Top 15 Terraform Commands Every Developer Should Know

Top 15 Terraform Commands Every Developer Should Know

What is “Infrastructure as a Code” (IAC)?

Infrastructure as code (IaC) is a practice of managing and provisioning computing infrastructure, such as servers, virtual machines, networks, and storage, using machine-readable definition files instead of manual configuration. This allows for infrastructure to be treated as code and managed in a version-controlled and repeatable manner.

By adopting IaC, organizations can automate their infrastructure deployment and management, which results in faster and more consistent provisioning, easier scaling, and reduced risk of configuration errors. Additionally, IaC allows for infrastructure to be tested and validated before deployment, improving reliability and reducing downtime.

IaC tools like Terraform, Ansible, and Chef enable infrastructure to be described using declarative configuration files that can be shared, reviewed, and version-controlled in the same way as any other software code. This makes it easier to collaborate, maintain, and evolve infrastructure over time. These IACs use a list of commands to provision the resources on AWS, Microsoft Azure, GCP, etc. For example, terraform commands. In this article, you will see the terraform cheat sheet of terraform commands that will help you in managing the infrastructure.

What is Terraform?

Terraform is an open-source infrastructure as code (IaaC) tool developed by HashiCorp that allows users to define and manage their infrastructure as code using a high-level configuration language. With Terraform, you can define and provision resources across multiple cloud providers and on-premises data centers with a single configuration file. Terraform provides a consistent workflow to manage changes to your infrastructure, automate the provisioning of resources, and enforce version control of your infrastructure code. It also supports a wide range of providers, including AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and many more. Overall, Terraform is a powerful tool for managing and deploying infrastructure in a scalable, consistent, and repeatable manner. It provides a simple and easy list of terraform commands that will help us with infrastructure deployment. with the initiative of terraform for_each by hashicorp developers can easily design infrastructure as a code.

Most commonly used commands of Terraform:

Here is the list of all Terraform commands that are used in writing Terraform infrastructure.

  • Terraform init:

terraform init

Terraform init creates a working directory that contains Terraform configuration files. This should be the initial command executed after generating a new Terraform configuration or importing a previous one from version control. It is permissible to execute this command several times.

  • Terraform plan:

terraform plan

The Terraform plan command generates an implementation strategy, which allows you to preview the modifications Terraform intends to make to your infrastructure. When Terraform constructs a plan, it first reads the present state of any preexisting remote objects to ensure that the Terraform state is up to date.

  • Terraform apply:

terraform apply

In the list of terraform commands, this one is the main command. The terraform apply command carries out the activities specified in a terraform plan. It is utilized in the deployment of your infrastructure. Apply is often done after terraform init and terraform plan.

  • Terraform show:

terraform show

Terraform show is used to generate human-readable output from a state or plan file. This may be used to check a plan to confirm that the intended actions are carried out, or to inspect the present state as seen by Terraform. The json command-line flag produces machine-readable output.

  • Terraform show -json:

terraform show -json

The terraform show -json command is used to display the Terraform state file in JSON format. The Terraform state file is a file that tracks the current state of the resources that Terraform is managing, including their metadata, attributes, dependencies, and relationships. Terraform show and terraform show [-json] are both terraform commands that are used for the same purpose. 

  • Terraform destroy:

terraform destroy

The terraform destroy command ends the management of resources by your Terraform project. This command is the opposite of “terraform apply,” killing all of the resources specified in your Terraform state. It does not delete any resources that are not handled by the present Terraform project.

  • Terraform output:

terraform output

The output command in Terraform is used to read the value of an output variable from the state file.

  • Terraform output [varriable name]

terraform output variable_name

The terraform output [variable name] command is used to display the value of a specific output variable that is defined in the Terraform configuration file. Output variables are used to export values from a Terraform module so that they can be used by other modules or external tools. Terraform output and terraform output [variable] are both terraform commands that are used for the same purpose. 

  • Terraform validate:

terraform validate

The terraform validate command checks the syntax of the terraform files. Terraform checks the syntax of all the terraform files in the directory and displays an error if any of them do not verify. This command does not validate formatting (e.g. tabs vs spaces, newlines, comments, etc.).

  • Terraform fmt:

terraform fmt

Terraform configuration files are rewritten to a standard format and style using the terraform fmt command. This command uses a subset of the Terraform language style standards, as well as some small readability tweaks.

  • Terraform providers:

terraform provider

The terraform providers command displays information about the configuration’s provider needs in the current working directory, which might help you understand where each requirement was discovered. This command also contains various subcommands that serve distinct functions.

  • Terraform providers mirror:

terraform provider mirror

The terraform providers mirror command is used to create a local mirror of a terraform provider registry. The Terraform provider registry is a public repository of provider plugins that are used to interact with cloud services and other APIs. By default, Terraform downloads provider plugins from the public registry when it needs them to create or manage resources.

  • Terraform refresh:

terraform refresh

Terraform refresh is used to reconcile the state Terraform is aware of (through its state file) with the actual infrastructure. This may be used to detect any deviation from the most recent known state and to update the state file. This does not affect infrastructure, but it does affect the state file.

  • Terraform graph:

terraform graph

In the list of terraform commands, this one is the least used command. The terraform graph command creates a visual representation of a setup or execution plan. The output is in the DOT format, which GraphViz can use to make charts.

  • Terraform State:

terraform state

The terraform state command is used to handle advanced states. As your Terraform usage progresses, there may be times when you need to adjust the Terraform state. In many circumstances, rather than modifying the state directly, the terraform state commands can be used instead.

Read More: Unlocking the Secrets to Seamless Cloud Migration


These are the most common usefull Terraform commands. At the time of infrastructure deployment or creation, we need to learn all these commands. These terraform commands are used frequently while working with Terraform, especially in infrastructure deployment. This terraform cheat sheet will help you tounderstand the terraform easily. 

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