News is emerging of AnsibleWorks, a new online site serving the Ansible community at galaxy.ansibleworks.com. Ansible is currently (at the time of writing) the most popular configuration management tool on GitHub and is also the most forked and starred.
Michael DeHaan, creator of Ansible and cofounder and CTO of AnsibleWorks, explains that AnsibleWorks' Galaxy is a community for sharing content such as "roles;" i.e., call bundles of reusable "Ansible PlayBook" content.
These roles contain reusable instructions, default variables, templates, and files for deploying all kinds of applications and configuring various IT services.
As an example, if a developer is using an Nginx Module & a MySQL module when deploying a web application that requires both, the role makes it faster to build automation workflows without having to start from scratch.
A developer can download canned roles with a simple command-line call and then use simple Ansible PlayBook syntax to assign multiple roles to assign behavior to their systems. Galaxy will include a visual explore page to help surface new content, a ratings and review system, with karma — and, logically, integration with Github.
Additionally, Ansible 1.4.2 (released with Galaxy this week) will have the ansible-galaxy CLI to make it easier to integrate Galaxy content with PlayBooks.
According to DeHaan and his development unit, "When the team was designing Galaxy, they didn't start by looking at typical systems management content websites. Instead, they looked at popular websites that allow people to explore content in different ways — asking what makes them dynamic and useful?"
"They saw that the great thing about iTunes is it showcases what's happening right now. The great thing about sites like BeerAdvocate is they help showcase styles of new content but also structure their review process so you can learn more about something than just whether it was a 5-star or 3-star beverage. Flickr's Explore feature is a great way of finding content you wouldn't have normally found that users find interesting."
Ansible Galaxy provides many ways to find great new automation content — you can surf for Top Roles by category, but also can see the zeitgeist of what is coming in by looking at new reviews, or surfing the reviews of top reviewers to find what they like and use. New roles are showcased, as well as reviews by AnsibleWorks employees.
Galaxy also contains an integrated command-line tool for downloading content (basically a package manager) for pulling in roles — and their dependencies.
For developers, Galaxy offers additional benefits — by browsing to "/api", there is a fully discoverable REST API available, offering all features of the system. So it's easy to pull in content and surf what's available programmatically. This makes it possible to easily write new clients for Galaxy and embed it in other software systems.