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where all configuration properties converge

<! build-status <! release <! clojars

any questions or feedback: clojurians slack (or just open an issue)


there are several env/config ways, libraries.

  • some are solely based on ENV variables exported as individual properties: 100 properties? 100 env variables exported..
  • some rely on a property file within the classpath: all good, but requires wrestling with uberjar (META-INF and friends)
  • some allow only string values: no data structures, no numbers, etc.? (I love my data structures and the power of EDN)
  • some allow no structure / hierarchy, just one (top) level pile of properties
  • some keep a global internal config state, which makes it hard to have app (sub) modules with separate configs

What does cprop do?

  • loads an EDN config from a classpath and/or file system
  • merges it with system properties and ENV variables + the optional merge from sources (file, db, mqtt, http, etc.)
  • returns an (immutable) map
  • while keeping no internal state => different configs could be used within the same app, i.e. for app sub modules

Loading Config

(require '[cprop.core :refer [load-config]])




By default cprop would look in two places for configuration files:

  • classpath: for the config.edn resource
  • file system: for a path identified by the conf system property

If both are there, they will be merged. A file system source would override matching properties from a classpath source, and the result will be merged with System properties and then merged with ENV variables for all the matching properties.

check out cprop test to see (load-config) in action.

Loading from "The Source"

(load-config) optionaly takes :resource and :file paths that would override the above defaults.

(load-config :resource "path/within/classpath/to-some.edn")
(load-config :file "/path/to/another.edn")

they can be combined:

(load-config :resource "path/within/classpath/to-some.edn"
             :file "/path/to/another.edn")

as in the case with defaults, file system properties would override matching classpath resource ones.

Using properties

(load-config) function returns a Clojure map, while you can create cursors, working with a config is no different than just working with a map:

    {:url "datomic:sql://?jdbc:postgresql://localhost:5432/datomic?user=datomic&password=datomic"}
           {:host ""
            :port 5672
            :vhost "/z-broker"
            :username "guest"
            :password "guest"}}}
 :answer 42}
(require '[cprop.core :refer [load-config]])
(def conf (load-config))

(conf :answer) ;; 42

(get-in conf [:source :account :rabbit :vhost]) ;; "/z-broker"

Merging Configurations

By default cprop will merge all configurations it can find in the following order:

  1. classpath resource config
  2. file on a file system (pointed by a conf system property or by (load-config :file <path>))
  3. custom configurations, maps from various sources, etc.
  4. System properties
  5. ENV variables

#1 and #2 are going to always be merged by default.

For #3 (load-config) optionally takes a sequence of maps (via :merge) that will be merged after the defaults and in the specified sequence:

(load-config :merge [{:datomic {:url ""}}
                     {:some {:other {:property :to-merge}}}])

this will merge default configurations from a classpath and a file system with the two maps in :merge that would override the values that match the existing ones in the configuraion.

Since :merge just takes maps it is quite flexible:

(require '[cprop.source :refer [from-file
(load-config :merge [{:datomic {:url ""}}
                     (from-file "/path/to/another.edn")
                     (from-resource "path/within/classpath/to.edn")
                     {:datomic {:url ""}} ])

in this case the datomic url will be overwritten with "", since this is the value the last map has. And notice the "sources", they would just return maps as well.

And of course :merge well composes with :resource and :file:

(load-config :resource "path/within/classpath/to.edn"
             :file "/path/to/some.edn"
             :merge [{:datomic {:url ""}}
                     (from-file "/path/to/another.edn")
                     (from-resource "path/within/classpath/to-another.edn")
                     (parse-runtime-args ...)])

Merging with all System and ENV

By default only matching configuration properties will be overridden with the ones from system or ENV. In case all the system properties or ENV variables are needed (i.e. to add / override something that does not exist in the config), it can be done with :merge as well, since it does a "deep merge" (merges all the nested structures as well):

(require '[cprop.source :refer [from-system-props

(from-system-props) returns a map of ALL system properties that is ready to be merged with the config (from-env) returns a map of ALL ENV variables that is ready to be merged with the config

one or both can be used:

(load-config :merge [(from-system-props)])
(load-config :merge [(from-system-props)

Everything of course composes together if needed:

(load-config :resource "path/within/classpath/to.edn"
             :file "/path/to/some.edn"
             :merge [{:datomic {:url ""}}
                     (from-file "/path/to/another.edn")
                     (from-resource "path/within/classpath/to-another.edn")
                     (parse-runtime-args ...)
                     (from-props-file "/path/to/")

It can get as creative as needed, but.. this should cover most cases:


