Making application configuration standardized

Created: November 29th 2019
Updated: December 3th 2020
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Making application configuration standardized. Have you ever dug into a program that someone else developed and not been able to figure out where a setting is? Maybe it's in a file somewhere alongside the installation? maybe it's hardcoded? If it is in a file is it .json? .yaml file maybe?

In most cases you don't know until you already have been given the answer. The configparser library built into python seeks to solve at least the problem of various formats by creating a native python standard configuration syntax all wrapped up into a simple to use module.


Config Files

Config files are files used to store and check the configuration of a program. Specifically the config files we will be talking about in this post are ones most syntactically similar to .ini files.


As I mentioned in the description the configparser module is a python standard library module that standardizes program configurations. It does this by creating files that are syntactically similar to .ini files. One key difference to most other forms of configuration files is that type casting has to be done on deserialization. configparser stores and retrieves everything as strings so any casting needs to be done in application logic.


The demo code at the end can be run by adding it to a file and running python or python3

Real World Applications

Any application that has state that needs to be stored and accessed can make good use of the configparser module. Also since this is a standard built into python you know that anyone using python has easy access to serialization and deserialization of the files.

Additional info

configparser docs


from os import path # Used to check if file already exists
from configparser import ConfigParser # Used to serialize and deserialize config files

config = ConfigParser() # Create ConfigParser instance

if path.exists("demo.ini"): # If the file already exists"demo.ini") # Read it

    for value in config["Application"]: # Iterate through 'application' section
        print(f"{value}: {config['Application'][value]}") # Read config settings
else: # if no file exists
    config["Application"] = {
        "Name": "Demo application",
        "Version": 1,
        "Public": True
    } # initialize a config

    with open("demo.ini", "w") as config_file:
        config.write(config_file) # Write the config object to 'demo.ini'

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