Testing docs with Vale - Part 2: Configuring the Vale CLI

| 2 min read

Note: If you didn't read part one of the Vale CLI series, do that first!

Welcome to part two! In this part, you'll learn how to configure the Vale CLI for your documentation needs. Before you dive into the tutorial, you need to learn a thing or two about the file that makes linting with Vale possible: the .vale.ini file.

What is the .vale.ini file?

The .vale.ini file is a configuration file that tells Vale what files to lint, or check, what styles to conform to, and what rules to ignore. Essentially, it controls everything Vale does for you. The .ini extension means that this is an initialization file.

.vale.ini features

Here's a basic, bare-bones .vale.ini file:

StylesPath = styles

MinAlertLevel = suggestion

[*] the asterisk means "apply these styles to all files" and is required.
BasedOnStyles = Vale

It has several properties: StylesPath, MinAlertLevel, and BasedOnStyles.

StylesPath

StylesPath tells Vale where to look for third-party styles. In this example, all third-party styles are in the styles directory.

MinAlertLevel

When you run the Vale CLI, it displays the number of errors, warnings, and suggestions found in the file. Errors are highest in severity; suggestions are lowest:

2 errors, 3 warnings and 3 suggestions in 1 file.

If you want, you can configure Vale to show errors only, errors and warnings, or show errors, warnings, and suggestions. For example, if you set MinAlertLevel to error, it only shows errors found in the file:

2 errors, 0 warnings and 0 suggestions in 1 file.

If you set MinAlertLevel to warning, it only shows errors and warnings:

2 errors, 3 warnings and 0 suggestions in 1 file.

If you set MinAlertLevel to suggestions, it shows errors, warnings, and suggestions:

2 errors, 3 warnings and 3 suggestions in 1 file.

BasedOnStyles

This is the fun part.

One of the great things about Vale is that it allows you to use third-party styles with it. For example, if your company follows Microsoft's style guide, you can download a zip file containing an implementation of the Microsoft Writing Style Guide that you can use with Vale.

If you don't use a third-party style guide, you can always use the default style, which is Vale.

If you want Vale to implement more than one style, separate them with a comma, as shown below:

BasedOnStyles = Vale, Microsoft

Now, Vale uses its default style and Microsoft's style rules when linting your files.

Key takeaways

  • StylesPath tells Vale where to look for third-party styles.
  • You can configure Vale to show errors, errors and warnings, or errors, warnings, and suggestions.
  • You can use Vale's default style to lint your files, or you can use a third-party style.
  • At minimum, your .vale.ini file must include StylesPath, MinAlertLevel, and BasedOnStyles.

Conclusion

Now you know what a .vale.ini file is and its basic components. Next, you'll create a .vale.ini file and run the CLI to lint a sample Markdown file, using Vale's and Microsoft's style rules.