AWS OpsWorks
User Guide (API Version 2013-02-18)

Example 6: Creating Files

After you have created directories, you often need to populate them with configuration files, data files, and so on. This topic shows two ways to install files on an instance.

Installing a File from a Cookbook

The simplest way to install a file on an instance is to use a cookbook_file resource, which copies a file from the cookbook to a specified location on the instance for both Linux and Windows systems. This example extends the recipe from Example 3: Creating Directories to add a data file to /srv/www/shared after the directory is created. For reference, here is the original recipe.

directory "/srv/www/shared" do mode 0755 owner 'root' group 'root' recursive true action :create end

To set up the cookbook

  1. Inside the opsworks_cookbooks directory, create a directory named createfile and navigate to it.

  2. Add a metadata.rb file to createfile with the following content.

    name "createfile" version "0.1.0"
  3. Initialize and configure Test Kitchen, as described in Example 1: Installing Packages, and remove CentOS from the platforms list.

  4. Add a recipes subdirectory to createfile.

The file to be installed contains the following JSON data.

{ "my_name" : "myname", "your_name" : "yourname", "a_number" : 42, "a_boolean" : true }

To set up the data file

  1. Add a files subdirectory to createfile and a default subdirectory to files. Any file that you install with cookbook_file must be in a subdirectory of files, such as files/default in this example.


    If you want to specify different files for different systems, you can put each system-specific file in a subfolder named for the system, such as files/ubuntu. The cookbook_file resource copies the appropriate system-specific file, if it exists, and otherwise uses the default file. For more information, see cookbook_file.

  2. Create a file named example_data.json with the JSON from the preceding example and add it to files/default.

The following recipe copies example_data.json to a specified location.

directory "/srv/www/shared" do mode 0755 owner 'root' group 'root' recursive true action :create end cookbook_file "/srv/www/shared/example_data.json" do source "example_data.json" mode 0644 action :create_if_missing end

After the directory resource creates /srv/www/shared, the cookbook_file resource copies example_data.json to that directory and also sets the file's user, group, and mode.


The cookbook_file resource introduces a new action: create_if_missing. You could also use a create action, but that overwrites an existing file. If you don't want to overwrite anything, use create_if_missing, which installs example_data.json only if it does not already exist.

To run the recipe

  1. Run kitchen destroy to start with a fresh instance.

  2. Create a default.rb file that contains the preceding recipe and save it to recipes.

  3. Run kitchen converge, then log in to the instance to verify that /srv/www/shared containsexample_data.json.

Creating a File from a Template

The cookbook_file resource is useful for some purposes, but it just installs whatever file you have in the cookbook. A template resource provides a more flexible way to install a file on a Windows or Linux instance by creating it dynamically from a template. You can then determine the details of the file's contents at runtime and change them as needed. For example, you might want a configuration file to have a particular setting when you start the instance and modify the setting later when you add more instances to the stack.

This example modifies the createfile cookbook to use a template resource to install a slightly modified version of example_data.json.

Here's what the installed file will look like.

{ "my_name" : "myname", "your_name" : "yourname", "a_number" : 42, "a_boolean" : true, "a_string" : "some string", "platform" : "ubuntu" }

Template resources are typically used in conjunction with attribute files, so the example uses one to define the following values.

default['createfile']['my_name'] = 'myname' default['createfile']['your_name'] = 'yourname' default['createfile']['install_file'] = true

To set up the cookbook

  1. Delete the createfile cookbook's files directory and its contents.

  2. Add an attributes subdirectory to createfile and add a default.rb file to attributes that contains the preceding attribute definitions.

A template is a .erb file that is basically a copy of the final file, with some of the contents represented by placeholders. When the template resource creates the file, it copies the template's contents to the specified file, and overwrites the placeholders with their assigned values. Here's the template for example_data.json.

{ "my_name" : "<%= node['createfile']['my_name'] %>", "your_name" : "<%= node['createfile']['your_name'] %>", "a_number" : 42, "a_boolean" : <%= @a_boolean_var %>, "a_string" : "<%= @a_string_var %>", "platform" : "<%= node['platform'] %>" }

The <%=...%> values are the placeholders.

  • <%=node[...]%> represents a node attribute value.

    For this example, the "your_name" value is a placeholder that represents one of the attribute values from the cookbook's attribute file.

  • <%=@...%> represents the value of a variable that is defined in the template resource, as discussed shortly.

To create the template file

  1. Add a templates subdirectory to the createfile cookbook and a default subdirectory to templates.


    The templates directory works much like the files directory. You can put system-specific templates in a subdirectory such as ubuntu that is named for the system. The template resource uses the appropriate system-specific template if it exists and otherwise uses the default template.

  2. Create a file named example_data.json.erb and put in the templates/default directory. The template name is arbitrary, but you usually create it by appending .erb to the file name, including any extensions.

The following recipe uses a template resource to create /srv/www/shared/example_data.json.

directory "/srv/www/shared" do mode 0755 owner 'root' group 'root' recursive true action :create end template "/srv/www/shared/example_data.json" do source "example_data.json.erb" mode 0644 variables( :a_boolean_var => true, :a_string_var => "some string" ) only_if {node['createfile']['install_file']} end

The template resource creates example_data.json from a template and installs it in /srv/www/shared.

  • The template name, /srv/www/shared/example_data.json, specifies the installed file's path and name.

  • The source attribute specifies the template used to create the file.

  • The mode attribute specifies the installed file's mode.

  • The resource defines two variables, a_boolean_var and a_string_var.

    When the resource creates example_data.json, it overwrites the variable placeholders in the template with the corresponding values from the resource.

  • The only_if guard attribute directs the resource to create the file only if ['createfile']['install_file'] is set to true.

To run the recipe

  1. Run kitchen destroy to start with a fresh instance.

  2. Replace the code in recipes/default.rb with the preceding example.

  3. Run kitchen converge, then log in to the instance to verify that the file is in /srv/www/shared and has the correct content.

When you are finished, run kitchen destroy to shut down the instance. The next section uses a new cookbook.