This page describes Magnolia’s main uses of YAML, a data serialization format designed for human readability and interaction with scripting languages:

  • Using YAML to define items such as templates, dialogs, and apps.

  • Using YAML for exporting and importing JCR content.

Benefits of YAML

YAML is the preferred way to define (configure) templates, dialogs, apps and other definition items in Magnolia.

  • YAML is less difficult to work with in typical development cases such as diffing and merging. A YAML file is basically just a text file.

  • The format is easier to read and edit, the content and overall structure is more readily visible to the user, e.g. importing multi-line quotes and special character needs no escaping.

  • It enables easier creation of JCR import files from other data sources.

To parse YAML data, Magnolia uses snakeyaml. The data is transformed by the info.magnolia.map2bean.Map2BeanTransformer.

YAML as definition files

YAML files are primarily meant to define (configure) items such as apps, templates, dialogs.

Example: A YAML definition of a helloworld app.

appClass: info.magnolia.ui.app.helloworld.HelloWorldApp
class: info.magnolia.ui.api.app.registry.ConfiguredAppDescriptor
icon: icon-app
label: Hello World

What can be defined via YAML?

Items defined in the configuration workspace can be downloaded as YAML to move the configuration into a file.

In a running system, the data written in YAML is represented by a Java Bean. The following table lists Magnolia YAML files and their corresponding Magnolia classes, usually called definition or description classes.

Item YAML file Corresponding definition class*










  • You can also use custom definition classes which will usually extend the classes mentioned above. In this case you have to provide the class as an attribute in the YAML file.

Deprecating a YAML-based definition with !metadata

The introduction of the info.magnolia.config.source.yaml.construct.WrapMetadata construct in Magnolia 5.6.2 allows you to deprecate YAML-based definitions. You can mark a YAML-based definition as deprecated like this:

deprecated: !metadata
  since: 5.5.6
  description: The dialog uses the deprecated PlaceholderTextFieldDefinition. Please use the placeholder property instead.

The deprecated definition is displayed in the Definitions app. Currently, the app reports the following deprecated (or non-existing) items:

  • Deprecated classes used by any definition.

  • Deprecated or non-existing templates used by block definitions.

  • Deprecated or non-existing page template definitions referenced from site definitions.

  • Deprecated or non-existing theme definitions referenced from site definitions.

  • Template references.

    • Deprecated or non-existing dialogs

    • Deprecated or non-existing component definitions used in page definitions.

    • Non-existing template script paths.

    • Configured but non-existing renderer.

Reusing configuration in YAML files with !inherit and !include

Magnolia provides two mechanisms to reuse a configuration within a YAML-file: !inherit and !include. You can use them not only to reuse a definition but also to modify a reused definition.

YAML inherit

Use the Magnolia !inherit directive to inherit a registered definition item in order to create a new definition item, and then modify the new item according to your needs. This directive is very similar to JCR extends. The item you inherit the definition from is referenced by its identifier.


contentType: application/json

The new renderer named json inherits everything from the freemarker renderer but has a different contentType.

For more information read the YAML inherit and include page.

YAML include

Use the Magnolia !include directive to add a reusable YAML chunk. Include a fragment on a sub-level of your new definition or include a complete definition on top of your new definition. Reference the file you include by its resource path. The path to such a resource has the following pattern: /<module-name>/path/to/the/reusable/chunk.yaml.

You can also modify the included part of the definition.

If your !include file is not working, check that the first line in the included YAML file does not have any indentation.

Syntactic variants of the directive

The !include directive exists since Magnolia 5.4, which introduced configuration by YAML. However, the directive’s syntax has changed slightly with the release of Magnolia 5.5.6. While the old syntax still works, the new one makes it possible to modify and override the included part of the definition. The new syntax uses a colon : instead of the space between !include and the path to the resource.

Syntax Requires version Functions

Deprecated syntax. ( WARNING: Magnolia 5.5.6+)

!include <path/to/a–ressource.yaml>

Magnolia 5.4+

simple include

New syntax.


Magnolia 5.5.6+

simple include, include and modify

For more information read YAML inherit and include.

YAML override

Use !override to completely ignore the properties of an inherited or included node. As a consequence, you have to add specify properties to the given node.

Reusing an existing definition within the same file

YAML’s anchor property and alias indicator make it possible to reuse an already existing definition by referencing it.

In the following definition, for example, the anchor &footerAvailableComponents and the alias *footerAvailableComponents allow reusing the components defined in the footer area also in the main area:

templateScript: /mtk2/templates/pages/basic.ftl
dialog: mtk2:pages/basic
renderType: freemarker
class: info.magnolia.module.site.templates.PageTemplateDefinition
      components: all
      enabled: true
    availableComponents: &footerAvailableComponents
        id: mtk2:components/textImage
        id: mtk2:components/image
    availableComponents: # using all components from footer plus others
      <<: *footerAvailableComponents
        id: mtk2:components/html
        id: mtk2:components/linkList

Definition decoration

With some restrictions related to overriding properties and changing subitems, YAML is currently the only way to decorate already existing definitions. For more details see Definition decoration page.

