Using hyphen in ansible

Question:

I am learning Ansible but I am getting confused when to use hyphen and when not to use hyphen in playbook. As I know, hyphen is used for list in Ansible.

For example,

From Ansible documentation, it is said that hyphen is for list, for example:

So, I am confused when to use hyphens and when not to use.

Answer:

Hyphen - is used to specify list items, and colon : is used to specify dictionary items or key-value pair. I think a comparable example with another language (e.g. Python) will make this clear. Let’s say you have a list my_list like this:

In Ansible you will specify this list items with hyphen:

Now let’s say you have a key-value pair or dictionary like this:

In Ansible, you will use colon instead of hyphen for key-value pair or dictionary:

Inside a playbook you have a list of plays and inside each play you have a list of tasks. Since tasks is a list, each task item is started with a hyphen like this:

Now each task itself is a dictionary or key value pair. Your example task contains two keys, name and yum. yum itself is another dictionary with keys name, state etc.

So to specify task list you use hyphen, but since every task is dictionary they contain colon.

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