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Clojure serialization library

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Current semantic version:

[com.taoensso/nippy "1.2.1"]        ; Stable
[com.taoensso/nippy "2.0.0-alpha9"] ; Development (notes below)

v2 adds pluggable compression, crypto support (also pluggable), an improved API (including much better error messages), easier integration into other tools/libraries, and hugely improved performance. It is backwards compatible, but please note that the old freeze-to-bytes/thaw-from-bytes API has been deprecated in favor of freeze/thaw. PLEASE REPORT ANY PROBLEMS!

Nippy, a Clojure serialization library

Clojure's rich data types are awesome. And its reader allows you to take your data just about anywhere. But the reader can be painfully slow when you've got a lot of data to crunch (like when you're serializing to a database).

Nippy is an attempt to provide a reliable, high-performance drop-in alternative to the reader. It's used, among others, as the Carmine Redis client and Faraday DynamoDB client serializer.

What's in the box™?

  • Small, uncomplicated all-Clojure library.
  • Great performance.
  • Comprehesive, extensible support for all major data types.
  • Reader-fallback for difficult/future types (including Clojure 1.4+ tagged literals).
  • Full test coverage for every supported type.
  • Fully pluggable compression, including built-in high-performance Snappy compressor.
  • Fully pluggable encryption, including built-in high-strength AES128 enabled with a single :password [:salted "my-password"] option. (v2+)
  • Utils for easy integration into 3rd-party tools/libraries. (v2+)

Getting started


Add the necessary dependency to your Leiningen project.clj and require the library in your ns:

[com.taoensso/nippy "1.2.1"] ; project.clj
(ns my-app (:require [taoensso.nippy :as nippy])) ; ns


As an example of what Nippy can do, let's take a look at its own reference stress data:

{:bytes        (byte-array [(byte 1) (byte 2) (byte 3)])
 :nil          nil
 :boolean      true

 :char-utf8    \ಬ
 :string-utf8  "ಬಾ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಸಂಭವಿಸ"
 :string-long  (apply str (range 1000))
 :keyword      :keyword
 :ns-keyword   ::keyword

 :queue        (-> (PersistentQueue/EMPTY) (conj :a :b :c :d :e :f :g))
 :queue-empty  (PersistentQueue/EMPTY)
 :sorted-set   (sorted-set 1 2 3 4 5)
 :sorted-map   (sorted-map :b 2 :a 1 :d 4 :c 3)

 :list         (list 1 2 3 4 5 (list 6 7 8 (list 9 10)))
 :list-quoted  '(1 2 3 4 5 (6 7 8 (9 10)))
 :list-empty   (list)
 :vector       [1 2 3 4 5 [6 7 8 [9 10]]]
 :vector-empty []
 :map          {:a 1 :b 2 :c 3 :d {:e 4 :f {:g 5 :h 6 :i 7}}}
 :map-empty    {}
 :set          #{1 2 3 4 5 #{6 7 8 #{9 10}}}
 :set-empty    #{}
 :meta         (with-meta {:a :A} {:metakey :metaval})
 :coll         (repeatedly 1000 rand)

 :byte         (byte 16)
 :short        (short 42)
 :integer      (int 3)
 :long         (long 3)
 :bigint       (bigint 31415926535897932384626433832795)

 :float        (float 3.14)
 :double       (double 3.14)
 :bigdec       (bigdec 3.1415926535897932384626433832795)

 :ratio        22/7
 :tagged-uuid  (java.util.UUID/randomUUID)
 :tagged-date  (java.util.Date.)}

Serialize it:

(def frozen-stress-data (nippy/freeze nippy/stress-data))
=> #<byte[] [B@3253bcf3>

Deserialize it:

(nippy/thaw frozen-stress-data)
=> {:bytes        (byte-array [(byte 1) (byte 2) (byte 3)])
    :nil          nil
    :boolean      true
    <...> }

Couldn't be simpler!

Encryption (currently in ALPHA)

Nippy v2+ also gives you dead simple data encryption. Add a single option to your usual freeze/thaw calls like so:

(nippy/freeze nippy/stress-data {:password [:salted "my-password"]}) ; Encrypt
(nippy/thaw   <encrypted-data>  {:password [:salted "my-password"]}) ; Decrypt

There's two default forms of encryption on offer: :salted and :cached. Each of these makes carefully-chosen trade-offs and is suited to one of two common use cases. See the default-aes128-encryptor docstring for a detailed explanation of why/when you'd want one or the other.


Comparison chart

Detailed benchmark information is available on Google Docs.

Project links

This project supports the CDS and ClojureWerkz project goals:
  • CDS, the Clojure Documentation Site, is a contributer-friendly community project aimed at producing top-notch Clojure tutorials and documentation.

  • ClojureWerkz is a growing collection of open-source, batteries-included Clojure libraries that emphasise modern targets, great documentation, and thorough testing.

Contact & contribution

Please use the project's GitHub issues page for project questions/comments/suggestions/whatever (pull requests welcome!). Am very open to ideas if you have any!

Otherwise reach me (Peter Taoussanis) at or on Twitter (@ptaoussanis). Cheers!


Copyright © 2012, 2013 Peter Taoussanis. Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.

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