YAML entity store structure

Understand the structure of the YAML entity store.

10 minute read

The entity store is a generic way to handle any type of configuration. Its model is hierarchical like a file system:

  • An entity has a type that gives an entity its properties.
  • An entity has a set of named fields.
  • Each field contains a value or a list of values.
  • An entity might have other entities as children, hence the hierarchical nature of the entity store.
  • Fields types are: boolean, integer, long, string, binary, encrypted & reference (a pointer to another entity).
  • One or more fields are designated as key fields. The values of the key fields must be unique for an entity of the same type at a given location in the hierarchy. For example, two PDF document with the same name cannot coexist in the same directory.
  • An entity is uniquely identified by a primary key (PK).

The YAML entity store has been designed to expose entities in a readable way. Folders are organized so that it looks like Policy Studio’s layout.

YAML File Structure vs Policy Studio

Files and directories

Root directory

The root directory contains:

  • _parent.yaml containing the unique root type entity.
  • values.yaml is used for Environmentalization. (Optional).

Any other file in this directory is ignored, YAML or not.

Top level directories

The root entity has many direct children. To sort them out, a first level of hierarchy has been setup. For more information, see YAML Entity Store Directory Mapping.

Policy Studio Hierarchy YAML configuration top level directory
Policies Policies
Resources Resources
Server Settings Server Settings
Environment Configuration Environment Configuration
- External Connections - External Connections
- Libraries - Libraries
- Listeners - Environment Configuration/Services
Deployment package properties META-INF/*.mf
Many of non-editable settings System


The META-INF folder contains the types directory. This directory contains the definition of all the entity types in the entity store model. This is where you can find useful information about the fields you can use for an entity type.


A _parent.yaml is a special type of file within the YAML entity store. It is an entity, but it is best described as a container entity. Its purpose is to contain other child entities, hence the parent name. Thus, every .yaml file at the same level are child entities of the entity defined in _parent.yaml.

The directory in which _parent.yaml is stored is named after its content by default, but it can be named differently.


_parent.yaml example

# Monitoring Configuration/_parent.yaml
type: RealtimeMonitoring
   name: Monitoring Configuration

Child entity:

  • Monitoring Configuration/Metrics Metadata/_parent.yaml
# Monitoring Configuration/Metrics Metadata/_parent.yaml
type: MetricsMetadata
   name: Metrics Metadata

Children entities:

  • System Metric Group Types.yaml
  • System Metric Types.yaml

A directory containing a _parent.yaml is a container for other entities.

Key fields

Each entity in the entity store is identified by one or several key fields. For most types, it is a single field called name. For others, it can be just one field, such as ID or URL, or a combination of several. For example, RadiusServer entity type has two key fields: host and port.

Default naming convention

By default, after having converted your entity store to YAML:

  • A directory is named after the key field value in _parent.yaml contained in the directory. The key field is name in most of the cases.
  • A YAML file is named after the value of its key fields. In case of multiple key fields, it is a concatenation of them separated by coma.

Also, File system incompatible characters such as /\":<>*?| are replaced by counter parts:

Symbol Replacement
/ (slash)
\ (bslash)
" (quote)
: (colon)
< (lt)
> (gt)
* (asterisk)
? (qmark)
` `

For example, for entity type JSONSchema key field is URL. If the value of URL is http://json-schema.org/address, then:

  • The entity will be identified (YamlPK) with /Resources/JSON Schemas/http://json-schema.org/address.
  • The entity will stored in Resources/JSON Schemas/http(colon)(slash)(slash)json-schema.org(slash)address.yaml

For more information, see Yaml PK section.

Best practices to name entities

The following are best practices to name your entities:

  • Use short but meaningful names. Make sure to create names shorter than 40 symbols (Some systems do not support it).
  • It is preferable to use only letters and numbers.
  • Name your file after your entity (in 95% if the cases, it is value of the field ’name’).
  • File names for multiple key fields are rare, try to keep as meaningful as possible.

Sometimes you cannot follow these best practices and some key fields will contain incompatible characters for a filename. In this case, ensure that your YAML files names are close enough to the key fields values. By doing so, it will simplify troubleshooting, as you will easily find your files when the only piece of information you get is a YamlPK printed out in logs (Gateway, yamles validation, and so on).

Entity files model

You can use single or multiple entity files.

See YAML Schema for detailed specifications of entity files.

