The YAML-Norway Law
YAML Ain’t Markup Language (YAML) is a human-readable data serialization language, and if you ever try to abbreviate “Norway,” you just might run into a surprising outcome.
Here’s an example:
NI: Nicaragua NL: Netherlands NO: Norway # boom!
Does it work? NO|No|no, but not “NO”.
NO is parsed as a boolean type, which
with the YAML 1.1 spec, there are 11 ways to say
NI: Nicaragua NL: Netherlands 'NO': Norway
This has been fixed in the YAML 1.2 spec, but many YAML parsers still
1.1 by default.
Personally, I don’t mind YAML. It makes things easy. But, this, along with many of the design decisions in YAML strike me as a simple vs. easy tradeoff, where the authors opted for “easy,” at the expense of simplicity. I, and I assume many others, mostly use YAML for configuration. I want and need my config files to be dead simple, explicit, and predictable. YAML isn’t perfect, and the authors humbly acknowledge that. But when it comes to config, “easy” (and the unexpected surprises that come with it) can take a back seat.