Best Practices



While some of this applies to the Global JJB project other recommendations are generally useful to projects that might be defining JJB templates.

The Global JJB project is a useful example project to look at so we recommend referring to the Maven job definitions as an example as you read the documentation below:

We recommend sectioning off the template into 3 general sections in order:

  1. Job Groups (optional)
  2. Common Functions
  3. Job Template Definitions

In section 1) not all configurations need this so is an optional section. Job groups are useful in cases where there are jobs that are generally useful together. For example the OpenDaylight uses a lot of Merge and Verify job combinations so every new project will want both job types defined in their project.

In section 2) we want to define all common functions (anchors, aliases, macros) that are generally useful to all jobs in the file. This allows job template developers to look at the top of the file to see if there are useful functions already defined that they can reuse.

In section 3) we can declare our job definitions. In the Global JJB project we create Gerrit and GitHub versions of the jobs so the format we use here might look strange at first but is well layed out for code reuse if we need to define 2 or more versions of the same job template for different systems. We will define this in more detail in the next section.

Job Template Layout

  1. Comment of Job Template Name
  2. Macro containing build definition of the job a. Macro named after job b. Complete documentation of the job parameters c. Default parameters defined by the job d. Job configuration
  3. job-template definition containing build triggers

In section 1) we need to declare a in large comment text to identify the job section.

In section 2) we declare the actual job definition. This is so that we have a single macro that we call in all the real job-template sections that is reusable and not duplicating any code. First we declare the macro as the job name. Then in 2.b) we provide the complete documentation of the job parameters this is so that we can link users of the job to this file and they can understand fully what options they can configure for this particular job. Then we define defaults for any parameters that are optional. The last section we define the job configuration which completes the macro.

In section 3) we declare the actual job-template. Because of all the preparations above job template definitions should be small and simple. It needs to define the scm and job triggers. The Global JJB project needs to support both Gerrit and GitHub versions of the same job so the job definitions there have 2 templates for each job defined.

Passing parameters to shell scripts

There are 2 ways to pass parameters into scripts:

  1. JJB variables in the format {var}
  2. Environment variables in the format ${VAR}

We recommend avoiding using method 1 (Pass JJB variables) into shell scripts and instead always use method 2 (Environment variables). This makes troubleshooting JJB errors easier and does not require escaping curly braces.

This method requires 3 steps:

  1. Declare a parameter section or inject the variable as properties-content.
  2. Invoke the shell script with include-raw-escape instead of include-raw.
  3. Use the shell variable in shell script.

The benefit of this method is that parameters will always be at the top of the job page and when clicking the Build with Parameters button in Jenkins we can see the parameters before running the job. We can review the parameters retro-actively by visiting the job parameters page job/lastSuccessfulBuild/parameters/. Injecting variables as properties-content makes the variable local to the specific macro, while declaring it as parameter makes the variable global.


When a macro which invokes a shell script has no JJB parameters defined !include-raw-escape will insert extra curly braces, in such cases its recommended to use !include-raw.

Shell scripts

When developing shell scripts for JJB we recommend to create shell scripts as a separate file instead of inlining in YAML. This way we can ensure that the ShellCheck linter can catch potential issues with the scripts.

When writing the script itself, we recommend to redeclare all expected inputs at the top of the file using lowercase variable names before setting set -u after the inputs section. This ensures that all variables the script expects are at the top of the file which is useful for others to review and debug the script at a later stage. The set -u configuration before the start of the script code ensures that we catch any of these undeclared variables at the top of the file.



# Inputs

# Script start
set -eux -o pipefail

# ... script code goes here

Usage of config-file-provider

When using the config-file-provider plugin in Jenkins to provide a config file. We recommend using a macro so that we can configure the builder to remove the config file as a last step. This ensures that credentials do not exist on the system for longer than it needs to.

ship-logs example:

- builder:
    name: lf-ship-logs
      - config-file-provider:
            - file-id: jenkins-log-archives-settings
              variable: SETTINGS_FILE
      - shell: !include-raw:
          - ../shell/
      - shell: !include-raw:
          - ../shell/
      - shell: !include-raw:
          - ../shell/
      - description-setter:
          regexp: '^Build logs: .*'

In this example the script logs-deploy requires a config file to authenticate with Nexus to push logs up. We declare a macro here so that we can ensure that we remove credentials from the system after the scripts complete running via the script. This script contains 3 basic steps:

  1. Provide credentials via config-file-provider
  2. Run
  3. Remove credentials provided by config-file-provider

Preserving Objects in Variable References

JJB has an option to preserve a data structure object when you want to pass it to a template.

