Config::Scoped - feature rich configuration file parser

      use Config::Scoped;

      $cs = Config::Scoped->new( file => $config_file, ... );
      $cfg_hash = $cs->parse;

    Config::Scoped is a configuration file parser.

    *   recursive data structures with scalars, lists, and hashes

    *   simplified syntax with minimal punctuation

    *   parses many Perl data structures without eval, do or require

    *   Perl quoting syntax: single quotes (''), double quotes(""), and
        here-docs (<<EOF)

    *   Perl code evaluation in Safe compartments

    *   parses ISC named and dhcpd config files

    *   include files with recursion checks

    *   controlled macro expansion in double quoted tokens

    *   lexically scoped parameter assignments and directives

    *   duplicate macro, parameter, and declaration checks

    *   file permission and ownership safety checks

    *   fine control over error checking

    *   error messages report config file names and line numbers

    *   exception-based error handling

    *   based on Parse::RecDescent

    *   configuration caching with MD5 checksums on the original files

    *   may be subclassed to build parsers with specialized features

    *   Parse::RecDescent

    *   Error


          $cs = Config::Scoped->new(
            file     => $config_file,
            lc       => $lc,
            safe     => $compartment,
            warnings => $warnings,
            your_key => $your_value, { ... },

        Creates and returns a new Config::Scoped object. The following
        parameters are optional.

            The configuration file to parse. If omitted, then a
            $config_string must be provided to the parse method (see below).

        $lc If true, all declaration and parameter names will be converted
            to lower case.

            A Safe compartment for evaluating Perl code blocks in the
            configuration file. Defaults to a Safe compartment with no extra
            shares and the :default operator tag.

            may be the literal string 'on' or 'off' to set all warnings

            Or define a hash reference with the following keys to set each
            warning as specified.

              $warnings = { declaration  => 'off',
                            digests      => 'off',
                            macro        => 'off',
                            parameter    => 'off',
                            permissions  => 'off',
                            your_warning => 'off',

            All warnings are on by default.

        Arbitrary key/value pairs
            will be stored in the $cs object. This is useful primarily for

            $cfg_hash = $cs->parse;
            $cfg_hash = $cs->parse(text => $config_string);

        Parses the configuration and returns a reference to the config hash.

        The first form parses the $config_file that was provided to the
        constructor. If $config_file was not provided to the constructor,
        this form dies.

        The second form parses the $config_string.

        This method must only be called once.

            $cs->store_cache(cache => $cache_file);

        Stores the config hash on disk for rapid retrieval. If $config_file
        was provided to the constructor, then the stored form includes
        checksums of $config_file and any included files.

        The first form writes to $config_file.dump The second form writes to

        If $config_file was not provided to the constructor, the first form

            $cfg_hash = $cs->retrieve_cache;
            $cfg_hash = $cs->retrieve_cache>(cache => $cache_file);

        Retrieves the $config hash from a file that was created by

        The first form reads $config_file.dump The second form reads

        If $config_file was not provided to the constructor, the first form

        The stored file is subject to digests and permissions checks.

            $cs->set_warnings(name => $name, switch => 'on|off');

        Change warning for $name after construction.

            $on = $cs->warnings_on(name => $name);

        Returns true if warning $name is on. This is useful primarily for

    All methods die on error.

    Config::Scoped::Error defines a hierarchy of classes that represent
    Config::Scoped errors. When a method detects an error, it creates an
    instance of the corresponding class and throws it. The error classes are
    all subclasses of Config::Scoped::Error. See Config::Scoped::Error for
    the complete list.

    If the exception is not caught, the program terminates, and
    Config::Scoped prints the config file name and line number where the
    error was detected to STDERR.

    Config::Scoped parses configuration files.

    If we have a config file like

      % cat host.cfg
      host {
          name =
          port = 22

    we can parse it into Perl with code like

        $cs = Config::Scoped->new( file => 'host.cfg' );
        $cfg_hash = $cs->parse;

    The result is always a hash ref. We'll call this the config hash, and
    its contents for the example file above is:

        $cfg_hash = {
           host => {
              name => '',
              port => 22,

  Config files and config strings
    As described, Config::Scoped can obtain a configuration from a
    $config_file, passed to the constructor, or from a $config_string,
    passed to the parse method. For simplicity, we'll talk about parsing
    configuration files, distinguishing configuration strings only when

  File layout
    Config files are free-form text files. Comments begin with #, and extend
    to the end of the line.

