5 Aug 2003 etrepum   » (Journeyer)

mwh: OS X configuration files are a subset of XML called a Property List (plist). These are XMLified NeXT property lists, which were much cleaner looking and still easy to parse. In any case, there's not a whole lot you can do in a plist (DTD), so that's why Apple can write a tool like defaults(1) that is able to reliably manipulate arbitrary keys in an arbitrary plist file. It is also how they can offer simple APIs (i.e. NSDefaults) that basically just serialize/deserialize objects from the programming language you're using directly to these plist files, either by coercing to/from one of the simple types, or just encoding as base64. Strangely enough, I've even seen Apple use plists inside of plists disguised with base64.

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