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protobuf adapters
Java R Shell


What it is

This is a collection of load/store adapter functions for Hive and Pig enabling data (de)serialization in/out protobuf-packed messages for use in those tools. What it can do:

  • read/write HBase tables and hadoop sequence files with encapsulated protobuf messages using pig
  • inline protobuf message parsing in Pig (obviously, very useful as lazy parsing technique when optimizing for performance)
  • read hadoop sequence files with protobuf messags using hive
  • inline reading of an hbase value as bytes or protobuf message from hbase (HBaseGet)
  • protobuf mapping to a (lazy or non-lazy) R lists. Running R closures in a MapReduce tasks (similar to R-Hadoop) but specifically adapting to sequence files with encapsulated protobuf messages. More detail on this comes with the help of "ecor" R package contained here in "ecor" maven module.
  • some rudimentary "Scheme" support for Cascading helping to read and write sequence files with a protobuf payload.
  • misc

Mainly, it enables projection of attributes, nesting of messages and mapping repeated protobuf fields into correspondent structures in Pig and Hive scripts.

The motivation is very similar to elephant-bird. The main features are:

  • ecoadapters do not use code generation. Instead, one may specify either generated message class name or an hdfs path to protobuf descriptor file generated with 'protoc --descriptor_set_out=...'. The latter is more flexible as it doesn't require a new code build but rather just a descriptor file update in a hdfs to reflect protobuffer schema changes instantaneously.

(I will abstain from any feature comparisons with elephant-bird as i am not closely following its progress.)

Current capabilities we actively use:

Hive (0.7.0):

Presenting a sequence file with protobuf messages as BytesWritable values as Hive external table using Hive's SerDe.

Serialization (i.e. storing back into a sequence file) is not supported. Usually one can reprocess this into a native hive table or run ad-hoc analytical queries.

Branch 0.5 now track CDH4 dependencies so now it is Hive 0.9 (or even 0.10) but there are no known incompatibilities with older versions.

Pig (0.10).

  • reading protobuf messages packed as values from a SequenceFile(s) with protobuf messages packed same way as above (BytesWritable values).
  • writing Pig output into Sequence files with protobuf messages packed the same way as above.
  • reading protobuf messages from HBase columns into Pig.
  • writing pig output as protobuf messages into HBase. (as of tag 'HBaseProtobufStorage-verified ').
  • dev-0.x branch is compiled with pig 0.8.0 and tested. Release 0.2 is the last one compiled with pig 0.7.0 but I used compiled 0.2 jar with pig 0.8.0 too so compiled artifact should stay compatible with pig 0.8.0 and 0.7.0 until we hit some incompabitibilty between 0.7.0 and 0.8.0 trees at which point one looking for 0.7.0 compatible artifact should probably should go back to ecoadapters-0.2. (releases are marked with tags).
  • branch 0.5.x now tracks CDH4 dependencies which contains pig 0.10. There are some internal pig changes that render previous pig releases incompatible with this branch.

example: reading protobuf messages from sequence files into pig script:

To give an idea what this stuff can do, here's an actually ran
example reading protobufs from a sequence file into pig:

 register protobuf-java-2.3.0.jar;

 A = load '/data/inadco/var/log/IMPRESSION/*'
 using com.inadco.ecoadapters.pig.SequenceFileProtobufLoader(

  -- or alternatively:

 A = load '/data/inadco/var/log/IMPRESSION/*'
 using com.inadco.ecoadapters.pig.SequenceFileProtobufLoader(

  -- and then test it

 describe A;
 A: {LandingPageTitle: chararray,LandingPageKeyword: chararray,UniqueURL: chararray,IsDelete: boolean,IsNew: boolean,IsDirty: boolean,___ERROR___: chararray}

Many functions, along as SequenceFileProtobufLoader example above, accept proto-spec parameter which can be defined as

proto-spec = hdfs-proto-spec | class-proto-spec 
hdfs-proto-spec = protodec-hdfs-url '?' 'msg' '=' fully-qualified-message-name
class-proto-spec = msg-class-name

(as subject to RFC-822).

That is, you can specify message descriptors by specifying either generate message class name (but that requires the hassle of making sure pig backend jobs see it in their class path) or you can just specify it by protobuf descriptor file found anywhere on the hdfs the job is running on (more dynamic way of integrating protobuf schema into your app).

Pig Eval funcs

I recently added pig eval functions Pig2Proto() and Proto2Pig() which do inline conversion with syntax similar to store and load funcs .

This is still under development, I'll add more status to it as it gets verified.
Proto2Pig function is expected largely to work in all cases pretty seamlessly.

The case of Pig2Proto is not coming together as nicely. The main problem is that I need to send incoming pig schema to all instances of backend invocation. While it is easy to do so for a function instance, it is not going to work as nicely in case of multiple invocation. We can use pig's define functionality to separate one invocation from antoher, but this technically relies on a convention that we don't invoke same define'd function multiple times on perhaps different input schemas. I feel that relying on user-forced conventions is a bad choice, so Pig2Proto function is now in limbo while I am considering workarounds (or perhaps until Pig starts supporting invocation instance configuration more smoothly than it does it right now).

HBaseGet Eval func

I added new function, HBaseGet. Giving RDBMS execution plan analogy, sometimes it is more practical to implement joins and merges using 'nested loops' optimization instead of 'sorted merge' execution plan. Given that analogy, HBaseProtobufLoader corresponds to plans with 'sorted merge' or 'full scan' and HBaseGet would correspond to joins that use nested loops. Obivously, nested loops may provide a big win if the amount of joined records is far less than the entire table (which is quite a case i came recently across while implementing certain incremental algorithm).

HBaseGet, same as Proto2Pig, uses define to receive table name and column specification string. Column specification string is the same format as HBaseProtobufLoader would accept (standard pig HBaseLoader uses

column-spec = 1*(family ':' qualifier) 

grammar and I just extened this by

column-spec = 1*(family ':' qualifier ':' proto-spec) 

where proto-spec grammar is given earlier).


ProtoScheme class handles Cascading scheme for writing/reading sequence files with protobuf value payload. Unfortunately, cascading doesn't support notion of bags (repeated fields) or nested message schemas so only first layer (outer message) is adapated. The mapping of the rest is per javadoc.


HBase, Hadoop, Pig

HBase, Hadoop, Hive and Pig dependencies are now set to those in Cloudera release CDH4.1.2 at the 0.5.0-SNAPSHOT.

Current HEAD is at CDH4. Migration to CDH4 releases is still in progress, please note any incompatibilities to us.

R stuff was developed and tested on R 2.13 and 2.14. in order to compile "ecor" module yourself, you'd need R 2.14 and a number of (fairly basic) packages that R package declares dependencies on.

We also verified these functions with standard apache releases, it's just what we currently use those with.

Maven Repo

Starting with release 0.3.12, i am also publishing release (and sometimes snapshot) artifacts. Here's repo url to use :


Hint: It may be also useful to explore that project if you want to download R package releases and have trouble to adjust R setup to compile them yourself.

All releases (which are believed to be more or less stable and often actually run in production environment) are tagged. The tag names correspond to release maven version. So to check what versions are available in maven, check the tags. The HEAD is almost always unstable.


Apache 2.0

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