XML-based configurations

Jakob 'sparky' Kaivo jake at nodomainname.net
Wed Nov 25 08:12:18 PST 1998

IMHO, this would be a Bad Thing(tm). It is far beyond the scope of LSB to
specify *how* an application stores its configuration. It may be
acceptable to specify *where* an application stores its configuration,
though. I.e. daemons with one config file store it in /etc, daemons with
multiple config files store in a subdirectory of /etc, normal applications
store it in a .rc file in the user's home directory, or a .subdirectory
for multiple file stuff. However, even that may be beyond LSB, and I
really think that dealing with config files should be left to the
application vendor.

On Wed, 25 Nov 1998, Aaron wrote:

> I propose (or reiterate, if it's already been proposed) that relatively
> complex, and especially new configuration files be XML-compatible (that is,
> could be parsed by an XML-parser given a proper DTD). My reasoning is this:
> doing so would link the myriad of different formats used in system
> configuration into a single format whose only difference is in the element types
> used. This would greatly simplify the administrator's work (in that he/she
> doesn't have to learn obscure formats) and also provides for the developer
> a coherent means of configuration. It also provides the opportunity for
> a configuration tool which, given the appropriate DTD, can handle configurations
> for basically any application making use of XML-based configuration.
> I see this as especially enabling of application integration in a way
> far superior to the Microsoft way. Microsoft integrates its applications
> by binding their code together. I see proper integration as efficient and
> functional communication between applications. This is made much easier
> with a standard format of resource storage. This is a similar idea to
> that of the Xresources and the resource database xrdb. However, an XML
> based system is far more extensible and universal.
> Obviously, many things don't have the complexity to require XML, and
> many applications can't use it due to familiarity to their own traditional
> configuration formats. But I would propose that any LSB type of 
> configuration (for instance the standard package format, if any) be XML
> compatible, and that adquate services be made available to encourage
> (not mandate) application developers to make use of the system (for
> instance, no one will use XML configuration if a good open source XML renderer
> is part of the standard base).
> Along the thread of standardized GUIs, someone mentioned a standard
> configuration format for window managers/environments. Using XML, this
> problem will be somewhat solved, especially if a standard base DTD
> is given which all GUI configurations would have to follow. Environment-
> specific functionality can be configured using an extended version of
> the standard DTD. Then converting from one environment to the other
> while perserving configuration would only consist of extracting those
> elements which are standard from the configuration and applying them to
> the new enviroment. Obviously the environment-specific configurations would
> not be applied because the new environment wouldn't understand them.
> This way we would capture a base standard for GUI services without
> constricting GUI developers to that standard (allowing them to add
> extensions for their particular product).
> Because XML is relatively easy to understand and even to write DTDs for,
> it would take a large burden off of developers and administrators/hackers
> alike. Developers because they would not have to spend time defining their
> own formats, their own parsers, and possibly attempting to coordinate those
> formats with other applications' formats. Administrators/hackers because
> whenever they go to edit a configuration, there is a clear and universal
> interface to that configuration.
> -- 
> ¤--------------------------------------------------------------------¤
> | Aaron Gaudio                   mailto:icy_manipulator at mindless.com |
> |                    http://www.rit.edu/~adg1653/                    |
> ¤--------------------------------------------------------------------¤
> |      "The fool finds ignorance all around him.                     |
> |          The wise man finds ignorance within."                     |
> ¤--------------------------------------------------------------------¤
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| Jakob 'sparky' Kaivo        |          jake at nodomainname.net |
| NoDomainName Networks       |    http://www.nodomainname.net |
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