Google protocol buffers for clojure.
Java Clojure
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Clojure-protobuf provides a clojure interface to Google's protocol buffers. Protocol buffers can be used to communicate with other languages over the network, and they are WAY faster to serialize and deserialize than standard Clojure objects.


Write a .proto file:

message Person {
  required int32  id    = 1;
  required string name  = 2;
  optional string email = 3;
  repeated string likes = 4;

If you put it in the proto directory of your project, you can compile it with cake:

cake proto example.proto

Now you can use the protocol buffer in clojure:

(use 'protobuf)
(defprotobuf Person Example$Person)

(def p (protobuf Person :id 4 :name "Bob" :email ""))
=> {:id 4, :name "Bob", :email ""}

(assoc p :name "Bill"))
=> {:id 4, :name "Bill", :email ""}

(assoc p :likes ["climbing" "running" "jumping"])
=> {:id 4, name "Bob", :email "", :likes ["climbing" "running" "jumping"]}

(def b (protobuf-dump p))
=> #<byte[] [B@7cbe41ec>

(protobuf-load Person b)
=> {:id 4, :name "Bob", :email ""}

A protocol buffer map is immutable just like other clojure objects. It is similar to a struct-map, except you cannot insert fields that aren't specified in the .proto file.


Clojure-protobuf supports extensions to protocol buffers which provide sets and maps using repeated fields. You can also provide metadata on protobuf fields using clojure syntax. To use these, you must import the extension file and include it when compiling. For example:

import "clojure/protobuf/extensions.proto";
message Photo {
  required int32  id     = 1;
  required string path   = 2;
  repeated string labels = 3 [(set)    = true];
  repeated Attr   attrs  = 4 [(map)    = true];
  repeated Tag    tags   = 5 [(map_by) = "person_id"];

  message Attr {
    required string key = 1;
    optional string val = 2;

  message Tag {
    required int32 person_id = 1;
    optional int32 x_coord   = 2 [(meta) = "{:max 100.0 :min -100.0}"];
    optional int32 y_coord   = 3;
    optional int32 width     = 4;
    optional int32 height    = 5;

Compile the file:

 cake proto example.proto

Then you can access the maps in clojure:

(use 'protobuf)
(defprotobuf Photo Example$Photo)
(defprotobuf Tag Example$Photo$Tag)

(def p (protobuf Photo :id 7 :path "/photos/h2k3j4h9h23" :labels #{"hawaii" "family" "surfing"}
                       :attrs {"dimensions" "1632x1224", "alpha" "no", "color space" "RGB"}
                       :tags  {4 {:person_id 4, :x_coord 607, :y_coord 813, :width 25, :height 27}}))
=> {:id 7 :path "/photos/h2k3j4h9h23" :labels #{"hawaii" "family" "surfing"}...}

(def b (protobuf-dump p))
=> #<byte[] [B@7cbe41ec>

(protobuf-load Photo b)
=> {:id 7 :path "/photos/h2k3j4h9h23" :labels #{"hawaii" "family" "surfing"}...}

(:x-coord (protofields Tag))
=> {:max 100.0 :min -100.0}


Add the clojure-protobuf to your Cake project.clj:

:dependencies [[clojure-protobuf "LATEST"]]
:dev-dependencies [[clojure-protobuf "LATEST"]]
:tasks [protobuf.tasks]

You should probably replace "LATEST" with whatever the latest version is, but I'm going to forget to update this every time I bump the version, so I'm not going to put an actual number here.