Configuration Handling

Cement defines a configuration interface called IConfig, as well as the default ConfigParserConfigHandler that implements the interface. This handler is built on top of ConfigParser which is included in the Python standard library. Therefor, this class will work much like ConfigParser but with any added functions necessary to meet the requirements of the IConfig interface.

Please note that there are other handler’s that implement the IConfig interface. The documentation below only references usage based on the interface and not the full capabilities of the implementation.

The following config handlers are included and maintained with Cement2, though may need to be installed via an external extension:

Please reference the IConfig interface documentation for writing your own config handler.

Configuration Ordering

An applications configuration is made up of a number of things, including default settings, handler defaults, config file settings, etc. The following is the order in which configurations are discovered:

  • Loaded from backend.defaults()
  • Extended by any handler Meta.config_defaults (not overridden)
  • Overridden by a config_defaults dict passed to foundation.CementApp()
  • Overridden by the configuration files
  • Overridden by command line options that match the same key name

Application Default Settings

Cement may in the future require default config settings in order to operate. These settings are found under the ‘<app_label>’ application section of the config, and overridden by a ‘[<app_label>]’ block from a configuration file.

You do not need to override these values, however you should always start with them. Additionally, the default dictionary is used if no other defaults are passed when creating an application. For example, the following:

from cement2.core import foundation
app = foundation.CementApp('myapp')

Is equivalent to:

from cement2.core import foundation, backend
defaults = backend.defaults('myapp')
app = foundation.CementApp('myapp', config_defaults=defaults)

That said, you can override default settings or add your own defaults like so:

from cement2.core import foundation, backend

defaults = backend.defaults('section1','section2')
defaults['section1']['foo'] = 'bar'
defaults['section2']['foo2'] = 'bar2'

app = foundation.CementApp('myapp', config_defaults=defaults)

It is important to note that the default settings, which is a dict, is parsed by the config handler and loaded into it’s own configuration mechanism. Meaning, though some config handlers (i.e. ConfigObj) might also be accessible like a dict, not all do (i.e. ConfigParser). Please see the documentation for the config handler you use for their full usage when accessing the ‘app.config’ object.

Builtin Defaults

Currently, the only builtin default is:


Toggles full debug mode (more or less trumps whatever the log handler log level is set to).

Value: False

Accessing Configuration Settings

After application creation, you can access the config handler via the ‘app.config’ object. For example:

from cement2.core import foundation
app = foundation.CementApp('myapp')

# First setup the application

# Get settings
app.config.get('base', 'debug')

# Set settings
app.config.set('base', 'debug', True)

# Get sections (configuration [blocks])

# Add a section

# Test if a section exists

# Get configuration keys for the 'base' section

# Test if a key exist
app.config.has_key('base', 'debug')

# Merge a dict of settings into the config
other_config = dict()
other_config['base'] = dict()
other_config['base']['foo'] = 'not bar'

Parsing Config Files

Most applications benefit from allowing their users to customize runtime via a configuration file. This can be done by:

from cement2.core import foundation
app = foundation.CementApp('myapp')

# First setup the application

# Parse a configuration file

Note that Cement automatically parses any config files listed in the CementApp.Meta.config_files list. For example:

from cement2.core import foundation, backend

app = foundation.lay_cement('myapp',
    config_files=['/path/to/config1', '/path/to/config2'],

If no config_files meta data is provided, Cement will set the defaults to:

  • /etc/<app_label>/<app_label>.conf
  • ~/.<app_label>.conf

Overriding Configurations with Command Line Options

Config settings are automatically overridden if a passed command line option matches the name. Note that this happens in all sections:

from cement2.core import foundation

defaults = backend.defaults('base')
defaults['base']['foo'] = 'bar'

    app = foundation.CementApp('myapp', config_defaults=defaults)

    # First setup the application

    # Add arguments
    app.args.add_argument('--foo', action='store', dest='foo')

    # Run the application (this parsed command line, among other things)

    # close the application

At the command line, running the application and passing the ‘–foo=some_value’ option will override the ‘foo’ setting under the ‘base’ (or any other) section.

Configuration Options Versus Meta Options

As you will see extensively throughout the Cement code is the use of Meta options. There can be some confusion between the use of Meta options, and application configuration options. The following explains the two:

Configuration Options

Configuration options are application specific. There are config defaults defined by the application developer, but those defaults can either be overridden by command line options of the same name, or config file settings. Cement does not rely on the application configuration, though it can honor configuration settings. For example, CementApp() honors the ‘debug’ config option which is documented, but it doesn’t rely on it existing either.

The key things to note about configuration options are:

  • They give the end user flexibility in how the application operates.
  • Anything that you want users to be able to customize via a config file. For example, the path to a log file or the location of a database server. These are things that you do not want ‘hard-coded’ into your app, but rather might want sane defaults for.

Meta Options

Meta options are used on the backend by developers to alter how classes operate. For example, the CementApp class has a meta option of ‘log_handler’. The default log handler is LoggingLogHandler, but because this is built on an interface definition, Cement can use any other log handler the same way without issue as long as that log handler abides by the interface definition. Meta options make this change seamless and allows the handler to alter functionality, rather than having to change code in the top level class itself.

The key thing to note about Meta options are:

  • They give the developer flexibility in how the code operates.
  • End users should not have access to modify Meta options via a config file or similar ‘dynamic’ configuration.
  • Meta options are used to alter how classes work, however are considered ‘hard-coded’ settings. If the developer chooses to alter a Meta option, it is for the life of that release.
  • Meta options should have a sane default, and be clearly documented.