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Read config from the environment.

Project description

You want to be all 12factor and read your config from the environ.

You also deploy your project in a variety of environments (dev, staging, prod…) and you want to be able to build in sane defaults for some of those environments (dev especially) so you don’t have to carry around huge boilerplate .env files that aren’t in version control. But you don’t want to risk those built-in dev defaults silently getting used in production.

Fern’s got your back.

In the simplest case, a fern.Env instance lets you call it to read strings from the environ:

>>> env = fern.Env()
>>> env('FOO')

If we tried that and the FOO env var were not set, we’d get a ValueError instead. Maybe that’s OK, if this is a critical config value that should always be set explicitly in the environ. If it’s less critical, we can set a default:

>>> env = fern.Env()
>>> env('DOES_NOT_EXIST', default='hey')

We can also give a list of names of env vars, and fern will check each one and give us the first value that’s set:

>>> env = fern.Env()

All environment values are strings. What if we want to parse this string into a more structured data type? We can pass any unary coercion function to be applied to the value; e.g. the int type itself works as a unary coercion function: passed one string, it’ll return that string parsed as an integer:

>>> env = fern.Env()
>>> env('SOME_INT', coerce=int)

You can write any function you like that takes in a string and returns whatever, and pass it to coerce. For instance, fern.parse_dj_database_url will parse a database URL like 'postgres://localhost/dname' and return a Django-style database connection info dictionary.

The Env class has a few convenience methods for certain common values of coerce:

>>> env = fern.Env()
>>> env.integer('SOME_INT')
>>> env.boolean('SOME_BOOL')
>>> env.comma_list('SOME_LIST')
['a', 'b', 'c']

The integer method just sets int as the coercion function.

The boolean method sets fern.parse_boolean as the coercion function; it considers the empty string, '0', 'no', 'f', 'n' and 'false' to be False; anything else is True.

The comma_list method sets fern.parse_comma_list as the coercion function; it splits the env value on commas and returns the resulting values as a list.

Now let’s make things a bit more complex. Let’s say we want two deployment modes, dev and prod, and we’ve got a config value SECRET_KEY. In dev mode, we want this value to default to "dev secret" (but still be overridable via the SECRET_KEY env var). In prod mode, we want to error out if the SECRET_KEY env var is not set explicitly; no hardcoded default could be safe for production use. We can achieve that like this:

>>> env = fern.Env('MODE', valid_modes=['dev', 'prod'])
>>> env('SECRET_KEY', mode_defaults={'dev': "dev secret"})

Let’s unpack that a bit.

In the first line, we tell Fern that our valid modes are dev or prod, and that an env var named MODE will tell us which mode we are in. (The default mode is the first one listed, so if MODE is not set we’ll be in dev mode. If MODE is set to something not listed in valid_modes, we’ll get a ValueError).

In the second line, we supply a dictionary for the mode_defaults argument. The keys in this dictionary are mode names, and the values are defaults to use for that mode. In this case, we supply a default only for dev mode; in prod mode if the SECRET_KEY env var is not set, you’ll get a ValueError. So for our prod deployments, all we have to make sure to do is set MODE=prod, and that ensures the server won’t start unless we also supply the rest of the required config. In dev mode, we don’t need any env vars at all.


0.2 (2017.01.08)

  • Fix mode_defaults with convenience coercion methods.

0.1 (2017.01.07)

  • Initial version.

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