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Manual Chapter: The Parts of iApps
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iApps components

The iApps framework consists of two main components, application services and templates.

Application services

iApps application services use templates to guide users through configuring new BIG-IP system configurations. An application service lets an authorized user easily and consistently deploy complex BIG-IP system configurations just by completing the information required by the associated template. Every application service is attached to a specific configuration and cannot be copied the way that iApps templates can.

Templates

iApps templates create configuration-specific forms used by application services to guide authorized users through complex system configurations. The templates provide programmatic, visual layout and help information. Each new application service uses one of the templates to create a screen with fields and help that guide the user through the configuration process and creates the configuration when finished.

iApps templates allow users to customize by either modifying an existing template or creating one from scratch. Users can create scratch-built templates using either the iApps Templates screen or any text-editing software.

Note: iApps templates are used to create application services and cannot be used by themselves. This is a fundamental change from previous TMOS versions in the way templates are used.

About iApps templates

iApps application services generate configurations based on application-centric user entries dictated by the template in use.

The BIG-IP system comes with several system-supplied templates that you can use as-is to create your application services. You can also use the system-supplied templates as a starting point for your own templates, or you can write templates from scratch using, variously, tmsh and Tcl for the back-end template implementation section, the iApps application programming language (APL) for the presentation section, and HTML for the help section.

Template sections

Templates have four sections: macro, presentation, implementation, and help.
  • The macro section provides template developers with the ability to develop macros that can create objects.
  • The presentation section collects user entries.
  • The implementation section uses user entries to build a configuration that will control traffic.
  • The help section documents the template and its presentation to users when creating an application service.

Viewing a template's contents

You can view the contents of any iApps template on a BIG-IP system by clicking the template name in the Template List.
  1. On the Main tab, click iApp > Templates. The Templates screen displays a list of available templates.
  2. Click the name of the template that you wish to view.
The Template Properties screen opens so you can view the contents of the template.
Note: You may edit only non-system-supplied templates from this view. System-supplied templates must be copied and renamed before they can be edited.

Copying a template

Before modifying any template, you must license the BIG-IP modules used by that template.

Ensure that you have administrator privileges on the BIG-IP system you are using to modify a copied template.

Important: Once a template is modified, it can be used on any BIG-IP system running TMOS 11.0 or later, as long as the user has sufficient privileges on that system for each called action.
The easiest way to make a new iApps template is to copy and then modify a system-supplied template. You can modify the copied template and include it in existing or new application services.
  1. On the Main tab, click iApp > Templates. The Templates screen displays a list of available templates.
  2. Click the name of a write-protected system-supplied template. The Template Properties screen for the template will open.
  3. At the bottom of the screen click Copy. A copy of the template replaces the original template.
  4. In the Template Name field, give the template copy a new name. You can edit the template now or come back to edit it later.
  5. At the bottom of the screen click Finished to save your changes.
The system saves a copy of the template and makes it visible on the Template List screen. You can open the new template for editing by clicking the template name.

Signing a template

Before you can sign a template, you need to have a usable signing key available.

Signatures are one means of determining a template's authenticity. F5-authored and signed templates that have a valid signature display the F5 Verified logo in the Verification column of the Template list. Templates you author and sign that have a valid signature display the Signature Verified logo. The BIG-IP system can use unsigned templates, but if a template is signed and the signature is invalid, the template will fail to load. Checksum verification is the other method used to establish a template's integrity. You cannot use both a checksum and a signature.

You can sign a template that you create so that the BIG-IP system will validate the signature before it loads the template.
  1. On the Main tab, click iApp > Templates. The Templates screen displays a list of available templates.
  2. Select the check box for the user-defined template that you want to sign.
  3. Click Add Signature.
  4. From the Signing Key list, select a signing key.
  5. Click Add Signature.
The template is signed with a usable signing key.

Adding a checksum to a template

You can use a template with no checksum, but a template with an invalid checksum will not load.

