Simple .INI file parser in C, good for embedded systems

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inih (INI Not Invented Here) is a simple .INI file parser written in C. It's only a couple of pages of code, and it was designed to be small and simple, so it's good for embedded systems. It's also more or less compatible with Python's ConfigParser style of .INI files, including RFC 822-style multi-line syntax and name: value entries.

To use it, just give ini_parse() an INI file, and it will call a callback for every name=value pair parsed, giving you strings for the section, name, and value. It's done this way ("SAX style") because it works well on low-memory embedded systems, but also because it makes for a KISS implementation.

You can also call ini_parse_file() to parse directly from a FILE* object, ini_parse_string() to parse data from a string, or ini_parse_stream() to parse using a custom fgets-style reader function for custom I/O.

Download a release, browse the source, or read about how to use inih in a DRY style with X-Macros.

Compile-time options

You can control various aspects of inih using preprocessor defines:

Syntax options

Parsing options

Memory options

Simple example in C

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>
#include "../ini.h"

typedef struct
    int version;
    const char* name;
    const char* email;
} configuration;

static int handler(void* user, const char* section, const char* name,
                   const char* value)
    configuration* pconfig = (configuration*)user;

    #define MATCH(s, n) strcmp(section, s) == 0 && strcmp(name, n) == 0
    if (MATCH("protocol", "version")) {
        pconfig->version = atoi(value);
    } else if (MATCH("user", "name")) {
        pconfig->name = strdup(value);
    } else if (MATCH("user", "email")) {
        pconfig->email = strdup(value);
    } else {
        return 0;  /* unknown section/name, error */
    return 1;

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
    configuration config;

    if (ini_parse("test.ini", handler, &config) < 0) {
        printf("Can't load 'test.ini'\n");
        return 1;
    printf("Config loaded from 'test.ini': version=%d, name=%s, email=%s\n",
    return 0;

C++ example

If you're into C++ and the STL, there is also an easy-to-use INIReader class that stores values in a map and lets you Get() them:

#include <iostream>
#include "INIReader.h"

int main()
    INIReader reader("../examples/test.ini");

    if (reader.ParseError() < 0) {
        std::cout << "Can't load 'test.ini'\n";
        return 1;
    std::cout << "Config loaded from 'test.ini': version="
              << reader.GetInteger("protocol", "version", -1) << ", name="
              << reader.Get("user", "name", "UNKNOWN") << ", email="
              << reader.Get("user", "email", "UNKNOWN") << ", pi="
              << reader.GetReal("user", "pi", -1) << ", active="
              << reader.GetBoolean("user", "active", true) << "\n";
    return 0;

This simple C++ API works fine, but it's not very fully-fledged. I'm not planning to work more on the C++ API at the moment, so if you want a bit more power (for example GetSections() and GetFields() functions), see these forks:

Differences from ConfigParser

Some differences between inih and Python's ConfigParser standard library module:

Platform-specific notes

Meson notes

Building from vcpkg

You can build and install inih using vcpkg dependency manager:

git clone
cd vcpkg
./vcpkg integrate install
./vcpkg install inih

The inih port in vcpkg is kept up to date by microsoft team members and community contributors. If the version is out of date, please create an issue or pull request on the vcpkg repository.

Related links

license BSD-3-Clause
project inih
1 Version
version 53.0.0
depends 0