How To Serialize Information Successfully with Protocol Buffers – Grape Up

In a world of microservices, we frequently need to cross data between purposes. We serialize information right into a format that may be retrieved by each side. One of many serialization options is Protocol Buffers (Protobuf) – Google’s language-neutral mechanism. Messages will be interpreted by a receiver utilizing the identical or completely different language than a producer. Many languages are supported, resembling Java, Go, Python, and C++.

A knowledge construction is outlined utilizing impartial language by .proto information. The file is then compiled into code for use in purposes. It’s designed for efficiency. Protocol Buffers encode information into binary format, which reduces message measurement and improves transmission pace.

Defining Message Format

This .proto the file represents geolocation data for a given car.

1 syntax = "proto3";
3 package deal com.grapeup.geolocation;
5 import "google/sort/latlng.proto";
6 import "google/protobuf/timestamp.proto";
8 message Geolocation 
9  string vin = 1;
10  google.protobuf.Timestamp occurredOn = 2;
11  int32 pace = 3;
12  google.sort.LatLng coordinates = 4;
1 syntax = "proto3";

Syntax refers to Protobuf model, it may be proto2 or proto3.

1package com.grapeup.geolocation;

Bundle declaration prevents naming conflicts between completely different tasks.

1 message Geolocation 
2  string vin = 1;
3  google.protobuf.Timestamp occurredOn = 2;
4  int32 pace = 3;
5  google.sort.LatLng coordinates = 4;

Message definition comprises a reputation and a set of typed fields. Easy information sorts can be found, resembling bool, int32, double, string, and many others. It’s also possible to outline your individual sorts or import them.

1google.protobuf.Timestamp occurredOn = 2;

The = 1, = 2 markers determine the distinctive tag. Tags are a numeric illustration for the sector and are used to determine the sector within the message binary format. They need to be distinctive in a message and shouldn’t be modified as soon as the message is in use. If a subject is faraway from a definition that’s already used, it have to be reserved.

Subject sorts

Apart from scalar sorts, there are various different sort choices when defining messages. Listed below are few, however you could find all of them within the Language Information Language Guide (proto3)  |  Protocol Buffers  |  Google Developers .

Nicely Identified Varieties

1 import "google/sort/latlng.proto";
2 import "google/protobuf/timestamp.proto";
4 google.protobuf.Timestamp occurredOn = 2;
5 google.sort.LatLng coordinates = 4;

There are predefined sorts out there to make use of Overview  |  Protocol Buffers  |  Google Developers . They’re often called Nicely Know Varieties and need to be imported into .proto .

LatLng represents a latitude and longitude pair.

Timestamp is a particular cut-off date with nanosecond precision.

Customized sorts

1 message SingularSearchResponse 
2  Geolocation geolocation = 1;

You should utilize your custom-defined sort as a subject in one other message definition.


1 message SearchResponse 
2  repeated Geolocation geolocations = 1;

You’ll be able to outline lists by utilizing repeated key phrase.


It might probably occur that in a message there’ll at all times be just one subject set. On this case, TelemetryUpdate will include both geolocation, mileage, or gas stage data.

This may be achieved by utilizing oneof. Setting worth to one of many fields will clear all different fields outlined in oneof.

1 message TelemetryUpdate 
2  string vin = 1;
3  oneof replace 
4    Geolocation geolocation = 2;
5    Mileage mileage =3;
6    FuelLevel fuelLevel = 4;
10 message Geolocation 
11  ...
14 message Mileage 
15  ...
18 message FuelLevel 
19  ...

Remember backward-compatibility when eradicating fields. In case you obtain a message with oneof that has been faraway from .proto definition, it won’t set any of the values. This habits is similar as not setting any worth within the first place.

You’ll be able to carry out completely different actions primarily based on which worth is about utilizing the getUpdateCase() methodology.

1 public Elective<Object> getTelemetry(TelemetryUpdate telemetryUpdate) 
2        Elective<Object> telemetry = Elective.empty();
3        swap (telemetryUpdate.getUpdateCase()) 
4            case MILEAGE -> telemetry = Elective.of(telemetryUpdate.getMileage());
5            case FUELLEVEL -> telemetry = Elective.of(telemetryUpdate.getFuelLevel());
6            case GEOLOCATION -> telemetry = Elective.of(telemetryUpdate.getGeolocation());
7            case UPDATE_NOT_SET -> telemetry = Elective.empty();
9        return telemetry;

Default values

In proto3 format fields will at all times have a price. Because of this proto3 can have a smaller measurement as a result of fields with default values are omitted from payload. Nonetheless this causes one concern – for scalar message fields, there is no such thing as a means of telling if a subject was explicitly set to the default worth or not set in any respect.

In our instance, pace is an elective subject – some modules in a automobile may ship pace information, and a few won’t. If we don’t set pace, then the geolocation object may have pace with the default worth set to 0. This isn’t the identical as not having pace set on messages.

As a way to take care of default values you should utilize official wrapper sorts protobuf/wrappers.proto at main · protocolbuffers/protobuf . They permit distinguishing between absence and default. As a substitute of getting a easy sort, we use Int32Value, which is a wrapper for the int32 scalar sort.

1 import "google/protobuf/wrappers.proto";
3 message Geolocation 
4  google.protobuf.Int32Value pace = 3;

If we don’t present pace, it will likely be set to nil.

Configure with Gradle

When you’ve outlined your messages, you should utilize protoc, a protocol buffer compiler, to generate courses in a selected language. The generated class can then be used to construct and retrieve messages.

As a way to compile into Java code, we have to add dependency and plugin in construct.gradle

1 plugins 
2    id '' model '0.8.18'
5 dependencies 
6    implementation ''

and setup the compiler. For Mac customers an osx particular model needs to be used.

1 protobuf 
2    protoc 
3        if (osdetector.os == "osx") 
4            artifact = "$protobuf_version:osx-x86_64"
5         else 
6            artifact = "$protobuf_version"

Code shall be generated utilizing generateProto job.

The code shall be situated in construct/generated/supply/proto/important/java in a package deal as laid out in .proto file.

We additionally want to inform gradle the place the generated code is situated

1 sourceSets 
2    important 
3        java 
4            srcDirs 'construct/generated/supply/proto/important/grpc'
5            srcDirs 'construct/generated/supply/proto/important/java'

The generated class comprises all the required strategies for constructing the message in addition to retrieving subject values.

1 Geolocation geolocation = Geolocation.newBuilder()
2            .setCoordinates(LatLng.newBuilder().setLatitude(1.2).setLongitude(1.2).construct())
3            .setVin("1G2NF12FX2C129610")
4            .setOccurredOn(Timestamp.newBuilder().setSeconds(12349023).construct())
5            .construct();
7 LatLng coordinates = geolocation.getCoordinates();
8 String vin = geolocation.getVin();

Protocol Buffers – Abstract

As proven protocol buffers are simply configured. The mechanism is language agnostic, and it’s straightforward to share the identical .proto definition throughout completely different microservices.

Protobuf is well paired with gRPC, the place strategies will be outlined in .proto information and generated with gradle.

There may be official documentation out there Protocol Buffers  |  Google Developers and guides Language Guide (proto3)  |  Protocol Buffers  |  Google Developers .