NestedText: A Human Friendly Data Format

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Authors: Ken & Kale Kundert
Version: 3.1.0
Released: 2021-07-23
Documentation: nestedtext.org.
Please post all questions, suggestions, and bug reports to: Github.

NestedText is a file format for holding structured data to be entered, edited, or viewed by people. It organizes the data into a nested collection of dictionaries, lists, and strings without the need for quoting or escaping. A unique feature of this file format is that it only supports one scalar type: strings.  While the decision to eschew integer, real, date, etc. types may seem counter intuitive, it leads to simpler data files and applications that are more robust.

NestedText is convenient for configuration files, address books, account information, and the like. Because there is no need for quoting or escaping, it is particularly nice for holding code fragments. Here is an example of a file that contains a few addresses:

# Contact information for our officers

president:
    name: Katheryn McDaniel
    address:
        > 138 Almond Street
        > Topeka, Kansas 20697
    phone:
        cell: 1-210-555-5297
        home: 1-210-555-8470
            # Katheryn prefers that we always call her on her cell phone.
    email: KateMcD@aol.com
    additional roles:
        - board member

vice president:
    name: Margaret Hodge
    address:
        > 2586 Marigold Lane
        > Topeka, Kansas 20682
    phone: 1-470-555-0398
    email: margaret.hodge@ku.edu
    additional roles:
        - new membership task force
        - accounting task force

Contributing

This package contains a Python reference implementation of NestedText and a test suite. Implementation in many languages is required for NestedText to catch on widely. If you like the format, please consider contributing additional implementations.