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Config::BINDish zef:vrurg last updated on 2021-06-07



Config::BINDish - parse BIND9/named kind of config files


my $cfg =;
$ string => q:to/CFG/;
    server "s1" {
        name "my.server";
        paths {
            base /opt/myapp;
            pool "files" static {
            pool "files" dynamic {
say $ :server("s1") => :paths => :pool("images") => 'root' ); # ./pub/img


This module is very much experimental in the sense of the API it provides. The grammar is expected to be more stable, yet no warranties can be given at the moment.

Also, all the documentation here is created in write-only mode. No proof-reading has been done yet. All kinds and levels of ugliness are anticipated! My apologies for the situation, hope to get some spare hours to fix it some day.



The purpose of this module is to parse BIND 9-like configuration files. Why BINDish then? Because the "-like" suffix above is the key. Theoretically, Config::BINDish is capable of parsing the native named configuration files; practically, it lacks support of few syntax constructs like barewords as references to named configuration blocks.

Aside of that, it can parse configuration using relaxed syntax where the terminating semi-colon is optional. Look at the SYNOPSIS again; from the perspective of named the example is invalid from the syntax point of view.

So, from this moment on I will refer to the format as to BINDish config format. Or just BINDish sometimes.

Why BINDish?

Because among the well-known configuration formats this one is one of the most powerful and flexible. Here is my point:

That's about it. What makes BINDish different are:


Very roughly, the configuration format supported by the module can be described as:

<config> ::= <statements>
<statements> ::= <empty> | <statement> | <statement> <statements>
<statement> ::= <block> | <option> | <comment>
<block> ::= <block-type> [<block-name> [<block-class>]] '{' <statements> '}' [';']
<option> ::= <keyword> [<value>] [';']
<block-type> ::= <keyword>
<block-name> ::= <value>
<block-class> ::= <keyword>
<value> ::= <bool> | <string> | <int> | <num> | <rat> | <file-path>

Depending on strict mode chosen, the terminating semi-colon can be either optional or mandatory. Also, block types and options can be either free-form or restricted to a certain set of allowed keyword.

Note how block-name is declaread as a value. It means that any valid option value can serve as the block name. For example:

block 3.14 { }

Or, with Config::BINDish::INET loaded it could even be:

network {

Parsing Modes

A config file can be parsed in "strict" or "relaxed" mode, depending on what user needs. In strict mode certain restrictions are applied. This could help prevent accidental errors in a config.


Similarly to the original BIND 9 format, Config::BINDish supports C, C++, and Unix-style comments:

// C++
 * C
# Unix

Comments are considered statements on their own. This limits where a comment can be placed. For example, one can't put a comment inside an option or a block declaration:

pi /* not ok between option keyword and value! */ 3.1415926; # but it's ok post-option
server /* not here! */ 1 { // But here
     * or here
     * where we can make it a comprehensive description


An option is declared with a keyword and an optional value. If the value is omitted then option is considered to have a true boolean value:

option; # True
option on; # Same as above
foo yes; # Also true
bar off; # False
min-size 1024; # or 1K
max-size 1.5M;
description "bla-bla-bla";
refers_to a-block; # same as using "a-block" but can serve as a hint of special case

Options are characterized by three properties inherited from their values: the payload which is the value itself; Raku value type; and a type name providing more information about the purpose of the value. For example, the option description from the above example is a Str with type name dq-string which is a shorthand for "double-quoted string". A string can also be single-quoted, or sq-string. Now, when we need this, we can decide how to handle a string value based on its type name. Traditionally one could expect a double-quoted string to be expanded if it contains references to other options.

Options can be pre-declared. It means that for some options the parser may impose certain restrictions. One of the most typical constraints would be option's type. Say, max-size can be set to only be OK if its value is an integer. Then whenever parser finds something like

max-size "1024";

It will throw an error.

