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A configuration file parser for PHP 5.3 heavily inspired by Python's configparser library.


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ConfigParser - A Configuration File Parser for PHP 5.3

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What is ConfigParser?

ConfigParser is a configuration file parser for PHP 5.3 heavily inspired by Python's configparser library.

The ConfigParser class provides a way to read, interpret and write configuration files with structure similar to what’s found in Microsoft Windows INI files.


  • PHP 5.3.2 and up.


ConfigParser is licensed under the LGPLv3 License. See the LICENSE file for details.

Installation (Composer)

0. Install Composer

If you don't have Composer yet, download it following the instructions on or just run the following command:

curl -s | php

1. Add the noiselabs/configparser package in your composer.json

    "require": {
        "noiselabs/configparser": "dev-master"

Now tell composer to download the package by running the command:

$ php composer.phar update noiselabs/configparser

Composer will install the bundle to your project's vendor/noiselabs directory.


Basic instructions on the usage of the library are presented below.

Supported INI File Structure

A configuration file consists of sections, each led by a [section] header, followed by name = value entries..

Leading and trailing whitespace is removed from keys and values. Values can be omitted, these will be stored as an empty string.

Configuration files may include comments, prefixed by ;. Hash marks (# ) may no longer be used as comments and will throw a deprecation warning if used.


Autoloading classes (optional)

You may skip this section if you are using Composer.

ConfigParser makes use of PHP namespaces and as such the usage of a autoloader libray is recommended. Symfony provides a great class loader available on GitHub.

To have Symfony's ClassLoader autoloading our classes create a autoload.php file and included it at the top of your scripts.

// autoload.php

require_once '/path/to/src/Symfony/Component/ClassLoader/UniversalClassLoader.php';

use Symfony\Component\ClassLoader\UniversalClassLoader;

$loader = new UniversalClassLoader();
    'NoiseLabs' => '/path/to/noiselabs-php-toolkit/src',


Basic usage

First, take the following INI file as an example:

ServerAliveInterval = 45
Compression = yes
CompressionLevel = 9
ForwardX11 = yes

user = foo

Port = 50022
ForwardX11 = no

Using ConfigParser is as simples as:


namespace Your\Namespace;

use NoiseLabs\ToolKit\ConfigParser\ConfigParser;

$cfg = new ConfigParser();

// load file

// modify a value (section, option, value)
$cfg->set('', 'user', 'bar');

// and save it

// ... or, write to another file


Using ConfigParser like an associative array

Because it implements ArrayAccess the ConfigParser object can be used in a straightforward way:

$cfg = new ConfigParser();


// get values
echo $cfg['']['user'];

// set options for the '' section
$cfg[''] = array('user', 'bar');



And because ConfigParser implements IteratorAggregate it is also possible to use foreach to loop over the configuration.

$cfg = new ConfigParser();

foreach ($cfg as $section => $name) {
    echo sprintf("Section '%s' has the following options: %s\n",
                implode(", ", $cfg->options($section))

Loading multiple files at once

This is designed so that you can specify a list of potential configuration file locations (for example, the current directory, the user’s home directory, and some system-wide directory), and all existing configuration files in the array will be read.

$cfg = new ConfigParser();

$cfg->read(array('/etc/myapp.cfg', '/usr/local/etc/myapp.cfg', '/home/user/.config/myapp.cfg');

Parsing files without sections

ConfigParser was designed to work with INI files with section tags. For simple files with just option = value entries NoSectionsConfigParser can be used.


namespace Your\Namespace;

use NoiseLabs\ToolKit\ConfigParser\NoSectionsConfigParser;

$cfg = NoSectionsConfigParser();


$cfg->set('server', '');

echo $cfg->get('server');


Supported Datatypes

ConfigParser do not guess datatypes of values in configuration files, always storing them internally as strings. This allows reading entries like pager = false and keeping values as it is (without any kind of boolean parsing).

This means that if you need other datatypes, you should convert on your own, or use one of these methods:

  • Integers:

      $cfg->getInt('', 'Port');
  • Floats:

      $cfg->getFloat('', 'CompressionLevel');
  • Booleans:

      $cfg->getBoolean('', 'ForwardX11');

Fallback Values

When using get() to pull a value from the configuration you may provide a fallback value in case that option doesn't exist.

// API: ConfigParser::get($section, $option, $fallback)

Please note that default values have precedence over fallback values. For instance, in our example the 'CompressionLevel' key was specified only in the 'DEFAULT' section. If we try to get it from the section '', we will always get the default, even if we specify a fallback:

echo $cfg->get('', 'CompressionLevel', '3');
// prints 9

Customizing Parser Behaviour

Loading a set of default options/values

You may create an array of key-value pairs and pass them to the constructor as the first argument. These option/values will be initially put in the DEFAULT section. This makes for an elegant way to support concise configuration files that don’t specify values which are the same as the documented default.

// define some defaults values
$defaults = array(
                'Compression' 		=> 'yes',
                'CompressionLevel' 	=> 9

$cfg = new ConfigParser($defaults);

Advanced configuration

ConfigParser includes a small set of internal options to change the way it writes to configuration files or if exceptions are to be raised.

  • delimiter - The delimiter character to use between keys and values (when writing). Defaults to = .
  • space_around_delimiters - Inserts (or not) a blank space between keys/values and delimiters. Defaults to TRUE.
  • linebreak - The linebreak to use. Defaults to '\r\n' on Windows OS and '\n' on every other OS (Linux, Mac).
  • throw_exceptions - Use this option to disable exceptions. If set to false ConfigParser will write to the error log instead. Defaults to TRUE.

Using a custom error logger

If you have disabled PHP exceptions (see above section) ConfigParser will use error_log() to record the exception message. In this scenario you may want to use a custom error logger instead of error_log, or even disable logging at all.

To override the original logger method just extend ConfigParser and replace ConfigParser::log() with your own implementation.

Monolog is a great logging library for PHP 5.3 and will be used as our custom logger in the following example.


namespace Your\Namespace;

use NoiseLabs\ToolKit\ConfigParser;
use Monolog\Logger;
use Monolog\Handler\StreamHandler;

class MyConfigParser extends ConfigParser
    protected $logger;

    public function __construct(array $defaults = array(), array $settings = array())
        parent::__construct($defaults, $settings);

        // create a log channel
        $this->logger = new Logger('ConfigParser');
        $this->logger->pushHandler(new StreamHandler('path/to/your.log', Logger::WARNING));

    public function log($message)
        // add records to the log




Submitting bugs and feature requests

Bugs and feature requests are tracked on GitHub.


Python's configparser library was used as a source of inspiration for this library, including documentation and docblocks.

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A configuration file parser for PHP 5.3 heavily inspired by Python's configparser library.







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