Tips, Tricks, Troubleshooting

Validating yaml files

Yaml files can be surprisingly lenient in what can be parsed as a yaml file. A reasonable way of validation a yaml file is to ensure the top level is a map or array (although it is valid yaml to have scalars at the top level, but often this is not what you want). This can be done by:

yq e --exit-status 'tag == "!!map" or tag== "!!seq"' file.txt > /dev/null

Split expressions over multiple lines to improve readablity

Feel free to use multiple lines in your expression to improve readability.

yq eval --inplace '
.a.b.c[0].frog = "thingo" |
.a.b.c[0].frog style= "double" |
.different.path.somehere = "foo" |
.different.path.somehere style= "folded"
' my_file.yaml

Create bash array

Given a yaml file like

- create
- edit
- delete

You can create a bash array named actions by:

> readarray actions < <(yq e '.coolActions[]' sample.yaml)
> echo "${actions[1]}"

Set contents from another file

Use an environment variable with the strenv operator to inject the contents from an environment variable.

LICENSE=$(cat LICENSE) yq eval -n '.a = strenv(LICENSE)'

Special characters in strings

The strenv operator is a great way to handle special characters in strings:

VAL='.a |[email protected] == "string2"' yq e '.a = strenv(VAL)' example.yaml

Quotes in Windows Powershell

Powershell has its own way of handling quotes:

PS > yq e -n '.test = ""something""'
test: something
PS >

Merge / combine all documents into one

To merge all given yaml files into one, use the reduce operator with the * (multiply) operator. Note the use of ea or eval-all to load all files into memory so that they can be merged.

yq ea '. as $item ireduce ({}; . * $item )' file1.yml file2.yml ...

Creating a new file / working with blank documents

To create a new yaml file simply:

yq e -n '.someNew="content"' > newfile.yml

Comparing yaml files

The best way to run a diff is to use yq to normalise the yaml files and then just use diff. Here is a simple example of using pretty print -P to normalise the styling and running diff:

diff <(yq e -P examples/data1.yaml) <(yq e -P examples/data2.yaml)

This way you can use the full power of diff and normalise the yaml files as you like - for instance you may also want to remove all comments using ... comments=""

Reading multiple streams (STDINs)

Like diff and other bash commands, you can use <(exp) to pipe in multiple streams of data into yq. instance:

yq e '.apple' <(curl -s https://somewhere/data1.yaml) <(cat file.yml)

Combining multiple files into one

In order to combine multiple yaml files into a single file (with --- separators) you can just:

yq e '.' somewhere/*.yaml

Multiple updates to the same path

You can use the with operator to set a nested context:

yq eval 'with(.a.deeply ; .nested = "newValue" | .other= "newThing")' sample.yml

The first argument expression sets the root context, and the second expression runs against that root context.

yq adds a !!merge tag automatically

The merge functionality from yaml v1.1 (e.g. <<:has actually been removed in the 1.2 spec. Thankfully, yq underlying yaml parser still supports that tag - and it's extra nice in that it explicitly puts the !!merge tag on key of the map entry. This tag tells other yaml parsers that this entry is a merge entry, as opposed to a regular string key that happens to have a value of <<:. This is backwards compatible with the 1.1 spec of yaml, it's simply an explicit way of specifying the type (for instance, you can use a !!str tag to enforce a particular value to be a string.

Although this does affect the readability of the yaml to humans, it still works and processes fine with various yaml processors.