    The top-level elements of a config file are called declarations. A
    declaration consists of a name, followed by a block

      foo {

      bar {

    The declaration names become keys in the config hash. The value of each
    key is another hash ref. The config shown above parses to

        $cfg_hash = {
           foo => {},
           bar => {},

    You can create additional levels in the config hash simply by listing
    successive declaration names before the block. This config

      dog hound {

      dog beagle {

      cat {

    parses to

        $cfg_hash = {
           dog => {
              hound  => {},
              beagle => {},

           cat => {}

    Declarations may not be nested.

    The ultimate purpose of a configuration file is to provide data values
    for a program. These values are specified by parameters.

    Parameters have the form

      name = value

    and go inside declaration blocks. The

      name = value

    parameters in a spec file become key and value pairs inside the
    declaration hashes in Perl code.

    For example, this configuration

      dog {
          legs  = 4
          wings = 0

      bird {
          legs  = 2
          wings = 2

    parses to

        $cfg_hash = {
           dog => {
              legs  => 4,
              wings => 0,

           bird => {
              legs  => 2,
              wings => 2,

    Parameter values can be scalars, lists or hashes.

    Scalar values may be numbers or strings

      shape = square
      sides = 4

    Lists values are enclosed in square brackets

      colors = [ red green blue ]
      primes = [ 2 3 5 7 11 13  ]

    Hash values are enclosed in curly brackets

      capitals = {
            England => London
            France  => Paris

    A hash value is also called a hash block.

    Lists and hashes can be nested to arbitrary depth

      Europe {
         currency = euro
         cities   = {
            England => [ London Birmingham Liverpool ]
            France  => [ Paris Canne Calais ]

    parses to

        $cfg_hash = {
           Europe => {
              currency => 'euro',

              cities => {
                 England => [ 'London', 'Birmingham', 'Liverpool' ],
                 France  => [ 'Paris',  'Canne',      'Calais' ],

    The Config::Scoped data syntax is similar to the Perl data syntax, and
    Config::Scoped will parse many Perl data structures. In general,
    Config::Scoped requires less punctuation that Perl. Note that
    Config::Scoped allows arrow (=>) or equals (=) between hash keys and
    values, but not comma (,)

      capitals = { England => London        # OK
                   France  =  Paris         # OK
                   Germany ,  Berlin        # error

    If a config file contains no declarations at all

      name =
      port = 22

    then any parameters will be placed in a _GLOBAL declaration in the
    config hash

       $cfg_hash = {
          _GLOBAL => {
             name => '',
             port => 22,

    This allows very simple config files with just parameters and no

  Blocks, scoping and inheritance
    Each declaration block in a config file creates a lexical scope.
    Parameters inside a declaration are scoped to that block. Parameters are
    inherited by all following declarations within their scope.

    If all your animals have four legs, you can save some typing by writing

        legs = 4
        cat {}
        dog {}

    which parses to

       $cfg_hash = {
          cat => { legs => 4 },
          dog => { legs => 4 },

    If some of your animals have two legs, you can create additional scopes
    with anonymous blocks to control inheritance

          legs = 4
          cat {}
          dog {}
          legs = 2
          bird {}

    parses to

       $cfg_hash = {
          cat  => { legs => 4 },
          dog  => { legs => 4 },
          bird => { legs => 2 },

    Anonymous blocks may be nested.

    Each hash block also creates a scope. The hash does not inherit
    parameters from outside its own scope.

  Perl code evaluation
    If you can't express what you need within the Config::Scoped syntax,
    your escape hatch is

      eval { ... }

    This does a Perl eval on the block, and replaces the construct with the
    results of the eval.

      start = eval { localtime }
      foo   = eval { warn 'foo,' if $debug; return 'bar' }

    The block is evaluated in scalar context. However, it may return a list
    or hash reference, and the underlying list or hash can become a
    parameter value.

    For example

      foo {
        list = eval { [ 1 .. 3 ]                 }
        hash = eval { { a => 1, b => 2, c => 3 } }

    parses to

       $cfg_hash = {
          foo => {
             list => [ 1, 2, 3 ],
             hash => { a => 1, b => 2, c => 3 },

    The block is evaluated inside the parser's Safe compartment. Variables
    can be made available to the eval by sharing them with the compartment.

    To set the $debug variable in the example above, do

        $compartment     = Safe->new('MY_SHARE');
        $MY_SHARE::debug = 1;

        $cs = Config::Scoped->new(
          file => 'config.txt',
          safe => $compartment,

        $cfg_hash = $cs->parse;

    Only global variables can be shared with a compartment; lexical
    variables cannot.

    perl_code is a synonym for eval.

  Tokens and quoting
    A token is a

    *   declaration name

    *   parameter name

    *   hash key

    *   scalar value

    *   macro name

    *   macro value

    *   include path

    *   warning name

    Any token may be quoted.

