Copyright (c) 2015 Wayne Warren

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
Unported License.

JJB 2.0.0 API Changes!/story/2000258

The goal of this spec is to define a series of backwards-incompatible API changes that will necessitate a 2.x release of Jenkins Job Builder. The high-level goals of these changes are:

  • to ensure that the various classes are useful outside of JJB itself where appropriate
  • to clearly define public interfaces for various classes and document the purpose/role of these classes in the API
  • to eliminate unuseful class relationships in favor of tiered delegation of program behavior
  • to reduce the importance of the YamlParser as the only source of the data structures necessary for XML generation

Problem Description

Jenkins Job Builder has history of organic, piecemeal development wherein patches tend to be highly focused on improving one or another aspect of the program. For the most part this is understandable, expected even–the modular implementation of XML generation on a per-Jenkins-plugin basis lends itself well to this style of development. However when it comes to changes to the core abstractions, in particular the Builder and YamlParser clases, many ad hoc design decisions have led to tightly bound implementations that make the overall API difficult if not impossible to reuse as a library.

It’s true that yes, we can import jenkins_jobs.Builder or jenkins_jobs.parser.YamlParser to use them programmatically outside of JJB proper, but it is difficult to imagine anyone actually doing this given the current constructors for these classes as well as their relationships–Builder objects actually own references to YamlParser objects when there are no clear benefits to this organization save for expediency during JJB development.

The YamlParser itself actually does more than “parse” YAML, it is also responsible for generating XmlJob objects from the yaml data it handles. This means that all the lovely XML building code that makes JJB truly special cannot reliably be accessed using JJB as a library since it depends on implementation details of the YamlParser (specifically the xml_jobs attribute).

In addition to the tight binding between classes that make them practically unusable, there is an almost impossibly tight binding between code in jenkins_jobs.execute() and jenkins_jobs.Builder, which depends on code in jenkins_jobs.execute() to munge various command line options and configuration data, ie to obtain user, password, plugins_list, cache settings, etc. To top it off, jenkins_jobs.Builder ends up taking the “config” object anyway, which should make us question to what purpose jenkins_jobs.execute() is even handling various pieces of configuration logic at all–arguably, this logic ought to live in a separate “Config” class.

The problems described up to this point indicate a need to clean up the API, but one issue that really deserves to be driven home is the essential character of the YamlParser to everything that JJB does. Because of the tight bindings between classes described above, understanding the tricky behavior of the YamlParser is absolutely necessary to construct anything more simple than a collection of “job” objects or even a simple set of “project”s containing lists of “job-template”s.

This is primarily problematic because if JJB is going to offer a programmatic API, it should be possible to use it to do something more interesting than the exact same thing that is being done in jenkins_jobs.execute(). For example, it should be possible to define one’s own set of abstraction classes in Python that can be used to generate the data used by jenkins_jobs.Builder to POST jobs to a Jenkins server.

JJB plugin modules all take a “parser” argument, but rarely if ever is this parser argument used in these modules. This parser is intended to be a reference to a YamlParser instance but the benefit of this relationship does not really outweigh its cost in terms of tight binding between plugin module and the means used to obtain JJB data structures actually necessary for generating XML; its primary use case most of the time is to provide access to the ModuleRegitry object owned by the YamlParser. It would make more sense to replace this with an explicit reference to the ModuleRegistry itself.

A Side Note on Macros

A problematic JJB feature when it comes to cleaning up the API is the “macro”. The current implementation leads to an unnecessarily tight binding between the YamlParser and the ModuleRegistry because the ModuleRegistry and XML generation code require the YamlParser’s xml_jobs attribute in order to determine whether or not a component is a macro. This tight binding is problematic because it means we need to mock the YamlParser’s xml_jobs data structure in order to use any other means of producing JJB data structures than the YamlParser itself. As of right now, it is fine to mock YamlParser’s xml_jobs data structure with an empty dictionary but some detail of the way it is accessed in the ModuleRegistry or XML generation code could easily change that would cause unforeseen problems when attempting to avoid using the YamlParser.

Proposed Changes

Modularize Command Line Parsing

Since so much of JJB’s API depends on JJB’s configuration file and command line options, it makes sense to modularize these in such a way that they can easily be used by third party scripts/tools. This will be done using a dedicated “Config” class.

