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Config::AST(3) User Contributed Perl Documentation Config::AST(3)

Config::AST - abstract syntax tree for configuration files

    my $cfg = new Config::AST(%opts);
    $cfg->parse() or die;
    $cfg->commit() or die;

    if ($cfg->is_set('core', 'variable')) {

    my $x = $cfg->get('file', 'locking');

    $cfg->set('file', 'locking', 'true');

    $cfg->unset('file', 'locking');

This module aims to provide a generalized implementation of parse tree for various configuration files. It does not implement parser for any existing configuration file format. Instead, it provides an API that can be used by parsers to build internal representation for the particular configuration file format.

See Config::Parser module for an implementation of a parser based on this module.

A configuration file in general is supposed to consist of statements of two kinds: simple statements and sections. A simple statement declares or sets a configuration parameter. Examples of simple statements are:

    # Bind configuration file:
    file "cache/named.root";

    # Apache configuration file:

    # Git configuration file:
    logallrefupdates = true

A section statement groups together a number of another statements. These can be simple statements, as well as another sections. Examples of sections are (with subordinate statements replaced with ellipsis):

    # Bind configuration file:
    zone "." {

    # Apache configuration file:
    <VirtualHost *:80>

    # Git configuration file:

The syntax of Git configuration file being one of the simplest, we will use it in the discussion below to illustrate various concepts.

The abstract syntax tree (AST) for a configuration file consists of nodes. Each node represents a single statement and carries detailed information about that statement, in particular:

Location of the statement in the configuration. It is represented by an object of class Text::Locus.
0-based number reflecting position of this node in the parent section node.
For simple statements - the value of this statement.
For sections - the subtree below this section.

The type of each node can be determined using the following node attributes:

True if node is a section node.
True if node is a simple statement.

To retrieve a node, address it using its full path, i.e. list of statement names that lead to this node. For example, in this simple configuration file:

       filemode = true

the path of the "filemode" statement is "qw(core filemode)".

    $cfg = new Config::AST(%opts);

Creates new configuration parser object. Valid options are:

debug => NUM
Sets debug verbosity level.
ci => 0 | 1
If 1, enables case-insensitive keyword matching. Default is 0, i.e. the keywords are case-sensitive.
lexicon => \%hash
Defines the keyword lexicon.

Keyword lexicon

The hash reference passed via the lexicon keyword defines the keywords and sections allowed within a configuration file. In a simplest case, a keyword is described as

    name => 1

This means that name is a valid keyword, but does not imply anything about its properties. A more complex declaration is possible, in which the value is a hash reference, containing one or more of the following keywords:

mandatory => 0 | 1
Whether or not this setting is mandatory.
default => VALUE
Default value for the setting. This value will be assigned if that particular statement is not explicitly used in the configuration file. If VALUE is a CODE reference, it will be invoked as a method each time the value is accessed.

Default values must be pure Perl values (not the values that should appear in the configuration file). They are not processed using the check callbacks (see below).

array => 0 | 1
If 1, the value of the setting is an array. Each subsequent occurrence of the statement appends its value to the end of the array.
re => regexp
Defines a regular expression which the value must match. If it does not, a syntax error will be reported.
select => coderef
Reference to a method which will be called in order to decide whether to apply this hash to a particular configuration setting. The method is called as

    $self->$coderef($node, @path)

where $node is the Config::AST::Node::Value object (use $vref->value, to obtain the actual value), and @path is its pathname.

check => coderef
Defines a method which will be called after parsing the statement in order to verify its value. The coderef is called as

    $self->$coderef($valref, $prev_value, $locus)

where $valref is a reference to its value, and $prev_value is the value of the previous instance of this setting. The function must return true, if the value is OK for that setting. In that case, it is allowed to modify the value referenced by $valref. If the value is erroneous, the function must issue an appropriate error message using $cfg->error, and return 0.

In taint mode, any value that matched re expression or passed the check function will be automatically untainted.

