Valid since:
XL Deploy 4.5.0

XL Deploy allows you to create rules that define which steps should be included in a deployment plan. Each rule in the xl-rules.xml file defines a number of steps to add to the deployment plan, and the available step primitives determine what kind of steps can be used. A step primitive is a definition of a piece of functionality that XL Deploy may execute as part of the deployment plan.

XL Deploy and its plugins include predefined steps such as noop and os-script. Also, you can define custom deployment step primitives in Java. To create a custom step that is available for rules, you must declare its name and parameters by providing annotations.

Authoring a step primitive

For XL Deploy to recognize your class as a step primitive:

  • It must implement the Java interface com.xebialabs.deployit.plugin.api.flow.Step
  • It must be annotated with @com.xebialabs.deployit.plugin.api.rules.StepMetadata(name = "step-name")
  • It must have a default constructor

The step-name you give in the annotation will be used verbatim as the XML tag name, so be sure to make it XML-compatible.

For example, the following Java code will allow you to use the UsefulStep class by specifying my-nifty-step inside your xl-rules.xml:

@StepMetadata(name = "my-nifty-step")
class UsefulStep implements Step {

Your XML would then look as follows:

<?xml ... ?>
<rules ...>
    <rule ...>

You can make your step primitives parameterized, with parameters that are required, optional and/or auto-calculated.

XL Deploy supports all Java primitives and string classes, including int, String, and so on.

Using the Step interface

XL Deploy uses the com.xebialabs.deployit.plugin.api.flow.Step interface to determine:

  • At what order the step should be executed
  • The description of the step that should appear in the deployment plan
  • What action(s) to execute for the step

For this, the Step interface declares these methods:

int getOrder();
String getDescription();
StepExitCode execute(ExecutionContext ctx) throws Exception;

The execute method is where you define the business logic for your step primitive. The ExecutionContext that is passed in allows you to access the repository using the credentials of the user executing the deployment plan.

Your implementation should return a StepExitCode to indicate whether execution of the step was successful.

Refer to the Javadoc for more information about Step.

Defining parameters in a step primitive

XL Deploy has a dependency injection mechanism that allows values from xl-rules.xml to be injected into your class. This is how you can set the step description or other parameters using XML.

To receive values from a rule, define a field in your class and annotate it with the @com.xebialabs.deployit.plugin.api.rules.StepParameter annotation. This annotation has the following attributes:

Attribute Description
name Defines the XML tag name of the parameter. Camel-case names (such as myParam) are represented with dashes in XML (my-param) or underscores in Jython (my_param=...). The content of the resulting XML tags are interpreted as Jython expressions and must result in a value of the type of the private field.
required Controls whether XL Deploy verifies that the parameter contains a value after the post-construct logic has run. Note that setting required=true does not necessarily imply that the parameter must be set from within the rules XML; you can use the post-construct logic to provide a default value.
calculated Indicates that a value can be automatically calculated in the step’s post-construct logic. The setting does not influence the behavior of the step parameter or of the step itself.
description Allows you to provide a description of the step parameter. For example, you can use this description to automatically generate documentation. It does not influence the behavior of the step parameter or of the step itself.

For example, the manual step primitive has:

@StepParameter(name = "freemarkerContext", description = "Dictionary that contains all values available in the template", required = false, calculated = true)
private Map<String, Object> vars = new HashMap<>();

The following XML sets the value of the vars field:

<?xml ... ?>
<rules ...>
    <rule ...>

Refer to the Javadoc for more information about StepParameter.

Implementing post-construct logic

You can add additional logic to your step that will be executed after all field values have been injected into your step. This logic may include defining or calculating default parameters of your step, applying complex validations, and so on.

To define post-construct logic:

  • Define a method with signature void myMethod(com.xebialabs.deployit.plugin.api.rules.StepPostConstructContext ctx)
  • Annotate your method with @com.xebialabs.deployit.plugin.api.rules.RulePostConstruct

There can be multiple post-construct methods in your class chain; each of these will be invoked in alphabetical order by name.

The StepPostConstructContext contains references to the DeployedApplication, the Scope, the scoped object (Delta, Deltas, or Specification), and the repository.

For example, the following step will try to find a value for defaultUrl in the repository if it is not specified in the rules XML, and the planning will fail if it is not found:

@StepParameter(name="defaultHostURL", description="The URL to contact first", required=true, calculated=true)
private String defaultUrl;

private void lookupDefaultUrl(StepPostConstructContext ctx) {
    if (defaultUrl==null || defaultUrl.equals("")) {
        Repository repo = ctx.getRepository();
        Delta delta = ctx.getDelta();
        defaultUrl = findDefaultUrl(delta, repo);      // to be implemented yourself

Refer to the Javadoc for more information about StepPostConstructContext.

Compiling step primitives

To compile your own step primitives, you depend on the following plugins, located in XL_DEPLOY_SERVER_HOME/lib:

  • base-plugin-x.y.z.jar
  • udm-plugin-api-x.y.z.jar

Making step primitives available to XL Deploy

After writing the code for your step primitive, you make it available to XL Deploy by compiling it into a JAR file and putting the file in XL_DEPLOY_SERVER_HOME/plugins.

Custom step example

This is an example of the implementation of a new type of step:

import com.xebialabs.deployit.plugin.api.flow.Step;
import com.xebialabs.deployit.plugin.api.rules.StepMetadata;
import com.xebialabs.deployit.plugin.api.rules.StepParameter;

@StepMetadata(name = "my-step")
public class MyStep implements Step {

    @StepParameter(label = "My parameter", description = "The foo's bar to baz the quuxes", required=false)
    private FooBarImpl myParam;
    @StepParameter(label = "Order", description = "The execution order of this step")
    private int order;

    public int getOrder() { return order; }
    public String getDescription() { return "Performing MyStep..."; }
    public StepExitCode execute(ExecutionContext ctx) throws Exception {
        /* ...perform deployment operations, using e.g. myParam...*/

In xl-rules.xml, you refer to this rule as follows:

<rule ...>
            <my-param expression="true"></myParam>

The script variant is as follows (note the underscores):

<rule ...>

A step type is represented by a Java class with a default constructor implementing the Step interface. The resulting class file must be placed in the standard XL Deploy classpath.

The order represents the execution order of the step and the description is the description of this step, which will appear in the Plan Analyzer and the deployment execution plan. The execute method is executed when the step runs. The ExecutionContext interface that is passed to the execute method allows you to access the repository and the step logs and allows you to set and get attributes, so steps can communicate data.

The step class must be annotated with the StepMetadata annotation, which has only a name String member. This name translates directly to a tag inside the steps section of xl-rules.xml, so the name must be XML-compliant. In this example, @StepMetadata(name="my-step") corresponds to the my-step tag.

Passing data to the step class is done using dependency injection. You annotate the private fields that you want to receive data with the StepParameter annotation.

In xl-rules.xml, you fill these fields by adding tags based on the field name.

Refer to the Javadoc for more information about interfaces and annotations.