name the targets/ directories after the module name.
  • The main.yaml file should just reference the transport.

The following example walks through the integration tests for the vyos.vyos.vyos_l3_interfaces module in the vyos.vyos collection:


- include: cli.yaml
    - cli


- name: collect all cli test cases
    paths: "{{ role_path }}/tests/cli"
    patterns: "{{ testcase }}.yaml"
  register: test_cases
  delegate_to: localhost

- name: set test_items
  set_fact: test_items="{{ test_cases.files | map(attribute='path') | list }}"

- name: run test cases (connection=network_cli)
  include: "{{ test_case_to_run }} ansible_connection=network_cli"
  with_items: "{{ test_items }}"
    loop_var: test_case_to_run

- name: run test case (connection=local)
  include: "{{ test_case_to_run }} ansible_connection=local ansible_become=no"
  with_first_found: "{{ test_items }}"
    loop_var: test_case_to_run


- debug:
 msg: START vyos_l3_interfaces merged integration tests on connection={{ ansible_connection

- include_tasks: _remove_config.yaml

- block:

 - include_tasks: _populate.yaml

 - name: Overrides all device configuration with provided configuration
   register: result
   vyos.vyos.vyos_l3_interfaces: &id001

       - name: eth0

           - address: dhcp

       - name: eth1

           - address:
     state: overridden

 - name: Assert that before dicts were correctly generated
       - "{{ populate | symmetric_difference(result['before']) |length == 0 }}"

 - name: Assert that correct commands were generated
       - "{{ overridden['commands'] | symmetric_difference(result['commands'])\
         \ |length == 0 }}"

 - name: Assert that after dicts were correctly generated
       - "{{ overridden['after'] | symmetric_difference(result['after']) |length\
         \ == 0 }}"

 - name: Overrides all device configuration with provided configurations (IDEMPOTENT)
   register: result
   vyos.vyos.vyos_l3_interfaces: *id001

 - name: Assert that the previous task was idempotent
       - result['changed'] == false

 - name: Assert that before dicts were correctly generated
       - "{{ overridden['after'] | symmetric_difference(result['before']) |length\
         \ == 0 }}"

 - include_tasks: _remove_config.yaml

Detecting test resources at runtime

Your tests should detect resources (such as interfaces) at runtime rather than hard-coding them into the test. This allows the test to run on a variety of systems.

For example:

- name: Collect interface list
  connection: ansible.netcommon.network_cli
  register: intout
      - show interface brief | json

- set_fact:
    intdataraw: "{{ intout.stdout_lines[0]['TABLE_interface']['ROW_interface'] }}"

- set_fact:
    nxos_int1: '{{ intdataraw[1].interface }}'

- set_fact:
    nxos_int2: '{{ intdataraw[2].interface }}'

- set_fact:
    nxos_int3: '{{ intdataraw[3].interface }}'

See the complete test example of this at

Running network integration tests

Ansible uses Zuul to run an integration test suite on every PR, including new tests introduced by that PR. To find and fix problems in network modules, run the network integration test locally before you submit a PR.

First, create an inventory file that points to your test machines. The inventory group should match the platform name (for example, eos, ios):

cd test/integration
cp inventory.networking
${EDITOR:-vi} inventory.networking
# Add in machines for the platform(s) you wish to test

To run these network integration tests, use ansible-test network-integration --inventory </path/to/inventory> <tests_to_run>:

ansible-test network-integration  --inventory ~/myinventory -vvv vyos_facts
ansible-test network-integration  --inventory ~/myinventory -vvv vyos_.*

To run all network tests for a particular platform:

ansible-test network-integration --inventory  /path/to-collection-module/test/integration/inventory.networking vyos_.*

This example will run against all vyos modules. Note that vyos_.* is a regex match, not a bash wildcard - include the . if you modify this example.

To run integration tests for a specific module:

ansible-test network-integration --inventory  /path/to-collection-module/test/integration/inventory.networking vyos_l3_interfaces

To run a single test case on a specific module:

# Only run vyos_l3_interfaces/tests/cli/gathered.yaml
ansible-test network-integration --inventory  /path/to-collection-module/test/integration/inventory.networking vyos_l3_interfaces --testcase gathered

To run integration tests for a specific transport:

 # Only run nxapi test
ansible-test network-integration --inventory  /path/to-collection-module/test/integration/inventory.networking  --tags="nxapi" nxos_.*

# Skip any cli tests
 ansible-test network-integration --inventory  /path/to-collection-module/test/integration/inventory.networking  --skip-tags="cli" nxos_.*

See test/integration/targets/nxos_bgp/tasks/main.yaml for how this is implemented in the tests.

For more options:

ansible-test network-integration --help

If you need additional help or feedback, reach out in #ansible-network on Freenode.

Unit test requirements

High-level unit test requirements that new resource modules should follow:

  1. Write test cases for all the states with all possible combinations of config values.
  2. Write test cases to test the error conditions ( negative scenarios).
  3. Check the value of changed and commands keys in every test case.

We run all unit test cases on our Zuul test suite, on the latest python version supported by our CI setup.

Use the same procedure as the integration tests to view Zuul unit tests reports and logs.

See unit module testing for general unit test details.

Example: Unit testing Ansible network resource modules

This section walks through an example of how to develop unit tests for Ansible resource modules.

See Unit Tests and Unit Testing Ansible Modules for general documentation on Ansible unit tests for modules. Please read those pages first to understand unit tests and why and when you should use them.

Using mock objects to unit test Ansible network resource modules

Mock objects can be very useful in building unit tests for special or difficult cases, but they can also lead to complex and confusing coding situations. One good use for mocks would be to simulate an API. The mock Python package is bundled with Ansible (use import units.compat.mock).

You can mock the device connection and output from the device as follows:

self.mock_get_config = patch( ""
self.get_config = self.mock_get_config.start()

self.mock_load_config = patch(
self.load_config = self.mock_load_config.start()

self.mock_get_resource_connection_config = patch(
self.get_resource_connection_config = (self.mock_get_resource_connection_config.start())

self.mock_get_resource_connection_facts = patch(
self.get_resource_connection_facts = (self.mock_get_resource_connection_facts.start())

self.mock_edit_config = patch(
self.edit_config = self.mock_edit_config.start()

self.mock_execute_show_command = patch(
self.execute_show_command = self.mock_execute_show_command.start()

The facts file of the module now includes a new method, get_device_data. Call get_device_data here to emulate the device output.

Mocking device data

To mock fetching results from devices or provide other complex data structures that come from external libraries, you can use fixtures to read in pre-generated data. The text files for this pre-generated data live in test/units/modules/network/PLATFORM/fixtures/. See for example the eos_l2_interfaces.cfg file.

Load data using the load_fixture method and set this data as the return value of the get_device_data method in the facts file:

def load_fixtures(self, commands=None, transport='cli'):
    def load_from_file(*args, **kwargs):
        return load_fixture('eos_l2_interfaces_config.cfg')
    self.execute_show_command.side_effect = load_from_file

See the unit test file test_eos_l2_interfaces for a practical example.

See also

Unit Tests
Deep dive into developing unit tests for Ansible modules
Testing Ansible
Running tests locally including gathering and reporting coverage data
Ansible module development: getting started
Get started developing a module