To define a section, use the section keyword, e.g.:

    core => {
        section => {
            pidfile => {
               mandatory => 1
            verbose => {
               re => qr/^(?:on|off)/i

This says that the section named core can have two variables: pidfile, which is mandatory, and verbose, whose value must be on, or off (case-insensitive). E.g.:

        pidfile = /run/
        verbose = off

To accept arbitrary keywords, use *. For example, the following declares code section, which must have the pidfile setting and is allowed to have any other settings as well.

    code => {
       section => {
           pidfile => { mandatory => 1 },
           '*' => 1

Everything said above applies to the '*' as well. E.g. the following example declares the code section, which must have the pidfile setting and is allowed to have subsections with arbitrary settings.

    code => {
       section => {
           pidfile = { mandatory => 1 },
           '*' => {
               section => {
                   '*' => 1

The special entry

    '*' => '*'

means "any settings and any subsections are allowed".

Returns the root node of the tree, initializing it if necessary.

Converts the string $name to a form suitable for lookups, in accordance with the ci parameter passed to the constructor.

Returns current lexicon. If $hashref is supplied, installs it as a new lexicon.

Returns a lexicon entry for the statement at @path. If no such statement is defined, returns undef.

This module provides a framework for parsing, but does not implement parsers for any particular configuration formats. To implement a parser, the programmer must write a class that inherits from Config::AST. This class should implement the parse method which, when called, will actually perform the parsing and build the AST using methods described in section CONSTRUCTING THE SYNTAX TREE (see below).

The caller must then perform the following operations

1. Create an instance of the derived class $cfg.
2. Call the $cfg->parse method.
3. On success, call the $cfg->commit method.

Abstract method that is supposed to actually parse the configuration file and build the parse tree from it. Derived classes must overload it.

The must return true on success and false on failure. Eventual errors in the configuration should be reported using error.

Must be called after parse to finalize the parse tree. This function applies default values on settings where such are defined.

Optional arguments control what steps are performed.

lint => 1
Forse syntax checking. This can be necessary if new nodes were added to the tree after parsing.
lexicon => $hashref
Override the lexicon used for syntax checking and default value processing.

Returns true on success.

Returns total number of errors encountered during parsing.

Returns true if no errors were detected during parsing.

Destroys the parse tree and clears error count, thereby preparing the object for parsing another file.

Prints the $message on STDERR. If locus is given, its value must be a reference to a valid Text::Locus(3) object. In that case, the object will be formatted first, then followed by a ": " and the $message.

If $lev is greater than or equal to the debug value used when creating $cfg, outputs on standard error the strings from @msg, separating them with a single space character.

Otherwise, does nothing.

A node is addressed by its path, i.e. a list of names of the configuration sections leading to the statement plus the name of the statement itself. For example, the statement:

    pidfile = /var/run/

has the path

    ( 'pidfile' )

The path of the pidfile statement in section core, e.g.:

        pidfile = /var/run/


    ( 'core', 'pidfile' )

Similarly, the path of the file setting in the following configuration file:

    [item foo]
        file = bar

is ( 'item', 'foo', 'bar' )

Retrieves the AST node referred to by @path. If no such node exists, returns "undef".

Returns the Config::AST::Node::Value(3) corresponding to the configuration variable represented by its path, or "undef" if the variable is not set.

Returns true if the configuration variable addressed by @path is set.

Returns true if the configuration section addressed by @path is defined.

Returns true if the configuration setting addressed by @path is set and is a simple statement.

    Returns the parse tree.

Returns the configuration subtree associated with the statement indicated by @path.

