INN config file parsing infrastructure

Fabien Tassin fta at
Fri May 5 12:11:28 UTC 2000

According to Olaf Titz:
> > > I don't think GUI tools for INN are really needed.
> >
> > It would fill a niche for the small site; see the Personal INN stuff for
> > NeXT that was mentioned here a while back.  I'd like to see INN be usable
> > in that niche (it needs some other tuning for less memory usage for a
> > small site, but that's also something I want to look at at some point).
> That would be nice, but then the configuration would have to be cut
> down radically.

not necessarily. It should be if you want a "simple" UI.. INN is not
concidered as simple, according to feedbacks we can have here.
Anyway, I think simple and powerful are not contradictory. A well
designed UI can do the job.

> I see about 25 files totaling >150kb in etc now.

The number of files is not a problem. Netscape did the job "quite" well
with its FastTrack(?) product based on INN 1.4x, and with Collabra later
(I've never used these products in production but I think they filled
a niche at this time and IMO it's still the case).
At my previous jobs, we were using our own Web based interface (I was not
the author) to manage all our feeds (INN + Diablo).. all Oleane peers
(should) know the "delegate" part of this interface.. (some are here).
Well, all this to prove that it's "doable".

I've started a project (mis-)called WebNews in 1996 and at this time,
I've also said that INN conf files were far too complex to be GUIfied.
So, I've stopped WebNews to first work on a big restructuration (file by file).
The idea was to have all files similar to innfeed.conf.
I've made the work for incoming.conf (released) and newsfeeds.conf (avorted
because of a lack of time). Aidan made readers.conf (also block oriented
but with a different approach), then someone (Katsuhiro?) made storage.conf.
Unfortunatly, these 4 first files are each using a different parser and
a (sligtly) different syntax. If Russ idea can be achieved,  this will
ease the conception of a management API and then of adm tools (cmd line,
curses/GUI/Web interfaces).

> Compare that to Apache where you get a usable standard configuration
> in one file (although usually split in three for historical reasons)
> of 20k, and that is heavily commented. My exim config (arguably a job
> similar to INNs) is one 6k file plus the alias db.

I'm used to work with +300 virtuals (Apache) in the same file, plus a Web
based admin tool (home made too) so once again, the size is not a problem.

> I don't see an easy way out of that. Worse, I don't see how a file
> like control.ctl can be sensibly GUIized without turning the GUI into
> a glorified text editor, but I also don't see a way of getting rid of it.

control.ctl can also be GUIfied. It's quite similar to what has been done
with mailcap+mime.types converted in various application helpers.
> PS. The exim config file syntax really sucks. Look at it to see how
> _not_ to do strings and quoting, how _not_ to do sections and more.

I'm not particularly a GUI fan (I'm using mutt, slrn, vi and I'm happy with
them) but when you have to delegate the administration of a server, having
a GUI is not a luxury.

Fabien Tassin -+- fta at

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