Syncing MySQL tables with a custom Ansible module

Vincent Bernat

The community.mysql collection from Ansible Galaxy provides a mysql_query module to run arbitrary MySQL queries. Unfortunately, it does not support check mode nor the --diff flag. It is also unable to tell if there was a change. Let’s write a specific Ansible module to workaround these issues.


I recommend that you read “Writing a custom Ansible module” as an introduction.


The module has the following signature and it executes the provided SQL statements in a single transaction. It needs a list of the affected tables to be able to detect and show the changes.

  sql: |
    DELETE FROM rules WHERE name LIKE 'CMDB:%';
    INSERT INTO rules (name, rule) VALUES
      ('CMDB: check for cats', ':is(object, "CAT")'),
      ('CMDB: check for dogs', ':is(object, "DOG")');
    REPLACE INTO webhooks (name, url) VALUES
      ('OpsGenie', 'https://opsgenie/something/token'),
      ('Slack', 'https://slack/something/token');
  user: monitoring
  password: Yooghah5
  database: monitoring
    - rules
    - webhooks


The module does not enforce idempotency, but it is expected you provide appropriate SQL queries. In the above example, idempotency is achieved because the content of the rules table is deleted and recreated from scratch while the rows in the webhooks table are replaced if they already exist.

You need the PyMySQL package.

Module definition#

Starting from the skeleton described in the previous article, here is the module definition:

module_args = dict(
    sql=dict(type='str', required=True),
    user=dict(type='str', required=True),
    password=dict(type='str', required=True, no_log=True),
    database=dict(type='str', required=True),
    tables=dict(type='list', required=True, elements='str'),

result = dict(

module = AnsibleModule(

The password is marked with no_log to ensure it won’t be displayed or stored, notably when ansible-playbook runs in verbose mode. There is no host option as the module is executed on the MySQL host. Strong authentication using certificates is not implemented either. This matches our goal with custom modules: only implement what you strictly need.

Getting the current rows#

The next step is to retrieve the records currently in the database. The got dictionary is a mapping from table names to the list of rows they contain:

got = {}
tables = module.params['tables']

connection = pymysql.connect(

with connection.cursor() as cursor:
    for table in tables:
        cursor.execute("SELECT * FROM {}".format(table))
        got[table] = cursor.fetchall()

Computing the changes#

Let’s now build the wanted dictionary. The trick is to execute the SQL statements in a transaction without issuing a final commit. The changes will be invisible1 to other readers and we can compare the final rows with the rows collected in got:

wanted = {}
sql = module.params['sql']
statements = [statement.strip()
              for statement in sql.split(";\n")
              if statement.strip()]

with connection.cursor() as cursor:
    for statement in statements:
        except pymysql.OperationalError as err:
            code, message = err.args
            result['msg'] = "MySQL error for {}: {}".format(
    for table in tables:
        cursor.execute("SELECT * FROM {}".format(table))
        wanted[table] = cursor.fetchall()

The first for loop executes each statement. On error, we return a helpful message containing the faulty one. The second for loop records the final rows of each table in wanted.

Applying changes#

Back to the skeleton described in the previous article, the last step is to apply the changes if there is a difference between got and wanted when not running with check mode. The diff object is a bit more elaborate as it is built table by table. This enables Ansible to display the name of each table before the diff representation:

if got != wanted:
    result['changed'] = True
    result['diff'] = [dict(
                      for table in tables
                      if got[table] != wanted[table]]

if module.check_mode or not result['changed']:

Applying the changes is quite trivial: just commit them! Otherwise, they are lost when the module exits.


The complete code is available on GitHub. Compared to the mysql_query module, this one supports the check mode, signals correctly if there is a change and displays the differences. However, it should not be used with huge tables, as it would try to load them in memory.

  1. The tables need to use the InnoDB storage engine. Moreover, MySQL does not know how to use transactions with DDL statements: do not modify table definitions! ↩︎

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