Single entity file

The following is an example of how to list all the possible elements you can encounter.

type: SomeFictionalType
  string_field_name: Hello world
  int_or_long_field_name: 42
  boolean_field_name: true
  encrypted_field_name: DKdjrenz==
  - value 1
  - value 2
  reference_field_name: /System/some system entity

Multi value fields are only allowed if permitted by the type. All values in the list must be of the same type (integer, long, string, binary, encrypted, reference).

Multiple entity file

A file can contains a parent entity and its children. This is useful when the full hierarchy make sense as a whole.

type: SomeFictionalParentType
  field_1: Hello children,
  field_2: I am you parent.
- type: SomeFictionalChildType1
    field_a: Hello progenitor!
- type: SomeFictionalChildType2
    field_b: Hi dear parent!
    type: SomeFictionalGrandChildType
      field_b: Hi ancestors!


Policies are of type FilterCircuit. This is one of the most frequently used entity types, and it contains a list of filters with over 200 derived types.

Some common fields of the super type Filter have been customized for the YAML entity store to make the file more readable. All the configuration of a policy is contained into one single YAML file.

You can set Filters in any order in the YAML file, but when converting an XML .fed or importing an XML fragment with the yamles fed2yaml or yamles frag2yaml commands, the filters are ordered in a more logical way. The filter identified in the Policy as the start filter is placed first, followed by filters belonging to the “successful” path, as shown in the following example:

type: FilterCircuit
  name: My too simple policy
  description: "This is just to explain a few extra fields"
  start: ./First Filter
  fault: ./Fault Filter
- type: CompareAttributeFilter
    name: First Filter
    success: ../Second Filter  # corresponds to successNode (labelled "Success Path" in Policy Studio)
    failure: ../Error Filter   # corresponds to failureNode (labelled "Failure Path" in Policy Studio)
- type: ChangeMessageFilter
    name: Second Filter
    body: <status>ok</status>
    outputContentType: text/xml
    fatal: Error in setting the message       # corresponds to logFatal (Log messages in the 2nd screen in Policy Studio when add/edit a filter)
    failure: Failed in setting the message    # corresponds to logFailure
    success: Success in setting the message   # corresponds to logSuccess
    maskType: FILTER                          # corresponds to logMaskType
    mask: 1                                   # corresponds to logMask
- type: CompareAttributeFilter
    name: Error Filter

The YamlPK key

Each entity in the YAML entity store is uniquely identified in a YamlPK. A YamlPK takes account of:

  • The position of the entity in the hierarchy.
  • The value of the key fields.
  • What top level directory it is located in.

YamlPK anatomy

A YamlPK is composed of the key field values of an entity.

Given the following definition keyFields = keyFieldValue[,nextKeyFieldValue]*

The format of a YamlPK is:


For more information on detailed specification of YamlPK structure see YAML Schema.

In most cases there is only one key field:

/Libraries/Cache Manager/HTTP Sessions

An example with multiple key fields:

/Policies/App Policies/Core Policy/Filter DB IP/,

A YamlPK is used when a field value is not a primitive value, such as integer or string, but it points to another entity. There are two notations: Absolute and Relative.

Absolute references: YamlPK string representations as described above. They always starts with /. They work everywhere.

type: AuthzCodePersist
    name: Authz Code Store
    cache: /Libraries/Cache Manager/OAuth AuthZ Code Cache

In this example, you can see the entity pointing to a cache named OAuth AuthZ Code Cache. The YamlPK includes the top level directory, to facilitate file navigation.

Relative references: Some entities can be stored in the same file, for example a parent entity and its descendants. To avoid using (sometimes very long) absolute reference, if a reference points to an entity in the same file, it can be relative:

  • Child reference ./keyFieldValue-0[,keyFieldValue-1]
  • Sibling reference ../keyFieldValue-0[,keyFieldValue-1]
  • Cousin reference ../../keyFieldValue-0[,keyFieldValue-1]/keyFieldValue-0[,keyFieldValue-1]


# YamlPK of this entity => /Policies/App Policies/Core Policy/Filter DB IP
type: FilterCircuit
  name: Filter DB IP
  start: ./IP Filtering.                            # relative ref
  category: /System/Policy Categories/miscellaneous # absolute ref
- type: IpFilter
    name: IP Filtering
    success: ../Log Success message # relative (sibling)
    failure: ../Set Failure message # relative (sibling)
- type: IpNetMask
- type: ChangeMessageFilter
    name: Log Success message
  failure: /Policies/App Policies/Core Policy/Filter DB IP/Set Failure message # absolute ref to a sibling (bad practice)
# ...
- type: ChangeMessageFilter
    name: Set Failure message
# ...

