Catalyst Configuration: A to Z

A common question, and in some cases turns to bad assumptions, is how to properly setup configuration in various Catalyst components. This article should hopefully shed some light.

First things first: What's a component

In Catalyst every Model, View and Controller class is a component. It's just the basic default object that the big 3 inherit from (quite literally, as they come from Catalyst::Component.)

When Catalyst starts up, the point in time where initialization of each of the application components is called "component time". It's the step after compile time, and the time before Catalyst is dispatching and serving requests. When debugging is enabled, Catalyst gives you a listing of components that are loaded at this time:

 [debug] Loaded components:
 | Class                                                           | Type     |
 | ConfigEg::Controller::Root                                      | instance |
 | ConfigEg::Model::Bar                                            | instance |
 | ConfigEg::Model::Foo                                            | instance |

As you can see, this is the controller and models that are loaded in the application. They don't necessarily have to exist on disk, as Catalyst::Model::DBIC::Schema creates classes dynamically based on the classes loaded from DBIx::Class.

Each of these components listed runs the sub COMPONENT method, and at this point the configuration is usable.

Configuration: App versus Component

The breakdown of the application level configuration and component level configuration is the best way to differentiate configuration spaces.

Catalyst gives you a very nice convention to isolate configuration to a specific component at the app level, by merely naming that configuration key.

Above, we listed a ConfigEg::Model::Foo so if we want to configure it in the file, or in configeg.yml, all we have to do is write out the prefix:

 name: ConfigEg
    config: "Specific just to ConfigEg::Model::Foo!"

(Note: You do not include your application prefix! Everything after MyApp::)

To check this, inside the ConfigEg/Model/ file, you can overload the sub COMPONENT method with something like this:

     my $self = shift->next::method(@_);
     print dump( $self );
     return $self;

This will dump out:

 bless({ config => "Specific just to ConfigEg::Model::Foo" }, "ConfigEg::Model::Foo")

Piece of cake!

Component Configuration

Now, inside of the ConfigEg/Model/ file if you want to specify default configuration, you don't need to prefix the configuration keys. You just start out with:

    config => 'This will be overridden, but is a nice default'

Now, if you were to remove the entries in configeg.yml for Model::Foo, this config would take precedence.

ConfigLoader: The Aptly Named Configuration Loader

The great thing that Catalyst::Plugin::ConfigLoader does for you is merging the various external configurations. Rather than simply overwrite the entirety of a components configuration, it will merge external files and give them precedence. The higher the "human editability" of the configuration, the higher the precedence.

Configuration Merging

Catalyst will automatically merge all the various sections of configuration into one easy to use structure. ConfigLoader handles taking the external files, and Catalyst will take that information and merge it with the internal configuration of the components.

To illustrate this, here is a brief example. The lowest in configuration precedence is the component package itself (ConfigEg/Model/, up next is and the highest is the individual configuration files loaded by ConfigLoader, which pulls in the external files. By default this would be configeg.yml and configeg_local.yml.

By merging, what happens is if you have the following (completely and totally fabricated) structure in the component package ConfigEg/Model/

    paper_bag => {
        pickles  => 10,
        sandwich => 1,
        relish   => 5,

And then inside of you have:

        name => 'ConfigEg',
        'Model::Foo' => {
            paper_bag => { pickles => 0 }

And finally in configeg.yml you have: --- name: ConfigEg "Model::Foo": paper_bag: pickles: 1 cheese: 5

The final merged structure would be: paper_bag => { cheese => 5, pickles => 1, relish => 5, sandwich => 1 }

As you can see, the configeg.yml has the highest precedence by setting 'pickles' to 1 (rather than 0 which is specified in or 10 specified in ConfigEg/Model/ and it introduces an entirely new key 'cheese'.

Real World Usage

If you don't like lunch items, just think of ways a component base class can specify default configuration to be overriden by a specific MyApp:: instance of that class and then finally overridden by the configuration files.

If there is a base component model that is highly generic, it may have a set of configuration options present that just describe the basic required config.

When it is created in an application (say, from a Catalyst::Helper package) then it may create or duplicate those same configuration settings (like the way Catalyst::View::TT bootstraps itself). It then expects final configuration to be done in the application config (myapp.yml, or whatever your config choice may be)


J. Shirley <>