This chapter describes the configuration of a processing system and how all the pieces gear into each other. It will cover application specific configuration, inventory (station metadata) and application station bindings.


The SeisComP framework defines a common schema to read configuration parameters. This schema is used by all SeisComP modules with names starting with sc, e.g. scautopick. Other applications might be available as well such as third party applications which use other naming conventions.

A way to discover an application that uses the SeisComP configuration schema is to call it with --help. The first lines of a typical output look like this:

  -h [ --help ]                         produce help message
  -V [ --version ]                      show version information
  --config-file arg                     Use alternative configuration file

The reason for that is that there are also other applications which do not use the SeisComP core and client libraries such Seedlink plugins, Seedlink itself and some others which are not part of the trunk source package. Those applications need translators to generate their native configuration when the configuration is updated (seiscomp update-config).

Again, the two indicators that an application uses the following configuration schema are:

  • The application name is prefixed with sc, e.g. scautopick

  • The output of --help looks like the text fragment above

A typical configuration requires the following steps:

  1. Generation and import of the inventory (station meta data)

  2. Configuration of modules

  3. Configuration of bindings.


Standalone modules can also run without inventory.


A correct inventory is fundamental to SeisComP. Read the inventory section in concepts for a description. SMP 1 can be used to generate the required files in SCML format.

Module and bindings configuration

Modules provide 2 types of configurations:

  • Module configurations define module control parameters which are equally applied to all operations on waveforms, event parameters, etc.

    All daemon modules and some command-line tools provide module configurations.

  • Bindings configurations define control parameters per station and even stream. They are used for station- and even stream-specific definitions, e.g. the data acquisition from a particular station or server using seedlink or the phase detection by scautopick.

    Only some daemon modules provide bindings. Bindings configuratios override module configurations.

Whether or not a module considers bindings configurations can be read in the module configuration panel of scconfig. Bindings are configured e.g. in the Bindings panel of scconfig.

scconfig: no bindings configurations

scconfig modules panel indicating that no bindings can be configured.

scconfig: no bindings configurations

scconfig modules panel indicating that bindings can be configured.

Module configuration

Module configuration files are saved as .cfg files and an application will look into 6 locations to read all of its configuration parameters:

  1. $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/defaults/global.cfg

  2. $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/defaults/[application].cfg

  3. $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/global.cfg

  4. $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/[application].cfg

  5. $HOME/.seiscomp/global.cfg

  6. $HOME/.seiscomp/[application].cfg

The order of files also represents the order of loading. There are three directories involved:

  1. $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/defaults/: This directory ships with the distribution of SeisComP and should never be touched. All contained files might be overwritten with the next software update.

  2. $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/: This directory will never be populated by a software update and it is save to store global application configuration files there. Depending on the system setup this directory might be read-only to users. It is called the system configuration directory.

  3. $HOME/.seiscomp/: This directory is in the user’s home directory and it is meant to provide configurations which override default and system configurations. It is called the user configuration directory.

Furthermore there are two filenames involved: global.cfg and [application].cfg. The file global.cfg will be loaded by all applications and it is a good place to store common parameters such as messaging connections or logging configurations.

scconfig provides a graphical interface to adjust the global and the module configuration parameters.

scconfig: module configuration

scconfig modules module configuration panel.

Bindings configuration

Bindings configure parameters specific to stations and for a certain module or application. A station might require a custom set of parameters for e.g. data acquisition from a remote data logger or server, for processing or displaying. The SeisComP design is that bindings will be stored in the database. All applications requiring this information read the them from the database. In this way consistent inventory and its bindings will be distributed.



A binding holds the configuration how a station is used in a module.

Parameters defined in bindings override parameters in module configurations. Bindings configurations are saved as stations bindings or as bindings profiles with given names:

  1. Station binding parameters: $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/key/[application]/station_NET_STA is used only be one station NET.STA.

  2. Binding profile parameters: $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/key/[application]/profile_[name] can be used by many stations. Then any update of this file applies to all stations bound to this profile.

Like in this list, the actual binding parameters for each module are expected in either etc/key/$MODULE/station_$NET_$STA or etc/key/$MODULE/profile_$PROFILE. That depends if a profile should be used or not. If the station key file registers a module with a colon following a name then this name is the profile name. If just a module is given then the station binding file will be read.

The bindings themselves are links from the module to the station. They are written into key files, e.g.

  • $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/key/station_NET_STA

Example of bindings profiles:

# Binding references

Example of bindings profiles and a station binding for slarchive:

# Binding references

The key files are named like station_$NET_$STA, e.g. station_GE_MORC. The names within the key files define for which modules the station registers. In the above example it is the global, scautopick, seedlink and slarchive.

