DevTools:conf Files

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This page describes important information about module configuration (.conf) files. All SWORD modules require one.

Please look also at our detailed and commented tutorial.

Key elements of a SWORD module.conf

Some keys can be repeated. Many not.

Some can have values that span more than 1 line with '\' at the end of a line indicating that the text on the next line continues the value. Don't use continuation unless allowed. It will produce different results in different front ends.

RTF is allowed in some values.

Some allow HTML <a href="xxx">label</a>hypertext links. HTML is not allowed otherwise.

Values specifications are shown as <content spec>. The < and > are not to be included.

Enumerated values are shown in bold. These should be used exactly as given and no other values should be used.

The order of elements specified in a conf file is immaterial, except where specified otherwise.

Required Elements

Element Values (type or enumerated) Default Value Allows
[ModName] Each conf file begins with [ModName], replacing "ModName" with a short well known abbreviation for the module (e.g., [KJV]). This must be first in the file. Valid characters for this abbreviation are limited to PCRE class [A-Za-z0-9_].[1]

The Abbreviation element is meant to allow for localization of this field.
The .conf file should be named the lowercase of this abbreviation followed by .conf. For example, [MyModule] would be mymodule.conf.


This field allows for the localization of the ModName. It is meant to be short just like the ModName.

Actually, this element is not required, but it makes the most sense to describe it here.

[ModName] Localization

This is a short (1 line) title of the module.

DataPath <relative system path pointing to the data files>

DataPath is the path to the module data files relative to the SWORD module library root directory. This path should start with "./modules". If the DataPath indicates a directory it should end with a '/'. Otherwise the module name is both the directory and the prefix for each file in that directory. Although DataPath can point to any folder or files under the root of the SWORD module library, the following conventions are recommended and must be used for modules wishing to be included in a CrossWire repository:

Paths used for a module named [MyModule], depending on
(a) the type of module (Bible text, commentary, lexicon or dictionary[3], general book) and
(b) the data driver (ModDrv parameter) are:


RawText (for uncompressed Bibles)
RawText4 (for uncompressed Bibles having entries greater than 64K bytes)[4]
zText (for compressed Bibles)
zText4 (for compressed Bibles having entries greater than 64K bytes)[4][5]
RawCom (for uncompressed Commentaries)
RawCom4 (for uncompressed Commentaries having entries greater than 64K bytes)
zCom (for compressed Commentaries)
zCom4 (for compressed Commentaries having entries greater than 64K bytes)[5]
HREFCom (each module entry must be only a URL to the body for the entry; experimental)
RawFiles (stores each entry in a simple text file in the datapath; recommended for Personal Commentary)
RawLD (for uncompressed Dictionaries)
RawLD4 (for uncompressed Dictionaries having entries greater than 64K bytes)
zLD (for compressed Dictionaries)
RawGenBook (for uncompressed tree keyed modules)

  1. That excludes the space and hyphen characters! An invalid ModName can cause some front-ends to crash.
  2. We strongly advise to avoid using an Abbreviation that's identical to the ModName or Abbreviation of any other module. It only leads to confusion, and may have unexpected consequences for some front-ends.
  3. Daily devotionals & glossaries go in subdirectories under lexdict. A glossary is between two languages.
  4. 4.0 4.1 e.g. If the Bible contains large introduction sections
  5. 5.0 5.1 zText4 & zCom4 modules require MinimumVersion=1.8 or later.

Required Elements with defaults

Element Values (type or enumerated) Default Value Allows

OSIS (Open Scriptural Information Standard)
TEI (Text Encoding Initiative)
Specifies the markup used in the module. The preferred markup is OSIS. TEI is preferred for dictionaries until OSIS supports dictionaries. While SourceType has a default, it is a best practice to specify it.

