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MessagePack specification

MessagePack is an object serialization specification like JSON.

MessagePack has two concepts: type system and formats.

Serialization is conversion from application objects into MessagePack formats via MessagePack type system.

Deserialization is conversion from MessagePack formats into application objects via MessagePack type system.

Serialization:
    Application objects
    -->  MessagePack type system
    -->  MessagePack formats (byte array)

Deserialization:
    MessagePack formats (byte array)
    -->  MessagePack type system
    -->  Application objects

This document describes the MessagePack type system, MessagePack formats and conversion of them.

Table of contents

Type system

  • Types
    • Integer represents an integer
    • Nil represents nil
    • Boolean represents true or false
    • Float represents a IEEE 754 double precision floating point number including NaN and Infinity
    • Raw
      • String extending Raw type represents a UTF-8 string
      • Binary extending Raw type represents a byte array
    • Array represents a sequence of objects
    • Map represents key-value pairs of objects
    • Extension represents a tuple of type information and a byte array where type information is an integer whose meaning is defined by applications

Limitation

  • a value of an Integer object is limited from -(2^63) upto (2^64)-1
  • maximum length of a Binary object is (2^32)-1
  • maximum byte size of a String object is (2^32)-1
  • String objects may contain invalid byte sequence and the behavior of a deserializer depends on the actual implementation when it received invalid byte sequence
    • Deserializers should provide functionality to get the original byte array so that applications can decide how to handle the object
  • maximum number of elements of an Array object is (2^32)-1
  • maximum number of key-value associations of a Map object is (2^32)-1

Extension type

MessagePack allows applications to define application-specific types using the Extension type. Extension type consists of an integer and a byte array where the integer represents a kind of types and the byte array represents data.

Applications can assign 0 to 127 to store application-specific type information.

MessagePack reserves -1 to -128 for future extension to add predefined types which will be described in separated documents.

[0, 127]: application-specific types
[-128, -1]: reserved for predefined types

Formats

Overview

format namefirst byte (in binary)first byte (in hex)
positive fixint0xxxxxxx0x00 - 0x7f
fixmap1000xxxx0x80 - 0x8f
fixarray1001xxxx0x90 - 0x9f
fixstr101xxxxx0xa0 - 0xbf
nil110000000xc0
(never used)110000010xc1
false110000100xc2
true110000110xc3
bin 8110001000xc4
bin 16110001010xc5
bin 32110001100xc6
ext 8110001110xc7
ext 16110010000xc8
ext 32110010010xc9
float 32110010100xca
float 64110010110xcb
uint 8110011000xcc
uint 16110011010xcd
uint 32110011100xce
uint 64110011110xcf
int 8110100000xd0
int 16110100010xd1
int 32110100100xd2
int 64110100110xd3
fixext 1110101000xd4
fixext 2110101010xd5
fixext 4110101100xd6
fixext 8110101110xd7
fixext 16110110000xd8
str 8110110010xd9
str 16110110100xda
str 32110110110xdb
array 16110111000xdc
array 32110111010xdd
map 16110111100xde
map 32110111110xdf
negative fixint111xxxxx0xe0 - 0xff

Notation in diagrams

one byte:
+--------+
|        |
+--------+

a variable number of bytes:
+========+
|        |
+========+

variable number of objects stored in MessagePack format:
+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+
|                 |
+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+

X, Y, Z and A are the symbols that will be replaced by an actual bit.

nil format

Nil format stores nil in 1 byte.

nil:
+--------+
|  0xc0  |
+--------+

bool format family

Bool format family stores false or true in 1 byte.

false:
+--------+
|  0xc2  |
+--------+

true:
+--------+
|  0xc3  |
+--------+

int format family

Int format family stores an integer in 1, 2, 3, 5, or 9 bytes.

positive fixnum stores 7-bit positive integer
+--------+
|0XXXXXXX|
+--------+

negative fixnum stores 5-bit negative integer
+--------+
|111YYYYY|
+--------+

* 0XXXXXXX is 8-bit unsigned integer
* 111YYYYY is 8-bit signed integer

uint 8 stores a 8-bit unsigned integer
+--------+--------+
|  0xcc  |ZZZZZZZZ|
+--------+--------+

uint 16 stores a 16-bit big-endian unsigned integer
+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xcd  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|
+--------+--------+--------+

uint 32 stores a 32-bit big-endian unsigned integer
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xce  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+

uint 64 stores a 64-bit big-endian unsigned integer
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xcf  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+

int 8 stores a 8-bit signed integer
+--------+--------+
|  0xd0  |ZZZZZZZZ|
+--------+--------+

int 16 stores a 16-bit big-endian signed integer
+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xd1  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|
+--------+--------+--------+

int 32 stores a 32-bit big-endian signed integer
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xd2  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+

int 64 stores a 64-bit big-endian signed integer
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xd3  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+

float format family

Float format family stores a floating point number in 5 bytes or 9 bytes.

