00mjk / upb

a small protobuf implementation in C

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μpb: small, fast C protos

μpb (often written 'upb') is a small protobuf implementation written in C.

upb is the core runtime for protobuf languages extensions in Ruby, PHP, and (soon) Python.

While upb offers a C API, the C API & ABI are not stable. For this reason, upb is not generally offered as a C library for direct consumption, and there are no releases.


upb has comparable speed to protobuf C++, but is an order of magnitude smaller in code size.

Like the main protobuf implementation in C++, it supports:

  • a generated API (in C)
  • reflection
  • binary & JSON wire formats
  • text format serialization
  • all standard features of protobufs (oneofs, maps, unknown fields, extensions, etc.)
  • full conformance with the protobuf conformance tests

upb also supports some features that C++ does not:

  • optional reflection: generated messages are agnostic to whether reflection will be linked in or not.
  • no global state: no pre-main registration or other global state.
  • fast reflection-based parsing: messages loaded at runtime parse just as fast as compiled-in messages.

However there are a few features it does not support:

  • text format parsing
  • deep descriptor verification: upb's descriptor validation is not as exhaustive as protoc.


For Ruby, use RubyGems:

$ gem install google-protobuf

For PHP, use PECL:

$ sudo pecl install protobuf


Please see CONTRIBUTING.md.

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a small protobuf implementation in C



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