carueda / tscfg

Boilerplate-free, type safe access to configuration properties in Java and Scala

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tscfg is a command line tool that takes a configuration specification parseable by Typesafe Config and generates all the boiler-plate to make the definitions available in type safe, immutable objects (POJOs for Java, case classes for Scala).

The generated code only depends on the Typesafe Config library.


The tool supports all types handled by Typesafe Config (string, int, long, double, boolean, duration, size-in-bytes, list, object) and has great test coverage. Possible improvements include a more standard command line interface, a proper tscfg library, and perhaps a revision of the syntax for types. Feel free to fork, enter issues/reactions, submit PRs, etc.

configuration spec

In tscfg's approach, the configuration spec itself is any source parseable by Typesafe Config, so the familiar syntax/format and loading mechanisms are used.

For example, from this configuration:

service {
  url = ""
  poolSize = 32
  debug = true
  factor = 0.75

tscfg will generate the following (constructors and other methods omitted):

  • Java:

    public class Cfg {
      public final Service service;
      public static class Service {
        public final boolean debug;
        public final double factor;
        public final int poolSize;
        public final String url;

    Nesting of configuration properties is captured via inner static classes.

  • Scala:

    case class Cfg(
      service : Cfg.Service
    object Cfg {
      case class Service(
        debug : Boolean,
        factor : Double,
        poolSize : Int,
        url : String

    Nesting of configuration properties is captured via nested companion objects.

The tool determines the type of each field according to the given value in the input configuration. Used in this way, all fields are considered optional, with the given value as the default.

But this wouldn't be flexible enough! To allow the specification of required fields, explicit types, and default values, a string with a simple syntax as follows can be used (illustrated with the integer type):

field spec meaning java type / default scala type / default
a: "int" required integer int / no default Int / no default
a: "int | 3" optional integer with default value 3 int / 3 Int/ 3
a: "int?" optional integer Integer / null(*) Option[Int] / None


  • (*) You can use the --java:optionals flag to generate Optional<T> instead of null.
  • The type syntax is still subject to change.

The following is a complete example exercising this mechanism.

endpoint {
  path: "string"
  url: "String |"
  serial: "int?"
  interface {
    port: "int | 8080"

For Java, this basically becomes the immutable class:

public class JavaExampleCfg {
  public final Endpoint endpoint;

  public static class Endpoint {
    public final int intReq;
    public final Interface_ interface_;
    public final String path;
    public final Integer serial;
    public final String url;

    public static class Interface_ {
      public final int port;
      public final String type;

And for Scala:

case class ScalaExampleCfg(
  endpoint : ScalaExampleCfg.Endpoint

object ScalaExampleCfg {
  case class Endpoint(
    intReq    : Int,
    interface : Endpoint.Interface,
    path      : String,
    serial    : Option[Int],
    url       : String

  object Endpoint {
    case class Interface(
      port   : Int,
      `type` : Option[String]

running tscfg

You will need a JRE 8 and the latest fat JAR (tscfg-x.y.z.jar) from the releases.

Or run sbt assembly under a clone of this repo to generate the fat jar.

$ java -jar tscfg-x.y.z.jar

tscfg x.y.z
Usage:  tscfg.Main --spec inputFile [options]
Options (default):
  --pn <packageName>                                     (tscfg.example)
  --cn <className>                                       (ExampleCfg)
  --dd <destDir>                                         (/tmp)
  --java                generate java code               (the default)
  --j7                  generate code for java <= 7      (>= 8)
  --java:getters        generate getters (see #31)       (false)
  --java:optionals      use optionals                    (false)
  --scala               generate scala code              (java)
  --scala:2.12          generate code for scala 2.12     (2.13)
  --scala:bt            use backticks (see #30)          (false)
  --durations           use java.time.Duration           (false)
  --all-required        assume all properties are required (see #47)
  --tpl <filename>      generate config template         (no default)
  --tpl.ind <string>    template indentation string      ("  ")
  --tpl.cp <string>     prefix for template comments     ("##")
  --withoutTimestamp    generate header w/out timestamp  (false)
Output is written to $destDir/$className.ext

So, to generate the Java class tscfg.example.ExampleCfg with the example above saved in a file example.spec.conf, you can run:

