Config.cpp/bin File Format

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Two mutually exclusive file formats exist for addons:

  • config.cpp (pre binarised, RaPifiable text) or
  • config.bin (binarised raP)

Both can co-exist in a pbo without harm. (the bin is ignored)


An 'addon' is a 'pbo'. But, a pbo is not necessarily an addon. Mission pbo's do not contain configs. Mission Addons do.

Rules of Engagement

  • By convention only
    • A 'bin' extension indicates binarised content.
    • A 'cpp' extension indicates pre-binarised text.
  • A cpp can, as equally, contain binarised content. No harm is done, and, indeed, this is familiar territory to rvmat files where there is no distinction. An rvmat (eg) contains either format.
  • Unconditionally, no matter what, irrespective of datestamps, irrespective of actual content, if both exist in the same folder of a pbo, the .bin is ignored.


  • Most pbos contain binarised configs. (config.bin). This because it saves engine load times and guarantees the config.cpp it came from was syntactically correct (no missing semicolons, duplicate or missing classes, etc). There is almost no circumstance where a config.cpp should be released in a finished product. There are exceptions from very sophisticated, veteran, addon makers. Their OFPEC tag names say it all, not their cpps.
  • Some pbos contain cpp because:
    • It is a work-in-progress.
    • they rely on #includes and/or
    • they use __EVAL/__EXEC statements, or
    • the author doesn't know how to binarise or
    • binarisation fails.

Failed binarise.exe is frustration. But, it is generally telling the truth, and it generally results in the rpt log being full of errors and warnings when the engine compiles the equivalent cpp. Some rare exceptions are in """"Use 'of' ""some strange{syntax}"""; and some #ifndef statements where binarise.exe cannot cope. 3rd party tools such as Mikero's Rapify.exe (dead link) and Kegety's Rap.exe can help.

There is no binarised equivalent for exec/eval or include.


Although unusual, EVAL and EXEC are the only method of compiling dynamic variables during run time. They are exclusively useful in description.ext and it is derivative script dialogs. Although it can be, that specific file, is never pre-binarised. It is compiled on each mission load.

Some, very few, dialog addons also use this method in their config.cpp's, BUT, in this circumstance, they offer no additional benefit to using #defines. This because an addon is loaded and compiled, once. Bis have attempted to develop dynamic addons and stopped. Should they resurrect it ....

Note that there is deeper level of sophistication here that an _EVAL used in a #include in a config.cpp, could *separately* be used in sqf/sqs script. But, there simply isn't a reason for the config.cpp to be unbinarised at this moment (see above dynamic addons).

See also: PreProcessor Commands


Includes, while unusual, are a method of pre-configuring a series of pbo's for run time. There are many themes, but the main thrust is a common, text-based pbo, containing #defines. This is accessed from a series of dependent pbo's. In this manner, you can alter and update a common pbo and all the children don't require updating. ace_x and cba are popular architects of this scheme.

For these architectures to work, they require config.cpp's since there is no equivalent in raP binary for #include or __EVAL

Many configs, same pbo

Any mission makers familiar with campaign architecture implicitly 'understand' that this is simply packaging multiple addons inside a single one.

Any folder within the pbo containing a config.cpp/bin (and cfgpatches class) is automatically an addon in it is own right.