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       md_doc_help_elektra-introductionelektra-introduction(7) -- an introduction to Elektra
        - Elektra is a library implementing access to a global key database. The Global key
       database provides global access to all key databases of all applications in a system that
       wants to access a key database. To elektrify an application means to change the
       application so that it uses Elektra afterwards.

       Information on Elektra can be found on the website. For introduction in the terminology,
       make sure to read the glossary.


   Why Elektra?
       Configurations, settings and preferences are hierarchical data structures of keys, each
       consisting of a name and a value. They can be used to configure software for the user's
       needs. Because these settings stay the same across restarts of the program, they need to
       be stored permanently. In the beginning this was done with primitive text files.
       Possibilities to structure the text were added later.

       Nearly every system developed its own way to read preferences, but some systems can also
       change them. Because the graphical user interface can be tweaked in many ways, the most
       encompassing systems emerged from this area. Some got a de facto standard for a desktop
       environment (kconfig, gconfig) or even an operating system (Windows Registry, Open
       Directory). But they have a common problem: they are bound to the platform for which they
       were developed. On the other hand, there are many libraries that do a good job in parsing
       and writing configuration files. These tools are, however, not powerful enough to keep the
       configuration independent from the operating system's details, for example, how to resolve
       the file name of the configuration file.

       That is where Elektra comes in to fill the gap. On the one hand, Elektra is not tied to
       any platform or operating system. On the other hand, Elektra is powerful enough to be
       useful immediately for what it is written for: to access configuration.

   Why is it important?
       The configuration files that represent key databases can have binary or humanly-readable
       formats. From the latter, an unmanageable number is established. Developers of programs
       tend to document the format of the configuration file extensively. The configuration file
       may give a special flavour to a specific program and users frequently need it.

       Sometimes limitations in the configuration file even lead to rewrites of software. For
       example, inetd has a non-modular flat configuration file that is not extensible because of
       a limited number of rows. In order to extend its functionality, the program had to be
       rewritten with a new approach to configuration: xinetd emerged. Both of these projects are
       now almost defined by their configuration files giving them identity and separating them
       from each other. Elektra has introduced backend to support the storage of key databases in
       different formats.

       Elektra abstracts configuration so that applications can receive and store settings
       without carrying information about how and where these are actually stored. It is the
       purpose of the backends to implement these details. What makes the difference is the
       situation that every program can access any configuration because of the abstraction. In
       the example of inetd, Elektra allows an elektrified inetd respective xinetd to store its
       configuration in /etc/inetd.conf respective /etc/xinetd.conf. Additionally, each other
       program interested in these preferences can access them in a uniform way.

       To support a global key database, a mutual agreement on some level is needed. Elektra
       provides this common layer with its data structures. Each elektrified application lies on
       top of this abstraction layer and it can talk to each part of the global key database
       using the classes presented next.

Version 0.8.14                           Mon Jul 24 201md_doc_help_elektra-introduction(3elektra)