Debugging Chef Variables With Logs

When you're developing Chef cookbooks, you're likely to need to debug things that aren't working as expected. One option to do this interactively is using chef-shell while developing, but this doesn't necessarily help when we're not developing interactively.

In this case, we can utilise Chef's first-class logging, but we need to consider the two-pass process that Chef goes through.

To illustrate this, consider the following Chef recipe:

node.default['dynamic_property'] = 'This is set at the compile phase'

puts "This is a puts message, from the compile phase: #{node['dynamic_property']}"

ruby_block 'Update dynamic_property' do
  block do
    node.override['dynamic_property'] = 'This is set at the converge phase'
  end
  action :run
end

puts "This is a puts message, from the compile phase: #{node['dynamic_property']}"

log 'message -> compile' do
  message "This is a log message, from the compile phase: #{node['dynamic_property']}"
  level :info
end

log 'message -> converge' do
  message lazy { "This is a log message, from the converge phase: #{node['dynamic_property']}" }
  level :info
end

ruby_block 'block -> converge' do
  block do
    puts "This is a log message, from a ruby_block converge phase: #{node['dynamic_property']}"
  end
  action :run
end

ruby_block 'Chef::log -> converge' do
  block do
    Chef::Log.info "This is a log message, from a ruby_block in Chef::Log.info in the converge phase: #{node['dynamic_property']}"
  end
  action :run
end

We can see from the output of a Chef run of the above cookbook that the logs should be logged via a log resource, with lazy blocks to ensure the message is evaluated at converge time, or that we use a ruby_block with a Chef::Log:

Compiling Cookbooks...
This is a puts message, from the compile phase: This is set at the compile phase
This is a puts message, from the compile phase: This is set at the compile phase
Converging 5 resources
Recipe: example::default
  * ruby_block[Update dynamic_property] action run[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: Processing ruby_block[Update dynamic_property] action run (example::default line 11)
[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: ruby_block[Update dynamic_property] called

    execute the ruby block Update dynamic_property
  * log[message -> compile] action write[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: Processing log[message -> compile] action write (example::default line 20)
[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: This is a log message, from the compile phase: This is set at the compile phase

  * log[message -> converge] action write[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: Processing log[message -> converge] action write (example::default line 25)
[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: This is a log message, from the converge phase: This is set at the converge phase

  * ruby_block[block -> converge] action run[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: Processing ruby_block[block -> converge] action run (example::default line 30)
This is a log message, from a ruby_block converge phase: This is set at the converge phase
[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: ruby_block[block -> converge] called

    execute the ruby block block -> converge
  * ruby_block[Chef::log -> converge] action run[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: Processing ruby_block[Chef::log -> converge] action run (example::default line 37)
[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: This is a log message, from a ruby_block in Chef::Log.info in the converge phase: This is set at the converge phase
[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: ruby_block[Chef::log -> converge] called

    execute the ruby block Chef::log -> converge
[2021-12-13T19:37:51+00:00] INFO: Chef Infra Client Run complete in 0.079342634 seconds

Although we can use puts, this doesn't give us the ability to use logging levels that can then be filtered more appropriately by Chef, and allow us to hone in on i.e. fatal errors.

Written by Jamie Tanna's profile image Jamie Tanna on , and last updated on .

Content for this article is shared under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International, and code is shared under the Apache License 2.0.

#blogumentation #chef.

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