Python Yaml Tutorial – Complete Guide

Welcome to this comprehensive tutorial on Python YAML processing! If you’ve ever wanted to grapple with YAML files using Python, or simply wish to expand your programming skill-set, then you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’ll delve deep into how to work with YAML and Python, turning a topic that might seem complex at first, into something simple and enjoyable.

What is YAML?

YAML (short for “YAML Ain’t Markup Language”) is a human-readable data serialization language. It’s often used for configuration files and in applications where data is being stored or transmitted.

Why Use Python for YAML Processing?

Python is a versatile language that’s easy to understand and write. Its binding with YAML makes data exchange between different applications or within an application easy and straightforward. Plus, mastering this combination enhances your Python programming toolkit.

Why Should I Learn It?

Beyond widening your scope as a coder, learning how to handle YAML with Python can open the door to working with a variety of applications. Moreover, it equips you with the skills needed to manage complex multi-document files, orchestrate workflows, and maintain solid configurations and data stores. As we always say – the right tool for the right job!

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Working with YAML and Python – The Basics

First, install the PyYAML module with pip, Python’s package installer:

pip install pyyaml

This module allows us to translate YAML into Python data structures. Let’s look at some basic operations.

Loading YAML content

Here’s how you read YAML content and convert it to Python data structures:

import yaml

with open("sample.yaml", 'r') as yamlfile:
    data = yaml.safe_load(yamlfile)


This reads a YAML file and transforms the content into Python data structures, such as lists and dictionaries.

Writing Python objects to YAML

Use the dump method to convert Python objects into a YAML document:

import yaml

data = {
    "name": "Zenva",
    "employees": 100,
    "courses": ["Python", "JavaScript", "C#"]

with open("output.yaml", 'w') as yamlfile:
    yaml.dump(data, yamlfile)

This will write the data dictionary to a YAML file called output.yaml.

Complex YAML Processing

Multiple YAML documents within a single file can be loaded at once:

import yaml

with open("multidoc.yaml", 'r') as yamlfile:
    data = yaml.safe_load_all(yamlfile)

for doc in data:
    print("--- New Document ---")

This reads each YAML document within the multi-document file and prints them out separately.

YAML tags

Python objects can also be created directly from YAML by using YAML tags:

import yaml

yaml_content = """
name: John Smith
job: <a class="wpil_keyword_link" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener" title="Developer" data-wpil-keyword-link="linked">Developer</a>

data = yaml.safe_load(yaml_content)


This example creates a ZenvaEmployee object with attributes specified in the YAML data.

Keep practicing these techniques to become more fluent in Python YAML processing!

Advanced Python YAML Processing Techniques

Now that we’ve gone over basics, let’s explore more intricate examples:

Loading YAML content with default values

Using the get() method, we can provide a default value in case a YAML document doesn’t have a particular value:

import yaml

yaml_content = """
name: Zenva

data = yaml.safe_load(yaml_content)
employees = data.get('employees', 100)

print(employees)  # This will print 100, as 'employees' is not provided in the YAML document.

YAML Aliases and Anchors

YAML aliases and anchors allow us to eliminate redundancy:

import yaml

yaml_content = """
defaults: &defaults
  employees: 100
  location: Remote

  <<: *defaults
  courses: ['Python', 'JavaScript', 'C#']

data = yaml.safe_load(yaml_content)
print(data)  # Prints { 'defaults': { employees: 100, location: 'Remote'}, 'zenva': { employees: 100, location: 'Remote', courses: ['Python', 'JavaScript', 'C#']}}

This example uses an anchor (defaults) and an alias (*defaults) to repeat a chunk of data within the document.

Custom YAML tags

Creating custom YAML tags:

import yaml

class ZenvaEmployee(yaml.YAMLObject):
    yaml_tag = u'!ZenvaEmployee'

    def __init__(self, name, job): = name
        self.job = job

yaml_content = """
--- !ZenvaEmployee
name: John Smith
job: Developer

data = yaml.safe_load(yaml_content)

This example creates a new YAML tag (!ZenvaEmployee) and links it to the ZenvaEmployee Python class.

Omitting Optional YAML Tags

The Python YAML parser can ignore YAML tags:

import yaml

yaml_content = """
name: John Smith
job: Developer

myLoader = yaml.SafeLoader
myLoader.ignore_unknown = True

data = yaml.load(yaml_content, Loader=myLoader)

print(data)  # This will print a dictionary, not a Python object.

Setting ignore_unknown to True allows the YAML parser to ignore all unknown tags, reading the YAML content as a dictionary instead of trying to create a Python object.

We hope these advanced examples deepen your understanding of Python’s YAML processing abilities!

Where to Go Next: Keep Learning with Zenva

By now, you’ve learned the basics of Python YAML processing. But there’s always more to learn and ways to enhance your skills. Remember, with programming, the journey of discovery and progression never truly ends.

We at Zenva strongly believe in the potential of individuals who are ready to take their knowledge to the next level. To support you in that journey, we offer a comprehensive suite of beginner to professional courses in programming, game development, and AI. With over 250 courses, we’re all about giving you the tools you need to boost your career, change your life, and positively impact the world.

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We invite Python enthusiasts, both newcomers and seasoned coders, to check out our Python Mini-Degree. This extensive course collection covers everything from coding basics, algorithms, and object-oriented programming, to game development and app development.

We don’t just provide courses; we ensure that each student gets a comprehensive learning experience that encompasses step-by-step projects and real-world applications. Remember, Python is a powerful and popular programming language used across various industries – data science, game development, robotics, and many more.

The best part? Our courses are flexible and can be accessed 24/7. Learn at your own pace, day or night, weekday or weekend. It’s more than getting an education, it’s about gaining mastery in a manner that suits your lifestyle.

Join the Zenva Community

Become a part of an ever-growing community of over 1 million learners and developers who have utilized their skills from Zenva courses to publish games, land jobs, and kick-start businesses. Remember, each completed course comes with a completion certificate. All of our courses are taught by experienced, certified instructors, so rest assured – you’re receiving top-tier education.

Check out our Python courses to explore more possibilities and jumpstart your learning adventure. Ready to go from beginner to professional? We’re here to make that journey an engaging and fruitful one.


And that’s it! We’ve covered the surface of Python YAML processing, providing you with both basic and advanced techniques. With these skills, you can easily handle YAML files using Python, making your coding experience more efficient and enjoyable. Remember, every programming skill adds to your toolkit, paving the way for new opportunities.

Now, it’s time to take everything you’ve learned to the next level. Keep honing your programming skills with our top-tier courses and resources at Zenva Academy. We’re here to assist and guide you every step of the way. Happy coding!


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