    Tokens that contain special characters must be quoted. The special
    characters are

      \s {} [] <> () ; , ' " = # %

    Config::Scoped uses the Perl quoting syntax.

    Tokens may be quoted with either single or double quotes

      a = 'New York'
      b = "New Jersey\n"

    Here-docs are supported

      a = <<EOT
      New York
      New Jersey

    but generalized quotes (q(), qq(), etc.) are not. Text in here-docs is
    regarded as single-quoted if the delimiter is enclosed in single quotes,
    and double-quoted if the delimiter is enclosed in double quotes or

    Double-quoted tokens are evaluated as Perl strings inside the parser's
    Safe compartment. They are subject to the usual Perl backslash and
    variable interpolation, as well as macro expansion. Variables to be
    interpolated are passed via the Safe compartment, as shown above in
    "Perl code evaluation". If you need a literal $ or @ in a double-quoted
    string, be sure to escape it with a backslash (\) to suppress


      eval { ... }

    may appear anywhere that a token is expected. For example

      foo {
          eval { 'b' . 'c' } = 1

    parses to

        $cfg_hash = { foo => { bc => 1 } }

    Config::Scoped has three directives: %macro, %warning, and %include.

    Config::Scoped supports macros. A macro is defined with

      %macro name value

    Macros may be defined

    *   at file scope

    *   within anonymous blocks

    *   within declaration blocks

    *   within hash blocks

    Macros defined within blocks are lexically scoped to those blocks.

    Macro substitution occurs

    *   within any double-quoted text

    *   within the entirety of Perl eval blocks

    *   nowhere else

  Include files
    Config::Scoped supports include files.

    To include one config file within another, write

      %include path/to/file

    %include directives may appear

    *   at file scope

    *   within anonymous blocks

    *   nowhere else

    In particular, %include directives may not appear within declaration
    blocks or hash blocks.

    Parameters and macros in include files are imported to the current
    scope. You can control this scope with an anonymous block

        %include dog.cfg
        dog { }  # sees imports from dog.cfg
      bird { }   # does not see imports from dog.cfg

    Warnings are scoped to the included file and do not leak to the parent

    Pathnames are either

    *   absolute

    *   relative to the dirname of the current configuration file

    For example, this config

        # in configuration file /etc/myapp/global.cfg
        %include shared.cfg

    includes the file /etc/myapp/shared.cfg.

    When parsing a configuration string, the path is relative to the current
    working directory.

    Include files are not actually included as text. Rather, they are
    processed by a recursive call to Config::Scoped. Subclass implementers
    may need to be aware of this.

    Config::Scoped can check for 5 problems with config files

    *   duplicate declaration names

    *   duplicate parameter definitions

    *   duplicate macro definitions

    *   insecure config file permissions

    *   invalid config cache digests

    The API refers to these as "warnings", but they are actually errors, and
    if they occur, the parse fails and throws an exception. For consistency
    with the API, we'll use the term "warning" in the POD.

    The five warnings are identified by five predefined warning names

    *   declaration

    *   parameter

    *   macro

    *   permissions

    *   digests

    The permissions check requires that the config file

    *   be owned by root or the real UID of the running process AND

    *   have no group or world write permissions

    These restrictions help prevent an attacker from subverting a program by
    altering its config files.

    The store_cache method computes MD5 checksums for the config file and
    all included files. These checksums are stored with the cached

    The retrieve_cache method recomputes the checksums of the files and
    compares them to the stored values.

    The digests check requires that the checksums agree. This helps prevent
    programs from relying on stale configuration caches.

    All warnings are enabled by default.

    Warnings can be disabled by passing the warning key to the constructor
    or with the set_warnings method.

    Warnings can also be controlled with the %warnings directive, which has
    the form

    %warnings [name] off|on

    A %warnings directive applies to the named warning, or to all warnings,
    if name is omitted.

    %warnings directives allow warnings to be turned on and off as necessary
    throughout the config file. A %warnings directive may appear

    *   at file scope

    *   within anonymous blocks

    *   within declaration blocks

    *   within hash blocks

    Each %warnings directive is lexically scoped to its enclosing file or


      legs = 4
      cat  {}
      dog  {}
          legs = 2

    fails with a duplicate parameter warning, but

      legs = 4
      cat  {}
      dog  {}
          %warnings parameter off;
          legs = 2

    successfully parses to

        $cfg_hash = {
            cat  => { legs => 4 },
            dog  => { legs => 4 },
            bird => { legs => 2 },

Best practices
    As with all things Perl, there's more than one way to write
    configuration files. Here are some suggestions for writing config files
    that are concise, readable, and maintainable.