Override all configs

cprop merges matching properties and ENV variables by default. In order to override that, or any other configs, properties or ENV variables load-congfig function takes an optional :override-with argument with a map that will override any matching (top level or however deeply nested) properties. If provided, this would be the last merge step applied after "all":

$ export DATOMIC__URL=foo
=> (load-config)
{:datomic {:url "foo"},
 :source ... }

but could be overriden with:

=> (load-config :override-with {:datomic {:url "bar"}})
{:datomic {:url "bar"},
 :source ... }

Merging with system properties

By default cprop will merge all configurations with system properties that match the ones that are there in configs (i.e. intersection). In case ALL system properties need to be merged (i.e. union), this can be done with :merge:

(require '[cprop.source :refer [from-system-props]])

(load-config :merge [(from-system-props)])

(from-system-props) returns a map of ALL system properties that is ready to be merged with the config.

System properties cprop syntax

System properties are usually separated by . (periods). cprop will convert these periods to - (dashes).

In order to override a nested property use _ (underscode).

Here is an example. Let say we have a config:

  {:socket-timeout 600000,
   :conn-timeout 60000,
   :conn-req-timeout 600000,
   :max-total 200,
   :max-per-route 10}}}

a system property http_pool_socket.timeout would point to a {:http {:pool {:socket-timeout value}}}. So to change a value it can be set as:



System.setProperty("http_pool_socket.timeout" "4242");

Merging with ENV variables

Production environments are full of "secrets", could be passwords, URLs, ports, keys, etc.. Which are better driven by the ENV variables rather than being hardcoded in the config file.

12 factor config section mentions that:

The twelve-factor app stores config in environment variables

While not everything needs to live in environment variables + config files are a lot easier to visualize and develop with, this is a good point 12 factor makes:

A litmus test for whether an app has all config correctly factored out of the code is whether the codebase could be made open source at any moment, without compromising any credentials.

Hence it makes a lot of sense for cprop to merge the config file with ENV variables when (load-config) is called.


By default cprop will merge all configurations with ENV variables that match the ones that are there in configs (i.e. intersection). In case ALL ENV variables need to be merged (i.e. union), this can be done with :merge:

(require '[cprop.source :refer [from-env]])

(load-config :merge [(from-env)])

(from-env) returns a map of ALL environment variables that is ready to be merged with the config.

Speaking ENV variables

Structure and keywords

ENV variables lack structure. The only way to mimic the structure is via use of an underscore character. The _ is converted to - by cprop, so instead, to identify nesting, two underscores can be used.

For example to override a socket timeout in a form of:

  {:socket-timeout 600000}}}

notice how two underscores are used for "getting in" and a single underscore just gets converted to a dash to match the keyword.

namspaced and dotted keywords are also supported.
while . may be written . the namespace separator / must be written ___
for instance dotted.namespaced/keyword could be written as DOTTED.NAMESPACED___KEYWORD

for ENV support (i.e. ENV does not do .s) or more complex scenarios take a look at customizing key path parsing or this example.


ENV variables, when read by (System/getenv) are all strings.

cprop will convert these strings to datatypes. e.g.:

export APP_HTTP_PORT=4242                 # would be a Long
export APP_DB_URL=jdbc:sqlite:order.db    # would be a String
export APP_DB_URL='jdbc:sqlite:order.db'  # would be a String
export APP_DB_URL="jdbc:sqlite:order.db"  # would be a String
export APP_NUMS='[1 2 3 4]'               # would be an EDN data structure (i.e. a vector in this example)

A small caveat is purely numeric strings. For example:

export BAD_PASSWORD='123456789'           # would still be a number (i.e. Long)

in order to make it really a String, double quotes will help:

export BAD_PASSWORD='"123456789"'         # would be a String

Merging ENV example

Let's say we have a config file that needs values to be complete:

{:datomic {:url "CHANGE ME"},
 {:access-key "AND ME",
  :secret-key "ME TOO",
  :region "FILL ME IN AS WELL",
  :visiblity-timeout-sec 30,
  :max-conn 50,
  :queue "cprop-dev"},
   {:socket-timeout 600000,
    :conn-timeout :I-SHOULD-BE-A-NUMBER,
    :conn-req-timeout 600000,
    :max-total 200,
    :max-per-route :ME-ALSO}}},
 ["I am a vector and also like to play the substitute game"]}

In order to fill out all the missing pieces we can export ENV variables as:

export AWS__REGION='us-east-1'
export OTHER__THINGS='[1 2 3 "42"]'

