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4.2: Variables and Outputs (Applied)

Terraform Variables and Outputs Applied

In this lesson, we will demonstrate how to use Terraform variables and outputs in the sample web application configuration shown earlier in the course to make it more flexible and generalizable.

  1. Local Variables: Declare local variables in your file to define values that are scoped within the project and reused throughout the configuration (but cannot be passed in at runtime):
locals {
  example_variable = "example_value"

2. **Input Variables:** Define input variables in a separate `` file or within your `` file. These variables allow you to configure and change values at runtime.

For example, we can define the following variables associated with our EC2 instacnes:

variable "ami" {
  description = "Amazon machine image to use for ec2 instance"
  type        = string
  default     = "ami-011899242bb902164" # Ubuntu 20.04 LTS // us-east-1

variable "instance_type" {
  description = "ec2 instance type"
  type        = string
  default     = "t2.micro"

We can do the same for many other values used throughout our configuration to make it more flexible. See for examples.

After defining the variables, we then reference them within the resource configuration using var.VARIABLE_NAME:

resource "aws_instance" "instance_1" {
  ami             = var.ami
  instance_type   = var.instance_type
  security_groups = []
  user_data       = <<-EOF
              echo "Hello, World 1" > index.html
              python3 -m http.server 8080 &
  1. TFVars Files: Create a terraform.tfvars file to store non-sensitive values for your input variables:
bucket_prefix = "devops-directive-web-app-data"
domain        = ""
db_name       = "mydb"
db_user       = "foo"
# For sensitive variables, pass them at runtime instead of storing them in the .tfvars file.
# db_pass = "foobarbaz"
  1. Outputs: Add output variables to your configuration to provide access to important information such as IP addresses:
output "instance_1_ip_addr" {
  value = aws_instance.instance_1.public_ip
  1. Deploy Configuration: Perform the usual terraform init, terraform plan, and terraform apply steps to provision the infrastructure.
terraform apply -var "db_user=my_user" -var "db_pass=something_super_secure"

By using variables in this way, you can deploy multiple copies of a similar but slightly different web application.

Additionally, you can create staging and production environments simply by configuring different variable values within your terraform.tfvars file.

Remember not to store sensitive values like passwords in your .tfvars file; instead, pass them at runtime or use an external secrets manager.