Resolved: How to use a variable group in a Azure Pipelines yml template?


So I’m working on a bunch of pipelines and I’ve set everything up using yml templates. However I struggle with getting protected variable expanded inside of my template steps. I’ve tried passing in the protected variables by normal means, but they seem to not get expanded. Then I tried using a variable group, which I supposedly can directly reference inside of templates. I say supposedly, because Microsoft says so on their website
“You can also reference a variable group in a template. In the template variables.yml, the group my-variable-group is referenced. The variable group includes a variable named myhello.”
- group: my-variable-group
However, whenever I include a variables section into my template code, Azure DevOps immediately complains about it when parsing the yml, before running the pipeline. It spits out the following message:
/ymls/[email protected] (Line: 1, Col: 1): Unexpected value ‘variables’
I don’t insist on using variable groups, I just want to have my protected variables expanded in my yml template. Does anybody know how to do that???
Any help greatly appreciated!


You should define your variable group on your main pipeline and not in the template. Then you can call your template and use the variable that you defined.
For example lets say that you have your main.yml which calls template.yml
You should define the below variable group on main.yml
- group: my-variable-group
And call the variable on your template.yml

If you have better answer, please add a comment about this, thank you!

If you like this answer, you can give me a coffee by click here (view Ads)