(all the 3 versions of AWS values will be Strings, different ways are here just as an example)

Now whenever the config is loaded with (load-config) cprop will find these ENV variables and will merge them with the original config file into one complete configuration:

user=> (load-config)
substituting [:aws :region] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:aws :secret-key] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:io :http :pool :conn-timeout] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:io :http :pool :max-per-route] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:datomic :url] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:aws :access-key] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:other-things] with a ENV/ specific value
  :secret-key "wJalrXUtnFEMI/K7MDENG/bPxRfiCYEXAMPLEKEY",
  :region "us-east-1",
  :visiblity-timeout-sec 30,
  :max-conn 50,
  :queue "cprop-dev"},
   {:socket-timeout 600000,
    :conn-timeout 60000,
    :conn-req-timeout 600000,
    :max-total 200,
    :max-per-route 10}}},
 :other-things [1 2 3 "42"]}

notice that cprop also tells you wnenever a property is substituted.

Merging with env file

.env files are common in devops and other software communities: python, ruby, heroku, docker, etc.
the content of an .env file is a list of environment variables

the following syntax rules apply to the .env file:

  • each line in an .env file to be in VAR=VAL format
  • lines beginning with # are processed as comments and ignored
  • blank lines are ignored
  • there is no special handling of quotation marks. this means that they are part of the VAL

cprop follows environment variables supported syntax to read .env files.

here is an example of such a file that lives in dev-resources/.env:

# this is a comment


## this is another comment
SUPER__NESTED__KEY=super nested key

in order to merge from it:

(require '[cprop.core :as cp]
         '[cprop.source :as cs])

(cp/load-config :merge [(cs/from-env-file

;; {:empty-key "",
;;  :simple "simple",
;;  :super {:nested {:key "super nested key"}},
;;  :namspaced/key "namespaced/key",
;;  :source {:account {:rabb...}}
;;  ...}

Merging with property files

It is important to be able to integrate with existing Java applications or simply with configurations that are done as .properties files, i.e. not EDN.

cprop can easily convert .properties files into EDN maps and merge it on top of the existing configuration by using (from-props-file path) function. Here is an example:

(require '[cprop.source :refer [from-props-file]])

(load-config :merge [(from-props-file "path-to/")])

Which would merge:

  • config.edn as a classpath resource
  • with matching system properties
  • with matching ENV variables
  • with "path-to/" file

Here is an example. Let's say we have this config:

{:datomic {:url "CHANGE ME"}

 :aws {:access-key "AND ME"
       :secret-key "ME TOO"
       :region "FILL ME IN AS WELL"
       :visiblity-timeout-sec 30
       :max-conn 50
       :queue "cprop-dev"}

  :io {:http {:pool {:socket-timeout 600000
                     :conn-timeout :I-SHOULD-BE-A-NUMBER
                     :conn-req-timeout 600000
                     :max-total 200
                     :max-per-route :ME-ALSO}}}

  :other-things ["I am a vector and also like to place the substitute game"]}

and this file:


aws.access-key=super secret key
aws.secret_key=super secret s3cr3t!!!



We can apply the overrides with cprop as:

(load-config :merge [(from-props-file "")])

which will merge them and will return:

 {:url "datomic:sql://?jdbc:postgresql://localhost:5432/datomic?user=datomic&password=datomic"},
 {:access-key "super secret key",
  :secret-key "super secret s3cr3t!!!",
  :region "us-east-2",
  :visiblity-timeout-sec 30,
  :max-conn 50,
  :queue "cprop-dev"},
   {:socket-timeout 600000,
    :conn-timeout 42,
    :conn-req-timeout 600000,
    :max-total 200,
    :max-per-route 42}}},
 :other-things ["1" "2" "3" "4" "5" "6" "7"]}

Property files syntax

The traditional syntax of a .properties file does not change. For example:

  • . means structure

four.two=42 would be translated to {:four {:two 42}}

  • _ would be a key separator

fourty_two=42 would be translated to {:fourty-two 42}

  • , in a value would be seq separator

planet.uran.moons=titania,oberon would be translated to {:planet {:uran {:moons ["titania" "oberon"]}}}

For example let's take a file:

## solar system components
components=sun,planets,dwarf planets,moons,comets,asteroids,meteoroids,dust,atomic particles,electromagnetic.radiation,magnetic field


## planets with Earth days to complete an orbit

## planets natural satellites

# favorite dwarf planet's moons
(from-props-file "")

will convert it to:

