Binary serialization of arbitrarily complex structures that sort element-wise

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<script type="module">
  import bytewiseCore from '';



Binary serialization of arbitrarily complex structures that sort element-wise

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Allows efficient comparison of a variety of useful data structures in a way that respects the sort order defined by typewise.

This library defines a total order for well-structured keyspaces in key value stores. The ordering is a superset of the sorting algorithm defined by IndexedDB and the one defined by CouchDB. This serialization makes it easy to take advantage of the benefits of structured indexing in systems with fast but naïve binary indexing (key/value databases).

Order of Supported Structures

This package is a barebones kernel of bytewise, containing only the structures most often used to create structured keyspaces.

This is the top level order of the various structures that may be encoded:

  • null
  • false
  • true
  • Number (numeric)
  • Date (time-wise)
  • Buffer, Uint8Array (bit-wise)
  • String (character-wise)
  • Array (element-wise)
  • undefined

Structured types like Array may recursively contain any other supported structures.


encode serializes any supported type and returns a Buffer, or throws if an unsupported structure is provided.

var assert = require('assert')
var bytewise = require('./')
var encode = bytewise.encode

// Numbers are stored in 9 bytes -- 1 byte for the type tag and an 8 byte float
assert.equal(encode(12345).toString('hex'), '4240c81c8000000000')
// Negative numbers are stored as positive numbers, but with a lower type tag and their bits inverted
assert.equal(encode(-12345).toString('hex'), '41bf37e37fffffffff')

// The `toString` method of `Buffer` values returned by `encode` is augmented
// to use "hex" encoding by default. This ensures bytewise encoding still
// works when bytewise keys are accidentally coerced to strings.
assert.equal(encode(-12345) + '', '41bf37e37fffffffff')

// All numbers, integer or floating point, are stored as IEEE 754 doubles
assert.equal(encode(1.2345) + '', '423ff3c083126e978d')
assert.equal(encode(-1.2345) + '', '41c00c3f7ced916872')

// Serialization does not preserve the sign bit, so 0 is indistinguishable from -0
assert.equal(encode(-0) + '', '420000000000000000')
assert.equal(encode(0) + '', '420000000000000000')

// Strings are encoded as utf8, prefixed with their type tag (0x70, or the "p" character)
assert.equal(encode('foo').toString('utf8'), 'pfoo')
assert.equal(encode('föo').toString('utf8'), 'pföo')

// Arrays are just a series of values, separated by and terminated with a null byte
assert.equal(encode([ 'foo', 'bar' ]) + '', 'a070666f6f00706261720000')

// Items in arrays are delimited by null bytes, and a final end byte marks the end of the array
assert.equal(encode([ 'foo' ]).toString('binary'), '\xa0pfoo\x00\x00')

// Complex types like arrays can be arbitrarily nested, and fixed-sized types don't require a terminating byte
assert.equal(encode([ [ 'foo', 10 ], 'bar' ]) + '', 'a0a070666f6f0042402400000000000000706261720000')

decode parses a buffer and returns the structured data.

var decode = bytewise.decode
var key = 'a0a070666f6f0042402400000000000000706261720000'

// Decode takes a buffer and decodes a bytewise value
assert.deepEqual(decode(new Buffer(key, 'hex')), [ [ 'foo', 10 ], 'bar' ])

// String input can be decoded, defaulting to hex
assert.deepEqual(decode(key), [ [ 'foo', 10 ], 'bar' ])

// An alternate string encoding can be provided when initializing bytewise

Use Cases

Take a look at the bytewise library for an idea of what kind of stuff this could be useful for.


Issues should be reported here.