There is no question Microsoft Teams is everywhere these days. Many IT teams use it to collaborate on projects or even day-to-day tasks. On the other hand engineers like to know what their automation solution is doing. Therefore, sending notifications is a very welcome addition to most automation workflows and Teams is the way to go nowadays as opposed to the venerable email. This is a skill we have used in many of our latest infrastructure automation videos in the IaC Avengers YouTube channel and a something that my customers have been wanted to learn. So here we go.
In this article I am going to cover:
- prepare your Teams channel to accept messages programmatically
- use the REST API to create those messages. I will demonstrate it with Postman
- send a message to Teams using Ansible
Prepare a Teams channel to receive Webhooks
The easiest to accomplish this by enabling webhooks for the channel. Webhooks allow one application to notify another of an event. As you will see in the examples later, webhooks are HTTP messages that use the POST method and include a payload that is formatted in a way that makes sense for the recipient application.
As you can see, I have created a new channel called “Alert Testing”. We can configure webhooks for this channel by easily going into the “Connectors” option
Once in the Connectors menu you need to find the “Incoming Webhook” option . In my menu it shows up by default at the top. If it doesn’t you can click on the “Developer Tools” category or you can type “webhook” in the search box at the top-left corner
Now the “Incoming Webhook” configuration page pops up and the only thing we need to do is to provide a name and click “Create”. As soon as you do that it provides you with a “very long” URL as you can see at the bottom on the following screenshot. This is the URL we need to send our HTTP messages to. Now simply copy the URL and keep it somewhere handy. Finally click “Done” and we are ready.
If you missplace the URL, don’t worry you can always go back to “Connectors” and find it in the “Configured” category.
Send Teams messages using the REST API
I like to use Postman when I am discovering a new REST API. It helps me track of what I am discovering and it allows me to package what I have learnt as a “collection” in a format that is easy to share. And this time is no exception. I have created a Postman collection with the 2 examples we are using in this article as well as a sample Ansible playbook. They are available at this repository in GitHub.
What determines the format and content of the message card in Teams is the payload. You will see this in the “Body” tab. As you can see it is formatted as JSON. Cards in Teams can have a lot of features and the payload can get very complicated but as you can see the basic message only requires 2 fields.
Don’t forget to paste the webhook URL you got from the previous step so that the message to your channel. To run it simply click “Send”. You should get a “200 OK” status code and your first message will show up in the channel straight away.
Let’s do now a more sophisticated example. Let’s say that as part of an automation workflow we have created 2 virtual machines and we want to notify a channel in Teams and provide details of the VM’s that were just created. In the example below you can see the “title” includes the actual “id” of the provisioning job. This is something you could extract from the automation workflow and introduce it here for reference.
In this case the payload this includes a “sections” key which we hadn’t used before. The value of this key is a list, which allows you to define multiple sections in your card. In this case we added only one section and we are populating it with a 2 column table that includes two “facts”. You can have more than 2 facts in your section or you could research how to add other elements like buttons, links …
When we click “Send” we get our second message in the channel.
Send Teams messages using Ansible
Going back to the previous example you might be using Ansible to automate the creation of Virtual Machines and you want to let a team know the details of their details. As you do your provisioning tasks you can register the details of the resources you are creating and then use those to populate payload.
In Ansible we can use the “uri” module to interact with web services. This includes REST APIs. This module allows us to specify any method we need (“POST” in this case), headers, payload etc. The following screenshot shows an Ansible playbook that creates the same card as the previous example. Notice how the payload has been converted from JSON into its YAML equivalent. You have to pay careful attention indentations and hyphens. You can download the code from the GitHub repo.
Have fun creating your own messages!
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