Saturday, 2 March 2013

An introduction to Routlets

What is Routlets

Routlets is a relatively new configuration tool, designed to help with managing a network of Juniper routers.  The central feature of the product is the ability to directly edit a Junos router configuration file.

The editor in Routlets shows the same configuration file that would be returned by the show configuration command on the router.  This can then be edited, without the use of set and delete commands, and with a clear view of how the section that is being edited relates to the rest of the configuration file.

As would be expected, content assist is there in the editor to explain the structure of the sections in the configuration file as you go.  The content assist is even slightly enhanced compared to on the router, with the ability to jump to related sections in the configuration file, or show the related help topic for the proposed keyword.

Also linked to the editor there is the Outline View, which shows the sections in the configuration file, laid out in a tree. This tree can be used for copy and paste (or drag and drop) between sections.  Reordering the terms in a policy-statement or filter is easy with this, as is setting up a configuration group (as in apply-groups).

How to copy sections of configuration between routers is a really common question when getting to know Junos (e.g. using load merge terminal or show | display set from the CLI).  From the Outline View this can be done with drag and drop.

Offline Mode

For the Junos aficionados among you, the content assist in Routlets actually works by looking at the "Junos XML Schema", an XML file that can be requested from any Junos based router.  This provides the guide to the router configuration file, firstly to prompt for valid configuration sections, but also to validate the configuration file while you type, and show syntax highlighting in the editor.

When it connects to a router, Routlets automatically keeps a copy of both the Junos configuration file, and the related Junos XML Schema.  This means you can later open and edit that configuration file in an offline mode, if no connection to the router is available.

Any changes made while using Routlets offline can be saved back to the router, once a connection is possible.  The other option is to generate a "save script" to put in an email back to base.  For a typical network operations environment, especially where a VPN connection into the routers is not permitted or practical, this is a boon for those 'out of office' support moments.

Wrap up

This was a brief introduction to Routlets.  Please browse the tour on the website to see a more complete list of the features of Routlets, or download it and give it a try.