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Hierarchical configuration for modern node.js apps.

Build Status NPM version Project status license Gittip


Replacement to nconf with extra features :

  • loads everything that nconf can load, but also plain json, plain js files, node modules and AMD modules (i.e. you can add comments to your config and lint it with eslint/jshint)
  • clearer API : only one .add(...) function, which deep extends previously added key/values
  • load files from a relative path
  • nconf-like access with customizable separator, or plain associative array access
  • integrated value expansion %extension% in config values
  • integrated .env loading for modern devops
  • integrated support for patterned config (config.json -> config.development.json -> config.development.local.json)


Use case

Config in a modern node app comes from different source :

  • config files, usually an associative array, in JSON and under source control
  • command-line arguments, usually for quick overrides like --debug-level=info
  • Environment variables especially for secrets (passwords, API keys), since they MUST NOT be stored in source control
  • .env file, used by devops as an alternative for passing environment variables. MUST NOT be under source control.

And config data is streamlined like that :


  1. (nothing to do, node does it automatically)
  2. simplyconfig.dotenv.load() (simplyconfig.dotenv being the motdotla/dotenv module, included for your convenience)
  3. simplyconfig does it in 2 ways :
  • automatically by detecting and replacing %MY_ENV_VAR% in config values (can be disabled/customized, see below)
  • manually by calling .add('ENV'). simplyconfig will automatically expand keys, like NODEJS__foo__bar=baz giving the : 'baz' key-value entry in config.
  1. .add('ARGV')
  2. .add('config.json', {pattern: 'env+local'}) (see below for this convenient pattern)
  3. var config = require('config'); (see below for an example of what config/index.js should look like)



Using simplyconfig is, as you can guess, easy. Just add key/values, and each one takes precedence over the previous one (deep extend).

var simplyconfig = require('simplyconfig');
var config = simplyconfig
        env: 'defaults',
        database: {
            host: 'localhost',
            port: 1234
        env: 'prod',
        database: {
            host: '',
console.log(config.get()); ->>
        env: 'prod',
        database: {
            host: '',
            port: 1234

Of course there is syntactic sugar for files :

var simplyconfig = require('simplyconfig');
var config = simplyconfig

or even better :

var simplyconfig = require('simplyconfig');
var config = simplyconfig
    .add({ NODE_ENV: process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development' });
    .add('../config/config.json', { pattern: 'env+local' });

Real-life example

'use strict';
var simplyconfig = require('simplyconfig');
/** Load .env into process.env
simplyconfig.load({ silent: true });
/** Ensure NODE_ENV is defined
process.env.NODE_ENV = process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development';
/** Load and expose configuration.
module.exports = load();
module.exports.load = load;
/** Load configuration for a given environment.
 * @param  {String} env Asked environment, defaults to process.env.NODE_ENV
 * @return {Object}     nconf-like configuration object
function load(env) {
  var config = simplyconfig.create();
  // explicit early definition of NODE_ENV 
  config.add({ NODE_ENV: env || process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development' });
  // files 
  config.add('../../config/config.json', { pattern: 'env+local' });
  // env vars 
  // args 
  return config;

detailed usage


simplyconfig tries hard at immutability, since configuration should not be a dynamic registry modified everywhere in the code.

Hence :

  • a clone of given data is made at insertion. If given object is modified later, it doesn't affect config
  • a clone of the config data is returned on get(). If modified, returned object doesn't affect config

top-level options

Separator for get() is : by default for nconf compatibility. You can change it :

var config =
        separator: '.'
    var x = config.get('');


Either format are accepted :

  • json config.add('config.json');
  • js config.add('config.js');

Patterned : A convenient way to hierarchize config is the following :

  • config.js <-- safe default
  • config.production.js, config.development.js <-- specialization for a given environment
  • config.development.local.js <-- developper's local changes, this file should be in .gitignore Each file taking precedence over previous one.

This patter is integrated in simplyconfig : config.add('config.js', { pattern: 'env+local' });

For reading the current environment, simplyconfig uses :

var env = this.get('NODE_ENV') || process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development';


config.add('ENV'); will :

  1. load all env vars at the root of the config (or under options.root if provided, see below).
  2. expand env vars with key matching a pattern, like this : NODEJS__foo__bar being also added as
  3. values are expanded as usual

Default options :

    whitelist: null,  <-- an array of restricted env vars to pick
    root: '',         <-- where env vars will be added in the config
    prefix: 'NODEJS', <-- prefix for deep env vars
    separator: '__'   <-- separator for deep env vars


config.add('ARGV'); will : 1 load and expand command-line arguments exactly like nconf does (using optimist)

  1. values are expanded as usual


  • warnings for empty paths
  • get/set with options