Unless otherwise specified, elements and attributes are inherited from all ancestors. As is typical with inheritance, the youngest/deepest value overrides values of ancestors. If the value requested is a set of key/value pairs, the top-most ancestor is queried, then its child is queried, merging values, replacing conflicts and so on until the youngest/deepest node is reached.

The C API mtev_conf_get_hash and mtev_conf_get_namespaced_hash implement this functionality; as long as those functions are used to convert configuration stanzas into hashes for internal use, the developer and the operator get all the advantages of sophisticated configuration reuse.

When attributes are extracted, developers should use the the XPath practice of ancestor-or-self::node()/@name for an attribute named name.

Simple (implicit) inheritance

simple.conf (snippet)
      <a foo="bar">
          <key1>val a 1</key1>
          <key2>val a 2</key2>
        <b quux="baz">
            <key1>val b 1</key1>
            <key3>val b 3</key3>
          <c foo="meme" />

When looking at the "foo" attribute we see the following values at nodes:

* at `a`, foo="bar"
* at `b`, foo="bar"
* at `c`, foo="meme"

When looking at the "quux" attribute we see the following values at nodes:

* at `a`, foo=(none)
* at `b`, foo="baz"
* at `c`, foo="baz"

When looking at the key/value set "config" we see the following values at nodes:

* at `a`, `{ key1: "val a 1", key2: "val a 2" }`
* at `b`, `{ key1: "val b 1", key2: "val a 2", key3: "val b 3" }`
* at `c`, `{ key1: "val b 1", key2: "val a 2", key3: "val b 3" }`

This inheritance model allows for "non-repetitive" configuration approaches: "express yourself once and reuse."

Complex (explicit) Inheritance

Sometimes it is useful to define a configuration key/value set for reuse, but the strict parent-child inheritance model is awkward. Under these circumstances, the explicit inheritance often solves the issue at hand. With explicit inheritance, a configuration can inherit from another named node elsewhere in the configuration.

The <config> stanzas (and others) can be identified, as is typical in XML, with the id attribute: <config id="sample">. Additionally, any config may explicitly specify that it inherits from a named config by specifying theinherit` attribute.

Any <config>, A, which has the inherit attribute will first inherit from its most direct parent, then supplement/replace those key/values with the configuration whose id attribute matches the inherit attribute of A, and finally supplement/replace those key/values with key/values directly beneath A. The entire tree is searched for a node whose id matches A's inherit attribute.

complex.conf (snippet)
  <config name="A">
    <config name="C" inherit="bob">
        <config name="B" id="bob">

The config named "A" contains:

* key1 = a
* key2 = b
* key3 = c

The config named "C" contains:

* key1 = AAA
* key2 = bobB
* key3 = c
* key4 = DDD
* key5 = bobE

It should be noted hat all config's that include the one named "B" above follows this same inheritance model.

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