To list all modules a particular station is configured for is very simple by printing the content of the station key file:

$ cat etc/key/station_GE_MORC

Another way is a bit more complicated but at least all information is there. To show all stations configured for SeedLink could be done this way:

$ for i in `find etc/key -type f -maxdepth 1 -name "station_*_*"`; do
> egrep -q '^seedlink(:.*){0,1}$' $i && echo $i;
> done

Modules usually read the bindings configuration from the database but not from files. Therefore, the bindings are stored in the database when executing

seiscomp update-config

The database tables involved are ConfigModule, ConfigStation, Setup, ParameterSet and Parameter.


Configuration database schema

To illustrate the contents of the objects, the XML representation is used below.

  <module publicID="Config/trunk" name="trunk" enabled="true">

A ConfigModule with publicID Config/trunk is created with name trunk. This ConfigModule is managed by the global initialization script (etc/init/ and will be synchronized with configured bindings of all trunk modules. The ConfigModule trunk is the one that is actually used by all configurations unless configured otherwise with:

scapp --config-module test

Here scapp would read ConfigModule test. Because a ConfigModule test is not managed by seiscomp update-config it is up to the user to create it.

For each station that has at least one binding, a ConfigStation object is attached to the ConfigModule:

  <module publicID="Config/trunk" name="trunk" enabled="true">
    <station publicID="Config/trunk/GE/UGM"
             networkCode="GE" stationCode="UGM" enabled="true">

and finally one Setup per module:

  <module publicID="Config/trunk" name="trunk" enabled="true">
    <station publicID="Config/trunk/GE/UGM"
             networkCode="GE" stationCode="UGM" enabled="true">
      <setup name="default" enabled="true">
      <setup name="scautopick" enabled="true">

Here two setups have been created: default (which is a special case for module global to be backwards compatible) and scautopick where each refers to a ParameterSet by its publicID. The next XML fragment shows the ParameterSet referred by the scautopick setup of station GE.UGM:

  <parameterSet publicID="ParameterSet/trunk/Station/GE/UGM/scautopick"
    <parameter publicID="...">
    <parameter publicID="...">
    <parameter publicID="...">
    <parameter publicID="...">

The mapping to the binding configuration files is 1:1. Each parameter in the configuration file is exactly one parameter in the database and their names are matching exactly.

The concept of global bindings which are specialized for each application is reflected by the baseID of the ParameterSet which points to setup default of station GE.UGM:

  <parameterSet publicID="ParameterSet/trunk/Station/GE/UGM/default"
    <parameter publicID="...">

This ends up with a final configuration for scautopick and station GE.UGM:













which is the concatenation of the two files etc/key/global/station_GE_UGM and etc/key/scautopick/station_GE_UGM. The filter grammar is explained in filter grammar section.

The etc/key directory is only used to ease the configuration of bindings. They are finally transferred to the database or converted to other representations a module might require to access them. The directory etc/key is meant for backup and used for copying bindings from one computer to another.

scconfig provides a graphical interface to adjust the global and the module bindings parameters and to create the bindings. It populates the etc/key directory and it takes care that they synchronize with the database when processing Update configuration in the System panel.

scconfig: bindings configuration

scconfig modules bindings configuration panel.

Example: global bindings

A binding is a set of name value pairs just like a configuration file but for a station. In the file system a binding looks like this:

detecLocid = ""
detecStream = HH

Simple. These are actually two parameters from the global binding and it solves a common issue elegantly: a station might provide a couple of channels, often data in various sampling rates, e.g. LH, BH, SH and HH. Co-located stations with velocity and acceleration sensors also provide at least two channel groups, e.g. HL and HH. Those groups are also provided with different location code, e.g. 00 and 10. To process a station an application needs to know which channel it should process. To display a representative data channel a viewer needs to know which channel to show. Global bindings solve that issue by defining the “preferred” location code and channel code with the two parameters detecLocid and detecStream. The TraceViewe, scrttv can read all available station bindings, compose a fully qualified channel name from network code (part of the binding), station code, detecLocid and detecStream. It will then lookup the inventory information for that channel and display it.

The meta data of a binding are:

  • network code

  • station code

  • module name

The actual binding data are the key value pairs.

Reading bindings

Binding configuration parameters are read during a module start after the module configuration parameters. They override the module configuration. Like module configurations, parameters defined in the global bindings can be overridden in module bindings. The order of loading is:

  1. $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/key/global/: Global bindings configurations

  2. $SEISCOMP_ROOT/etc/key/[application]: Bindings configurations for a particular module.