Legacy modules may have a key here stating:

GBF (General Bible Format)
ThML (Theological Markup Language)

In SWORD, for modules encoded with ThML, OSIS or TEI, each verse, dictionary entry, and book division needs to be well-formed XML or it will result in display problems in some front-ends.


SCSU (Standard Compression Scheme for Unicode)
Indicates how the text in the conf and in the module are encoded.

The preferred encoding of texts is UTF-8. Other than Hebrew, UTF-8 modules must be encoded with Normalization Form C (NFC). Biblical Hebrew requires special handling.[2] A few other languages may require special handling.[3][4]

To date, no modules use UTF-16 or SCSU. Legacy modules may hold a key here Latin-1 referring solely to Windows Codepage 1252, a superset of ISO-8859-1. Front-end implementors wishing to use such modules should use "cp1252" or "windows1252" explicitly, not "Latin-1" provided by some programming language libraries.


LZSS (Lempel Ziv Storer Szymanski)
Used for modules having a ModDrv of zText, zCom or zLD to indicate the compression algorithm. While CompressType has a default, it is best practice to specify it. ZIP is the preferred format.


Used for modules having a ModDrv of zText (Bibles) and zCom (Commentaries) to indicate how much of the work is compressed into a block. The trade off is size for speed, with BOOK taking the least overall space and the longest time and VERSE taking the greatest overall space and the least time. While BlockType has a default, it is a best practice to specify it. Most Bibles use BOOK and larger Commentaries use CHAPTER. To date, no module uses VERSE.


Used for modules having a ModDrv of zLD to indicate the number of entries in a compressed block. Higher values will make the module slower, but smaller. It is best practice to take the default and not specify it.


Used to specify the versification employed by a Bible module. Refer to Alternate Versification.


Indicates that a module is enciphered and that the module is (un)locked. When the key has no value ("CipherKey=") the module is locked. When it has a value, the module is unlocked.

A good key is something that is hard to guess. Typically in a format matching the pattern: /[0-9]{4}[A-Za-z]{4}[0-9]{4}[A-Za-z]{4}/. Internally the key can be any byte sequence from 1 to 255 bytes in length. But it needs to be readable, plain text, without leading or trailing spaces.


Used for RawGenBook to indicate whether the module contains a book or a Bible. At this time VerseKey is not yet supported and is being developed as a solution for Bibles which do not conform to any supported versification system in SWORD. It is best practice to take the default and not specify it.


Used for Dictionaries whose keys are case sensitive. This key is used to suppress normalization to UPPER CASE before comparison.
Only allowable value: true

  1. Omitting this for a non-plaintext module has unpredictable effects.
  2. Unicode normalization can easily break Biblical Hebrew text. See on page 9 in the SBL Hebrew Font User Manual.
  3. e.g. If they are mentioned in Table 10 in the Corrigendum 5 Sequences.
  4. The improper normalization of exceptional codepoints can be prevented by inserting a Combining Grapheme Joiner.

Elements required for proper rendering

Element Values (type or enumerated) Default Value Allows

UTF8Cantillation (For Hebrew texts having cantillation marks)[1]
UTF8GreekAccents (For Greek texts having accents)[2][3]
UTF8HebrewPoints (For Hebrew texts having vowel points)[4]
UTF8ArabicPoints (For Arabic texts having vowel points)[5]
OSISLemma (For OSIS texts having lemmas)[6]
OSISMorphSegmentation (For OSIS texts having morphological segmentation elements)[7]
OSISStrongs (For OSIS texts having Strong's Numbers)[8]
OSISFootnotes (For OSIS texts having informational notes)
OSISScripref (For OSIS texts having cross reference type notes)
OSISMorph (For OSIS texts having morphology information)
OSISHeadings (For OSIS texts having non-canonical headings)
OSISVariants (For OSIS texts having variant readings)
OSISRedLetterWords (For OSIS texts marking the Words of Christ)[9]
OSISGlosses (For OSIS texts with glosses)[10]
OSISXlit (For OSIS texts that include transliterated forms)[11]
OSISEnum (For OSIS texts with enumerated words)[12]
OSISReferenceLinks (For OSIS texts with glossary links)[13][14]
Each of these filters removes/hides the text's feature, when activated by the application.[15]

These filters are applied in the order that they are listed in the conf. Some filters are dependent on each other for certain features - e.g. crossreferences in notes require both the OSISFootnotes and the OSISScriprefs filters enabled.

