Binary format parsing made easier
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bread - Easier Binary Format Parsing

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Reading binary formats is a pain. bread (short for "binary read", but pronounced like the baked good) makes that simpler.


Here's an example from the documentation for Python's struct library:

record = 'raymond   \x32\x12\x08\x01\x08'
name, serialnum, school, gradelevel = unpack('<10sHHb', record)

The format specification is dense, but it's also really hard to understand. What was H again? is b signed? Am I sure I'm unpacking those fields in the right order?

Now what happens if I have arrays of complex structures? Deeply nested structures? This can get messy really fast.

Leave Everything To Me!

bread understands a simple declarative specification of a binary format.

Here's the specification for the above example:

import bread as b

record_spec = [
    {"endianness" : b.LITTLE_ENDIAN},
    ("name", b.string(10)),
    ("serialnum", b.uint16),
    ("school", b.uint16),
    ("gradelevel", b.byte)

Here's how to parse it:

parsed_record = b.parse(record, record_spec)

"raymond   "


Here's a more complicated example:

nested_array_struct = [
    {"endianness" : b.BIG_ENDIAN},
    ("first", b.uint8),
    ("matrix", b.array(3, b.array(3, b.uint8))),
    ("last", b.uint8)

data = bytearray([42, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 0xdb])
nested_parsed = b.parse(data, nested_array_struct)

>>> print nested_parsed
first: 42
matrix: [[0, 1, 2], [3, 4, 5], [6, 7, 8]]
last: 219


A recent stable version of bread can be installed by running

$ pip install bread


For the latest documentation, go to