Defining a list property via YAML map or list syntax

In a YAML file, when a property type is defined as a list in the corresponding Java class, you can use the map syntax or the list syntax. info.magnolia.map2bean.Map2BeanTransformer converts YAML in both cases correctly.

Java definition class

info.magnolia.ui.form.FormDefinition (simplified)

public interface FormDefinition<T> extends EditorDefinition<T> {
    List<EditorPropertyDefinition> getProperties();

In the given example, the type of items that go onto the list extend info.magnolia.config.NamedDefinition, which is very typical for any (sub-)item definition class. This means that items going onto the list must define a name property.

List syntax

    - name: salutation
      class: info.magnolia.ui.field.TextFieldDefinition
    - name: firstName
      label: first name
      class: info.magnolia.ui.field.TextFieldDefinition

With the list syntax, you typically start with the name sub-property.

Map syntax

      label: salutation
      class: info.magnolia.ui.field.TextFieldDefinition
      name: givenName
      label: first name
      class: info.magnolia.ui.field.TextFieldDefinition

With the map syntax, the map keys (lines 3 and 6) are used as the name property by Map2BeanTransformer. You can override it by setting the name property explicitly (line 7).

YAML for importing and exporting JCR content

YAML can also be used to export and import JCR content, which was originally possible only with XML files.

Example: An export of a simple page node in YAML format

  'hideInNav': false
  'title': 'This is my page'
  jcr:primaryType: 'mgnl:page'
  jcr:uuid: '701efb1f-c53b-4830-87b5-873776798d80'
  mgnl:created: 2017-05-10T11:40:24.968+07:00
  mgnl:createdBy: 'superuser'
  mgnl:lastModified: 2017-05-10T11:40:34.569+07:00
  mgnl:lastModifiedBy: 'superuser'
  mgnl:template: 'mtk2:pages/basic'


For a complete reference of the YAML syntax please refer to http://yaml.org/ or http://www.yaml.org/refcard.html. The following syntactic elements are the most widely used though.

  • Whitespace indentation is used to denote structure; however tab characters are never allowed as indentation.

  • Comments begin with the number sign (#), can start anywhere on a line and continue until the end of the line. Comments must be separated from other tokens by white space characters.

  • Strings (scalars) are ordinarily unquoted, but may be enclosed in double-quotes ("), or single-quotes (').


Members of a sequence are lines beginning at the same indentation level, and starting with a leading hyphen and at least one space (-). The number of spaces after the leading hyphen must be the same for all members in the sequence.

# A list of food
- Sandwich
- Pizza
- Burrito
- Chocolate cake


Mappings (also known as dictionaries in YAML, or just maps informally) are represented in a simple key:``value form (the colon must be followed by a space):

# An employee record
name: John Doe
job: Developer
skill: Beginner

Using empty values in sequences and mappings

If you need to set an empty value in a map or sequence, use the empty brackets notation as shown in the following examples:

list: []
map: {}

A null value used in the way as on line 5 below is reported as a warning with severity level minor in the Definitions app.

    type: list
    renderType: freemarker

Minor error

Combinations of mappings and sequences

Let’s combine some mappings and sequences, which is a common use case in Magnolia YAML files.

# An employee record
name: John Doe
job: Developer
skill: Beginner
employed: True
    - Sandwich
    - Pizza
    - Burrito
    - Chocolate cake
drinks: [coke, beer, water, milk] # this is an example of another notation for a sequence
    groovy: Beginner
    java: Beginner
    freeMarker: Expert
  • The root structure of this file is a mapping.

  • The values of the food and drinks mappings are sequences.

  • The value of the mapping with the key languages is also a mapping.

YAML file size

SnakeYAML 1.32 restricts the size of YAML files to a maximum of approximately 3 MB to prevent any potential issues with untrusted sources.

This file limit size could break existing setups if you use any YAML files that are larger than this accepted limit.
We recommend using XML bootstrap format for bigger exports. They do not have a maximum size limit.
Since Magnolia 6.2.31, exporting such large YAML files is prevented and instead fallbacks to an XML export format.

Further resources about YAML

YAML specification and documentation

Editors supporting YAML syntax

Online YAML tools

Check out our partner’s Magnolia YAML assistant IntelliJ plugin to increase your efficiency in Magnolia light development.

The plugin significantly reduces the effort of light development in YAML with Magnolia CMS. Created for developers by developers, it automates the most time-consuming activities during light development [like]:

  • jumping into components, templates, dialogs by reference

  • autocompleting the schema for Magnolia light modules definitions

  • changing file references during rename & move

— Ray Sono AG

DX Core



This widget lets you know where you are on the docs site.

You are currently perusing through the DX Core docs.

Main doc sections

DX Core Headless PaaS Legacy Cloud Incubator modules
6.3 beta

Magnolia 6.3 beta

Magnolia 6.3 is in beta. We are updating docs based on development and feedback. Consider the 6.3 docs currently in a state of progress and not final.

We are working on some 6.3-beta known issues during this phase.