On Tue, 2016-06-14 at 16:40 +0300, Nikolai Kondrashov wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> Although this was mentioned several times before, I'd like to bring additional
> attention to the idea of using config files written in JSON for tlog, because
> there were some concerns over that being appropriate.

What was the reasoning behind this questioning ?

In order to understand whether json is appropriate I need to ask who do
you think will be the primary user of the configuration file.
- Is it going to be mainly sysadmins manually setting things up ?
- Is this going to be something that may need to be templated and
delivered via things like puppet ansible ?
- Is it going to be a file generated by some other program (like sssd or
similar) based on rules stored in a central system ?

The answer to these questions will help understanding what format is
better suited.


> Tlog is a terminal I/O recording package [1], with primary purpose of sending
> the recordings as JSON-formatted log messages to ElasticSearch. For the
> purpose of reading what it wrote, it links with json-c.
> At this moment both of tlog programs (tlog-rec and tlog-play) expect their
> global configuration to be in JSON, with comments allowed. See the default
> configurations attached. Plus, tlog-rec accepts an environment variable,
> containing the whole, or a part of the configuration to (partially) override
> the global one. That is also in JSON. Tlog uses the same json-c to parse all
> of these. Internally, tlog uses json-c structures to pass around and merge the
> configurations.
> The question is, should the global tlog configuration, located in
> /etc/tlog/tlog-rec.conf and /etc/tlog/tlog-play.conf, be in JSON, or should it
> be something else?
> The cons I heard so far:
>      * Administrators don't expect to find JSON in /etc.
>      * JSON is a fragile format.
> The pros I'd like to present:
>      * Administrators setting up tlog are expected to also be familiar with
>        ElasticSearch, which tlog targets as the storage. ElasticSearch speaks
>        JSON exclusively and is configured using either YAML or JSON. So, the
>        administrators should be largely familiar with it.
>      * Although JSON uses explicit and rigid syntax, such as quoting and
>        prohibited trailing commas, it is still easy to read, and its
>        specification is succint and easy to learn: http://json.org/
>      * Tlog is already linked with json-c, to read what it wrote, and
>        reusing it for configuration reading avoids adding another dependency.
> Overall, I consider the present situation a good compromise between
> smaller/simpler code and reduced dependencies vs. familiarity and ease of
> editing and reading for administrators.
> The alternatives presented so far are YAML and INI. I'll list each of their
> pros and cons, as I see them.
> Pros
>      * Has a subset of syntax (sufficient for our purposes), which is easy to
>        read and write, doesn't require quoting, not critical to commas and
>        other separators.
>      * Has official specification.
> Cons
>      * Requires additional dependency to be used in tlog.
>      * Only one implementation in C.
>      * Uses significant whitespace, which is easier to overlook than explicit
>        syntax.
>      * *Sometimes* requires quoting to enforce value type, which is easy to
>        overlook. E.g. an all-digits string requires quoting, otherwise it is
>        considered a number.
>      * Although well-defined, specification is long and complicated:
>        http://www.yaml.org/spec/1.2/spec.html This makes it hard to fully
>        understand the language and be proficient at it.
>      * In an attempt to make the language as human-readable as possible, made
>        it actually harder for humans to write, in some cases.
>      * Has too many features, complicating parsers, leading to harder to use
>        APIs, and more bugs.
> Pros
>      * Familiar, already used by sister projects: SSSD, Kerberos, Samba, etc.
>      * Light, simple syntax
> Cons
>      * Requires additional dependency to be used in tlog.
>      * No official specification, lots of variance in the field:
>        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INI_file#Varying_features
>        This requires explicit description of the actually used syntax in
>        the program manuals. I.e. it cannot simply link to a specification.
>        Administrators have to discover which flavor to use. This will become
>        worse if we'll implement storing (a subset of) tlog-rec configuration
>        in LDAP verbatim, as suggested so far, because the documentation for 
> the
>        format will be less discoverable for the person editing the directory.
>      * Cannot be written without newlines, in a single line. This will make
>        overriding configuration with an environment variable in tlog-rec 
> harder
>        to use. I.e. the environment variable value will have to contain
>        newlines, or instead refer to a file containing the configuration.
>      * No escaping for special characters, multiline value support is patchy
>        (not present at all in dinglibs). This will limit the ways to specify
>        the recording notice presented to the users at the start of tlog-rec.
> Your own pros/cons, and suggestions for other formats to use are welcome!
> Thank you for your attention.
> Nick
> [1]: https://github.com/Scribery/tlog

Simo Sorce * Red Hat, Inc * New York

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