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Go support for Protocol Buffers - Google's data interchange format
Copyright 2010 The Go Authors.
This package and the code it generates requires at least Go 1.2.
This software implements Go bindings for protocol buffers. For
information about protocol buffers themselves, see
To use this software, you must first install the standard C++
implementation of protocol buffers from
And of course you must also install the Go compiler and tools from
for details or, if you are using gccgo, follow the instructions at
This software has two parts: a 'protocol compiler plugin' that
generates Go source files that, once compiled, can access and manage
protocol buffers; and a library that implements run-time support for
encoding (marshaling), decoding (unmarshaling), and accessing protocol
There is no support for RPC in Go using protocol buffers. It may come
once a standard RPC protocol develops for protobufs.
There are no insertion points in the plugin.
To install this code:
The simplest way is to run go get.
# Grab the code from the repository and install the proto package.
go get -u{proto,protoc-gen-go}
The compiler plugin, protoc-gen-go, will be installed in $GOBIN,
defaulting to $GOPATH/bin. It must be in your $PATH for the protocol
compiler, protoc, to find it.
Once the software is installed, there are two steps to using it.
First you must compile the protocol buffer definitions and then import
them, with the support library, into your program.
To compile the protocol buffer definition, run protoc with the --go_out
parameter set to the directory you want to output the Go code to.
protoc --go_out=. *.proto
The generated files will be suffixed .pb.go. See the Test code below
for an example using such a file.
The package comment for the proto library contains text describing
the interface provided in Go for protocol buffers. Here is an edited
The proto package converts data structures to and from the
wire format of protocol buffers. It works in concert with the
Go source code generated for .proto files by the protocol compiler.
A summary of the properties of the protocol buffer interface
for a protocol buffer variable v:
- Names are turned from camel_case to CamelCase for export.
- There are no methods on v to set fields; just treat
them as structure fields.
- There are getters that return a field's value if set,
and return the field's default value if unset.
The getters work even if the receiver is a nil message.
- The zero value for a struct is its correct initialization state.
All desired fields must be set before marshaling.
- A Reset() method will restore a protobuf struct to its zero state.
- Non-repeated fields are pointers to the values; nil means unset.
That is, optional or required field int32 f becomes F *int32.
- Repeated fields are slices.
- Helper functions are available to aid the setting of fields.
Helpers for getting values are superseded by the
GetFoo methods and their use is deprecated.
msg.Foo = proto.String("hello") // set field
- Constants are defined to hold the default values of all fields that
have them. They have the form Default_StructName_FieldName.
Because the getter methods handle defaulted values,
direct use of these constants should be rare.
- Enums are given type names and maps from names to values.
Enum values are prefixed with the enum's type name. Enum types have
a String method, and a Enum method to assist in message construction.
- Nested groups and enums have type names prefixed with the name of
the surrounding message type.
- Extensions are given descriptor names that start with E_,
followed by an underscore-delimited list of the nested messages
that contain it (if any) followed by the CamelCased name of the
extension field itself. HasExtension, ClearExtension, GetExtension
and SetExtension are functions for manipulating extensions.
- Marshal and Unmarshal are functions to encode and decode the wire format.
Consider file test.proto, containing
package example;
enum FOO { X = 17; };
message Test {
required string label = 1;
optional int32 type = 2 [default=77];
repeated int64 reps = 3;
optional group OptionalGroup = 4 {
required string RequiredField = 5;
To create and play with a Test object from the example package,
package main
import (
func main() {
test := &example.Test {
Label: proto.String("hello"),
Type: proto.Int32(17),
Optionalgroup: &example.Test_OptionalGroup {
RequiredField: proto.String("good bye"),
data, err := proto.Marshal(test)
if err != nil {
log.Fatal("marshaling error: ", err)
newTest := &example.Test{}
err = proto.Unmarshal(data, newTest)
if err != nil {
log.Fatal("unmarshaling error: ", err)
// Now test and newTest contain the same data.
if test.GetLabel() != newTest.GetLabel() {
log.Fatalf("data mismatch %q != %q", test.GetLabel(), newTest.GetLabel())
// etc.