Thursday, April 28, 2011

Advanced INI Parsing in ColdFusion

At work, I've been using the Zend Framework for PHP a lot. One of the best features in my opinion is how you're able to manage your configuration settings between different environments within a project.

I've always been a fan of using INI files for storing configuration settings, but the Zend_Config_Ini class that Zend Framework comes with takes INI files to a whole new level by adding section inheritance and nested properties.

After a couple hours, I was able to take the same powerful functionality that Zend Framework provides and port it to ColdFusion, mainly for the purpose of adding it to my ColdMVC framework.

Why do I think this is cool? Let's look at a sample INI file that you might see on a project:

; Settings for the production environment
autoReload = false
development = false
reminderService.sendReminders = true
facebook.api.username =
facebook.api.password = 90ujlc890$f

; Settings for the staging environment
[staging : production]
reminderService.sendReminders = false
facebook.api.username =
facebook.api.password = 879kjasdf!

; Basic settings for the development environment.
; Each developer should create their own environment that extends this one.
[development : staging]
development = true
autoReload = true

; Settings for Tony's development environment
[development-tony : development]
emailService.options.forceTo = [ "", "" ]
facebook.api.username =
facebook.api.password = w1nn1ng

; Settings for Ryan's development environment
[development-ryan : development]
emailService.options.forceTo =
facebook.api.username =
facebook.api.password = govikes

; Settings for Joe's development environment
[development-joe : development]
emailService.options.forceTo =
facebook.api.username =
facebook.api.password = welcome

Pretty straightforward settings file. Each environment has its own section, but now it comes with a twist.

See the colons in the section names? That's inheritance in action. If you look at the development-tony environment, you'll see that it extends the development environment, which extends the staging environment, which extends the production environment.

Also, notice the periods in the property names. Those are nested properties, which will be automatically converted to ColdFusion structs at runtime.

So how does this work? Pretty simple:

var ini = new Ini("/path/to/config.ini");
var config = ini.getSection("development-tnelson");

If I were to now dump the config variable that was returned, I'd see the following output:

Pretty sweet if you ask me.

You can find all of the code on GitHub at, which also includes 26 green unit tests.

Also, I've included the new INI parser in the latest version of ColdMVC, which you should definitely check out if you haven't yet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

ColdMVC Quick Start Tutorial

I recently wrote a Quick Start tutorial for ColdMVC, my convention-based MVC framework for ColdFusion 9. Check it out and let me know what you think.