One thing that is not explicitly covered is the format of the variable name that you pass the object to. When you use the {obj:key} notation to preserve the original data structure object, it will not work if the variable name has a dash - in it. The standard that we follow, and recommend, is to use an underscore _ instead of a dash.


.. literalinclude:: _static/github-pr-trigger.example

In the above example note the use of underscores in github_pr_whitelist, github_pr_admin_list, and github_included_regions.

Using single quotes around variables

Its recommended to use single quotes around JJB variables ‘{variable}-field’ during variable substitution or when using a variable in a string field, in other cases its recommended to drop the single quotes.


- builder:
    name: lf-user-logs
      - inject:
          properties-content: |
      - build-file:
          settings: '{settings-file}'
          file-version: '{file-version}'

Variable expansion and Defaults

JJB has a concept called Defaults which is what JJB will replace a variable with if unset. Variables can configure dynamic content in job-template sections and allow certain options in these sections to be configurable.

The section that expands Defaults is Job Templates no other sections will expand a default. This documentation will explain how variables and defaults expansion works and which take precedence in JJB’s variable expansion logic for the following configuration sections.

  • macro
  • job-template
  • project
  • default

Macro sections

Macro sections can contain variables but do NOT support default values getting filled in both at the macro definition level and at the defaults configuration level. Macros and Job Templates can use Macros but any variables defined in a Macro needs to pass a value or a new variable redefined in the Job Template if you want to pass on the configuration.

So for example if you have a macro that has a ‘{msg}’ variable:


- builder:
    name: echo-msg
      - shell: "echo {msg}"

Any downstream job-templates or macros that use this macro MUST pass in a msg: Hello definition or redefine the msg variable msg: {msg}.

Job Template sections

Job Template sections can use defaults in two ways.

  1. Configure the message:

    - job-template:
        name: echo-hello-world
          - echo-msg:
              msg: 'Hello World'
  1. Re-define ‘{msg}’ variable

    - job-template:
        name: echo-message
          - echo-msg:
              msg: '{message}'

In option 2, we redefine the variable msg as {message} which a user of the job-template can now pass into the job their own custom message which is different than option 1, where we set a static message to pass in. We purposely redefined the {msg} to {message} here to show that you do not need to redefine it with the same name but we could have used the same name {msg} in the template too if we wanted to keep it the same.

Job Templates can also default a default variable for the variables it defines.


- job-template:
  name: echo-message
  message: 'Hello World'
    - echo-msg:
        msg: '{message}'

This creates a job template variable called ‘{message}’ which will default to “Hello World” if the user of the template does not explicitly pass in a message.

We should be aware of 2 Defaults concepts:

  1. Default as defined in the job-template
  2. Default as defined in a defaults configuration (typically defaults.yaml)

In this case there is a default ‘{message}’ set in the job-template. JJB will use this default if the user (project section) does not declare a {message}.

If we do not declare a default in the job-template then JJB will fallback to checking the “defaults configuration”.

This means that the precedence of defaults is as follows:

  1. User-provided
  2. Job Template
  3. Defaults.yaml

Project sections

Project sections define real jobs and pass in variables as necessary. Projects sections do NOT expand defaults.yaml. So you cannot configure a setting with {var} in here and expect defaults.yaml to fill it in for you. Define required configuration here.


- project
    name: foo
      - 'echo-message'
    message: 'I am foo'

Defaults sections

Defaults sections are the absolute last thing JJB checks if a variable is not configured in a job-template and user did not pass in the variable. JJB will fill in whatever is in the defaults configuration.

Variable expansion order of precedence seems to be:

  1. job-group section definition
  2. project section definition
  3. job-template variable definition
  4. defaults.yaml variable definition


Defaults set variables in job-templates and are NOT used in Macros.

global-jjb should not provide job-group definitions and leave it up to users of global-jjb to create their own as a job-group as a variable defined in a job group the highest precedence. Global JJB should strive to be purely a job-template and macro library for downstream consumers.

Final thoughts

For any Basic Job Configuration for example “concurrent”, “jdk”, “node” etc… we cannot set defaults with the same name as JJB will not expand them. To use “node” we need to give the variable for that setting a different name such as “build-node” instead, if we want JJB to perform expansion for those settings. This issue affects top level job configuration, it does not appear to affect items below the top level such as calling a builder, wrapper or parameter.