Simple configuration file parser for C++11 with a purely file based setup, implemented as a header only library.
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Simple configuration file parser for C++11 with a purely file based setup, implemented as a header only library and under MIT license.

Example Usage

Assuming two files,

default_config.cfg - Contains the program's default configuration

int number_of_connections=1
float maximum bandwidth=123.45


config.cfg - Contains the user's configuration


it can be used as follows:

#include <iostream>
#include "NoSweatConfigFileParser.hpp"

using namespace NoSweat;

int main() {
    // Init with two file paths, one to the default configuration file and one
    // to the user configuration file.
    NoSweatConfigFileParser config_parser{"default_config.cfg", "config.cfg"};
    // Everything is already parsed and ready to be used.
    std::cout << "Number of connections: " << config_parser.get_int("number_of_connections") << std::endl;
    std::cout << "Maximum bandwidth: " << config_parser.get_float("maximum bandwidth") << std::endl;
    // The current content of the parser can also be printed for debugging purposes.
    std::cout << std::endl;


Number of connections: 2
Maximum bandwidth: 123.45

NoSweatConfigFileParser object: default_config_file='default_config.cfg', config_file='config.cfg'
        Integer values:
                number_of_connections: 2 (default value: 1)
        Float values:
                maximum bandwidth: 123.45 (default value: 123.45)

Why another configuration file parser

Sometimes I just want to be able to configure some values in the early stages of a project without having to care about external dependencies or, like many configuration file parsers do, having to specify all key/value pairs and default values in the code.

The NoSweatConfigFileParser can only deal with four different data types and does not have any advanced features, so at some point in a project you might want to move on to a more elaborate library like Boost.Program_options.

The parser is very relaxed in its behaviour and anything it cannot read will be silently ignored and any time the user tries to access a value that has not been defined, a default value, depending on the requested type, will be returned. No exception will ever be raised nor can any operation fail.


The NoSweatConfigFileParser is configured completely via two files. The default configuration file and the user configuration file.

Default configuration file

The default configuration file specifies the type, the key name and the default value of every configuration option. It is intended for the developer to always assure that some values are set and have sensible default values. The syntax is

{int/float/string/bool} key_name {= or :} default_value

Everything that does not fit this syntax or cannot be handled by the parser will be silently ignored. This enables comments/grouping/...


[some options]
int connection_per_user = 1
float max_bandwidth_per_user = 10.0
# Comment about the next line...
string default_uri =
bool is_admin = false

Everything after the type specifier and before the assignment operator (= or :) will be considered part of the key name, and everything after the operator part of the value. See the example default configuration file for some lines it will and others it will not parse.

User configuration file

The user configuration file can overwrite values set in the default configuration file. It is intended to provide a simple configuration file for the user and has the same syntax as the default configuration file, except that the type specifier is optional. Any value not specified in the default configuration file, or specified with another type, will be ignored. The syntax is also compatible with standard INI files, although sections will be ignored and a flat hierarchy enforced.


[user options]
; Allow more connections per user than the default value.
connections_per_user = 2

See the example user configuration file for some more information.

Acceptable values

All values will be converted into the corresponding type upon parsing. If it cannot be converted it will not be parsed.

  • for integers: Any string std::stoi() can handle.
  • for floats: Any string std::stof() can handle.
  • for strings: Any string.
  • for booleans: true/yes/y/on/1/right and false/no/n/off/0/wrong (case-insensitive).


No need to compile anything, just put the NoSweatConfigFileParser.hpp file in one of your project's include paths or point the compiler to the directory containing the file. Most compilers currently also need to be told to compile with C++11 support.

It has no dependencies, but needs a compiler supporting C++11. Currently only tested with gcc 4.7.

g++-4.7 -std=c++11 -Ipath/to/nosweatconfigfileparser ...

Short reference

Constructors and general methods

// Constructor that just parses the default config file.
NoSweat::NoSweatConfigFileParser::NoSweatConfigFileParser(std::string default_config_file_path);

// Constructor that also parses the user config file.
NoSweat::NoSweatConfigFileParser::NoSweatConfigFileParser(std::string default_config_file_path,
                                                          std::string config_file_path); 

// Read the config file. Useful if it has not been read or has changed.
void NoSweat::NoSweatConfigFileParser::read_config_file(std::string config_file_path);

// Print the current state of the configuration to stdout. Useful for debugging.
void NoSweat::NoSweatConfigFileParser::print_configuration();

Retrieving values

The type has to be specified. If no value exists for the given key name and implicitly given type, a default value (int: 0, float: 0.0, string: "", bool: false) will be returned. No exception will ever be raised.

// Get an integer config value.
int NoSweat::NoSweatConfigFileParser::get_int(std::string key_name);

// Get a float config value.
float NoSweat::NoSweatConfigFileParser::get_float(std::string key_name);

// Get a string config value.
std::string NoSweat::NoSweatConfigFileParser::get_string(std::string key_name);

// Get a bool config value.
bool NoSweat::NoSweatConfigFileParser::get_bool(std::string key_name);