yamlGetting started with yaml


YAML is a recursive acronym for "YAML Ain't Markup Language". It is a human readable data serialization standard for all programming languages.


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Basic Yaml syntax

YAML is a text based format allowing to store structured data in a hierarchy. YAML is designed to be human and machine readable with a minimum of overhead. The YAML specification can be found at yaml.org. There is also a reference card

Comments start with # and go till newline, comments must be separated from other tokens by whitespace. Whitespace isn't free, indentation must be spaces, not tabs. YAML will consider that lines prefixed with more spaces than the parent key are contained inside it. Moreover, all lines must be prefixed with the same amount of spaces to belong to the same map.

YAML has sequences and mappings as collection types, both can be represented in flow and block style.

An sequence of scalar strings in YAML looks like:

[ one, two, three ]   # flow style

# or block style

- one
- two
- three

A mapping consists of key/value pairs:

index: 4  # block style
name: nali

# or 

{ index: 4, name: nali }   # flow style

# or nested (equivalent of { level: { one: { two: fun } } }):



    two: fun

Basic YAML Types

integer: 25
string: "25"
float: 25.0
boolean: true
null type: null

Block Style Mappings

With implicit keys:

key: value
another key:
  - some
  - more
  - values
[1, 2, 3]: last value, which has a flow style key

With implicit and explicit keys:

? key
: value
another key:
  - some
  - more
  - values
? [1, 2, 3]
: last value, which has a flow style key

key , another key and [1, 2, 3] are keys of the same mapping, although they use different key styles.

Nested mappings:

first level:
  second level:
    ? third level
      forth level: value of implicit key
    ? third level, second key
    : value of explicit key
    mapping as: key of
    another: mapping
  : scalar value of mapping key
first level, second key:
  last value


# This comment occupies a whole line
- some item # This comment succeeds content of a line
- http://example.com/#nocomment
- "This # does not introduce a comment."
- |
    This is a block scalar.
    A # inside it does not introduce a comment.
   # unless it is less indented than the first line (this is one)

Note that for a # to introduce a comment, it must either

  • occur at the beginning of a line, or
  • be preceded by whitespace.

# must always be followed by whitespace. # inside quoted scalars never start comments. # may introduce comments at the end of block scalars, but therefore, it must be less indented than the block scalar's base indentation (which is usually determined by the indentation of its first non-empty line).

Escaping Characters

YAML supports three styles of escape notation:

  1. Entity Escapes

    a. space: " "

    b. colon: ":"

    c. ampersand: "&"

  2. Unicode Escapes

    a. space: "\u0020"

    b. single quote: "\u0027"

    c. double quote: "\u0022"

  3. Quoted Escapes

    a. double quote in single quote: 'Is "I always lie" a true statement?'

    b. nested double quote: " She said, "I quit" "

    c. nested single quote: ' He was speechless: '' '

Splitting text strings over multiple lines

- Without quotes:
   You can just
   split a long piece of text like this.
- With quotes:
    "[But be careful:
     if you \"need\" punctuation, put double quotes around it. You can ev\
     en split without spaces by using backslashes."
- Or single quotes:
    'This works
     but isn''t as flexible'
- If you want to keep those new line characters: | 
    Then do
    it this way with 
    a pipe (|) character. (This string has three \n characters)
- Or you can have just the one final new line: >
    This string has
    just one \n character, at the very end.
- Block indicators:
    Look up >-, >+, |- and |+ for fine tuning.

YAML Sequential Data

Same list level:

- Cat
- Dog
- Goldfish

Nested List:

 - Cat
 - Dog
 - Goldfish
Using anchors and aliases for transcluded content