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NATS Server Configuration

You use a server configuration file to configure the NATS server, including:

  • Client listening port
  • HTTP monitoring port
  • Client auth
  • Cluster definitions
  • Cluster routes
  • Logging
  • Max client connections
  • Max payload

In addition, the server configuration language supports block-scoped variables for automation.

Configuration file format

The server configuration file format is a flexible format that combines the best of traditional configuration formats and newer styles such as JSON and YAML.

The config file format supports the following syntax:

  • Mixed Arrays: [...]
  • Nested Maps: {...}
  • Multiple comment types: # and //
  • Key value assigments using:
    • Equals sign (foo = 2)
    • Colon (foo: 2)
    • Whitespace (foo 2)
  • Maps can be assigned with no key separator
  • Semicolons as value terminators in key/value assignments are optional

In general the configuration parameters are the same as the command line arguments. Note, however, the following differences:

  • The listen option is host:port for connections, on the server cli its -a and -p no hostport is supported.
  • http/https is only port on the cli, on the config it is host:port (there’s no config flag for the interface for the monitoring)
  • The -cluster flag is used for defining the host:port where routes can be solicited, on the config file this is called ‘listen’ as part property of a ‘cluster’ object.

Sample server config file

The following demonstrates an example NATS server config file. See also the [NATS Server README]

port: 4242      # port to listen for client connections
net: apcera.me  # net interface to listen

http_port: 8222 # HTTP monitoring port

# Authorization for client connections
authorization {
  user:     derek
  password: T0pS3cr3t
  timeout:  1

# Cluster definition
cluster {

  host: ''  # host/net interface
  port: 4244         # port for inbound route connections

  # Authorization for route connections
  authorization {
    user: route_user
    password: T0pS3cr3tT00!
    timeout: 0.5

  # Routes are actively solicited and connected to from this server.
  # Other servers can connect to us if they supply the correct credentials
  # in their routes definitions from above.
  routes = [

# logging options
debug:   false
trace:   true
logtime: false
log_file: "/tmp/gnatsd.log"

# pid file
pid_file: "/tmp/gnatsd.pid"

# Some system overides

# max_connections
max_connections: 100

# maximum protocol control line
max_control_line: 512

# maximum payload
max_payload: 65536


The NATS server configuration file format supports the use of block-scoped variables which can be used for templating in the configuration file, and specifically to ease setting of group values for permission fields.

Variables can be referenced by the prefix $, e.g. $PASSWORD. Variables can be defined in the configuration file itself or reference environment variables.

For example:

authorization {
  PASS: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789
  users = [
    {user: alice, password: foo}
    {user: bob,   password: bar}
    {user: joe,   password: $PASS}