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How to represent null values in YAML

Tarun Telang

What are null values?

Null values represent unknown or undefined values. Null values are sometimes called nil values. However, in YAML, the term nil is used to represent an explicit absence of a value, rather than an unknown or undefined value.

Representing null values in YAML

There are several ways to represent null values in YAML.

  1. The most common way is to use the null keyword:
null
Represent null in YAML using "null" keyword
  1. We can also use the ~ character to represent a null value:
~
Represent null in YAML using ~ character
  1. Empty values are also considered to be null values.
Represent null in YAML using empty value

Uses of null values

Null values can be used in various ways, depending on the context. They can be used to represent the following:

  • Unknown or undefined values: When the value of a data element is unknown or undefined, null can be used as its value.
  • Empty values: null can be used to represent an empty value, such as an empty list or an empty string.
  • Placeholder values: null can be used as a placeholder value when the actual value is not yet known.
  • Missing or incomplete data: null values can be used to represent data that is missing or incomplete.
  • Default values for fields or parameters: null values are often used in conjunction with optional parameters. For example, a parameter may be specified as optional with a default value of null. If the parameter is not specified, the null value will be used.
  • Invalid data: If data is invalid, null values can be used to represent this.

Null values are an important part of YAML. They provide a way to represent unknown or undefined values and can be used in various ways depending on the context. When using null values, it is important to be aware of the different ways they can be represented. This ensures that our data is correctly interpreted by others.

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