This will allow constructors for other JJB classes such as the Builder and YamlParser to be simplified–rather than taking both a “config” object and a number of other parameters they will instead take a single “config” parameter.

Redefine Programmatic APIs

The following classes will need their APIs redesigned to make them usable by third parties:

  • YamlParser
  • ModuleRegistry
  • Builder

These rewrites should be accompanied by docstrings that explicitly define the purpose of these classes so that these purposes can be considered in the context of future patches against JJB that attempt to make foundational changes to their behavior.


The current YamlParser exposes all of its methods as “public” methods even when there is no obvious or implicit value in doing so. The goal for rewriting its API will be to provide explicit “public” methods that other classes can call to get information from it.


The new ModuleRegistry will serve a dual role; in addition to registering JJB modules for use during XML generation it will also provide an API for modules to use to access information other than the given JJB data. For example, it should provide access to Jenkins plugin version information to allow modules to implement plugin version dependent XML.

Add XmlBuilder class

The XmlBuilder class should define a method that takes as input a dictionary where:

  • keys are job names, and
  • values are all the key/value pairs necessary to produce an XmlJob for the named job

This method should produce as output a list of XmlJobs that can then be passed to a Builder method either to produce test output or to update jobs on the configured Jenkins instance.

Alternate names for this class might be JenkinsXmlBuilder, JenkinsJobConfigBuilder.

Replace references to YamlParser with references to ModuleRegistry in modules

This addresses the need to decouple plugin modules from the YamlParser while also allowing us to access components of the ModuleRegistry when necessary (ie, accessing Jenkins plugins_info to generate different XML for different versions of plugins).

Rewrite JJB Macro Implementation

The goal of this rewrite should be primarily to remove the need for referencing the YamlParser’s raw yaml data structure while generating XML. This way the proposed XmlBuilder class does not have to be concerned with any particular details of the YamlParser–reducing the risk that implementation of one of these classes has unforeseen side effects on the other’s behavior.

One method that has been proposed is to implement a secondary module registry that specifically handles macros.



Primary assignee:
Wayne Warren,

Gerrit Topic

Use Gerrit topic “jjb-2.0.0-api” for all patches related to this spec.

git-review -t jjb-2.0.0-api

Work Items

Development Process

All work for this spec will target a feature branch of JJB called “2.0.x” which will contain all backwards-incompatible changes targeted for this release, including any work covered by other specs targeting the same release.

Once the work is complete, we will release Jenkins Job Builder 2.0.0.

Code Changes

  • Break command line parsing function into dynamically-loaded, modular components for consumption outside of the primary JJB command line tool.
  • Create function that specifically handles pre-Builder processing of command line options and configuration settings; this will be necessary to make the Builder class usable as an API to be consumed externally. (Alternatively, consider ways to clean up the Builder constructor in such a way that doesn’t need to take the full “config” object)
  • Separate XML generation code from YamlParser, move into new class “XmlBuilder” that takes a ModuleRegistry object in its constructor and contains various methods that take one or more JJB job dictionaries and output a corresponding number of XmlJob objects.
  • Separate YamlParser from YamlInterpreter: * YamlParser will be responsible for loading a given list of YAML files * YamlInterpreter will be responsible for applying JJB’s DSL semantics to the loaded lists of dictionaries.
  • Refactor Builder methods and their calling contexts to simplify the interface; the “update_jobs” method, for instance, should simply take a list of XmlJobs to update.





DNS Entries



Documentation changes may be necessary as this work is primarily intended to make existing JJB API usable outside of the jenkins_jobs.cmd module.




Backwards Compatibility

No existing test scenarios will be changed to support this spec; however, there will need to be changes to test fixture base classes to support the new API changes.

We will also monitor openstack-infra’s JJB output to ensure that it does not change because of this spec.

New Tests

Unit tests will explicitly validate the behavior of the following:

  • the Builder class’ “public” methods
  • the YamlParser class’ “public” methods
  • the XmlBuilder class’ “public” methods
  • the Config class’ “public” methods


Python Support

We intend to continue supporting the same Python versions supported by JJB 1.x:

  • Python 2.7
  • Python 3.4