During on of the last talks of the last day of FOSDEM, some person asked in one of the tracks (paraphrased):

Why do we need tools like Puppet or Chef when we have XML?

This question was relayed to me second-hand, so I apologize if I’m butchering it. The question itself is so mind-boggling that I can only assume one of three things about the asker:

  • He/she is a rather talented troll
  • He/she has some crucial misunderstandings about configuration management, in which case I’m hoping somebody politely explained things.
  • He/she understands CM but has a serious fetish for XML.

Regardless of their intention, I have them to thank for inspiring what might be the innovation breakthrough of 2012:


I’ve long found Puppet’s DSL syntax to be too sparse, easy to type and semantically boring, take for example this block:

class users {
    group {
        "tyler" :
            ensure => present;
    user {
        "tyler" :
            require => Group["tyler"],
            ensure  => present;

How terrible! Let’s turn that into Puppet/XML!

<?xml version="1.0"?>
        <class name="users">
                <group name="tyler">
                <user name="tyler">

Not only is that easier to understand, it’s more enterprise ready!

Currently Puppet/XML is in pre-alpha and in this repository on GitHub. Thus far it’s only been tested with puppet apply (i.e. standalone mode) under Vagrant, an example run is below:

[default] Running Puppet with /tmp/vagrant-puppet/manifests/base.ppx...
stdin: is not a tty
Thanks for using Puppet/XML - A brand new synergy

info: Retrieving plugin
info: Applying configuration version '1328719113'
notice: /Stage[main]/Users/User[tyler]/ensure: created
notice: /Stage[main]//Node[default]/Group[puppet]/ensure: created
info: Creating state file /var/lib/puppet/state/state.yaml
notice: Finished catalog run in 0.62 seconds

Stay tuned for new innovations and more middleware that your enterprise can leverage to help meet your business objectives.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately the code currently relies on transcribing the Puppet/XML to Puppet’s “native” DSL, this means more complex things like conditionals and function calls are not yet supported. After spending about an hour and a half trying to generate the appropriate Puppet::AST structures, I gave up and went the route which guaranteed lulz sooner.