thanks for the suggestions. I mentioned JSON as what I am trying to do is to visualise a long JSON by converting it to a Perl var and then possibly edit the perl var, and finally save back to JSON (with the changes). But then my post got reduced to that minimum example without JSON. So, yes, actually I am serialising and de-serialising but I can't seem to find an ascii-text-based, unicode-friendly serialiser other than Dump and Dumper. Is the output of Data::Printer good for reading it back as a Perl var? I could not see it does that in the doc. I will edit my post to add this paragraph to it.