Scala combinator library for working with binary data
Latest commit d889f8b Nov 2, 2016 @mpilquist mpilquist Upgraded to Scala 2.12



Scala combinator library for working with binary data.

Design Constraints

This library focuses on contract-first and pure functional encoding and decoding of binary data. The following design constraints are considered:

  • Binary structure should mirror protocol definitions and be self-evident under casual reading
  • Mapping binary structures to types should be statically verified
  • Encoding and decoding should be purely functional
  • Failures in encoding and decoding should provide descriptive errors
  • Compiler plugin should not be used

As a result, the library is implemented as a combinator based DSL. Performance is considered but yields to the above design constraints.


The library uses Shapeless and is heavily influenced by scala.util.parsing.combinator.


This project is licensed under a 3-clause BSD license.

The scodec mailing list contains release announcements and is generally a good place to go for help. Also consider using the scodec tag on StackOverflow.

People are expected to follow the Typelevel Code of Conduct when discussing scodec on the Github page, Gitter channel, mailing list, or other venues.

Concerns or issues can be sent to Michael Pilquist ( or to Typelevel.


The primary abstraction is a Codec[A], which supports encoding a value of type A to a BitVector and decoding a BitVector to a value of type A.

The codecs package provides a number of predefined codecs and combinators.

    import scodec._
    import scodec.bits._
    import codecs._

    // Create a codec for an 8-bit unsigned int followed by an 8-bit unsigned int followed by a 16-bit unsigned int
    val firstCodec = (uint8 ~ uint8 ~ uint16)

    // Decode a bit vector using that codec
    val result: DecodeResult[(Int ~ Int ~ Int)] = Codec.decode(firstCodec, BitVector(0x10, 0x2a, 0x03, 0xff))

    // Sum the result
    val add3 = (_: Int) + (_: Int) + (_: Int)
    val sum: DecodeResult[Int] = result map add3

Automatic case class binding is supported via Shapeless HLists:

    case class Point(x: Int, y: Int, z: Int)

    val pointCodec = (int8 :: int8 :: int8).as[Point]

    val encoded: Attempt[BitVector] = pointCodec.encode(Point(-5, 10, 1))
    // Successful(BitVector(24 bits, 0xfb0a01))

    val decoded: Attempt[DecodeResult[Point]] = pointCodec.decode(hex"0xfb0a01".bits)
    // Successful(DecodeResult(Point(-5,10,1),BitVector(empty)))

Codecs can also be implicitly resolved, resulting in usage like:

    // Assuming Codec[Point] is in implicit scope

    val encoded: Attempt[BitVector] = Codec.encode(Point(-5, 10, 1))
    // Successful(BitVector(24 bits, 0xfb0a01))

    val decoded: Attempt[DecodeResult[Point]] = Codec.decode[Point](hex"0xfb0a01".bits)
    // Successful(DecodeResult(Point(-5,10,1),BitVector(empty)))

New codecs can be created by either implementing the Codec trait or by passing an encoder function and decoder function to the Codec apply method. Typically, new codecs are created by applying one or more combinators to existing codecs.

See the guide for detailed documentation. Also, see ScalaDoc. Especially:


There are various examples in the test directory, including codecs for:

The scodec-protocols has production quality codecs for the above examples.

The bitcoin-scodec library has a codec for the Bitcoin network protocol.

The scodec-msgpack library provides codecs for MessagePack.

Getting Binaries

See the releases page on the website.


This project uses sbt and requires node.js to be installed in order to run Scala.js tests. To build, run sbt publish-local.