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SML-DEV Mailing List Archive

The contents of the mailing list that begat YAML


The YAML project was conceived on a Yahoo Groups mailing list that started in November 1999.

The list was called "SML-DEV". SML was an idea to simplify XML by a number of people who were unsatisfied with the direction and complexities of XML at that time (its heyday).

Reading through this is a fantastic look into the minds of some passionate programmers from that time.

You can see for yourself how Clark Evans realized a new direction was needed, Oren Ben-Kiki wrangled Clark's ideas into a cleaner format, and Brian Ingerson's (now Ingy döt Net) parallel work was introduced to them. Those 3 people spent the following years inventing the YAML language and watching a wonderful grassroots community turn it into a reality that has found its way into so many parts of the programming universe.

I hope you enjoy reading back into this history as much as I do.


This repo contains a file called sml-dev.txt that contains all of the emails (~5000) from that mailing list which spanned 2 1/2 years.

The file was created by this repo's script called fetch, which pulls the data from

Today is Dec 11, 2020.

A few years ago I (Ingy) discovered the Yahoo SML-DEV mailing list archive for the first time and tracked down the person who told Clark about my work (which quickly led to us joining forces). By coincidence, this person and I lived in the same town. We had a nice lunch. :)

Last night I went back to look at the archive and discovered:

After a few minutes of dispair I realized that had the whole thing in a zip file encoded in the WARC format. Fortunately WARC is just some text header lines and some JSON (aka YAML ;).

I decided to publish the reformatting here for (some extra) posterity.

PS While the YAML idea was conceived on the SML-DEV list, all of the work that led to its creation happened on this mailing list: Perhaps I'll publish a similarly formatted archive of that content. :)


Formatted archive of the SML-DEV mailing list (where YAML was born)






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