Building custom configuration section handlers

Been playing around with creating my own configuration section handlers. Call me crazy, but i just have a distaste for storing my hierarchical application configurations in some kind of artificially derived flat Key/Value pair scheme.

I see a lot of applications doing something like:

  <add key="MyApplication.SomeValue" value="foo" />
  <add key="MyApplication.DB.Host" value="localhost" />
  <add key="MyApplication.DB.Password" value="secret" />

when it would be so much cleaner to do:


The answer to this is System.Configuration.IConfigurationSectionHandler and then you stuff the result in a singleton. A couple of pitfalls with this approach are:

Application vs. ASP.NET: The singleton needs to determine whether it's running as an application or under ASP.NET, so it can decide whether it needs to be a thread singleton or can just be a static variable. Easiest solution here is to allow a way to manually initialize the singleton with a flag. Then you can use Begin_Request in global.asax to tell it to use a thread singleton and default to a static variable otherwise

Allowing for config relocation like AppSettings: AppSettings lets you externalize your name/value pairs via . This can easily be handled in System.Configuration.IConfigurationSectionHandler except that you need to look at the path to see if it's relative and then you need to figure out how to get that. The best way to determine the directory that's the same between Console, WinForms and ASP.NET is using AppDomain.BaseDirectory and just appending the relative path to it.