{:components ["sun" "planets" "dwarf planets" "moons" "comets"
              "asteroids" "meteoroids" "dust" "atomic particles"
              "electromagnetic.radiation" "magnetic field"],
 :star "sun",
 {:uran {:moons ["titania" "oberon"],
         :orbit-days 30688.5},
  :saturn {:orbit-days 10755.7,
           :moons "titan"},
  :earth {:orbit-days 365.2564,
          :moons "moon"},
  :neptune {:moons "triton",
            :orbit-days 60148.35},
  :jupiter {:moons ["io" "europa" "ganymede" "callisto"],
            :orbit-days 4332.59},
  :mercury {:orbit-days 87.969},
  :mars {:orbit-days 686.93},
  :venus {:orbit-days 224.7}},
 :dwarf {:pluto {:moons ["charon" "styx" "nix" "kerberos" "hydra"]}}}

Read "as is" (not EDN)

Not all configs and properties come in EDN format, and some of these not EDN properties / env variables can't be read with Clojure's EDN reader, for example:

=> (require '[clojure.edn :as edn])

=> (edn/read-string "7 Nov 22:44:53 2015")


boot.user=> (edn/read-string "7Nov 22:44:53 2015")
java.lang.NumberFormatException: Invalid number: 7Nov

and imagine if this 7 Nov 22:44:53 2015 is an ENV variable that you can't change, but still need to be able to use. For cases like these you can use an :as-is flag to communicate to cprop to treat properties/vars "as is", in other words take them as they come and don't try to convert them into anything.

:as-is? optional param is available on all the source (from-env, from-system-props, from-props-file, etc.) functions which will read props/vars as is:

$ export FOO='"4242"'
$ export BAR=4242
$ export DATE='7 Nov 22:44:53 2015'
$ export VEC='[1 2 3 4]'
=> (require '[cprop.source :as s])

=> (:foo (s/from-env))
=> (:bar (s/from-env))
=> (:date (s/from-env))
7                                     ;; uh.. that's bad
=> (:vec (s/from-env))
[1 2 3 4]


=> (:foo (s/from-env {:as-is? true}))
=> (:bar (s/from-env {:as-is? true}))
=> (:date (s/from-env {:as-is? true}))
"7 Nov 22:44:53 2015"                  ;; that's good
=> (:vec (s/from-env {:as-is? true}))
"[1 2 3 4]"

If you need ALL the properties and configs to come in "as is" (not as EDN) :as-is flag is also available at the top level:

(load-config :as-is? true)

You can also opt to keep value conversion for all your properties with the exception of a set of specified paths using :as-is-paths:

(load-config :as-is-paths #{[:io :http :pool :socket-timeout]
                            [:datomic :max-conn]
                            [:some :other :path]})

Customizing key path parsing

By default cprop parses keys / nestsed key paths as Clojure keywords: i.e. {:a {:b {:c 42}}}. There are a few corner cases where some of the keys are best parsed as different types.

For example, let's say we need to override passwords via ENV variables for this config:

{:clusters [{:name "first" :url "http://somewhere" :password "OVERRIDE ME"}
            {:name "second" :url "http://elsewhere" :password "OVERRIDE ME"}]}

These ENV vars won't do it since the 0 and 1 are coerced to keywords by default:

export CLUSTERS__0__PASSWORD=super-duper-secret
export CLUSTERS__1__PASSWORD=shh-don't-tell

In cases like these we can provide a custom :key-parse-fn function, when loading config, which will be called on each part of a key path:

=> (def parse-numbers [part]
     (if (re-matches #"\d+" part)  ;; if the key is a number
       (long part)                 ;; this could be done with (>num) to support bigint
       (keyword part)))            ;; leave the default behavior

now we can plug this function in with :key-parse-fn:

=> (load-config :key-parse-fn parse-numbers)

{:clusters [{:name "first" :url "http://somewhere" :password "super-duper-secret"}
            {:name "second" :url "http://elsewhere" :password "shh-don't-tell"}]}

and.. great success.


It would be somewhat inconvenient to repeat [:source :account :rabbit :prop] over and over in different pieces of the code that need rabbit values.

That's where the cursors help a lot:

(require '[cprop.core :refer [load-config cursor]])
(def conf (load-config))

(def rabbit
  (cursor conf :source :account :rabbit))

(rabbit :vhost) ;; "/z-broker"

much better.

