VRL error reference

VRL is a fail-safe language, which means that a VRL program doesn’t compile unless every potential error is handled. Observability data is notoriously unpredictable and fail safety ensures that your VRL programs elegantly handle malformed data.

Compile-time errors

100 Unhandled root runtime error

A root expression is fallible and its runtime error isn’t handled in the VRL program.

Rationale

VRL is fail safe and thus requires that all possible runtime errors be handled. This provides important safety guarantees to VRL and helps to ensure that VRL programs run reliably when deployed.

Resolution

Handle the runtime error by assigning, coalescing, or raising the error.

Examples

Unhandled root runtime error (assigning)
VRL program
get_env_var("HOST")
How to fix it
- 	get_env_var("HOST")
+# 	.host = get_env_var("HOST")

101 Malformed regex literal

A regex literal expression is malformed and thus doesn’t result in a valid regular expression.

Rationale

Invalid regular expressions don’t compile.

Resolution

Regular expressions are difficult to write and commonly result in syntax errors. If you’re parsing a common log format we recommend using one of VRL’s parse_* functions. If you don’t see a function for your format please request it. Otherwise, use the Rust regex tester to test and correct your regular expression.

Examples

Malformed regex literal (common format)
VRL program
. |= parse_regex!(.message, r'^(?P<host>[\w\.]+) - (?P<user>[\w]+) (?P<bytes_in>[\d]+) \[?P<timestamp>.*)\] "(?P<method>[\w]+) (?P<path>.*)" (?P<status>[\d]+) (?P<bytes_out>[\d]+)$')
How to fix it
-. |= parse_regex!(.message, r'^(?P<host>[\w\.]+) - (?P<user>[\w]+) (?P<bytes_in>[\d]+) \[?P<timestamp>.*)\] "(?P<method>[\w]+) (?P<path>.*)" (?P<status>[\d]+) (?P<bytes_out>[\d]+)$')
+. |= parse_common_log!(.message)

102 Non-boolean if expression predicate

An if expression predicate doesn’t evaluate to a Boolean.

Rationale

VRL doesn’t implement “truthy” values (non-Boolean values that resolve to a Boolean, such as 1) since these are common foot-guns that can result in unexpected behavior when used in if expressions. This provides important safety guarantees in VRL and ensures that VRL programs are reliable once deployed.

Resolution

Adjust your if expression predicate to resolve to a Boolean. Helpful functions to solve this include exists and is_nullish.

Examples

Non-boolean if expression predicate (strings)
Log event
{
 "message": "key=value"
}
VRL program
if .message {
	. |= parse_key_value!(.message)
}
How to fix it
-if .message {
+if exists(.message) {
 	. |= parse_key_value!(.message)
 }

103 Unhandled fallible assignment

The right-hand side of this assignment is fallible (that is, it can produce a runtime error), but the error isn’t handled.

Rationale

VRL is fail safe and thus requires that all possible runtime errors be handled. This provides important safety guarantees to VRL and helps to ensure that VRL programs run reliably when deployed.

Resolution

Handle the runtime error by either assigning it, coalescing it, or raising it.

Examples

Unhandled fallible assignment (coalescing)
Log event
{
 "message": "key=value"
}
VRL program
. = parse_key_value(.message)
How to fix it
-. = parse_key_value(.message)
+. = parse_key_value(.message) ?? {}
Unhandled fallible assignment (raising)
Log event
{
 "message": "key=value"
}
VRL program
. = parse_key_value(.message)
How to fix it
-. = parse_key_value(.message)
+. = parse_key_value!(.message)
Unhandled fallible assignment (assigning)
Log event
{
 "message": "key=value"
}
VRL program
. = parse_key_value(.message)
How to fix it
-. = parse_key_value(.message)
+., err = parse_key_value(.message)

104 Unnecessary error assignment

The left-hand side of an assignment expression needlessly handles errors even though the right-hand side can’t fail.

Rationale

Assigning errors when one is not possible is effectively dead code that makes your program difficult to follow. Removing the error assignment simplifies your program.