float 32 stores a floating point number in IEEE 754 single precision floating point number format:
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xca  |XXXXXXXX|XXXXXXXX|XXXXXXXX|XXXXXXXX|
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+

float 64 stores a floating point number in IEEE 754 double precision floating point number format:
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xcb  |YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+

where
* XXXXXXXX_XXXXXXXX_XXXXXXXX_XXXXXXXX is a big-endian IEEE 754 single precision floating point number.
  Extension of precision from single-precision to double-precision does not lose precision.
* YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY is a big-endian
  IEEE 754 double precision floating point number

str format family

Str format family stores a byte array in 1, 2, 3, or 5 bytes of extra bytes in addition to the size of the byte array.

fixstr stores a byte array whose length is upto 31 bytes:
+--------+========+
|101XXXXX|  data  |
+--------+========+

str 8 stores a byte array whose length is upto (2^8)-1 bytes:
+--------+--------+========+
|  0xd9  |YYYYYYYY|  data  |
+--------+--------+========+

str 16 stores a byte array whose length is upto (2^16)-1 bytes:
+--------+--------+--------+========+
|  0xda  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|  data  |
+--------+--------+--------+========+

str 32 stores a byte array whose length is upto (2^32)-1 bytes:
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+========+
|  0xdb  |AAAAAAAA|AAAAAAAA|AAAAAAAA|AAAAAAAA|  data  |
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+========+

where
* XXXXX is a 5-bit unsigned integer which represents N
* YYYYYYYY is a 8-bit unsigned integer which represents N
* ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ is a 16-bit big-endian unsigned integer which represents N
* AAAAAAAA_AAAAAAAA_AAAAAAAA_AAAAAAAA is a 32-bit big-endian unsigned integer which represents N
* N is the length of data

bin format family

Bin format family stores an byte array in 2, 3, or 5 bytes of extra bytes in addition to the size of the byte array.

bin 8 stores a byte array whose length is upto (2^8)-1 bytes:
+--------+--------+========+
|  0xc4  |XXXXXXXX|  data  |
+--------+--------+========+

bin 16 stores a byte array whose length is upto (2^16)-1 bytes:
+--------+--------+--------+========+
|  0xc5  |YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|  data  |
+--------+--------+--------+========+

bin 32 stores a byte array whose length is upto (2^32)-1 bytes:
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+========+
|  0xc6  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|  data  |
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+========+

where
* XXXXXXXX is a 8-bit unsigned integer which represents N
* YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY is a 16-bit big-endian unsigned integer which represents N
* ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ is a 32-bit big-endian unsigned integer which represents N
* N is the length of data

array format family

Array format family stores a sequence of elements in 1, 3, or 5 bytes of extra bytes in addition to the elements.

fixarray stores an array whose length is upto 15 elements:
+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+
|1001XXXX|    N objects    |
+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+

array 16 stores an array whose length is upto (2^16)-1 elements:
+--------+--------+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+
|  0xdc  |YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|    N objects    |
+--------+--------+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+

array 32 stores an array whose length is upto (2^32)-1 elements:
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+
|  0xdd  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|    N objects    |
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+

where
* XXXX is a 4-bit unsigned integer which represents N
* YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY is a 16-bit big-endian unsigned integer which represents N
* ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ is a 32-bit big-endian unsigned integer which represents N
    N is the size of a array

map format family

Map format family stores a sequence of key-value pairs in 1, 3, or 5 bytes of extra bytes in addition to the key-value pairs.

