Level 0 - Coding Standard with EditorConfig

Level up Coding Standard

Coding standand

Editor Config, an INI¹ format based configuration system that let you establish project level coding standard; It allows configuring: indentation style, indentation size, line width and more. It helps in reducing the effort required to bring each team member to the consistent coding standing by automatically applying the config to IDE.

What is EditorConfig solving?

Whenever we work in a team, we set up some ground rules to work efficiently; in the programming world, those ground rules are coding standard.

Coding standards may include:

Level 0  -  Universal File configuration: indentation style, line width, line ending, indentation size.

Level 1  -  Programming languages based configuration: block style, comment style, method naming, class naming.

Level 2  -  Project Level Workflow configuration: the process regarding development to deployment. It is more of the management side.

EditorConfig does support all of level-0 and some of level-1 configuration. Level 2 is out of scope for it (?).

Traditional Model of Coding Standard

Many IDEs provide a mechanism for code formatting configuration. This configuration can be exported to a file in an IDE specific file.

Someone in your team configures and the exported file within the team to avoid rework by them. Team members import the configuration file into their IDE. Thus, the code standard is shared and applied.

The above process brings up:

  • Manual Work: Any change in the code standard; all the process of reimporting has to be repeated. It involves manual work and bringing each one IDE on the same page is difficult. Coding standard itself is a long-discussed collective agreement, and then there is manual work; It is an invisible pain of a developer.
  • IDE Inflexibility: All of your team members might not be using the same IDE. Consequently, you have to write and maintain multiple configuration files for IDEs being in use, or all your team members have to use the same variant of IDE.

EditorConfig saves your time by:

  • Enabling Auto Import: Whenever there are changes in configuration, commit the corresponding rules in .editorconfig file and supported IDEs automatically apply changes.
  • IDE Flexibility : EditorConfig is available to multiple IDEs. Some IDE inherently supports EditorConfig; some might require external plugins. It might be that your IDE might not support all the properties. Check the IDE documentation for details.

In action

You create a file named .editorconfig in your project root and don't forget to commit the file!

The file is collections of rules; each rule is simple key-value pair separated by =. The first rule you write:

root = true

It is a declaration that the current file is root .editorconfig file.

By design, editor config engine/interpreter searches for .editorconfig file in the open directory and its all parents' directories till it find .editorconfig with root = true.

Apply rules to files

You can apply rules to all files or a set of files. It supports glob patterns² to target files.

The following snippet applies rules to all the files in the project.

# apply rules to all files

[*] # \* means all
indent_style = space
indent_size = 2
line_width = 110
charset = utf-8

Overriding Rules

EdiorConfig files are read from top to bottom. It means the latest rule is considered the final applicable rule and this can be used to override properties.

Consider, you want to override Indention size (indent_size) to 4 for yaml files and keeping all the rest rules.

indent_size = 4

# yaml would get all value with overridden indent_size

YAML files would be constrained by all rules (defined in the previous section for [*] all files) and with overridden Indention size.

A typical file be:

root = true
indent_style = space
indent_size = 2
line_width = 110

# apply setting to yaml file

indent_size = 4 #override the size 2 for 4

# Level-1 config

curly_bracket_next_line = true

Check out the official docs to know full supported rules.

IDEs have been started supporting their custom rules. IntelliJIdea supports the following rules:


Using these rules would defeat the whole purpose of EditorConfig (:think).

EditorConfig saves your team time by automatically importing configuration. It helps in reducing the effort to bring each team member to the same definition of coding standard whenever there is a change in "code standard".


  1. INI Format


  1. GlobPattern: A algebraic way to specify a set of files.

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