$ java -jar tscfg-x.y.z.jar --spec example.spec.conf

parsing: example.spec.conf
generating: /tmp/

maven plugin

Please see tscfg-maven-plugin. Thanks @timvlaer!

configuration access

Access to a configuration instance is via usual Typesafe Config mechanism as appropriate for your application, for example, to load the default configuration:

Config tsConfig = ConfigFactory.load().resolve()

or from a given file:

Config tsConfig = ConfigFactory.parseFile(new File("my.conf")).resolve();

Now, to access the configuration fields, instead of, for example:

Config endpoint = tsConfig.getConfig("endpoint");
String path    = endpoint.getString("path");
Integer serial = endpoint.hasPathOrNull("serial") ? endpoint.getInt("serial") : null;
int port       = endpoint.hasPathOrNull("port")   ? endpoint.getInt("interface.port") : 8080;

you can:

  1. Create the tscfg generated wrapper:

    ExampleCfg cfg = new ExampleCfg(tsConfig);

    which will make all verifications about required settings and associated types. In particular, as is typical with Config use, an exception will be thrown if this verification fails.

  2. Then, while enjoying full type safety and the code completion and navigation capabilities of your editor or IDE:

    String path    = cfg.endpoint.path;
    Integer serial = cfg.endpoint.serial;
    int port       = cfg.endpoint.interface_.port;

An object reference will never be null (or Optional.empty()) (None in Scala) if the corresponding field is required according to the specification. It will only be null (or Optional.empty()) (None in Scala) if it is marked optional with no default value and has been omitted in the input configuration.

With this example spec, the generated Java code looks like this and an example of use like this.

For Scala the generated code looks like this and an example of use like this.

supported types

basic types

The following basic types are supported:

type in spec java type:
req / opt
scala type:
req / opt
string String / String String / Option[String]
int int / Integer Int / Option[Int]
long long / Long Long / Option[Long]
double double / Double Double / Option[Double]
boolean boolean / Boolean Boolean / Option[Boolean]
size long / Long Long / Option[Long]
duration long / Long Long / Option[Long]
duration (using --durations flag) Duration / Duration Duration / Option[Duration]


  • please read Optional<T> instead of the T values in the java "opt" column above if using the --java:optionals flag.
  • using the --durations flag, java.time.Duration is used instead of long / Long. See durations for further information.


The size type corresponds to the size-in-bytes formats supported by the Typesafe library. See #23 for various examples.

NOTE: As of 0.0.984, a setting with a default value like memory: 50G (or memory: "50G") will no longer be inferred as with size type, but just as a string (with default value "50G"). For the size type effect, you will need to be explicit: memory: "size | 50G". See #42 and #41.


A duration type can be further qualified with a suffix consisting of a colon and a desired time unit for the reported value. For example, with the type "duration:day", the reported long value will be in day units, with conversion automatically performed if the actual configuration value is given in any other unit as supported by Typesafe Config according to the duration format.

A more complete example with some additional explanation:

durations {
  # optional duration; reported Long (Option[Long] in scala) is null (None) if value is missing
  # or whatever is provided converted to days
  days: "duration:day?"

  # required duration; reported long (Long) is whatever is provided
  # converted to hours
  hours: "duration:hour"

  # optional duration with default value;
  # reported long (Long) is in milliseconds, either 550,000 if value is missing
  # or whatever is provided converted to millis
  millis: "duration:ms | 550s"


Using the --durations flag, the reported value will be a java.time.Duration instead of a long / Long and the suffix will be ignored: "duration:hours | 3day" is java.time.Duration.ofDays(3) if value is missing or whatever is provided converted to a java.time.Duration

list type

With t denoting a handled type, a list of elements of that type is denoted [ t ]. The corresponding types in Java and Scala are:

type in spec java type:
req / opt
scala type:
req / opt
[ t ] List<T> / List<T> List[T] / Option[List[T]]

where T is the corresponding translation of t in the target language, with List<T> corresponding to an unmodifiable list in Java, and List[T] corresponding to an immutable list in Scala.

object type

As seen in examples above, each object in the given configuration spec becomes a class.