fixmap stores a map whose length is upto 15 elements
+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+
|1000XXXX|   N*2 objects   |
+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+

map 16 stores a map whose length is upto (2^16)-1 elements
+--------+--------+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+
|  0xde  |YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|   N*2 objects   |
+--------+--------+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+

map 32 stores a map whose length is upto (2^32)-1 elements
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+
|  0xdf  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|   N*2 objects   |
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+

where
* XXXX is a 4-bit unsigned integer which represents N
* YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY is a 16-bit big-endian unsigned integer which represents N
* ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ is a 32-bit big-endian unsigned integer which represents N
* N is the size of a map
* odd elements in objects are keys of a map
* the next element of a key is its associated value

ext format family

Ext format family stores a tuple of an integer and a byte array.

fixext 1 stores an integer and a byte array whose length is 1 byte
+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xd4  |  type  |  data  |
+--------+--------+--------+

fixext 2 stores an integer and a byte array whose length is 2 bytes
+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xd5  |  type  |       data      |
+--------+--------+--------+--------+

fixext 4 stores an integer and a byte array whose length is 4 bytes
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xd6  |  type  |                data               |
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+

fixext 8 stores an integer and a byte array whose length is 8 bytes
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xd7  |  type  |                                  data                                 |
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+

fixext 16 stores an integer and a byte array whose length is 16 bytes
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
|  0xd8  |  type  |                                  data                                  
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
                              data (cont.)                              |
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+

ext 8 stores an integer and a byte array whose length is upto (2^8)-1 bytes:
+--------+--------+--------+========+
|  0xc7  |XXXXXXXX|  type  |  data  |
+--------+--------+--------+========+

ext 16 stores an integer and a byte array whose length is upto (2^16)-1 bytes:
+--------+--------+--------+--------+========+
|  0xc8  |YYYYYYYY|YYYYYYYY|  type  |  data  |
+--------+--------+--------+--------+========+

ext 32 stores an integer and a byte array whose length is upto (2^32)-1 bytes:
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+========+
|  0xc9  |ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|ZZZZZZZZ|  type  |  data  |
+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+========+

where
* XXXXXXXX is a 8-bit unsigned integer which represents N
* YYYYYYYY_YYYYYYYY is a 16-bit big-endian unsigned integer which represents N
* ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ_ZZZZZZZZ is a big-endian 32-bit unsigned integer which represents N
* N is a length of data
* type is a signed 8-bit signed integer
* type < 0 is reserved for future extension including 2-byte type information

Serialization: type to format conversion

MessagePack serializers convert MessagePack types into formats as following:

source typesoutput format
Integerint format family (positive fixint, negative fixint, int 8/16/32/64 or uint 8/16/32/64)
Nilnil
Booleanbool format family (false or true)
Floatfloat format family (float 32/64)
Stringstr format family (fixstr or str 8/16/32)
Binarybin format family (bin 8/16/32)
Arrayarray format family (fixarray or array 16/32)
Mapmap format family (fixmap or map 16/32)
Extensionext format family (fixext or ext 8/16/32)

If an object can be represented in multiple possible output formats, serializers SHOULD use the format which represents the data in the smallest number of bytes.

Deserialization: format to type conversion

MessagePack deserializers convert MessagePack formats into types as following:

source formatsoutput type
positive fixint, negative fixint, int 8/16/32/64 and uint 8/16/32/64Integer
nilNil
false and trueBoolean
float 32/64Float
fixstr and str 8/16/32String
bin 8/16/32Binary
fixarray and array 16/32Array
fixmap map 16/32Map
fixext and ext 8/16/32Extension

Future discussion

Profile

Profile is an idea that Applications restrict the semantics of MessagePack while sharing the same syntax to adapt MessagePack for certain use cases.

For example, applications may remove Binary type, restrict keys of map objects to be String type, and put some restrictions to make the semantics compatible with JSON. Applications which use schema may remove String and Binary types and deal with byte arrays as Raw type. Applications which use hash (digest) of serialized data may sort keys of maps to make the serialized data deterministic.

implementation guidelines

Upgrading MessagePack specification

MessagePack specification is changed at this time. Here is a guideline to upgrade existent MessagePack implementations:

  • In a minor release, deserializers support the bin format family and str 8 format. The type of deserialized objects should be same with raw 16 (== str 16) or raw 32 (== str 32)
  • In a major release, serializers distinguish Binary type and String type using bin format family and str format family
    • At the same time, serializers should offer "compatibility mode" which doesn't use bin format family and str 8 format

MessagePack specification
Last modified at 2013-04-21 21:52:33 -0700
Sadayuki Furuhashi © 2013-04-21 21:52:33 -0700