Most Pythonic way to store (small) configuration

Marko Rauhamaa marko at
Wed Aug 5 23:47:37 CEST 2015

Tim Chase <python.list at>:

> There's a certain simplicity to simply having key/value pairs
> separated by an "=" and then letting the application do whatever it
> needs/wants with those key/value strings.

That trap has lured in a lot of wildlife.

What to do with lists?

Is whitespace significant?

Case in point, systemd configuration files:


It specifies all kinds of application-do-whatever-it-needs syntax:

 * backslash escapes

 * double quotes and single quotes

 * line continuations

 * percent specifiers

 * dollar substitution with or without braces

 * double-dollar escape

 * together with undocumented quirks (for example, how do you specify a
   command whose pathname contains whitespace?)

All of which makes it all but impossible to algorithmically escape a
literal command into the ExecStart= entry.

When you start with something that's too simple, you end up with layers
of ever-increasing complexity but never attain the expressive power of
JSON, S-expressions and the like (I don't have the stomach to mention


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