Legacy modules may also have following keys:

OSISRuby[16] (For OSIS texts with glosses)[17] GBFStrongs (For GBF texts having Strong's Numbers)[8]
GBFFootnotes (For GBF texts having footnotes)
GBFMorph (For GBF texts having morphology information)
GBFHeadings (For GBF texts having headings)
GBFRedLetterWords (For GBF texts marking the Words of Christ)[9]
ThMLStrongs (For THML texts having Strong's Numbers)[8]
ThMLFootnotes (For THML texts having footnotes)
ThMLScripref (For THML texts having cross references)
ThMLMorph (For THML texts having morphology information)
ThMLHeadings (For THML texts having headings)
ThMLVariants (For THML texts having variant readings)
ThMLLemma (For THML texts having lemmas)


LtoR (Left to Right)
RtoL (Right to Left)
BiDi (Bidirectional)
Indicate whether the language's script is a left to right script or a right to left script.[18] Languages such as Hebrew, Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi have a right to left script. If the RtoL script is transliterated into a LtoR script, set the value to LtoR. If a module has both RtoL and LtoR text, then it is BiDi.

DisplayLevel <integer>

Used for General Book module types (these are keyed with a TreeKey table of contents). Indicates the preferred level from a leaf in the tree to display for context. e.g., 1 will only show the requested entry; 2 will show the entry, surrounded by all siblings, etc.

Font <string>

Specify the font to be used for display of the module if it is available.[19] Omit this line to use the default font. Do not make use of font-specific encodings in your documents, but use Unicode instead and the Private Use Area if necessary for codepoints that are not handled by Unicode.

OSISqToTick (deprecated)[20] This attribute is deprecated in favor of the marker attribute on the q element. E.g.:
<q who="Jesus" marker="">....</q>

When set to false indicates that OSIS quote elements without a marker attribute are not to produce a quotation mark. This is useful for languages (e.g. Thai) and texts (e.g. KJV) that do not have quotation marks. It is also useful for modules that mark the "Words of Christ" on a verse by verse basis, when the quote spans more than one verse.


StrongsNumbers (for modules that include Strong's numbers)
GreekDef (for dictionary modules with Strong's number encoded Greek definitions)
HebrewDef (for dictionary modules with Strong's number encoded Hebrew definitions)
GreekParse (for modules with Greek morphology expansions)
HebrewParse (for modules with Hebrew morphology expansions)
DailyDevotion (for daily devotionals using one of the LD drivers and keyed with MM.DD)
Glossary (for collections of glosses using one of the LD drivers)
Images (for modules that contain images of any type)
NoParagraphs (for modules without any paragraphing information, which are typically typeset with a verse per line[21])

GlossaryFrom <lang identifier>

Glossaries map one language to another. This value indicates the language being translated from. See Lang below for a discussion of valid values.

GlossaryTo <lang identifier>

Glossaries map one language to another. This value indicates the language being translated to. See Lang below for a discussion of valid values.

PreferredCSSXHTML <filename>

Names a file in the module's DataPath that should be referenced for the renderer as CSS display controls. Generality is advised: Use controls that are not specific to any particular rendering engine, e.g. WebKit.

