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       making sysops happier one at a time!

Why the name?

This is the dumbest name we could come up with, which roughly [translates] 1 to mandate from old-Russian.

Is it any good?

Yes. And very useful!

What is it for?

For easy and sexy config files processing and easy config reloading support.

Why do I need it?

Configuration files is usually not the strongest part of Erlang applications. The usual way of configuring things is by simply writing Erlang terms in some *.config file and then either calling file:consult/1 directly or loading them in application environment by the OTP machinery. While okay for most of Erlang developers, this way of doing configuration can hardly be called user friendly.

In contrast, nakaz uses YAML for config files, which easy to both read and write, it also takes care of validation, config reloading and more!

See Screencast for a light introduction ;)

Ho can I use it?

(hopefuly) the usage of nakaz is pretty straighforward, though you still have to keep in mind two things:

  • nakaz uses [YAML] 1 as base configuration format;
  • nakaz requires you to structure your [YAML] 1 config in a special way, which is described bellow.

The basic configuration unit in nakaz is a section, which is represented as a named [mapping] 2 on the YAML side. Each configured application can have one or more sections, for example:

    conn_type: http

    log: "priv/log.txt"
    severity: debug

Here, [example] 3 application defines a two sections, named log_conf and srv_conf. So, as you might have noticed, the expected structure is simple:

  • applications are defined on the top level of the configuration file,
  • with sections, residing on the second level.

"Enough YAML, show me some Erlang code, dude?!"

Configuration path

For flexibility reasons nakaz doesn't allow you to actually read configuration file from the code, instead, it handles reading and parsing internally, and all you have to do is pass path to the configuration file via command line:

$ erl -nakaz path/to/config.yaml

Note: the current implementation doesn't allow using multiple configuration files, but this might change in the future versions.


As we've already mentioned, nakaz represents your application configuration as sections; what we haven't mentioned is that every section will be parsed into a typed Erlang record! Here's an [example] 4:

-compile({parse_transform, nakaz_pt}).


-type filename() :: string().

-record(srv_conf, {conn_type :: http | ssl}).
-record(log_conf, {log :: filename(),
                   severity :: debug | info | error}).

%% Application callbacks

-export([start/2, stop/1]).

%% Application callbacks

start(_StartType, _StartArgs) ->
    case ?NAKAZ_ENSURE([#srv_conf{}, #log_conf{}]) of
        ok -> example_sup:start_link();
        {error, Msg} -> io:format(Msg)

stop(_State) ->

What happens here? First thing to notice is {parse_transform, nakaz_pt}, this is required for all the record-related magic to happen. Second, ?NAKAZ_ENSURE macro -- as the name suggests, this macro ensures that the configration file actually contains all of the sections, required by your application. Moreover, ?NAKAZ_ENSURE also checks that the values in those sections exactly match the types you've declared in the record specs!

If anything goes wrong, the Msg term will contain an understable description of the error.

Why records?

Probably, the use of records in ?NAKAZ_ENSURE call looks a little supprising, and you might be thinking "wtf is wrong with those crazy russians?!". Here's the deal, forcing arguments to be records we actually make sure that each of them is a valid record and is available in the module scope (which is just what nakaz_pt needs!).

Accessing config sections

Whenever you need to access a specific section from the configuration file, simply [call] 5 ?NAKAZ_USE passing section name as an argument:

%% IMPORTANT: without this line your module won't be notified of any
%% configuration changes!

init([]) ->
    SrvConf = ?NAKAZ_USE(#srv_conf{}),
    LogConf = ?NAKAZ_USE(#log_conf{}),
    {ok, #state{srv_conf=SrvConf,

Three awesome facts about ?NAKAZ_USE:

  • it only allows using ensured sections, any other sections simply don't exist;
  • the returned section is guaranteed to be 100% valid, because ?NAKAZ_ENSURE already did all the hard work of type checking and validating configuration values;
  • the caller will be notified of section changes, see [nakaz_user] 6 documentation for details.