Composable Cursors

In case you pass a cursor somewhere, you can still build new cursors out of it by simply composing them.

working with the same config as in the example above:

    {:url "datomic:sql://?jdbc:postgresql://localhost:5432/datomic?user=datomic&password=datomic"}
           {:host ""
            :port 5672
            :vhost "/z-broker"
            :username "guest"
            :password "guest"}}}
 :answer 42}

creating a simple cursor to source:

user=> (def src (cursor conf :source))
user=> (src)
{:account {:rabbit {:host "", :port 5672, :vhost "/z-broker", :username "guest", :password "guest"}}}

user=> (src :account)
{:rabbit {:host "", :port 5672, :vhost "/z-broker", :username "guest", :password "guest"}}

now an account cursor can be created out of the src one as:

user=> (def account (cursor conf src :account))

user=> (account :rabbit)
{:host "", :port 5672, :vhost "/z-broker", :username "guest", :password "guest"}

or any nested cursor for that matter:

user=> (def rabbit (cursor conf src :account :rabbit))

user=> (rabbit :host)


Translating EDN

Depending on the build infrastructure, continuous integration, deployments, some environments would require .properties files with overrides instead of EDN configs or ENV variable overrides.

Also it's easier to use EDN file with overrides in development before converting them to a set of ENV variables, but it can take some time, and would somewhat error prone, to convert this EDN file with overrides to a set of ENV variables.

For those cases above cprop has helper tools that can help translating from EDN.

Let's use this config file an example:

boot.user=> (pprint config)
   {:host "",
    :port 5672,
    :vhost "/z-broker",
    :username "guest",
    :password "guest"}}},
 :answer 42}

EDN to .properties

We can pass this config to a map->props-file function that will convert it to a .properties formatted file:

(require '[ :as t])
(t/map->props-file config)

it returns a path to a file it created, which we can look at:

(print (slurp "/tmp/cprops-1475854845508-538388633502378948.tmp"))


EDN to .env

We can pass this config to a map->env-file function that will convert it to a .env formatted file:

(require '[ :as t])
(t/map->env-file config)

it returns a path to a file it created, which we can look at:

(print (slurp "/tmp/cprops-1475854874506-8756956459082793585.tmp"))

export ANSWER=42
export DATOMIC__URL=datomic:sql://?jdbc:postgresql://localhost:5432/datomic?user=datomic&password=datomic


Setting the "conf" system property

There are several ways the conf property can be set:

command line

java -Dconf="../somepath/whatsapp.conf" -jar whatsapp.jar


(System/setProperty "conf" "resources/config.edn")


:profiles {:dev {:jvm-opts ["-Dconf=resources/config.edn"]}}

See which files were loaded and what properties were substituted

In order to see which files were read (and merged) and which properties were substituted by the cprop merge, export a DEBUG environment variable to y / Y:

export DEBUG=y

if this variable is exported, cprop won't keep files and substitutions a secret:

user=> (load-config)
read config from stream: "dev-resources/config.edn"    ;;
read config from file: "dev-resources/config.edn"      ;; => a sample output
read config from resource: "config.edn"                ;;

substituting [:aws :region] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:aws :secret-key] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:io :http :pool :conn-timeout] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:io :http :pool :max-per-route] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:datomic :url] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:aws :access-key] with a ENV/ specific value
substituting [:other-things] with a ENV/ specific value
;; ...

Why not default?

The reason this is not on by default is merging ALL env and/or system properties with configs which is quite noisy and not very useful (i.e. can be hundreds of entries..).

Convert properties to a "one level" map

Besides the from-props-file function that converts .properties file to a map with hierarchy, there is also a slurp-props-file function that simply converts a property file to a map without parsing values or building a hierarchy:

(require '[cprop.source :refer [slurp-props-file]])

(slurp-props-file "")
{"star" "sun",

 "planet.jupiter.moons" "io,europa,ganymede,callisto",
 "planet.neptune.moons" "triton",
 "planet.jupiter.orbit_days" "4332.59",
 "planet.uran.orbit_days" "30688.5",
 "planet.venus.orbit_days" "224.7",
 "" "moon",
 "planet.saturn.orbit_days" "10755.7",
 "planet.mercury.orbit_days" "87.969",
 "planet.saturn.moons" "titan",
 "" "365.2564",
 "planet.uran.moons" "titania,oberon",
 "planet.mars.orbit_days" "686.93",
 "planet.neptune.orbit_days" "60148.35"

 "dwarf.pluto.moons" "charon,styx,nix,kerberos,hydra",

 "components" "sun,planets,dwarf planets,moons,comets,asteroids,meteoroids,dust,atomic particles,electromagnetic.radiation,magnetic field"}


Copyright © 2020 tolitius

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License either version 1.0 or (at your option) any later version.


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