It is of course possible to specify a field as a list of objects, for example:

positions: [
    lat: double
    lon: double

In Java this basically becomes:

public class Cfg {
  public final java.util.List<Cfg.Positions$Elm> positions;

  public static class Positions$Elm {
    public final double lat;
    public final double lon;

and in Scala:

case class Cfg(
  positions : List[Cfg.Positions$Elm]

object Cfg {
  case class Positions$Elm(
    lat : Double,
    lon : Double

optional object or list

An object or a list in the input configuration can be marked optional with the @optional annotation (in a comment):

email {
  server: string
  password: string

reals: [ { foo: double } ]

In Scala this basically becomes:

case class Cfg(
  email : Option[Cfg.Email],
  reals : Option[List[Cfg.Reals$Elm]]

object Cfg {
  case class Email(
    password : String,
    server   : String
  case class Reals$Elm(
    foo : Double

As with basic types, the meaning of an optional object or list is that the corresponding value will be null (or Optional.empty()) (None in Scala) when the corresponding actual entry is missing in a given configuration instance.

shared objects

As of 0.9.94 there's initial, experimental support for shared objects (#54). This is exercised by using the @define annotation:

Struct {
  c: string
  d: int

example {
  a: Struct
  b: [ Struct ]

In this example, the annotation will only generate the definition of the corresponding class Struct in the wrapper but not the member of that type itself. Then, the type can be referenced for other definitions.

Note: current support is in terms of the referenced object always being required. In other words, a: "Struct?", as an example, is not supported. Also, the @define annotation is only supported for objects and enumerations (see below), not for a basic types or lists.

shared object inheritance

As of 0.9.98 shared objects now support simple inheritance by an abstract superclass. The following syntax can be used to define a simple inheritance:

#@define abstract
BaseStruct {
  a: [string]
  b: double

#@define extends BaseStruct
ChildStruct {
  c: string
  d: string

example {
  child: ChildStruct

In this example, the annotation will generate an abstract class definition of the BaseStruct as well as a definition of ChildStruct which extends BaseStruct. This inheritance structure simplifies processing of the config with structs that have multiple common fields.

Only leaf members of the inheritance tree may be instantiable instances, all other shared objects in between have to be abstract classes. The following are valid definition comments:

Comment Meaning
#@define abstract Root of an inheritance tree
#@define abstract extends Foo Intermediate member of the tree, that extends the shared object Foo
#@define extends Bla Leaf member of the inheritance tree, that extends the (abstract) shared object Bla

known issues with shared objects

  • the current support for shared objects as field types in another shared object is unstable and not yet fully supported
  • empty structs without any fields are treated as strings. Hence, having a child struct without new fields in addition to its superclass is not supported yet


Enumerations can also be defined and this is done through the @define enum annotation:

#@define enum
FruitType = [apple, banana, pineapple]

fruit: FruitType

someFruits: [FruitType]

other: {
  aFruit: FruitType

As with other uses of @define, the enumeration annotation will only generate the enumeration type itself, but the associated name can then be used for other field definitions in your configuration schema.

The type defined in the example above basically gets translated into Java and Scala as follows:

public enum FruitType {
sealed trait FruitType 
object FruitType {
  object apple     extends FruitType
  object banana    extends FruitType
  object pineapple extends FruitType

configuration template

tscfg can also generate user-oriented configuration templates from the given configuration schema. See this wiki.


But I can just access the configuration values directly with Typesafe Config and even put them in my own classes

Sure. However, as the number of configuration properties and levels of nesting increase, the benefits of automated generation of the typesafe, immutable objects, along with the centralized verification, shall become more apparent. All of this –worth emphasizing– based on an explicit schema for the configuration.

Any tscfg best practice for my development workflow?

Please see this wiki.

Is there any sbt plugin for tscfg that I can use as part of the build for my project?

Not implemented yet. The issue is #21 if you want to add comments or reactions. PRs are also welcome.

Can tscfg generate Optional<T> for optional fields?

Use the --java:optionals flag for enabling Optional<T> instead of null for optional fields in java.

What happened with the generated toString method?

We think it's more flexible to let client code decide how to render configuration instances while also recognizing that very likely typical serialization libraries are already being used in the application. For example, the demo programs JavaUse and scalaUse use Gson and json4s, respectively. Although you could also use Typesafe Config itself for rendering purposes, you would be using the original Typesafe Config parsed configuration object, so the rendering won't necessarily be restricted only to the elements captured in the configuration specification used by tscfg for the generated wrapper.