If the application connects to a messaging server then it will receive the database parameters, connect to it and read the bindings. Otherwise the user has to provide the database address. An application never reads the key directory. It only gets the bindings from the configuration tables.

As with inventory information there might are cases when an application should not connect to a database and work offline, in particular when --ep is being used.

In order to read the bindings configuration from XML files (again in SCML format), use scxmldump to dump the configuration XML file and let the application use this XML file, --config-db must be used:

$ myapp --config-db config.xml

That will completely bypass the database (even if used for event information or inventory) for reading station bindings.

To extract a configuration XML file from the database, scxmldump can be used:

$ scxmldump -fC -d localhost -o config.xml

One can also create a config XML file straight from the etc/key directory with bindings2cfg:

$ bindings2cfg -o config.xml

To create an XML file from a temporary key directory, an alternative directory can be specified with --key-dir:

$ bindings2cfg --key-dir /tmp/key -o config.xml


  • Bindings are maintained as key files in etc/key

  • Key files are another human readable representation of bindings

  • seiscomp update-config or seiscomp update-config trunk writes the information from etc/key to the database

  • An application never reads etc/key

  • Bindings are being read from the database or an XML file


The trunk configuration files are simple text files where each line is a name-value pair.


In contrast to previous versions of SeisComP the parameter names are now case-sensitive. To check configurations from previous versions regarding case-sensitivity, scchkcfg can be used.


Configuration files are simple text file where each line is a name-value pair for one parameter. The parameter names are case-sensitive. The format is a simple as:

agencyID = gempa
recordstream.service = slink
recordstream.source = localhost:18000

In parameter groups indicated by a separating dot (“.”) the dot separates the group from the parameter name.

Later assignments of parameters override previous ones so the order of lines in the configuration file is important. The file is parsed top-down.


Values are not type-checked. Type checking is part of the application logic and will be handled there. The configuration file parser will not raise an error if a string is assigned to a parameter that is expected to be an integer.


Everything following an unescaped # (hash) is a comment and is going to be ignored. Blank lines and white spaces are ignored by the parser as well unless quoted or escaped. Escaping is done by prepending a backslash (\\) to the character that needs escaping. It backslash should be part of the string, two backslashes should be used (\\\\).

agencyID = gempa  # This is a comment

# The preceding empty line is ignored. Now the value of skyColor is replaced
# with 'blue'.
# The final value of a parameter is the result of the last assignment parsed
# from top to bottom.
agencyID = gempa


Values can be either scalar values or lists. List items are separated by commas.

# This is a list definition
rainbowColors = red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet

If a value needs to include a comma, white space or any other special character it can either be escaped with backslash (‘\’) or quoted with double quotes (“). Whitespaces are removed in unquoted and unescaped values.

# This is a comment

# The following list definitions have 2 items: 1,2 and 3,4
# quoted values
tuples = "1,2", "3,4"
# escaped values
tuples = 1\,2, 3\,4

The value of the parameter tuples is now [“1,2”, “3,4”].


Values can extend over multiple lines if a backslash is appended to each line

# Multi-line string
text = "Hello world. "\
       "This text spawns 3 lines in the configuration file "\
       "but only one line in the final value."

# Multiline list definition
rainbowColors = red,\
                green, blue,\
                indigo, violet


A basic usage of variable names is to organize them in namespaces. A common habit is to separate namespaces and variable names with a period character: = blue
colors.grass = green

Here a namespace called colors is used. The configuration file parser does not care about namespaces at all. The final name (including the periods) is what counts. But to avoid repeating namespaces again and again, declarations can be wrapped in a namespace block. See the following example:

 colors {
    sky = blue
    grass = green

Application code will still access and colors.grass. Namespaces can be arbitrarily nested and even survive includes.

 A {
    B1 {
       var1 = 123

    B2 {
       var1 = 456

The final list of parameter names is:

  • A.B1.var1

  • A.B2.var1


Environment or preceding configuration variables can be used in the configuration of SeisComP modules with ${var}, e.g.

homeDir = ${HOME}
myPath = ${homeDir}/test
myseiscomp = ${SEISCOMP_ROOT}

Internal SeisComP variables can be used with @var@, e.g.

autoloc.stationConfig = @DATAGDIR@/autoloc/station.conf

Available internal SeisComP variables are:















The list of internal SeisComP variables can also be read in the information panel of scconfig.

scconfig: information panel

scconfig information panel indicating the internal SeisComP variables.