A rust library for encoding and decoding bencode with enforced cannonicalization rules.
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Build Status Current Version License: MIT/Apache-2.0

A Rust library for encoding and decoding bencode with enforced canonicalization rules. Bencode is a simple but very effective encoding scheme, originating with the BitTorrent peer-to-peer system.

Known alternatives:

This is not the first library to implement Bencode. In fact there's several implementations already:

Why should I use it?

So why the extra work adding yet-another-version of a thing that already exists, you might ask?

Enforced correctness

Implementing a canonical encoding form is straight forward. It comes down to defining a proper way of handling unordered data. The next step is that bendy's sorting data before encoding it using the regular Bencode rules. If your data is already sorted bendy will of course skip the extra sorting step to gain efficiency. But bendy goes a step further to ensure correctness: If you hand the library data that you say is already sorted, bendy still does an in-place verification to ensure that your data actually is sorted and complains if it isn't. In the end, once bendy serialized your data, it's Bencode through and through. So it's perfectly compatible with every other Bencode library.

Just remember: At this point only bendy enforces the correctness of the canonical format if you read it back in.

Canonical representation

Bendy ensures that any de-serialize / serialize roundtrip produces the exact same and correct binary representation. This is relevant if you're dealing with unordered sets or map-structured data where theoretically the order is not relevant, but in practice it is. Especially if you want to ensure that cryptographic signatures related to the data structure do not get invalidated accidentially.

Datastructure Default Impl Comment
Vec Defines own ordering
VecDeque Defines own ordering
LinkedList Defines own ordering
HashMap Ordering missing but content is ordered by key byte representation.
BTreeMap Defines own ordering
HashSet (Unordered) Set handling not yet defined
BTreeSet (Unordered) Set handling not yet defined
BinaryHeap Ordering missing
Iterator ~ emit_unchecked_list() allows to emit any iterable but user needs to ensure the ordering.


  • Since most list types already define their inner ordering, datastructures like Vec, VecDeque, and LinkedList will not get sorted during encoding!

  • There is no default implementation for handling generic iterators. This is by design. Bendy cannot tell from an iterator whether the underlying structure requires sorting or not and would have to take data as-is.


Optional: Limitiation of recursive parsing


The library allows to set an expected recursion depth limit for de- and encoding. If set, the parser will use this value as an upper limit for the validation of any nested data structure and abort with an error if an additional level of nesting is detected.

While the encoding limit itself is primarily there to increase the confidence of bendy users in their own validation code, the decoding limit should be used to avoid parsing of malformed or malicious external data.

  • The encoding limit can be set through the MAX_DEPTH field inside any implementation of the Encodable trait.
  • The decoding limit can be set through a call of with_max_depth on the Decoder object.


The nesting level calculation always starts on level zero, is incremented by one when the parser enters a nested bencode element (i.e. list, dictionary) and decrement as soon as the related element ends. Therefore any values decoded as bencode strings or integers do not affect the nesting limit.

Encoding Bencode

In most cases it should be enough to pass the object to encode into the emit function of the encoder as this will serialize any type implementing the Encodable trait.

Next to emit the encoder also provides a list of functions to encode specific bencode primitives (i.e. emit_int and emit_str) and nested bencode elements (i.e. emit_dict and emit_list). These methods should be used during the implementation of the Encodable trait or if its necessary to output a specific non default data type.

Hint: As its a very common pattern to serialize a Vec<u8> as a byte string Bendy exposes the AsString wrapper. This can be used to encapsulate any element implementing AsRef<[u8]> to output itself as a bencode string instead of a list. For a usage example see the categorie Encode a byte string.

Encoding an integer

use bendy::encoder::Encoder;

let mut encoder = Encoder::new();

let output = encoder.get_output().unwrap();
assert_eq!("i1010011010e", std::str::from_utf8(&output).unwrap());

Encode a byte string

use bendy::encoder::Encoder;

let mut encoder = Encoder::new();

let output = encoder.get_output().unwrap();
assert_eq!("3:foo", std::str::from_utf8(&output).unwrap());
use bendy::encoder::{Encoder, AsString};

let byte_vector = vec![0u8, 1, 2];

let mut encoder = Encoder::new();

let output = encoder.get_output().unwrap();
assert_eq!("3:\x00\x01\x02", std::str::from_utf8(&output).unwrap());

Encode a dictionary

use bendy::{
    encoder::{Encodable, SingleItemEncoder, Encoder},
    Error as BencodeError,

struct Dict{
    bar: String,

impl Encodable for Dict{
    const MAX_DEPTH: usize = 1;

    fn encode(&self, encoder: SingleItemEncoder) -> Result<(), BencodeError> {
        encoder.emit_dict(|mut e| {
            e.emit_pair(b"bar", &self.bar)?;

fn main() {
    let dict = Dict { bar: "baz".to_owned() };
    let mut encoder = Encoder::new();
    let output = encoder.get_output().unwrap();

Encode a list

use bendy::encoder::{Encoder, List};

let list = vec!["foo", "bar", "baz"];

let mut encoder = Encoder::new();

let output = encoder.get_output().unwrap();

Decoding Bencode

Decode an integer

use bendy::decoder::Decoder;

let mut decoder = Decoder::new(b"i1010011010e");
let object = decoder.next_object().unwrap().unwrap();

let number = object.integer_str_or_err(-1).unwrap();
assert_eq!("1010011010", number);

Decode a byte string

use bendy::decoder::Decoder;

let mut decoder = Decoder::new(b"11:foo bar baz");
let object = decoder.next_object().unwrap().unwrap();

let bytes =  object.bytes_or_err(-1).unwrap();
assert_eq!("foo bar baz", std::str::from_utf8(&bytes).unwrap());

Decode a dictionary

use bendy::decoder::{Decoder, Object};

let mut decoder = Decoder::new(b"d3:foo3:bare");
let object = decoder.next_object().unwrap();

if let Some(Object::Dict(mut dict_decoder)) = object {
    if let (b"foo",value) = dict_decoder.next_pair().unwrap().unwrap() {
        let bytes = value.bytes_or_err(-1).unwrap();
        assert_eq!("bar", std::str::from_utf8(&bytes).unwrap());

Decode a list

use bendy::decoder::{Decoder, Object};

let mut decoder = Decoder::new(b"l3:foo3:bar3:baze");
let object = decoder.next_object().unwrap();
let mut result : Vec<&str> = vec![];

if let Some(Object::List(mut list_decoder)) = object {

    while let Some(list_element) = list_decoder.next_object().unwrap(){
        let bytes =  list_element.bytes_or_err(-1).unwrap();

assert_eq!(["foo", "bar", "baz"][..], result[..]);

Usage of unsafe code

The parser wouldn't require any unsafe code to work but it still contains a single unsafe call to str::from_utf8_unchecked. This call is used to avoid a duplicated UTF-8 check when the parser converts the bytes representing an incoming integer into a &str after its successful validation.

Disclaimer: Further unsafe code may be introduced through the dependency on failure and failure-derive.