Parameters and Variables

ARM templates support the idea both of parameterisation of templates and of the use of variables within a template for e.g. placeholders and re-using values.

Farmer, by design, has only limited support for parameters and no support for variables. We don’t plan on adding rich support for either of these for the following reasons:

  • We want to keep the Farmer codebase simple for maintainers
  • We want to keep the Farmer API simple for users
  • We want to keep the generated ARM templates as readable as possible
  • We feel that instead of trying to embed conditional logic and program flow directly inside ARM templates in JSON, if you wish to parameterise your template that you should use a real programming language to do that: in this case, F#.

You can read more on this issue here

Secure Parameters

Farmer does support securestring parameters for e.g. SQL and Virtual Machine passwords - these are automatically generated based on the contents of the template rather than explicitly by yourself.

For example, assume the following Farmer SQL resource:

let db = sql {
    server_name "myserver"
    db_name "mydatabase"
    admin_username "mradmin"

This will generate an ARM template which looks as follows (irrelevant content is elided for clarity):

  "$schema": "",
  "parameters": {
    "password-for-myserver": {
      "type": "securestring"
  "resources": [
      "apiVersion": "2014-04-01-preview",
      "name": "myserver",
      "properties": {
        "administratorLogin": "mradmin",
        "administratorLoginPassword": "[parameters('password-for-myserver')]",
      "type": "Microsoft.Sql/servers"

Working with variables

ARM templates allow you to declare variables inside a template to reuse a value across a template. ARM templates also allow the use of a custom set of a commands which are embedded within strings to generate program logic, using expressions which contain template functions. For example, to concatenate a string inside a ARM template made up of two variables and put into a third variable, you might use something like the following:

    "variables": {
        "first": "Hello",
        "second": "World",
        "serverName": "[concat(variables('first'), ' ', variables('second'), '!')]"

In F#, you have access to the full power of .NET, rather than a limited set of weakly-typed functions:

let first = "Hello"
let second = "World"
let serverName = first + " " + second + "!"
let dbName = sprintf "%s %s!" first second

let db = sql {
    server_name serverName
    db_name dbName
    admin_username "mradmin"

Rapidly creating multiple resources

You can also use F# list comprehensions to rapidly create several resources of the same type:

// Create five SQL servers and databases
let myDatabases =
    [ for i in 1 .. 5 ->
        sql {
            server_name (sprintf "server%d" i)
            db_name (sprintf "database%d" i)
            admin_username "mradmin"

// Add all five databases to the deployment
let deployment = arm {
    location Location.NorthEurope
    add_resources myDatabases