Archives For VRFSearchAndBackup

As you might have noticed form this week’s blog posts, I enjoy writing code to automate tedious or time consuming tasks.  Well, maybe it might be a stretch to say I enjoy it — but I certainly reap the benefit of putting in the hard work to automate tasks that I otherwise hate performing.  I do, however, enjoy publishing much of this code on the Internet in hopes that others will find it useful and I occasionally hear from them stating such.

In a past life, as a Network Engineer, I wrote a small application which automates the ability to search a Cisco router for a VRF VPN profile and back it up to disk.  (If you’re making changes to your Cisco routers and you don’t back up your configurations before you change them, then you obviously haven’t broken one yet.)  I received a lot of feedback from other people who found this tool to be useful and use it regularly.  I also recently received word that it doesn’t work under Cisco IOS 15.4.

That sucks.

Specifically, it blows up right about here: v1.0.1 (2014-03-17)

--> Index found and appears up to date.

Enter the VRF Name or IP Address you are searching for: USG-10195

| ABC-12345 | | |
| ABC-12345 | | |

Do you want to back up this configuration now? [Y/n]

--> Logging into
--> Backing up ABC-12345 ...
Traceback (most recent call last):
 File "<string>", line 534, in <module>
 File "<string>", line 413, in searchIndex
 File "<string>", line 176, in backupVRF
AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'group'


Continue Reading…

Yesterday I discovered an error in my DownloadRouterConfig application where it would terminate abnormally if a variable (a path name) in the settings.cfg file was left blank.  Should no path name be specified, the application should have used it’s current working directory.  Instead, it just crashed.

In fixing the code, I realized that all my other applications used this same function — so I corrected all of them as well.  (I also took care of a few other miscellaneous things while I was in there.  See the CHANGELOG, if interested.)  If you happen to be using any of these applications to help manage your own Cisco routers, you’ll want to pull the latest code down to prevent any possible errors in the future.

BuildVRFIndex v0.0.9-alpha (2014-03-17) v2.2.3 (2014-03-17) v1.2.0 (2014-03-17)
VRFBackupTool v0.0.9-alpha (2014-03-17)
VRFSearchAndBackup v1.0.1 (2014-03-17)
VRFSearchTool v0.0.18-beta (2014-03-17)

The primary reason I decided to revive my rusty programming skills was to automate tedious or time-consuming functions at work.  I’m a big proponent of automation whenever possible and in an age of employment where we’re all asked to do more with less, I’ll gladly invest the time required to “automate all the things”.

However, automation is only useful if embraced by everyone that can benefit from it.  Despite frequent lip service from colleagues who expressed excitement over the creation of a few of my applications, I had reservations about who may actually be using what within the team.

So I decided to have a look…

Several weeks ago I placed a small bit of code in all of my applications to capture their usage data:

import getpass # Required to read username from the command line
def trackUsage():
# This function appends a line to a file with the timestamp, user name
# and name of the application so I can see who is using what
with open("X:\path\to\file.log", "a") as appUsage:
appUsage.write(str(","+getpass.getuser()+","+__title__+" "+__version__+"\n")
except IOError:

Of course, it could be that some of my teammates are using antiquated versions of some of my applications despite corrected bugs or limited functionality — and there certainly isn’t any way for me to determine that.  Given the frequency in which I have communicated that each person obtain the newest version AND the results I’ve outlined above — I must conclude that either my enthusiasm for improving our work flow and time management isn’t shared among my team or I hold my applications in higher regard than they’re actually worth.

This isn’t a new tool, just newly discussed on my blog. 🙂

If you’ve been following any of my other Python applications I’ve written to automate tedious tasks on a Cisco router, you might have noticed that they all seem related.  Between, and — you may have wondered why all these weren’t combined into a single application.  With the exception of, it was always my intention to combine the VRFBackupTool and VRFSearchTool into one application.

It’s been more than 10 years before I’ve written any meaningful amount of code and that was last done in C++.  Learning Python has been an enjoyable experience — but I’m still learning the language.  I wasn’t certain that I would be able to easily (or cleanly) create the application I had in mind with Search AND Backup functionality — so I broke these functions out into separate applications until I was certain that this would be something I could accomplish with as little frustration as possible.

Having said all that, the VRFSearchAndBackup tool is the combination of the search and backup features of the other two and, in my opinion, supersedes both of the prior tools in functionality.  You can still search for a VRF Name to determine where it is without having to back it up (the application prompts you to backup upon a successful search).

There is a lot more I could say about this application but since it’s been out several weeks now and I’m just now catching up on blogging about it, you can head on over to it’s GitHub repository if you’d like to learn more or see it in action.