Resolution

Remove the error assignment.

Examples

Unnecessary error assignment (strings)
VRL program
.message, err = downcase(.message)
How to fix it
-.message, err = downcase(.message)
+.message = downcase(.message)

105 Undefined function

A function call expression invokes an unknown function.

Resolution

This is typically due to a typo. Correcting the function name should resolve this.

Examples

Undefined function (typo)
VRL program
parse_keyvalue(.message)
How to fix it
-parse_keyvalue(.message)
+parse_key_value(.message)

106 Function argument arity mismatch

A function call expression invokes a function with too many arguments.

Resolution

Remove the extra arguments to adhere to the function’s documented signature.

Examples

Function argument arity mismatch
VRL program
parse_json(.message, pretty: true)
How to fix it
-parse_json(.message, pretty: true)
+parse_json(.message)

107 Required function argument missing

A function call expression fails to pass a required argument.

Resolution

Supply all of the required function arguments to adhere to the function’s documented signature.

Examples

Required function argument missing
VRL program
parse_timestamp(.timestamp)
How to fix it
-parse_timestamp(.timestamp)
+parse_timestamp(.timestamp, format: "%D")

108 Unknown function argument keyword

A function call expression passes an unknown named argument.

Resolution

Correct the name to align with the documented argument names for the function.

Examples

Unknown function argument keyword
VRL program
parse_timestamp(.timestamp, fmt: "%D")
How to fix it
-parse_timestamp(.timestamp)
+parse_timestamp(.timestamp, format: "%D")

110 Invalid argument type

An argument passed to a function call expression isn’t a supported type.

Rationale

VRL is fail safe and thus requires that all possible runtime errors be handled. This provides important safety guarantees to VRL and helps to ensure that VRL programs run reliably when deployed.

Resolution

You must guarantee the type of the variable by using the appropriate type or coercion function.

Examples

Invalid argument type (guard with defaults)
VRL program
downcase(.message)
How to fix it
+.message = string(.message) ?? ""
 downcase(.message)
Invalid argument type (guard with errors)
VRL program
downcase(.message)
How to fix it
downcase(string!(.message))

203 Unrecognized token

Your VRL program contains a token (character) that the VRL parser doesn’t recognize as valid.

Resolution

Use a valid token.

Examples

Unrecognized token
VRL program
😂
How to fix it
-😂
+"some valid value"

204 Unrecognized end-of-file (EOF)

The VRL parser has reached the end of the program in an invalid state, potentially due to a typo or a dangling expression.

Resolution

Make sure that the last expression in the program is valid.

Examples

Unrecognized end-of-file (EOF)
VRL program
.field1 = "value1"
.field2 =
How to fix it
-.bar =
+.field2 = "value2"

205 Reserved keyword

You’ve used a name for a variable that serves another purpose in VRL or is reserved for potential future use.

Resolution

Use a different variable name.

Examples

Reserved keyword
VRL program
else = "some value"
How to fix it
-else = "some value"
+some_non_reserved_name = "some value"

206 Invalid numeric literal

The VRL compiler doesn’t recognize this numeric literal as valid.

207 Invalid string literal

Your VRL program contains a string literal that the VRL parser doesn’t recognize as valid.

Resolution

Make sure that your string is properly enclosed by single or double quotes.

Examples

Invalid string literal
VRL program
"Houston, we have a problem'
How to fix it
- "Houston, we have a problem'
+ "Houston, we have a problem"

208 Invalid literal

The VRL compiler doesn’t recognize this literal value as valid.

209 Invalid escape character

Your string includes an escape character that the VRL compiler doesn’t recognize as valid

300 Unexpected type

The VRL compiler expected a value of a specific type but found a different type.

301 Type coercion error

This value can’t be coerced into the desired type.

302 Remainder error

These two types can’t produce a remainder.

303 Multiplication error

These types can’t be multiplied together

304 Division error

The left-hand value can’t be divided by the right-hand value.

305 Divide by zero

You’ve attempted to divide an integer or float by zero.

