DragonFly BSD
DragonFly kernel List (threaded) for 2003-12
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Re: configuration files

From: Dave Leimbach <leimySPAM2k@xxxxxxx>
Date: 11 Dec 2003 12:46:03 -0600

James Frazer <jfrazer@xxxxxxxx> writes:

> Heh, well I don't know about you, but I very rarely write entire
> config files from scratch.  A few changes here or there wouldn't be a
> big deal :-)

True ... if there were some utility though that could read an
arbitrary DTD/Schema for a config file then it would be easier to
create configurations.  

If such a toolset existed I think all reasons to not use XML would be
gone.  I am actually trying to create one in Cocoa in my other spare
time at http://www.7wx.org.  I am still in the tech-research phase to
see what's a good framework to base it on and what isn't.

> Most config files stay pretty static IMO.  When you install your base
> system (or your fav app) there's usually a default or sample config
> file -- often a few changes is all that is needed to get things up and
> running.  I've just always found it somewhat of a nuisance -- cryptic
> syntax -- different syntax for different files -- sometimes the
> examples suck and are not very intuitive.

To some extent yes I will agree.  People basically want to change a
field or two at a time.  

With an ncurses interface configuration files might be easier to deal
with as they are almost certainly more broad than they are deep [DOM
tree speaking that is].

Since we are eventually going to have a new installer for DragonFly
perhaps this wouldn't be a bad idea to look into?

If the XML is used internally and we use some transform to generate
the traditional BSD config files we can have our cake and eat it too

> Ideally I think XML-config would probably be auto-generated or
> abstracted in someway -- as to leave hand typing to a last resort.
> Most config files probably wouldn't result in too many levels of
> complexity.  I also think it would be easier to write a generalized
> frontend to change any settings -- it's impossible to write a frontend
> to do this now, as different config-files often have such major
> differences in syntax.

Yeah... like I said above :)

You can write generic XML DTD compliant forms "presenters" that is if
you make a DTD for all the possible fields of a configuration file [or
just a way to enter key value pairs] you can present a generic form
interface where the user just keys in the key/values [which is exactly
what you probably do in files like /etc/rc.conf so the advantage of
XML is probably lost here].

> Kind of funny though, I'm pretty sure I used the same argument (too
> much typing) against you back during the XML-in-packages discussion.
> I knew that one would come back to bite me at some point.

Yeah... I remember :)  XAR is a tar replacement with an XML TOC.  Its
actually pretty neat but the CVS is stagnating I fear.

> --James
> Dave Leimbach wrote:
> <snip>
> > Here is my vote for I really hope we never use XML for configuration
> > files.  Its a real pain in the butt to type all thos <> </> tags.
> > For sufficiently deep XML trees its also error for humans to
> > correctly
> > type the correct ending tag with a matching begin tag.  I use XML a
> > lot... I like it for things like DocBook but I sure don't
> > want to edit it by hand.
> >

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