A decoder for the Squid page format
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Squid Decoder

cairoffi doesn't seem to work with Python 3

Haxelion reversed engineered part of Squid (ex Papyrus) application page storage format which is based on Google Protocol Buffers. He rewrote part of the format .proto file and wrote a demonstration script which uses protobuf and cairo to convert Squid page file into SVG.

I have extended his work adding more features like Ellipses, Text support and notes export based on the papyrus.db file.



With Squid Decoder you can convert your papyrus.bak file into a collection of converted PDF files.
If you're geek enough (like myself), you can even set up a CI and generate the PDFs remotely:

Artifacts dir

This is how the directory will look like after you run Squid Decoder on your papyrus.bak file. Your notes will be divided into folders that have the same name of the notebook that contiains them.

Artitfacts Directory of Jenkins

Example 1

Multi-colored path, highlights, shapes, you name it! Squid Decoder has your back. We (almost) have a 1:1 conversion. WYS (in Squid app) IWYG. Generated Note 1

Example 2

Generated Note 2


During the process, you'll be able to see what notes are being converted, and where they are going to be placed.
After the process terminates, you'll be able to browse your exported/ folder and enjoy your PDF files.


You can obtain those pages by making a local or cloud backup. This creates a file called papyrus.bak which is in fact a zip file. In the zip you'll find an info.json file, a papyrus.db database file and a data directory. The pages are located in data/pages.

Page names correspond to UUIDs. The database (which is a SQLite3 database) links those UUID with notes and notebooks.

From a limited reverse engineering of the application you can discover it uses the Wire Protocol Buffer to generate java files from Google Protocol Buffers definition of the Squid Page format. I thus simply reconstructed the .proto file from those reversed java files.


Only the stroke part of the format (which is also used by the rectangle and line tools) is fully reversed because so far that's the only part I care about. The following features are not reversed engineered:

  • Paper background
  • PDF background
  • Ellipse tool
  • Text tool
  • Image tool

Feel free to open an issue if you need it and encourage me to reverse engineer it. Or send a pull request if you've implemented it.


pip install cairocffi protobuf pypdf pillow


Place your papyrus.bak in the project folder, then do:

unzip papyrus.bak
python2 papyrus.py

You can now enjoy your notes in .svg format, well organized, in the newly created exports/ folder

Jenkins Build

If you have access to a Jenkins instance, and can create your own jobs, setting up a job for the PDF generation may be very useful.
To do so, go to the Jenkins instance page and create a job, add this repo to the build, then in "Build" add "Execute Shell" with the following

source ~/.bashrc
echo "Environment variables for $USER:"

wget 'https://dropbox.com/your-file/papyrus.bak' -O papyrus.bak
unzip papyrus.bak || true

pip install cairocffi protobuf pypdf
python2 papyrus.py

If you get an ascii error, go to "Manage Jenkins", then click "Configure" and add the LC_ALL=en_US.UTF-8 environment variable (maybe you need to add LANG=en_US.UTF-8 too).

Tool Usage

The page2svg.py tool can be simply used with the following command:

python2 page2svg.py <Input Squid page file> <Output SVG>

page2svg.py is supposed to demonstrate how you can interpret the Squid Page format.


I made this work under the fair assumption it is covered by the exceptions of the section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: https://www.eff.org/fr/issues/coders/reverse-engineering-faq#faq9