  1. See
  2. For detailed background, see
  3. This filter can have undesirable side-effects when applied to non-Greek text!
  4. See
  5. See
  6. Must precede OSISStrongs.
  7. Currently, only some JSword based front-ends seem to support this feature. The SWORD engine has the switch available, but no change in output is effected.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 See
  9. 9.0 9.1 See
  10. Minimum SWORD version of 1.7.0 in the module .conf is required for OSISGlosses.
  11. The Samaritan Pentateuch module SP is an example of using xlit.
  12. The Samaritan Pentateuch module SP is an example of using enum.
  13. New in SWORD 1.7.0 - This filter requires six vertical bar-delimited fields, of which the following is an example.
    GlobalOptionFilter=OSISReferenceLinks|Reference Material Links|Hide or show links to study helps in the Biblical text.|x-glossary||On

    Here are the different field meanings:

    1. "OSISReferenceLinks" = option filter class name (option class name internal to the engine). Always the same for this kind of filter.
    2. "Reference Material Links" = Visible name of this OSISReferenceLinks filter. This is what the user will see in the Global Options toggle lists.
    3. "Hide or show..." = A readable user tip explaining what the filter does.
    4. "x-glossary" = Tells this OSISReferenceLinks filter to filter all references with type="x-glossary".
    5. (empty) = Tells this OSISReferenceLinks filter to also require that subType="something" in order to filter. Empty means ALL type="x-glossary" references will be filtered regardless of subType.
    6. "On" = Default filter toggle value ("On" or "Off")
  14. It is allowed to have multiple OSISReferenceLinks entries in a single conf file.
  15. It's not implied that every front-end supports all of the listed option filters.
  16. See Ruby character and Furigana
  17. Deprecated in 1.7.0. Use OSISGlosses instead.
  18. JSword validates the direction property against the Lang of the module.
  19. Specifying a font may not be sufficient for some modules. The required font features may depend on a particular smart font engine, which may not be compiled into the front-end application.
  20. For further details, refer to MOD-188 in CrossWire bugs.
  21. This feature is intended to be informational to front-end developers. Ideally, front-ends will render these modules with a verse per line rather than as a single big chapter-length paragraph block.

Optional elements to support particular features


Intended for use with Lexicon/Dictionary & Glossary modules. This field will make the order of the keys based upon the mixed case keys, but the index is still sorted by byte order of those keys. There are some scripts that don’t have upper/lower case (e.g. Arabic) and some languages where a naïve toUpper() will result in the wrong character (e.g. Turkish/Azeri lowercase dotted i and capital dotted İ).


It is fine to use toUpper() for internal normalization, but having keys in all caps when showing to a user is annoying. The problem is that the display order needs to follow something that makes sense to a user when the dictionary is presented as a list.

xulsword has a different solution involving a configuration item not yet used by SWORD master.


This is used by xulsword to sort the keys of a dictionary/glossary in original alphabetical order. Here's an actual example for module TKLDICT which has Lang=tk-Latn (i.e. Türkmençe):


This method would need to be modified in order to support alphabets (such as Welsh) that include any digraphs.


At the heart of our lexicon/dictionary drivers, we have some old logic which tries to detect if a key value is a Strong's number, and if so, then pad it with leading zeros accordingly. To support this logic, the recognition has recently been added for an optional new .conf entry for lexicon/dictionary modules:



  1. So as not to break everything, this currently defaults to true if it is not present in the lexdict module's .conf file
  2. It can be set to false if you are building a lexdict module which has entries which may be misconstrued as Strong's numbers.
  3. In a couple years, we'll probably switch the default to false, so it would be nice to add this line and set the value to true on modules which really do require the logic.
  4. This is only available in SWORD version 1.7 or later. JSword never had this problem.

Strip Filters

SWORD has the concept of "filtering" a module's text at different processing points for purposes other than rendering.
One of these filter-points is for searching and we call these filters Strip Filters.

Strip Filters are typically named something like OSISPlain or GBFPlain, etc. These typically take all the markup out of an entry and prepare the text to be searched, but anything can be done to the text to prepare it further for searching. We typically remove accents and vowel points from Greek and Hebrew respectively.

