Mastering Playbook Logging and Verbosity in Ansible: Best Practices for Efficient Automation


Automation has become an essential part of modern-day IT operations. It allows IT professionals to complete their tasks efficiently, freeing them up to be more productive and innovative.

Ansible is one of the most popular automation tools used in the industry today. It is an open-source software platform that enables administrators to manage IT infrastructure, deploy applications and automate processes.

Ansible uses a declarative language that makes it simple and easy to configure automation tasks. With Ansible, IT professionals can focus on higher-level tasks rather than repetitive ones, ultimately improving productivity and reducing errors.

Explanation of Ansible and its Importance in Automation

Ansible provides a comprehensive solution for automating complex IT workflows across different systems. It offers built-in modules for managing configuration files, deploying applications, installing packages and monitoring system performance. This means that administrators can use Ansible as a single tool for managing their entire infrastructure.

The importance of automation in the modern-day workplace cannot be overstated. Automation eliminates repetitive tasks that are prone to human error, frees employees from mundane activities, reduces costs associated with employee salary and benefits when compared to hiring additional staff members to handle those tasks manually.

Importance of Mastering Playbook Logging and Verbosity

A key feature of Ansible is its ability to log every action taken during playbooks execution automatically. This logging data can help diagnose issues with automation scripts or better understand how they operate behind-the-scenes. The verbosity level determines how much information gets logged during playbook execution; understanding verbosity levels will help you decide which data points are critical for understanding what happened during the playbook run or troubleshooting potential issues after deployment.

Mastery over playbook logging and verbosity will enable better problem-solving abilities because it provides more detailed information about what steps were taken, what areas of infrastructure were affected, and how those changes may have impacted the overall system performance. By mastering playbook logging and verbosity, IT professionals can troubleshoot issues promptly, minimize downtime and maintain a highly efficient infrastructure.

Understanding Playbook Logging in Ansible

What is playbook logging?

Playbook logging is the ability of Ansible to record events that occur during the execution of a playbook. It is a crucial feature that helps in troubleshooting possible errors, identifying performance issues, and improving overall automation efficiency. Playbook logs can be used to review tasks completed during the execution of the playbook, monitor changes made to remote systems, or diagnose issues that occurred during the run.

The output generated by playbook logs can be controlled and customized by setting log levels and using filters. This allows users to focus on specific parts of the execution and review detailed information for debugging purposes.

Types of logs available in Ansible

There are several types of logs available in Ansible. The most common are:

– Task Logs: These logs capture information about each task executed during a playbook run. They provide details such as the task name, module name, arguments passed to each module, and their result.

– System Logs: These logs capture general system information such as host connectivity status and system-related issues. – Debug Logs: These logs provide detailed debug information for modules executed during a task.

Importance of understanding playbook logging

Understanding how Ansible handles logging is an important skill for any automation engineer using this tool. By having a deep understanding of how to properly set up log levels and filters, engineers can ensure that they have access to all required data when reviewing their application’s execution processes.

Moreover, by mastering Playbook Logging in Ansible – engineers can easily troubleshoot issues that arise when running playbooks on remote servers or systems. By leveraging playbooks’ built-in features related to logging – engineers can get ahead with troubleshooting issues relating to remote server connections or failed tasks within their codebase quickly.

Best Practices for Playbook Logging in Ansible

Setting up log levels for different environments

When it comes to logging in Ansible, setting up log levels for different environments is an important best practice. Different environments require different levels of logging. For example, if you’re running a playbook in production, you may want to reduce the amount of information you’re logging to protect sensitive data.

On the other hand, when running a playbook in development or testing environments, more verbose logging can help with debugging. To set up log levels for different environments, you can use the `log_level` parameter in your Ansible configuration file (`ansible.cfg`).

This parameter lets you set the default log level for all playbooks and roles. You can also override this setting on a per-playbook basis using the `ansible-playbook` command line options.

Using custom log formats to improve readability

Ansible allows you to define custom log formats that can improve readability and make it easier to understand what’s happening during playbook execution. By default, Ansible logs are displayed as plain text with each line representing a new event or task. Customizing these logs with more structured output can make it easier to identify errors and understand what tasks have been executed.

