Why EditorConfig uses an INI like format

Jed Mao edited this page Jan 18, 2017 · 4 revisions

The INI file format was chosen for EditorConfig due to its ease of use. Some of the thought process that resulted in the current INI-based EditorConfig format is included below.

INI format

Required modifications to this format

  • Allow any characters to appear in section names (not just alphanumeric and certain symbols). For example:
indent_style = space
indent_size = 2

Possibly modifications to this format

  • Allow property declarations outside of section names (at top of file only). For example:
root = true
indent_style = space
indent_size = 4

Benefits of this format

  • Very readable
  • Familiar and easy to pick up
  • Difficult to mess up (syntax is very simple)


  • File structure must be list of sections (each with name and hash of properties)
  • Only string datatypes natively supported for property values

YAML format

Benefits of this format

  • Easily readable
  • Spaces allowed in key and value names
  • Many datatypes supported natively (boolean, numeric, strings, lists, hashes)


  • May not be as familiar as INI or XML
  • Top level structure uses an unorded hash unless - is prepended to section names
  • Section names using symbols (like *) must be surrounded by quotes

Example file

- root: true

- "*":
  - end of line: LF

- "*.py":
  - indent style: space
  - indent size: 4

- "*.html":
  - indent style: space
  - indent size: 2


Benefits of this format

  • XML parsers and formatters are readily available
  • Format is flexible enough that drastic changes should not be necessary
  • Probably somewhat familiar due to widespread use of XML-based markup


  • Not very human readible
  • Cumbersome to create and modify due to often verbose syntax

Example file

<setting root="true"/>
<pattern glob="*.py">
     <indentation style="space" size="4" tabwidth="4"/>
     <end_of_line style="LF"/>

Other possible formats: