Project Templates

Project Templates are GIT repositories that contain a base layout for a project and are coupled with pillar & state data that Salt uses to provision the project.

The files inside the template can be parsed as Jinja templates, by marking them to be parsed in the meta-data, if you need any of your files to be updated (which you pretty much always do).

You can also apply the same template logic to path names so that you can apply transformations to the filesystem to ensure that best practicies for naming and consistency are applied.

The fact that we have Project Templates and Jinja has a template engine that we use for files can become confusing. To help with the confusion we will always refer to our Project Templates with uppercase letters and to Jinja templates with a lowercase ‘t’.

Project Template meta-data

The meta-data for Project Templates is stored within a file at the root of the project named stackstrap.yml. This directory only exists in the Template itsef and is not present in the projects that are generated.


When loaing a Template into a Project, Stackstrap will take time to parse files and paths with the Jinja template engine. This allows you to seed your Template with project specific name spacing and other goodies like secrets.

Defining your Template for Stackstrap

Give StackStrap some information about your Template so that it can help you set it up.

  • `template_name` - a short name to describe the Project Template
  • `template_author` - your name (formatted as “Full Name <email@address>”)
  • `template_description` - a longer multi-line description of the Project Template


template_name: "Flask with Capistrano (nginx + uwsgi)"
template_author: "Brent Smyth <>"
    This template contains a Flask app with Flask Script for managing it.
    It is deployed using nginx as the HTTP endpoint and uwsgi as the
    application server.

Cleaning up files

You may have files in your Template which you do not want in your Projects. Perhaps you have a README that is only for the Template and another that you want to use for the Project. In this case just remove the README here and move the other one into place with a path transform (below):

    - README

Parsing files as Jinja templates

To tell StackStrap that a file should be passed through the Jinja template engine when creating a project instance you need to define a list named file_templates inside the stackstrap name space containing the file paths relative to the root of the project:

    - .ruby-gemset
    - deployment/deploy.rb
    - deployment/js_compress.json
    - foundation/config.rb

Transforming filesystem paths

To tell StackStrap that filesystem paths should be transformed based on the context data when creating a project instance you need to define a dictionary named path_templates inside the stackstrap name space containing the original path name as the key and the transformed path name, using the available context variables, as the value:

    - 'project_app/something/else': 'project_app/something/{{ }}'
    - 'project_app': '{{ project.slug }}_app'

Filesystem paths are transformed in the order they are listed, so list your more specific matches first as in the example above. Also, the filesystem transforms are applied after the file_templates (above) so if you’re specifying a file to both be treated as a template and have its filesystem path transformed specify the original path name in the file_templates list and not the transformed one.

Available context variables

When the pillar data and your templates are parsed the following variables are made available in the context:

  • `name` - The computer friendly name which you chose for the project. You can use this to seed your project’s files and paths.

Salt Files

The salt macros and pillar data are stored in a folder called salt at the root of the project.

TODO: Document this better.