Rationale

Unlike some other programming languages, VRL doesn’t have any concept of infinity, as it’s unclear how that could be germane to observability data use cases. Thus, dividing by zero can’t have any meaningful result.

Resolution

If you know that a value is necessarily zero, don’t divide by it. If a value could be zero, capture the potential error thrown by the operation:

result, err = 27 / .some_value
if err != nil {
	# Handle error
}

306 NaN float

Floats in VRL can’t be NaN (not a number).

307 Addition error

These two values can’t be added together.

308 Subtraction error

The right-hand value can’t be subtracted from the left-hand value.

309 Or expression error

These two values can’t be combined into an or expression.

310 And expression error

These two values can’t be combined into an and expression.

311 Greater than error

These two values can’t be used in a greater than expression.

312 Greater than or equal to error

These two values can’t be used in a greater than or equal to expression.

313 Less than error

These two values can’t be used in less than expression.

314 Less than or equal to error

These two values can’t be used in a less than or equal to expression.

400 Unexpected expression

The VRL compiler encountered an expression type that wasn’t expected here.

401 Invalid enum variant

VRL expects an enum value for this argument, but the value you entered for the enum is invalid.

Resolution

Check the documentation for this function in the VRL functions reference to see which enum values are valid for this argument.

402 Expected static expression for function argument

VRL expected a static expression for a function argument, but a dynamic one was provided (such as a variable).

VRL requires static expressions for some function arguments to validate argument types at compile time to avoid runtime errors.

Resolution

Replace the dynamic argument with a static expression.

403 Invalid argument

An invalid argument was passed to the function. The error string will contain more details about what was invalid.

Resolution

Check the error string for this error to see what was invalid.

601 Invalid timestamp

The provided timestamp literal is properly formed (i.e. it uses t'...' syntax) but the timestamp doesn’t adhere to RFC 3339 format.

Rationale

Invalid timestamps don’t compile.

Resolution

Bring the timestamp in conformance with RFC 3339 format.

Examples

Invalid timestamp formatting
VRL program
.timestamp = format_timestamp!(t'next Tuesday', format: "%v %R")
How to fix it
-.timestamp = format_timestamp!(t'next Tuesday', format: "%v %R")
+.timestamp = format_timestamp!(t'2021-03-09T16:33:02.405806Z', format: "%v %R")

620 Aborting infallible function

You’ve specified that a function should abort on error even though the function is infallible.

Rationale

In VRL, infallible functions—functions that can’t fail—don’t require error handling, which in turn means it doesn’t make sense to abort on failure using a ! in the function call.

Resolution

Remove the ! from the function call.

Examples

Aborting infallible function
VRL program
encode_json!(["one", "two", "three"])
How to fix it
- 	encode_json!(["one", "two", "three"])
+# 	encode_json(["one", "two", "three"])

630 Fallible argument

You’ve passed a fallible expression as an argument to a function.

Rationale

In VRL, expressions that you pass to functions as arguments need to be infallible themselves. Otherwise, the outcome of the function would be indeterminate.

Resolution

Make the expression passed to the function infallible, potentially by aborting on error using !, coalescing the error using ??, or via some other method.

Examples

Fallible argument
VRL program
format_timestamp!(to_timestamp("2021-01-17T23:27:31.891948Z"), format: "%v %R")
How to fix it
- 	format_timestamp!(to_timestamp("2021-01-17T23:27:31.891948Z"), format: "%v %R")
+# 	format_timestamp!(to_timestamp!("2021-01-17T23:27:31.891948Z"), format: "%v %R")

640 No-op assignment

You’ve assigned a value to something that is neither a variable nor a path.

Rationale

All assignments in VRL need to be to either a path or a variable. If you try to assign a value to, for example, underscore (_), this operation is considered a “no-op” as it has no effect (and is thus not an assignment at all).

Resolution

Assign the right-hand-side value to either a variable or a path.

Examples

No-op assignment
VRL program
_ = "the hills are alive"
How to fix it
- 	_ = "the hills are alive"
+# 	.movie_song_quote = "the hills are alive"

650 Chained comparison operators

You’ve chained multiple comparison operators together in a way that can’t result in a valid expression.

