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Erlang Makefile
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README.md

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish is a library for Erlang applications that wish to walk the fine line between Erlang app.configs and a sysctl-like syntax. The name is a pun on the pronunciation of 'sysctl' and jokes are better explained.

Riak Disclaimer

While this readme and test suite is Riak-heavy, the fact is that this library can be used with any Erlang application that wants a more universally accessible configuration syntax. Still, I built this for Riak, and it's nice to have a concrete example to work with.

The Vision

Currently, Riak's app.config is the definitive place for configuring Riak. It's not odd for Erlang applications to be configured this way, but it is a struggle for non-Erlang programmers and automated deployment tools to manipulate these files. On the other hand, the app.config is a useful construct for Erlang programmers, and it is pretty coupled to OTP applications.

Cuttlefish's goal is to put a layer of abstraction on top of the app.config that is easier to work with outside of the Erlang world. It will allow Erlang programmers to write a schema for their application's configuration file, which is independent of the applications included in the project. The schema is one of the more important parts of Cuttlefish, so we'll go into more detail on it below, but it is written in Erlang and defines how the non-Erlang configuration file works.

From this schema, you can generate a default .conf file for your application. This will be the file that is packaged with your application as the default configuration.

The schema is also used to generate an app.config that will be used to start your application. Using the schema alone will generate all the proper defaults. Your users can make changes to the .conf file and those changes will overwrite the schema's defaults.

You an also have an advanced.config which looks like the old app.config for anything that no schema mapping is created for.

What does this look like for an application like Riak?

Well, the authors of Riak maintain a schema for Riak's config. It defines all sorts of things we'll get into later. When we build Riak, Cuttlefish generates a riak.conf file that contains the default shipping configuration of Riak. When a script to start Riak is run, a Cuttlefish escript is spun up, reads the riak.conf file and combines that with the Schema to generate an app.config. The script then exits, and a new Erlang VM (destined to run Riak) is started with that generated app.config. Down the line somewhere, you may be troubleshooting some part of Riak, and the support organization at Basho may need you to manipulate a configuration setting that is not exposed by the schema because it is so infrequently used. In that case, we can set that setting directly in an advanced.config which sits in the same directory as riak.conf.

I hope that gives you a good idea about how this works at a high level.

What's it look like to Erlang Developers?

You can learn more about the technical implementation of schemas at: https://github.com/basho/cuttlefish/wiki/Cuttlefish-for-Erlang-Developers

What's it look like to users?

Riak uses the semantic of $conf_dir/app.config for configuration. We're going to replace that with a file called riak.conf, with a syntax that looks like this:

ring_size = 32
anti_entropy = debug
log.error.file = /var/log/error.log
log.console.file = /var/log/console.log
log.syslog = on

More information for users here: https://github.com/basho/cuttlefish/wiki/Cuttlefish-for-Application-Users

What's it look like to application packagers?

Current Status

Cuttlefish is ready for production deployments.