Flipped Coding

What Config Files Are & How They Work

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Those .config files can be magic box. You know that it needs to be there and that your project won’t work if it’s missing or damaged. One of the scariest things for a newbie and sometimes even experienced developers is messing with the .config files.

For starters, it would help to know exactly a .config file is. Like you can probably guess, config is short for configuration. These files hold any initial settings or parameters that your project is going to need to get started. An example of a setting in a web.config file could be how you handle the routing within your project. You might do that by using a rewrite line.

What makes .config files put developers on edge is the fact that one mess up in the config file can cause a project to come tumbling down. Not like you can’t go back and undo your changes, but it could happen at one of those critical moments when you can’t think of what you did.

You always want to know what you’re doing when it comes to your code, although in the case of config files you need to know what you’re doing. Right now there isn’t a super strict way of writing config files. You could have some written with JSON, XML, YAML, or a combination. It just depends on how your project is setup.

Another thing you have to know about config files is that some programs only load config files when they start and others check the config files periodically. Knowing how the config files will be used will help you figure out how to work with them better and help optimize your project.

Having the right settings and parameters at the start of your project is the only way it’s going to run successfully. So make sure you know what you’re doing before you go changing things in your config files. They will literally make or break a project.

Have any of you guys done advanced work with config files? I’ve started digging around in them and they’re weird right now.

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