In most cases, a YamlPK tells you where the YAML file is.

YamlPK File Location Comments
/Policies/API Policies/Authentication Policies/API Policies/Authentication.yaml Direct mapping, most common scenario
/System/Policy Categories/miscellaneous System/Policy Categories.yaml Entity is a child (or grandchild in some cases)
/Policies/API Policies Policies/API Policies/_parent.yaml Entity is a container

YamlPK compatibility

YamlPK has equivalence to Portable ESPK and Shorthand notations.

The following key

/Policies/App Policies/Core Policy/Filter DB IP/,

corresponds to Portable ESPK (shorthand)

/[CircuitContainer]name=App Policies/[FilterCircuit]name=Core Policy/[IpFilter]name=Filter DB IP/[IpNetMask]address=,mask=

or, the following ESPK (XML):

<key type="CircuitContainer">
    <id field='name' value='App Policies'/>
    <key type="FilterCircuit">
        <id field='name' value='Core Policy'/>
        <key type="IpFilter">
            <id field='name' value='Filter DB IP'/>
            <key type="IpNetMask">
                <id field='address' value=''/>
                <id field='mask' value=''/>

Portable ESPK and Shorthand notations are supported by the YAML entity store. This way you can specify an entity using a Portable ESPK, and it will work in both the XML federated configuration and the equivalent YAML configuration.

If you are using a script that calls the entity store API, it works with both formats of configuration. If the script is not running within the API Gateway runtime, you will need to change the URL used to connect to the entity store. A URL such as federated:file:/home/user/xml-config/configs.xml will need to change to yaml:file:/home/user/yaml-config.

Here is an example script that runs via a Scripting filter in the API Gateway runtime that uses a Portable ESPK:

// hide imports
def invoke(msg)         {
    String policyName=msg.get("loopPolicyGetOrganizationId");

    String[] policyParts =  policyName.split("/");
    String espkString = "<key type='FilterCircuit'><id field='name' value='"+policyParts[policyParts.length-1]+"'/></key>";
    for (int i=policyParts.length-2; i>=0; i--) {
      espkString = "<key type='CircuitContainer'>" +
          "<id field='name' value='"+policyParts[i]+"'/>" +
          espkString +
    PortableESPK espk = PortableESPKFactory.newInstance().createPortableESPK(espkString);
    CircuitImpl circuit = Service.getInstance().getLocalPack().cache.getCircuit(espk);
    String context = "DefaultContext";

    // do some stuff before...

    InvocationEngine.invokeCircuit(circuit, context, msg);
    // ...

Changes to the YamlPK key

YamlPK is not an immutable key, it is a concatenation of all the parent key fields and child key fields. This has two consequences:

Changing a key field changes the YamlPK value: For example, there is an entity as follows, with YamlPK /Policies/App Policies/Core Policy/Filter DB IP:

type: FilterCircuit
name: Filter DB IP

You then, edit the entity at some later point in time to be:

type: FilterCircuit
name: Filter Database IP

The YamlPK of the entity is now /Policies/App Policies/Core/Filter Database IP. This means that all other entities pointing to this policy through a reference field must be changed to reflect this.

If you are using the EntityStore API, in case an entity’s YamlPK is changed due to a change in any of its key fields, all referring entities are automatically updated to reflect the change.

Two or more entities with the same key fields at the same level in the hierarchy: In this case, the YamlPK is formed differently to avoid ambiguity.

For instance if you have:

  • /Policies/App Policies/Core: a policy
  • /Policies/App Policies/Core: container for other policies
  • /Policies/App Policies/Core/Throttling: a policy

If there is a conflict, YAML Entity Store handle this by adding the entity type to the respective YamlPK:

  • /Policies/App Policies/(FilterCircuit)Core
  • /Policies/App Policies/(CircuitContainer)Core
  • /Policies/App Policies/(CircuitContainer)Core/Throttling

If you want to refer to Throttling you must use /Policies/App Policies/(CircuitContainer)Core/Throttling.