Direct addressing allows programmer to access configuration settings as if they were methods of the configuration class. For example, to retrieve the node at path

    qw(foo bar baz)

one can write:

    $node = $cfg->foo->bar->baz

This statement is equivalent to

    $node = $cfg->getnode(qw(foo bar baz))

except that if the node in question does not exist, direct access returns a null node, and getnode returns "undef". Null node is a special node representing a missing node. Its is_null method returns true and it can be used in conditional context as a boolean value, e.g.:

    if (my $node = $cfg->foo->bar->baz) {
        $val = $node->value;

Direct addressing is enabled only if lexicon is provided (either during creation of the object, or later, via the lexicon method).

Obviously, statements that have names coinciding with one of the methods of the Config::AST class (or any of its subclasses) can't be used in direct addressing. In other words, you can't have a top-level statement called "tree" and access it as


This statement will always refer to the method tree of the Config::AST class.

Another possible problem when using direct access are keywords with dashes. Currently a kludge is implemented to make it possible to access such keywords: when looking for a matching keyword, double underscores compare equal to a single dash. For example, to retrieve the "qw(files temp-dir)" node, use


The methods described in this section are intended for use by the parser implementers. They should be called from the implementation of the parse method in order to construct the tree.

Adds the node in the node corresponding to $path. $path can be either a list of keyword names, or its string representation, where names are separated by dots. I.e., the following two calls are equivalent:

    $cfg->add_node(qw(core pidfile), $node)
    $cfg->add_node('core.pidfile', $node)

If the node already exists at $path, new node is merged to it according to the lexical rules. I.e., for scalar value, new node overwrites the old one. For lists, it is appended to the list.

Adds a statement node with the given $value and $locus in position, indicated by $path.

If the setting already exists at $path, the new value is merged to it according to the lexical rules. I.e., for scalars, $value overwrites prior setting. For lists, it is appended to the list.

Sets the configuration variable @path to $value .

No syntax checking is performed. To enforce syntax checking use add_value.

Unsets the configuration variable.

If @path refers to an existing configuration section, returns a list of names of variables and subsections defined within that section. Otherwise, returns empty list. For example, if you have

    [item foo]
       x = 1
    [item bar]
       x = 1
    [item baz]
       y = 2

the call


will return

    ( 'foo', 'bar', 'baz' )

Returns a flattened representation of the configuration, as a list of pairs [ $path, $value ], where $path is a reference to the variable pathname, and $value is a Config::AST::Node::Value object.

The $sort argument controls the ordering of the entries in the returned @array. It is either a code reference suitable to pass to the Perl sort function, or one of the following constants:

Don't sort the array. Statements will be placed in an apparently random order.
Preserve relative positions of the statements. Entries in the array will be in the same order as they appeared in the configuration file. This is the default.
Sort by pathname.

These constants are not exported by default. You can either import the ones you need, or use the :sort keyword to import them all, e.g.:

    use Config::AST qw(:sort);
    @array = $cfg->flatten(sort => SORT_PATH);

Returns parse tree converted to a hash reference. If $map is supplied, it must be a reference to a function. For each $key/$value pair, this function will be called as:

    ($newkey, $newvalue) = &{$map}($what, $key, $value)

where $what is "section" or "value", depending on the type of the hash entry being processed. Upon successful return, $newvalue will be inserted in the hash slot for the key $newkey.

If $what is "section", $value is always a reference to an empty hash (since the parse tree is traversed in pre-order fashion). In that case, the $map function is supposed to do whatever initialization that is necessary for the new subtree and return as $newvalue either $value itself, or a reference to a hash available inside the $value. For example:

    sub map {
        my ($what, $name, $val) = @_;
        if ($name eq 'section') {
            $val->{section} = {};
            $val = $val->{section};
        ($name, $val);

Returns the canonical string representation of the configuration tree. For details, please refer to the documentation of this method in class Config::AST::Node.

Checks the syntax according to the keyword lexicon %lex (or $cfg->lexicon, if called without arguments). On success, applies eventual default values and returns true. On errors, reports them using error and returns false.

This method provides a way to delay syntax checking for a later time, which is useful, e.g. if some parts of the parser are loaded as modules after calling parse.



2021-02-12 perl v5.32.1

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