Any Strip Filter can be added to a module by the module author with a line in the .conf file, such as:


If diacritics need to be removed from Arabic, then we can certainly add a filter for this as well. The conf line would be:


Our current list of filters can be found by browsing the source folder here:

They're pretty concise and don't involve much knowledge from the rest of the engine, making them easy to write if we need a new one.

This processing can replace or be complimentary to any processing done by clucene. Here's an example of what's used with the Duke Databank of Papyri with specialist software that's based on SWORD.


Since we need to strip markup, and other things clucene will likely never support (see PapyriPlain – annotations like [,],?{,}, underdot) we need this preprocessing mechanism to prepare the text before searching. We also maintain searching functionality apart from "fast indexed searching".[1]


  1. Currently supplied by clucene, but could be implemented by any other fast search framework that we might want to integrate in future.

General informatic and installer elements

Element Values (type or enumerated) Default Value Allows

A lengthier description and may include copyright, source, etc. information, possibly duplicating information in other elements.


<yyyy-mm-dd> (ISO 8601 Date)
Indicates the date that the module was changed.


<version string>
Gives the module's revision number. Incrementing it when changes are made alerts users of the SWORD Installers to the presence of updated modules. Please start with version 1.0 and increment by 0.1 for minor updates and by larger values for more major updates such as a new text source. Changes to this conf file should also increment the version number. Do not use non-numbers, such as 1.4a.

CrossWire's standard practice is to indicate updates that only require a .conf-file update/download by incrementing the third most significant number (the revision number). For example, if module version 1.2 requires a .conf-file update. A new .conf file with version number 1.2.1 could be released.

History_x.x <string>

x.x is taken from the Version value.

Indicates what has changed between different versions. Each time a version is incremented a history line with that version number should explain the change.

It is recommended that each explanation be suffixed by the corresponding SwordVersionDate value.


<version string>
Identifies the minimum version of the SWORD library required for this module.[2]


This is used by installers to further categorize the modules beyond what can be figured out by the ModDrv and Feature.
Biblical Texts (for Bibles)
Lexicons / Dictionaries
Glossaries (for modules with Feature=Glossary)
Daily Devotional (for modules with Feature=DailyDevotion)
Generic Books (for anything else....)
Maps (for modules that primarily consist of maps)
Images (for modules that primarily consist of images)
Cults / Unorthodox / Questionable Material
Essays (for essays)[3]

Biblical Texts
  ModDrv=RawText or
  ModDrv=RawText4 or
  ModDrv=zText or
  ModDrv=HRefCom or
  ModDrv=RawCom or
  ModDrv=RawCom4 or
  ModDrv=RawFiles or
  ModDrv=zCom or
Lexicons / Dictionaries
  ModDrv=RawLD or
  ModDrv=RawLD4 or
  Feature=Glossary and
  ModDrv=RawLD or
  ModDrv=RawLD4 or
Daily Devotional
  Feature=DailyDevotion and
  ModDrv=RawLD or
  ModDrv=RawLD4 or
Generic Books

LCSH <tree/string>

Library of Congress Subject Heading. You may search the Library of Congress catalog or use it as a guide for determining an appropriate LCSH for books that are not in the Library of Congress.


The language identifier is a combination of sub-tags for Language and optionally Script, and/or Region, according to BCP 47 and RFC 4647. Private use extensions defined by BCP 47 (e.g. x-, qaa, and Qaaa) should be avoided wherever possible.

Language sub-tag (Regex: /[a-z]{2,3}/):
This is the primary language code of the module according to ISO 639 parts 1, 2, 3 and 5. Some languages have several codes. Use the following to determine the best choice:

When available use a 2-letter ISO 639-1 code (registrar), (e.g. en for English).
If there is none for the given language, use an ISO 639-2/T code (registrar) (e.g. ceb for Cebuano).
Failing that, use a ISO 639-3 code (registrar), which covers over 7000 languages.
Finally, use a ISO 639-5 code (registrar) for macro languages.