You can add a checksum to an iApps template that you create so that when someone downloads it, they can be confident in the integrity of the template.
  1. On the Main tab, click iApp > Templates. The Templates screen displays a list of available templates.
  2. Select the check box for the user-defined template that you want to add a checksum.
  3. Click Add Checksum.
The checksum for the template is added.

iControl manipulation of iApp templates

Besides working with iApps templates directly, you can also use iControl for creating and manipulating templates. iControl methods available to use with iApps templates are listed here. For the most up-to-date list of iControl methods for iApps templates, refer to F5 DevCentral (http://devcentral.f5.com).

iControl method Description
create Creates a set of application templates. Each template automatically is created with a default empty "definition" action.
delete_all_templates Deletes all application templates.
delete_application_template Deletes a set of application templates.
get_action_implementation Gets the implementation script text for the specified application template actions.
get_action_list Gets the names of the actions in the application templates.
get_action_presentation Gets the presentation text for the specified application template actions.
get_action_presentation_help Gets the HTML help text for the specified application template actions.
get_description Gets the descriptions for the specified application templates.
get_list Gets the names of all application templates.
get_version Gets the version information for this interface.
set_action_implementation Sets the implementation script text for a set of actions in an application templates. The implementation is a TMSH script that can use the answers to the questions in the presentation, provided as variables, to create the configuration objects that make up the application service. This script is executed whenever the application is created or modified.
set_action_presentation Sets the presentation text for a set of actions in application templates. The presentation contains Application Presentation Language (APL) text that describes what input is needed and how it should be displayed in the UI.
set_action_presentation_help Sets the HTML help text for a set of actions in application templates.
set_description Sets the descriptions for the specified application templates.

About application services

An iApps application service lets you create and deploy new configurations by filling out screens with forms generated by the underlying information in the iApps template. Within the BIG-IP Configuration utility, iApps users can manage, reconfigure, and view statistics about an application service once it is created.

About application services deployment requirements

Before deploying any iApps template you should consider the following requirements:
  • You must license and provision a template's required BIG-IP modules on all BIG-IP systems that will be using the template.
  • If you are modifying a template, ensure that you have sufficient privileges on the BIG-IP system you are using so you can test the template.
Important: When creating an application service, users are prompted to license the modules required by the selected template if the modules are not licensed, and this may require permission that the user does not have.

iApps user role permissions

The standard BIG-IP user roles have built-in permission settings for iApps. Only certain system user roles can create, edit, or delete templates or application services. All user roles with system access can see the contents of iApps templates and application services.

BIG-IP role Manage application services? Edit templates?
Administrator Yes Yes
Application Editor Yes No
Certificate Manager No No
Guest No No
Manager Yes No
Operator No No
Resource Administrator Yes No
User Manager No No
tmsh user role name cross-reference

The user roles displayed in the BIG-IP Configuration utility are identified by slightly different names in tmsh. The cross-reference table below shows the Configuration utility user role name and the corresponding tmsh name.

Configuration utility user role name tmsh value Associated BIG-IP module
Administrator admin all
Application Editor application-editor all
Certificate Manager certificate-manager all
Guest guest all
Manager manager all
No Access no-access all
Operator operator all
Resource Administrator resource-admin all
User Manager user-manager all
Web Application Security Administrator web-application-security-administrator ASM
Web Application Security Editor web-application-security-editor ASM

About the strict updates setting

When you are working in the Application Services properties screen, and select the Advanced view, the Strict Updates field is shown. Selecting Strict Updates protects against accidental changes to an application service's configuration. The Strict Updates setting is on by default when an application service is created.

Note: Unless you have a specific reason to turn off strict updates, F5 recommends that you leave the setting on. If you do turn strict updates off, we do not recommend using Template reentrancy (discussed in the iApps Template Authoring chapter).

When the strict updates setting is enabled, users can control only objects that are exposed through the templates.

Note: Even with strict updates enabled, it is possible to enable and disable some objects using interfaces (such as tmsh or the Configuration utility) other than the reentrant template. These objects include:
  • nodes
  • pool members
  • virtual addresses
  • virtual servers

Deploying an application service

The following procedure covers the minimum steps needed to deploy a configuration using an iApps application service.
  1. On the Main tab, expand iApp, and click Application Services.
  2. Click Create.
  3. In the Name field, type the name for your application service.
  4. From the Template List menu, select a template for your application, and wait for the screen to automatically refresh.
  5. Configure remaining settings as needed.
  6. At the bottom of the screen click Finished to save your changes.
  7. Wait for the application properties to load.
  8. (Optional) In the Description field, enter information to describe this application service and click Update.
Your application service is now deployed on the BIG-IP system.

Modifying an application service

The following procedure tells how to modify an existing application service.
  1. On the Main tab, expand iApp, and click Application Services.
  2. From the Application Service List, select an application service to view.
  3. Click the Reconfigure tab. The screen displays the settings for the application service.
  4. Click the Components tab and use the components tree to view the components that belong to the application service.
  5. Edit the fields that require modification and then click Finished to save your changes.
The system saves the application service modifications and they are ready to use.
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