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Monk uses YAML to express templates. One of our design goals was to make YAML manageable and eliminate the need for pre-processing using external tools. In order to achieve succinct definitions and composability, we've defined three special keys on top of standard YAML: namespace, defines and inherits.

Additionally, Monk provides a <- macro that denotes an Arrow script which can be used in place of any value in YAML.

It's important to understand how they work before working with MonkScript in order to avoid confusion.


Each MonkScript YAML file has to have namespace key as the first key in the file. This instructs the MonkScript loader to put the contents of the template under a chosen path in Monk internal database.

Consider the following example:

namespace: hello-world
foo: ...
bar: ...

Loading this snippet will put both foo and bar under /hello-world so that they can be later referred to as:

  • foo โ†’hello-world/foo
  • bar โ†’hello-world/bar

Arrow scripts#

Consider the following example:

quux:    bar: <- local-ip concat(":8080")

This arrow script will put a local IP address with a :8080 postfix into bar. Resolution of this script happens dynamically at template runtime. Final result would be as if the template looked like this:

quux:    bar:

Learn more about Arrow script โ†’


The most powerful feature of MonkScript is the ability to inherit any piece of YAML from any place in any definition. The inheritance mechanism practically eliminates the need for macro processing as it is capable of expressing many complex patterns by itself.

Consider the following example:

foo:    bar: 1    baz: 2    foos:        - A        - B        - C
quux:    inherits: ./foo ### let quux inherit foo    baz: 3    fnord:        food: pizza

To Monk, quux is as if it was written in the following way:

quux:    bar: 1    baz: 3    foos:        - A        - B        - C    fnord:        food: pizza

The inherits property can be used freely in any place in any definition and it can point to any path in any namespace known by Monk.

Inheritance can be used to:

  • Override any value in any template,
  • Compose a complex definition out of simple ones,
  • Re-use common definitions across multiple components,
  • Create multiple flavors or versions of the same runnable easily.


Consider the following definitions:

foo:    defines: runnable    containers:        defines: containers    defines: runnable    fun-boxes:        defines: containers

Both foo and bar are runnable. The key defines has special meaning, it labels its parent node with a descriptor (in this case, runnable). Monk finds relevant sections by looking at those descriptors.

By not deciding the meaning based on names, MonkScript allows for custom naming of all "special" sections. Notice that foo has containers but bar has fun-boxes. Both containers and fun-boxes has the same meaning to Monk as only the descriptor matters.

Not relying on key names allows MonkScript to be extended with every new release without affecting the existing templates.


Be sure to remember about assigning proper descriptors to the relevant sections as Monk will not interpret them without it.

Currently Monk recognizes several "special" sections, or definition classes higlighted below.


Runnables are the basic unit in Monk. A runnable is essentially something that Monk can run, manage and then stop. This can be viewed as one or more containers meant to be standing together, plus associated resource definitions, variables etc.


Learn more about Runnables โ†’


Groups (or process-groups) are compositions of multiple runnables and other groups plus associated resources and state. This construct is used to compose other templates in Monk.


Learn more about Groups โ†’


Services are like runnables but don't define containers. They can be used to represent services external to Monk which can't be managed directly.


Learn more about Services โ†’

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