TOML - The other configuration language

While taking a look at Heka last weekend I stumbled upon a configuration file format I hadn’t heard of before: TOML. TOML (or “Tom’s obvious, minimal language”) is a new entry into the field with an age of just about a year. It was created by Tom Prescot-Werner, previously of Github, and is basically the good old INI format but with more data structures and different string handling.

# What would be described as a section in INI/CFG files are simple hashmaps
# ("tables") in TOML.
verbosity = 4

# There are a bunch of native datatypes in here:
array = [1, 2, 3, 4]
boolean = true
date = 1981-10-11T07:08:09Z
strings = "hello world"
multiline_strings = """
If the first line after the opening quotes
is indented, it will be used as default

# Strings esp. have some nice helpers that should keep your configuration
# quite readable:

# You can also nest dictionaries by putting a dot into the key name:
file = "/var/log/log.log"

    # Elements can be indented without messing up the parser
    key = "value"

# You can create a list of tables like the list of "servers" here by
# doubling the braces around the key.
url = ""

# the second server
url = ""

I’m pretty sure that the prefixing of sub-tables might be quite annoying if you’re dealing with many such entries, so for these situations JSON or YAML are perhaps better choices. But for “sane” use-cases this looks really nice!

There are also already libraries for more or less every major language out there, so I wouldn’t have any problem using it in my Python, JavaScript or Go projects. That being said, at least one of the Python implementations has a problem with some of the ways strings can be used in TOML. Luckily, that’s proably the feature I would use the least here :)

A formal specification is current available as a PR to the main repository and it looks like one of the few missing pieces before putting a 1.0-stamp onto the language. In the meantime there also exists a test suite against which implementations can be tested.

I have not used TOML in any project yet, but with one of my next ones I definitely want to give it a try :)