New configuration module released

Vinay Sajip vinay_sajip at
Wed Nov 3 23:01:38 CET 2004


> I'm posting some opinions I have on your module and on the topic in general 
> in this newsgroup, instead of using the links you have on your web page 
> (your email and a wiki) because I would like to see a wider discussion.


> First, some small issues.  The syntax for your configuration is still fairly 
> close to the python syntax and it involves quite a bit of learning for both 
> python users and non-python users.  Your module would save me a little bit 
> of work in parsing when loading a configuration (remember, I am loading 
> configurations by importing them as a module) and a little more work than 
> that in formatting when saving a configuration.  That work is not very 
> significant though and having my own mechanism also has its advantages.

One important benefit of having Python-like syntax is that it is easy to
create a configuration programmatically, using just dicts and lists.
This is something that you cite below as a big issue for you.

In terms of learning - I'm not sure that python developers would have
any real problem with the basic syntax. For end users, it's a case of
unfamiliarity rather than intrinsic difficulty, IMO.

> Now, here is the biggest issue I have and what I would be extremely 
> interested in seeing in a configuration module.  I don't see from your 
> documentation how I could programmatically create a configuration from 
> scratch.  In my project I have a set of handlers and each handler has a 
> special configuration.  Each such special configuration is defined by a 
> structure of metadata (with information like name, type, description) that I 
> implemented myself.  That way, my GUI tool can load a handler dynamically, 
> read its configuration metadata, dynamically create a frame for the 
> handler's configuration, and save the new configuration to a file.

There are many ways you could do what you want to do. Without knowing
the details of your application, I can't give particularly good advice.
However, consider the following program:

from config import Config
from cStringIO import StringIO

root = { }
messages = [ ]
root['total_period'] = 100
root['test'] = True
root['another_test'] = False
root['yet_another_test'] = None
root['messages'] = messages
root['message'] = 'Hello, world!'
messages.append({ 'message' : 'Welcome', 'name' : 'Harry' })
messages.append({ 'message' : 'Welkom', 'name' : 'Ruud' })
messages.append({ 'message' : 'Bienvenue', 'name' : 'Yves' })

stream = StringIO()
print >> stream, root
value = stream.getvalue()

stream = StringIO(value[1:-2])
cfg = Config(stream)'test.txt', 'w'))

This shows how easy it is to programmatically construct a simple
configuration from scratch.

It would be easy for your configuration to hold a separate tree in the
configuration with the metadata. For example, you could construct a GUI
frame given a set of fields:

fields: [ title, firstname, surname, age, jobtitle ]
metadata: {
     title : { description: 'Salutation', type: choice,
	 values: [ [1, 'Mr.'], [2, 'Mrs.']] }
     firstname : { description: 'First name', type: text,
			max_length: 20 }
     surname : { description: 'Last name', type: text, max_length: 20 }
     age : { description: 'Age', type: int }
     jobtitle: { description: 'Job title', type: text }

Then you can easily loop through the fields.

from config import Config

cfg = Config(file('metadata.cfg'))

for fld in cfg.fields:
     metadata = cfg.get('metadata.' + fld)
     print "name = %r, type = %r, description = %r" %
          (fld, metadata.type, metadata.description)

with the result

name = 'title', type = 'choice', description = 'Salutation'
name = 'firstname', type = 'text', description = 'First name'
name = 'surname', type = 'text', description = 'Last name'
name = 'age', type = 'int', description = 'Age'
name = 'jobtitle', type = 'text', description = 'Job title'

I hope the above allows you to see the potential that the config module
has to meet your needs.

Best wishes,

Vinay Sajip

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