I'm passing a list of dir/subdirs into a playbook as follows:


This works fine when I actually do tasks on those directories (win_shell, invoking a build process), but later I need to copy the files and the '\' does not work when used as part of a filename. I'm interested in using the following, so I'll get the module name for most builds and 'Web' for the one that is in the root folder:


I hoped this would return 'this', 'that', and 'Web', respectively.

But I can't find any combination of slashes or regex magic to split my strings. I've found about 5 questions/answers in StackExchange that are close, but none of them seem to do it.

I've also tried this with variations of

"{{ dirs[1] | regex_replace('\\','-') }}"
  • Note: I'm passing the list in like it is, with the backslash, because it maps seamlessly to the folder structure the developers have used for a long time, and because calling the build process with Ansible using these variables works quite well. I know I could rework this to eliminate the backslashes and just use the component names, but then that means extra exception handling for the top-level ('Web') folder which otherwise is unnecessary. I feel like I'm just overlooking something obvious on the split() function.
    – Wolske
    Sep 27, 2019 at 21:20
  • Can you show more of your playbook? Using the ` character can be tricky in some contexts, since the ` is a yaml escape character in addition to being a escape character for the regular expressions.
    – Zoredache
    Sep 27, 2019 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


Declare a variable with the separator to avoid the quotation&escaping alchemy. Use Single-Quoted Style; backslash '\' can be used freely. For example, the task below

  - debug:
      msg: "{{ dirs[1].split(separator)[-1] }}"
      separator: '\'
      dirs: ['Web\this','Web\that','Web']


  msg: that
  • 1
    Brilliant! works like a charm. "Alchemy" for sure...
    – Wolske
    Sep 28, 2019 at 12:17

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