  Perl data
    Config::Scoped accepts most Perl data syntax. This allows Perl data to
    pulled into config files largely unaltered

         a = 1;
         b = [ 'red', 'green', 'blue' ];
         c = { x => 5,
               y => 6 };

    However, Config::Scoped doesn't require as much punctuation as Perl, and
    config files written from scratch will be cleaner without it

         a = 1
         b = [ red green blue ]
         c = { x => 5
               y => 6 }

  Anonymous blocks
    Don't use anonymous blocks unless you need to restrict the scope of
    something. In particular, there is no need for a top-level anonymous
    block around the whole config file

      {             # unnecessary
          foo { }

    Parameters that are outside of a declaration are inherited by all
    following declarations in their scope. Don't do this unless you mean it

      wheels = 4
          # OK
          # I can haz weelz?

  Blocks, blocks, we got blocks...
    Config::Scoped has four different kinds of blocks

    *   anonymous

    *   declaration

    *   eval

    *   hash

    They all look the same, but they aren't, and they have different rules
    and restrictions. See "CONFIG FILE FORMAT" for descriptions of each.

    Macros are evil, and Config::Scoped macros are specially evil, because

    *   they don't respect token boundaries

    *   where multiple substitutions are possible, the substitution order is

    *   substituted text may or may not be rescanned for further

    Caveat scriptor.

    Config::Scoped has no formally defined subclass interface. Here are some
    guidelines for writing subclasses. Implementers who override (or
    redefine) base class methods may need to read the Config::Scoped sources
    for more information.


      $your_key => $value

    pairs may be passed to the Config::Scoped constructor. They will be
    stored in the $cs->{local} hashref, and methods may access them with
    code like


    To avoid conflict with existing keys in the local hash, consider
    distinguishing your keys with a unique prefix.

    Arbitrary warning names may be defined, set with new and set_warnings,
    used in %warnings directives, and tested with warnings_on. Methods can
    call warnings_on to find out whether a warning is currently enabled.

    All methods throw exceptions (die) on error. The exception object should
    be a subclass of Config::Scoped::Error. You can use one of the classes
    defined in Config::Scoped::Error, or you can derive your own. This code

            -file => $cs->_get_file(%args),
            -line => $cs->_get_line(%args),
            -text => $message,

    will generate an error message that reports the location in the config
    file where the error was detected, rather than a location in Perl code.

    Config::Scoped performs validation checks on the elements of
    configuration files (declarations, parameters, macros, etc). Here are
    the interfaces to the validation methods. Subclasses can override these
    methods to modify or extend the validation checks.

    $macro_value = $cs->macro_validate>(name => $name, value => $value)
        Called for each %macro directive.

        Receives the $name and $value from the directive. The returned
        $macro_value becomes the actual value of the macro.

        If the macro is invalid, throws a
        Config::Scoped::Error::Validate::Macro exception.

    $param_value = $cs->parameter_validate>(name => $name, value => $value)
        Called for each parameter definition.

        Receives the $name and $value from the definition. The returned
        $param_value becomes the actual value of the parameter.

        If the parameter is invalid, throws a
        Config::Scoped::Error::Validate::Parameter exception.

    $cs->declaration_validate(name => $name, value => $value, tail => $tail)
        Called for each declaration.

        $name is an array ref giving the chain of names for the declaration
        block. $value is a hash ref containing all the parameters in the
        declaration block. $tail is a hash ref containing all the parameters
        in any previously defined declaration with the same name(s).

        For example, the declaration

          foo bar baz { a=1 b=2 }

        leads to the call

          $cs->declaration_validate(name  => [ qw(foo bar baz) ],
                                        value => { a => '1', b => '2' },
                                        tail  => $cs->{local}{config}{foo}{bar}{baz});

        The method can test %$tail to discover if there is an existing,
        non-empty declaration with the same name(s).

        The method has no return value. However, the method can alter the
        contents of %$value. Upon return, the parameters in %$value become
        the actual contents of the declaration block.

        If the declaration is invalid, throws a
        Config::Scoped::Error::Validate::Declaration exception.

    $cs->permissions_validate(file => $file, handle => $handle)
        Called for the config file, each included file, and each retrieved
        cache file. One of $file or $handle must be non-null.

        Throws a Config::Scoped::Error::Validate::Permissions exception if
        the file is not safe to read.

    *   Error

    *   Safe

    *   Config::Scoped::Error

    *   Parse::RecDescent

    *   "Quote and Quote-like Operators" in perlop

        Still more tests needed.

    If you find parser bugs, please send the stripped down config file and
    additional version information to the author.

    POD by Steven W. McDougall <>

    Karl Gaissmaier <karl.gaissmaier at>

    Copyright (c) 2004-2012 by Karl Gaissmaier

    This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
    under the same terms as Perl itself.