To customize your logs, you can create a custom callback plugin that defines its own formatting rules and then include it in your playbook by specifying its path in the `callback_whitelist` option of your configuration file. Alternatively, you could use an existing third-party callback plugin such as ‘human_log’ which provides human-readable output that includes more context than standard logs.

Using filters to limit the amount of information logged

In some cases, playbooks may generate an excessive amount of output when executed. This output can be difficult to parse through and make troubleshooting difficult. To avoid this issue, Ansible provides a way to filter logs by only displaying specific types of information.

Filters can be used to limit the amount of information that is logged by Ansible. This is especially useful when you’re only interested in certain events or tasks.

You can use filters to show only errors, or to group logs based on specific criteria like hostname, task name, etc. To set up filters in your playbook, use the `log_callback` plugin and specify which filters you want applied using the `filter` parameter. This will ensure that only relevant log messages are displayed during playbook execution.

Understanding Verbosity Levels in Ansible

Verbosity levels in Ansible determine how much information is displayed when executing a playbook. It is an essential aspect of the playbook logging process as it helps automate the process and pinpoints errors or bugs. The verbosity level can be set using command-line options, configuration files, or inventory files.

What are verbosity levels?

Ansible has five different verbosity levels, each level displaying a different amount of information during task execution:

  • -v: this is the default verbosity level that provides basic information on what tasks are being executed and their status.
  • -vv: this level provides more detailed output that includes the values of variables used by tasks.
  • -vvv: this level provides even more detailed output that includes all values returned by modules.
  • -vvvv: this level displays full debugging information, including python stack traces for any errors that may occur.
  • -vvvvv: this extreme level displays all debugging output with extra verbosity added for specific modules or plugins modifications.

Different verbosity levels available in Ansible

The number of verbose levels offered by Ansible might seem like an overkill at first glance. However, they provide a lot of utility during development and troubleshooting. The default verbosity (level 1) gives you just about enough information to make sure that your playbook ran successfully without any hiccups.

In contrast, higher verbose levels allow you to inspect what’s happening under the hood. For example, suppose a task fails while executing a playbook with multiple tasks defined.

In that case, you can use verbose mode to identify which task failed such that you can fix the problem. The higher verbosity levels can display detailed information about the task’s variables, modules, and their return values.

Importance of understanding verbosity levels

Understanding which verbosity level to set during playbook execution is critical. Setting the wrong level can either result in too little information or too much information that is not required. Too little information may not provide enough details to identify problems, while too much detail may hinder readability and make it hard to pinpoint the cause of issues.

Therefore, it is crucial to understand each of Ansible’s verbosity levels and how they differ from one another. This knowledge can help you select an appropriate level for your use case, making troubleshooting more manageable and improving your playbook’s overall efficiency.

Best Practices for Verbosity Levels in Ansible

Setting up appropriate verbosity levels is an essential aspect of mastering playbook logging and verbosity in Ansible. The right level of verbosity helps to strike a balance between too much or too little information. By default, Ansible sets the verbosity level to 0, which means that no output is produced apart from success or failure notifications.

It’s advisable to adjust your verbosity levels based on the task at hand. In most cases, a verbosity level of -v (verbose) will suffice for most tasks.

However, there are times when you may need more detailed information; in such cases, you should increase the verbosity level to -vv (more verbose) and even -vvv (most verbose). For example, when troubleshooting a failed task or debugging an issue with your playbook, increasing the verbosity level can help you identify where things went wrong.

How to Use Verbose Output to Troubleshoot Issues

Verbose output is an excellent way to troubleshoot problems when running Ansible scripts. It provides more detailed information about what’s happening behind the scenes as well as any error messages that might arise during execution. To use verbose output effectively, you’ll need to tailor it according to your needs since too much information can be overwhelming and unnecessary.

When running playbooks in verbose mode (-v), you’ll get additional information about each task that Ansible runs; this includes information about which hosts are targeted and whether they succeeded or failed. You’ll also receive feedback on any changes made on each host along with details on what was changed and why.

While verbose mode can be incredibly useful for troubleshooting issues within playbooks, it’s crucial not to rely solely on it. The best approach is always first to try out tasks quietly (-q) before switching over into verbose mode(-v).

