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A simple, Pythonic file format. Same interface as the

Project description


A friendly, easy, Pythonic text file format

Copyright 2018-2020 by Larry Hastings


Perky is a new, simple "rcfile" text file format for Python programs.

The following are Perky features:

Perky syntax

Perky configuration files look something like JSON without the quoting.

example name = value
example dict = {
    name = 3
    another name = 5.0
example list = [
# lines starting with hash are ignored

# blank lines are ignored

" quoted name " = " quoted value "

triple quoted string = """

        is preserved

    the string is automatically outdented
    to the leftmost character of the ending

    <-- aka here

=pragma argument

Explicit transformation is better than implicit

One possibly-surprising design choice of Perky: the only natively supported values for the Perky parser are dicts, lists, and strings. Other commonly-used types (ints, floats, etc) are handled using a different mechanism: transformation.

A Perky transformation takes a dict as input, and transforms the contents of the dict based on a schema. A Perky schema is a dict with the same general shape as the dict produced by the Perky parse, but it contains dicts, lists, and transformation functions. If you want myvalue in {'myvalue':'3'} to be a real integer, transform it with the schema {'myvalue': int}.

Note that Perky doesn't care how or if you transform your data. You can use it as-is, or transform it, or transform it with multiple passes, or use an external transformation technology like Marshmallow.


A pragma is a metadata directive for the Perky parser. It's a way of sending instructions to the Perky parser from inside a bit of Perky text.

Here's an example pragma directive:

=foo bar bat

The first word after the equals sign is the name of the pragma, in this case "foo". Everything after the name of the pragma is an argument, with all leading and trailing whitespace removed, in this case "bar bat".

By default, Perky doesn't have any pragma handlers. And invoking a pragma when Perky doesn't have a handler for it is a runtime error. But you can define your own pragma handlers when you call perky.load() or perky.loads(), using a named parameter called pragmas. If you pass in a value for pragmas, it must be a mapping of strings to functions. The string name should be the name of the pragma (and must be lowercase). The function it maps to will "handle" that pragma, and should look like this:

def pragma_fn(parser, argument)

parser is the internal Perky Parser object. argument is the rest of the relevant line, with leading & trailing whitespace stripped.

There's currently one predefined pragma handler, a function called perky.pragma_include(). This adds "include statement" functionality to Perky. If you call this:

perky.load(filename, pragmas={'include': perky.pragma_include})

then Perky will interpret lines inside filename starting with =include as include statements, using the rest of the line as the name of a file. For more information, see pragma_include() below.

The rules of pragmas:

  • To invoke a pragma, use = as the first non-whitespace character on a line.
  • pragmas must always be lowercase.
  • pragmas are always global. You can call pragmas inside a nested dict or list but, if they change data, they'll always operate on the outermost dict.
  • You can't invoke a pragma inside a triple-quoted string.
  • It's best to have all your pragmas at the top of your Perky text.


perky.loads(s, *, pragmas=None) -> d

Parses a string containing Perky-file-format settings. Returns a dict.

perky.load(filename, *, pragmas=None, encoding="utf-8") -> d

Parses a file containing Perky-file-format settings. Returns a dict.

perky.dumps(d) -> s

Converts a dictionary to a Perky-file-format string. Keys in the dictionary must all be strings. Values that are not dicts, lists, or strings will be converted to strings using str. Returns a string.

perky.dump(filename, d, *, encoding="utf-8")

Converts a dictionary to a Perky-file-format string using perky.dump, then writes it to filename.

perky.include(d, recursive=True, encoding="utf-8") -> d

Processes an include directive inside a dictionary. The first argument d must be a dictionary.

If d["include"] is set, that value is used as a filename. perky.include() will execute perky.load(filename) using the encoding passed in, then merge dictionary into d--however existing values in d take precedence. If recursive is set, then perky.include() will recursively process includes in those dictionaries.

Returns this final merged dictionary.

perky.includes(d, recursive=True, encoding="utf-8") -> d

Similar to perky.include, except the name of the key is d["includes"], and it must contain a list of filenames rather than simply one filename. perky.includes() will then read in all those filenames, merge them together, then merge that with the d passed in.


A pre-written pragma handler for you. If you use this function to handle "include" pragmas, then the pragma =include foo will perky.load() the file foo into the current (top-level) dictionary being loaded. pragma_include() will pass in the current pragma handlers into perky.load(), allowing for (for example) recursive incldues., fn) -> o

Iterates over a dictionary. Returns a new dictionary where, for every value:

  • if it is a dict, replace with a new dict.
  • if it is a list, replace with a new list.
  • if it is neither a dict nor a list, replace with fn(value).

The function passed in is called a conversion function.

perky.transform(d, schema, default=None) -> o

Recursively transforms a Perky dict into some other object (usually a dict) using the provided schema. Returns a new dict.

A schema is a data structure matching the general expected shape of d, where the values are dicts, lists, and callables. The transformation is similar to except that individual values will have individual conversion functions. Also, a schema conversion function can be specified for any value in d, even dicts or lists.

default is a default conversion function. If there is a value v in d that doesn't have an equivalent entry in schema, and v is neither a list nor a dict, and if default is a callable, v will be replaced with default(v) in the output.



perky.nullable(fn) -> fn


perky.const(fn) -> o



  • Backslash quoting currently does "whatever your version of Python does". Perhaps this should be explicit, and parsed by Perky itself?

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