ini file extension

ini file or Initialization file, is a text file, used to store configuration and setup files for software applications.

ini has abbreviated Initialize values as language, and it is a new file format, mostly used in Windows applications.

These files contain configuration values and are very popularly used by the Windows Operating System.

ini files look like properties files with additional features such as comments, Sections, key and value pairs, and headers.

It is used for specifying data in configurations similar to text files.

Usually, each software or application has some configuration data. We used to have a property file with key and value pairs like key=value.

The property files are not suitable when there is a complex configuration structure. INI file is suitable for representing data in hash table format and is easy to read and write the data using various programming languages.

windows provide two Ini files, system.ini, and windows.ini files by default, So many applications during shipping the product to the client have configurations in ini format.

Advantages of INI file extension

  • Readability:

These files contain simple configurations & settings with easy to understand by normal users. You can use a simple text editor to modify or update the file.

  • Support all popular languages: Parsing and writing to Ini files are supported by all major programming languages such as GO, Java, Python, JavaScript, etc. Programming languages support either third-party modules or natively to serialize and deserialize the content of ini files.

  • Easy Structure Ini file content is organized with sections(header) where each section contains key and value pairs. It is easy to understand and locate the content and update it.

  • Supports Comments Comments are supported by unlike proper files, It helps developers to understand the line of code better and easy to read or update the configuration.

  • Maintainable Whenever there are configuration changes needed, You can easily add new users with review comments.

  • Read and write capabilities

  • the content of these files looks like Windows Init format

INI file Disadvantages

  • Supports Simple Configuraiton

    • It only supports header, key, and values, Other complex configurations are not supported, unlike yaml or toml file extensions.
  • Limited Data types:

    • Configuration contains key and values of String data type, It is only useful for simple & basic configuration. Other Data structures such as Arrays, and nested objects are not supported. You can write additional programming code to support these data structures.
    • Numbers like NAN and infinity are not supported
    • No support for binary data
    • Complex values like the table are not supported
  • Manual Encryption & Decryption By default, ini files are plain simple text files. Secure information such as secret keys is not recommended to store it. To support full-proof secured content, Need additional modules or libraries to encrypt and decrypt the configuration manually.

  • No Contract for format

There is no standard contract for INI content syntax. Every user can write their syntax for additional features such as arrays, It causes issues with different programming languages across applications.

INI file use cases

  • INI used in any type of project for configuration settings
  • Windows uses configuration settings for drivers, keyboards, mouse
  • Configuration and settings of the software applications
  • Can also used in maintaing internalization of local files, each local stores separate ini file.

INI file extension

Initialize configuration in a file with extension .INI, You can use any IDE or text editor to open this file.

Ini File extension rules

  • Ini files extension is .ini by default
  • file supports UTF-8 encoding format only
  • Supports whitespaces, tabs, and newlines asci code

MIME format type - text/plain

MIME is abbreviated as Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions which is a format specified in request and response that is transferred between client and server across the internet. Content-Type and Accept headers in a request object are specified with this format following is the mime type for these documents

  • text/plain and request contains the below value for INI data sending over the internet

Content type: text/plain

ini file Editors

All the popular IDE supports the INI file extension and provides plugins to validate the INI file content.

  • Notepad++
  • Eclipse
  • Visual Studio Code