The ISO639-3 registrar page gives up-to-date table on all of the above.

Script sub-tag (Regex: /[A-Z][a-z]{3}/):
If a text is script-specific, such as a Latin vs. Cyrillic Serbian Bible or a Bible transliterated into other than its native script, include the ISO 15924 script code (registrar) after the language code (e.g. sr-Latn for Latin script Serbian, sr-Cyrl for Cyrillic script Serbian).

Region sub-tag: (Regex: /[A-Z]{2}/)
If a text is region (country)-specific, such as the Anglicized NIV, include the ISO 3166-1 region code (registrar) after the script code (or language code if no country code is present) (e.g. en-GB for UK English).

Combinations(Regex: /[a-z]{2,3}(-[A-Z][a-z]{3})?(-[A-Z]{2})?/):
Individual sub-tags (language, script, and region) are always separated by a hyphen. Identifiers should be as basic and succinct as possible. A script should not be specified for a language written in its expected script, unless the language has multiple common scripts (as in the case of Serbian above). A region should not be specified unless a text should be categorized separately from others texts in that language that do not specify a region.


Indicates the total byte size of the module on disk, excluding the the size of any Lucene index files.

For modules in the CrossWire repositories, this is automatically generated and overwritten if needed.


Each instance of this element gives a former ModName that is made obsolete by this module.


<version string>
Identifies the OSIS schema version employed in the OSIS source document. The current version is 2.1.1

It is recommended that this be present for every OSIS module.


<ModName[, ModName]*>
Specifies companion module(s) that should be opened together
e.g. When Bible and Commentary and/or Glossary modules are distributed together.



  1. See
  2. Required to support a Bible/Commentary module that has an Alternate Versification.
  3. Essays is handled as a subset of Generic Books.
  4. Many (xulsword compatible) modules in the IBT Repository make use of this field. See also

Copyright & Licensing related elements

Element Values (type or enumerated) Default Value Allows

Contains the copyright notice for the work, including the year of copyright and the owner of the copyright.


Contains the name of the copyright holder.


<yyyy> (ISO 8601 Year)




Contains the name of the copyright holder.




Contains the mailing address of the copyright holder.


Contains the email address of the copyright holder, preferably in the form:
name at xyz dot com


A link to the home page for the module, perhaps with an encouragement to visit the site.

  HTML Link



Public Domain
Copyrighted; Permission to distribute granted to CrossWire[1]
Copyrighted; Free non-commercial distribution
Copyrighted; Freely distributable
Copyrighted; Permission granted to distribute non-commercially in SWORD format
Creative Commons: by-nc-nd
Creative Commons: by-nc-sa
Creative Commons: by-nc
Creative Commons: by-nd
Creative Commons: by-sa
Creative Commons: by
Creative Commons: CC0

Use one of these strings verbatim. The actual copyright and/or license information is held in other elements. The last seven[2] licenses are Creative Commons licenses.


Indicates any additional notes about distribution of the module.


Indicates, either in prose (such as "CCEL") or as a URL of the source of the text


Contains the URL (a bare URL, not a HTML <a> link) of a web page for unlocking instructions/payment



  1. Modules in other repositories may have a different organization name instead of CrossWire.
  2. Each link goes to a page that no longer exists!


For comparing two versions of a module during module development, the module names and locations must be unique. For JSword based front-ends such as Bible Desktop, there is a further requirement, the Description items must be different.

Analysis Tools

  • DMSmith has created a script to analyse conf files and report anomalies.
  • David Haslam has created a User Defined Language called CONF as a Syntax Highlighter for Notepad++ (Windows). Download from [1].

Automated generation

  • For new module submissions to CrossWire, Refdoc now maintains a script called confmaker that includes the automated generation of module conf files, given the minimum non-automatable requirements by the module submitter.

See also