Serializing Objects

The Configurate library also provides the means to tweak automatic serialization and deserialization of objects. Per default, a set of data types can be (de)serialized: among others Strings, ints, doubles, UUIDs, Lists (of serializable values) and Maps (where both keys and values are serializable). But if you want to write your custom data structures to a config file, this will not be enough.

Imagine a data structure tracking how many diamonds a player has mined. It might look a little like this:

public class DiamondCounter {
    private UUID playerUUID;
    private int diamonds;


Also assume some methods to access those fields, a nice constructor setting both of those etc.

Creating a custom TypeSerializer

A very straightforward way of writing and loading such a data structure is providing a custom TypeSerializer. The TypeSerializer interface provides two methods, one to write the data from an object to a configuration node and one to create an object from a given configuration node.

import ninja.leaping.configurate.objectmapping.ObjectMappingException;
import ninja.leaping.configurate.objectmapping.serialize.TypeSerializer;

public class DiamondCounterSerializer implements TypeSerializer<DiamondCounter> {

    public DiamondCounter deserialize(TypeToken<?> type, ConfigurationNode value)
      throws ObjectMappingException {
        UUID player = value.getNode("player").getValue(TypeToken.of(UUID.class));
        int diamonds = value.getNode("diamonds").getInt();
        return new DiamondCounter(player, diamonds);

    public void serialize(TypeToken<?> type, DiamondCounter obj, ConfigurationNode value)
      throws ObjectMappingException {

This TypeSerializer must then be registered with Configurate. This can be done either globally, by registering to the default TypeSerializerCollection or locally, by specifying it in the ConfigurationOptions when loading your config.

Code Example: Registering a TypeSerializer globally

import ninja.leaping.configurate.objectmapping.serialize.TypeSerializers;

TypeSerializers.getDefaultSerializers().registerType(TypeToken.of(DiamondCounter.class), new DiamondCounterSerializer());

Code Example: Registering a TypeSerializer locally

import ninja.leaping.configurate.ConfigurationNode;
import ninja.leaping.configurate.ConfigurationOptions;
import ninja.leaping.configurate.objectmapping.serialize.TypeSerializerCollection;
import ninja.leaping.configurate.objectmapping.serialize.TypeSerializers;

TypeSerializerCollection serializers = TypeSerializers.getDefaultSerializers().newChild();
serializers.registerType(TypeToken.of(DiamondCounter.class), new DiamondCounterSerializer());
ConfigurationOptions options = ConfigurationOptions.defaults().setSerializers(serializers);
ConfigurationNode rootNode = someConfigurationLoader.load(options);


If you provide a custom TypeSerializer for types that are not introduced by your own plugin, you should only ever register them locally in order to avoid conflicts with other plugins or Sponge, caused by a TypeSerializer being overwritten.

Using ObjectMappers

Since in many cases the (de)serialization boils down to mapping fields to configuration nodes, writing such a TypeSerializer is a rather dull affair and something we’d like Configurate to do on its own. So let’s annotate our class with the ConfigSerializable and Setting annotations.

import ninja.leaping.configurate.objectmapping.Setting;
import ninja.leaping.configurate.objectmapping.serialize.ConfigSerializable;

public class DiamondCounter {

    @Setting(value="player", comment="Player UUID")
    private UUID playerUUID;
    @Setting(comment="Number of diamonds mined")
    private int diamonds;


The above example can now be serialized and deserialized from config nodes without further registration. The @Setting annotations map a configuration node to the field that was annotated. It accepts two optional parameters, value and comment. If the value parameter exists, it defines the name of the node the field will be saved in. If it is not present, the name of the field will be used instead. So in our above example, the annotation ensures that the contents of the field playerUUID are saved to the node 「player」, commented with 「Player UUID」. The diamonds field however will be saved under that exact name since its annotation only specifies a comment. That comment will be written to the config if the implementation supports commented configuration nodes, otherwise it will be discarded.


You may also use the shorthand @Setting("someNode") instead of @Setting(value="someNode")

The @ConfigSerializable annotation eliminates the need for any registration since it allows Configurate to just generate an ObjectMapper for the class. The only limitation is that Configurate needs an empty constructor to instantiate a new object before filling in the annotated fields.

Providing a custom ObjectMapperFactory

That restriction, however, can be lifted if we use a different ObjectMapperFactory, for example a GuiceObjectMapperFactory. Instead of requiring an empty constructor, it will work on any class that guice can create via dependency injection. This also allows for a mixture of @Inject and @Setting annotated fields.

Your plugin can just acquire a GuiceObjectMapperFactory simply by dependency injection (see Dependency Injection) and then pass it to the ConfigurationOptions.

import org.spongepowered.api.event.Listener;
import org.spongepowered.api.plugin.Plugin;
import ninja.leaping.configurate.commented.CommentedConfigurationNode;
import ninja.leaping.configurate.loader.ConfigurationLoader;
import ninja.leaping.configurate.objectmapping.GuiceObjectMapperFactory;

@Plugin(name="IStoleThisFromZml", id="shamelesslystolen", version="0.8.15")
public class StolenCodeExample {

    @Inject private GuiceObjectMapperFactory factory;
    @Inject private ConfigurationLoader<CommentedConfigurationNode> loader;

    public void enable(GamePreInitializationEvent event) {
        CommentedConfigurationNode node =
        DiamondCounter myDiamonds = node.getValue(TypeToken.of(DiamondCounter.class));


The above code is an example and, for brevity, lacks proper exception handling.