Rationale

Comparison operators can only operate on two operands, e.g. 1 != 2. Chaining them together, as in 1 < 2 < 3, produces a meaningless non-expression.

Resolution

Use comparison operators only on a left-hand- and a right-hand-side value. You can chain comparisons together provided that the expressions are properly grouped. While a == b == c, for example, isn’t valid, a == b && b == c is valid because it involves distinct Boolean expressions.

Examples

Chained comparison operators
VRL program
1 == 1 == 2
How to fix it
- 	1 == 1 == 2
+# 	(1 == 1) && (1 == 2)

651 Unnecessary error coalescing operation

You’ve used a coalescing operation (??) to handle an error, but in this case the left-hand operation is infallible, and so the right-hand value after ?? is never reached.

Rationale

Error coalescing operations are useful when you want to specify what happens if an operation fails. Here’s an example:

result = op1 ?? op2

In this example, if op1 is infallible (that is, it can’t error) then the result variable if set to the value of op1 while op2 is never reached.

Resolution

If the left-hand operation is meant to be infallible, remove the ?? operator and the right-hand operation. If, however, the left-hand operation is supposed to be fallible, remove the ! from the function call and anything else that’s making it infallible.

652 Only objects can be merged

You’re attempting to merge two values together but one or both isn’t an object.

Rationale

Amongst VRL’s available types, only objects can be merged together. It’s not clear what it would mean to merge, for example, an object with a Boolean. Please note, however, that some other VRL types do have merge-like operations available:

These operations may come in handy if you’ve used merge by accident.

Resolution

Make sure that both values that you’re merging are VRL objects. If you’re not sure whether a value is an object, you can use the object function to check.

660 Non-Boolean negation

You’ve used the negation operator to negate a non-Boolean expression.

Rationale

Only Boolean values can be used with the negation operator (!). The expression !false, for example, produces true, whereas !"hello" is a meaningless non-expression.

Resolution

Use the negation operator only with Boolean expressions.

Examples

Non-Boolean negation
VRL program
!47
How to fix it
- 	!47
+# 	!(47 == 48)

Runtime errors

A runtime error occurs after compilation and during program runtime. Because VRL is fail safe, runtime error must be handled. This forces you to address how VRL programs should respond to errors.

Runtime errors are strings that describe the error.

Handling

You have three options for handling errors in VRL:

Assigning

As documented in the [assignment expression reference], you can assign errors when invoking an expression that’s fallible. When assigned, runtime errors are simple strings:

structured, err = parse_json("not json")
if err != null {
  log("Unable to parse JSON: " + err, level: "error")
} else {
  . = merge(., structured)
}

If the expression fails, the ok assignment target is assigned the “empty” value of its type:

# `.foo` can be `100` or `"not an int"`
foo, err = to_int(.foo)

# `err` can be `null` or `"unable to coerce value to integer"`
if err == null {
  # `foo` can be `100` or `0`
  .result = foo * 5
}

The above example compiles because foo will either be assigned the integer representation of .foo if it can be coerced to an integer, or it will be set to the “empty integer value” 0 if .foo can’t be coerced into an integer.

Because of this, it is important to always check if err is null before using the ok value of an infallible assignment.

Empty values
TypeEmpty value
String""
Integer0
Float0.0
Booleanfalse
Object{}
Array[]
Timestampt'1970-01-01T00:00:00Z' (Unix epoch)
Regular expressionr''
Nullnull

Coalescing

As documented in the coalesce expression reference, you can coalesce errors to efficiently step through multiple expressions:

structured = parse_json("not json") ?? parse_syslog("not syslog") ?? {}
. = merge(., structured)

Raising

As documented in the function call reference, you can raise errors to immediately abort the program by adding a ! to the end of the function name:

structured = parse_json!("not json")
. = merge(., structured)
Raising errors should be used with caution
While raising errors can simplfy your program, you should think carefully before aborting your program. If this operation is critical to the structure of your data you should abort, otherwise consider handling the error and proceeding with the rest of your program.