An option can also be limited as to where it can appear. For example, if a resolver option is set to be allowed only inside a network block then:

network "office" {
    resolver "default"; # OK
resolver "default"; # Error: option cannot be used here

Moreover, if strict mode is set for options the parser will only allow pre-declared ones.

Reserved Options

An option name can be reserved for parser's special use. For now there is only one reserved option – include.

include <source>

This option allows configuration from <source> to be injected into the location where include is used. For example, we have a file

foo 42;
bar {
    message "thanks for the fish!";

And a config akin to the followin one:

include ./;
baz {
    include ./;

Now option foo is available both at the top and block baz contexts, as well as block bar.


Blocks purpose is to logically group a set of options or other blocks.

Block is declared with a type, a name, and a class. The only mandatory element of block declaration is the type:

foo { }             # Minimal declaration
foo "bar" { }       # A named block
foo "bar" class { } # A named and classified block

The concept of classifying was taken from BIND 9 configuration format. But it can be proved to be useful in complex setups. Consider for example:

rack "A001.2" servers { ... };
rack "A001.2" patch-panels { ... };
rack "A001.2" switches { ... };

Apparently, classes could be incorporated into the name part of a block declaration, or be a part of block type (so, we get rack-switches), but the above example most certainly looks way better than the alternatives.

There is no limit on nesting blocks:

rack "A001.2" servers {
    server "nas-1" {
        interface 1 {
            network "office";
        interface 2 {
            network "warehouse";
network "office" {
    cidr "";
    gw "";
    nameservers {

NB We use strings for IP addresses. But with bundled Config::BINDish::INET extension one can have it like gw;. But this paper tries to stick to the barebones module as much as possible.

So far the examples written as if the parser works in relaxed mode. In strict mode the rule of mandatory semi-colon applies and a block must always be terminated with ;:

network { ... };

An option can also omit the semi-colon if it is followed by a closing curly in non-strict mode:

interface 1 { network "office" }

One could have already noticed nameservers block in the above extensive example. This is a kind of thing often to be met in BIND 9 configuration. For example, this is how ACLs are declared:

acl our-nets { x.x.x.x/24; x.x.x.x/21; };

Apparently, Config::BINDish also supports this kind of syntax and call it "value blocks". But a value block is not by default limited to values only and can also contain options or subblocks:

nameservers {
    foreign "google" {
        priority -100;
    foreign "provider" {
        priority -1;

Here we have two additional value subblocks defining fallback nameservers for cases when our own ones are down. Oops, but we all know – s... things happen!

Yet, a block could be limited to be a value-only one. In this case the above example will become an error. Aside of this and similarly to options, blocks can also be restricted as to:


Config::BINDish supports special directives similar to what they use in C. Currently the only implemented directive is #line:

#line 13 "mock-file.conf" Here go a comment

The meaning of the directive is the same as in C: it makes the grammar to pretend that lines below the directive are located in file mock-file.conf starting with its line 13. If the directive is followed by something like this:

opt 1 2 3;

then when a error is reported it will point at line 14 in mock-file.conf.

Note that the file name part of #line can either be omitted or use any valid option value. For example, with Config::BINDish::INET one can do something like:

#line 1 https://configs.local/common/

It would then be only a matter of overriding Config::BINDish::Grammar include-source method to provide support for URLs.

Hybrid mode

It is possible for a grammar to run in relaxed mode but still have some options and/or blocks pre-declared. These pre-declarations are always respected by the parser. This mode of operation when some options/blocks are constrained while others are ok to be free-form is called hybrid mode.

Module Extensibility

One of the key ideas behind this module is the ability to extend its parsing capabilities by 3rd-party modules or user code. Normally this could be done by creating roles with BINDish-grammar or BINDish-actions traits applied. (Grammar). Most of the time the purpose of such extensions would be to provide new value types. But they could as well add new syntax constructs, or change behavior of the existing ones, or something I currently can't forecast. When one starts with

role MyExt::Grammar is BINDish-grammar {
role MyExt::Actions is BINDish-actions {

where they end is totally up to them!




Vadim Belman [email protected]