This page documents the overall design, goals and reasoning around DataConfig.


At the time we started this project we were looking for a JSON parser that:

  • Supports a relaxed JSON spec, i.e. comment and trailing comma.
  • Supports custom deserialization logic, i.e. deserializes FColor from #RRGGBBAA.
  • Supports UE instanced sub objects and polymorphism.

Ultimately we implemented all these in DataConfig. We also tried not to limit this to be a JSON parser but to provide a set of tools for reading-from and writing-to the property system.

If you are an Unreal Engine C++ developers that:

  • Looking for alternative JSON reader/writer.
  • Looking for MsgPack serializer.
  • Looking for a textual configuration format.
  • Thinking of implementing custom textual/binary format.
  • Write code that deals with FProperty on a daily bases.

You should try DataConfig and it's highly likely DataConfig will fit into your solution.


  • Deliver as a quality C++ source library.

    DataConfig should ship with no UI nor tooling code. Users are expected to integrate only DataConfigCore as a source module. We intentionally limit the scope of DataConfig to a "C++ Library". Our users should be proficient UE C++ programmers.

    • DataConfig should ship with good testing and documentation coverage.
    • DataConfig follows idiomatic UE C++ conventions and has no external dependencies.
    • DataConfigCore depends only on Core and CoreUObject and can be used in standalone Program targets.
    • DataConfig API are UObject free and stack friendly.
    • Built-in features serve as examples and sensible defaults. Users are expected to write on their own Reader/Writer/Handlers.
  • Runtime performance is not our top priority.

    We expect users to use DataConfig in an offline, editor only scenario. In this use case we favor some other aspects over runtime performance:

    • Idiomatic. We follow Unreal Engine C++ coding conventions and keep core dependency to only Core and CoreUObject.
    • Friendly. When processing invalid data and invalid API usage DataConfig should not crash. It should fail explicitly with detailed context and diagnostics.
    • Small code size / fast compile time. DataConfig tries not to expose template API. TDcJsonReader is explicit instantiated with its definition in private files.
    • Light memory footprint. Our JSON parser does stream parsing and would not construct the loaded JSON document in memory at all.

    With that said DataConfig has decent performance that satisfies common runtime use cases. Do note the subtle differences when doing shipping builds.

  • Works with whatever property system supports.

    The idea is that DataConfig supports everything that can be tagged with UCLASS/USTRUCT/UPROPERTY/UENUM macros, which covers the full data model of the property system.

    Fields such as weak object reference and delegates doesn't make much sense to be serialized into textual format. However it turns out supporting the full data model makes it suitable to some other tasks like debug dump and in-memory data wrangling.

    This also means that DataConfig focuses only on reading from and writing into C++ data structures. For example we do not have a DOM or object like API for JSON at all. The only use case DataConfig supports is to deserialize from JSON into native C++ objects.