How to Balance Between Too Much or Too Little Information

Balancing between too much or too little information is critical to avoid either overwhelming your system or missing out on important details. It’s essential to strike a balance between the two by setting up the right verbosity levels based on the task at hand. When running a playbook, start with a low verbosity level (-v) and use it to troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

If you’re not getting enough information, increase the verbosity level incrementally until you get just enough information without overwhelming your system. Additionally, use filters and custom log formats to limit the amount of logging output produced based on your requirements.

Mastering playbook logging and verbosity in Ansible is vital for efficient automation. Setting up appropriate verbosity levels based on task complexity and using verbose output effectively can help troubleshoot issues quickly while maintaining an appropriate balance between too much or too little information.

Rarely Known Small Details about Playbook Logging and Verbosity in Ansible

How to use callback plugins for customized logging

Callback plugins are a powerful feature in Ansible that allow you to define custom behaviors when certain events occur during the execution of your playbook. By default, Ansible provides several built-in callback plugins that log information about the playbook’s progress, such as whether a task succeeded or failed, and how long it took to execute.

However, with callback plugins, you can create your own logging mechanism tailored for your specific needs. To use a callback plugin, create a Python file in your working directory with the name “” and define the required functions.

For example, you can define a function that logs information about each task as it runs or another function that sends an email notification whenever an error occurs. Once you have defined your functions, specify the path to your custom plugin in the “ansible.cfg” file using the “callback_plugins” option.

How to use debug module for additional information

The debug module is an essential tool for troubleshooting issues with your playbook. It allows you to print out variables and other data structures at runtime so that you can see what’s happening behind the scenes.

To use the debug module, simply add a new task to your playbook and specify which variable or data structure you want to print out using the “msg” parameter. For example: “`

– name: Debugging Example hosts: localhost

tasks: – name: Print Message

debug: msg: “{{ some_variable }}” “`

In this example, we’re printing out the value of “some_variable”. When this task is executed during our playbook run, we’ll see its value printed out on screen.

How to use -vvv option for detailed debugging

The “-vvv” option is a handy feature that can help you troubleshoot issues with your playbook by providing detailed information about what’s happening during the execution. When you run your playbook with this option, Ansible will print out a vast amount of debug information to the screen, including all of the tasks it’s executing and the values of any variables it encounters.

For example: “` ansible-playbook -i inventory.ini –extra-vars “some_variable=hello” myplaybook.yml -vvv “`

In this example, we’re running our playbook with the “-vvv” option to enable verbose output. This will print out an enormous amount of information, so be prepared to sift through it!

These rarely-known small details about playbook logging and verbosity in Ansible can take your automation skills to a whole new level. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll be better equipped to troubleshoot issues and customize your logging mechanism to suit your needs.


Mastering playbook logging and verbosity in Ansible is key to efficient and effective automation. With the right understanding of playbook logging and verbosity levels, you can save time, resources, and effort while troubleshooting issues. The best practices highlighted in this article will help you optimize your playbook logging and verbosity for different environments.

Key TakeawaysUnderstanding Playbook Logging in Ansible:

  • Playbook logging can be used to record information about tasks that have been run by Ansible.
  • The four types of logs are the default log, stdout log, syslog log, and JSON log.
  • To use playbook logging effectively one should have an understanding of what kind of information is being recorded in the logs.Best Practices for Playbook Logging in Ansible:
  • You should set up different log levels for different environments based on the level of detail required.
  • You can use custom log formats to make logs more readable.
  • You should filter logs to limit the amount of information logged based on its importance or relevance.Rarely Known Small Details about Playbook Logging and Verbosity in Ansible:
  • You can use callback plugins to customize your logging experience further.
  • The debug module provides additional information that can help with troubleshooting issues. You can use it by setting up a task with debug output instead of using ‘command’ or ‘shell’ modules directly.
  • If you’re dealing with complex issues or need very detailed information about how a task was executed (including variables), then -vvv option provides detailed debugging output which includes all task arguments including variable values at runtime. This is often useful for identifying subtle logic errors that might not show up otherwise!

In short, mastering playbook logging and verbosity in Ansible can be a powerful tool for anyone looking to optimize their automation workflows. By understanding the different types of logs available, the best practices for setting log levels, and the rarely-known details about logging in Ansible, you can make troubleshooting issues more efficient and effective. Start implementing these best practices today to make your automation workflows more streamlined and productive!

Related Articles