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clojure(script) library that dynamically interprets protobuf files (.proto) and use the resultant schemas to encode/decode plain clojure(script) map into/from protobuf binaries. Supports both proto2 and proto3.


Add the following to deps.edn (or its equivalent for lein).

{:deps {com.github.s-expresso/clojobuf {:mvn/version "0.1.10"}}}

Say you have the following example.proto file

syntax = "proto2";
package my.pb.ns;

enum Enum {
    MINUS_ONE = -1;
    ZERO = 0;
    ONE = 1;

message Msg {
    optional int32 int32_val        = 1;
    optional string string_val      = 2;
    optional bool bool_val          = 3;
    optional Enum enum_val          = 4;
    oneof either {
        sint32 sint32_val           = 5;
        sint64 sint64_val           = 6;
    map<int64, string> int64_string = 7;
    repeated double double_vals     = 8;

message Msg2 {
    optional Msg msg1  = 1;
    repeated Msg msg1s = 2;

Code will be like src/clojobuf/example/ex1.cljc

(ns clojobuf.example.ex1
  (:require [clojobuf.core :refer [encode decode find-fault protoc]]))

(def registry (protoc ["resources/protobuf/"] ["example.proto"]))

(def msg {:int32_val -1,
          :string_val "abc",
          :bool_val false,
          :enum_val :ZERO,
          :either :sint32_val,
          :sint32_val -1
          :int64_string {1 "abc", 2 "def"}
          :double_vals [0.0, 1.0, 2.0]})

(def msg2 {:msg1 msg, :msg1s [msg, msg]})

; Success case
(def binary (encode registry :my.pb.ns/Msg msg))
(decode registry :my.pb.ns/Msg binary)
; => msg

(def binary2 (encode registry :my.pb.ns/Msg2 msg2))
(decode registry :my.pb.ns/Msg2 binary2)
; => msg2

; Error case
(let [bin (encode registry :my.pb.ns/Msg {:this-field-doesnt-exists 0})]
  (when (nil? bin)
    (find-fault registry :my.pb.ns/Msg {:this-field-doesnt-exists 0})))
; => {:this-field-doesnt-exists ["disallowed key"]}

i.e. these 4 functions are all you need: protoc, encode, decode and find-fault

Note: clojobuf.core/protoc is only available to clj runtime, for cljs runtime, use:

  • clojobuf.nodejs/protoc which works for cljs targeting nodejs, or
  • clojobuf.macro/protoc-macro which works for both clj and cljs


protoc function generates 2 schemas: 1 for encoding/decoding and 1 for validation.

Sample encoding/decoding schema

            {:syntax :proto2,
             :type :enum,
             :default :MINUS_ONE,
             :encode {:MINUS_ONE -1, :ZERO 0, :ONE 1},
             :decode {-1 :MINUS_ONE, 0 :ZERO, 1 :ONE}},
            {:syntax :proto2,
             :type :msg,
             {:string_val [2 :string :optional nil],
              :sint32_val [5 :sint32 :oneof nil],
              :double_vals [8 :double :repeated nil],
              :sint64_val [6 :sint64 :oneof nil],
              :bool_val [3 :bool :optional nil],
              :int64_string [7 :map [:int64 :string] nil],
              :enum_val [4 "my.pb.ns/Enum" :optional nil],
              :int32_val [1 :int32 :optional nil],
              :either [:oneof :sint32_val :sint64_val]},
             {1 [:int32_val :int32 :optional nil],
              2 [:string_val :string :optional nil],
              3 [:bool_val :bool :optional nil],
              4 [:enum_val "my.pb.ns/Enum" :optional nil],
              5 [:sint32_val :sint32 [:oneof :either] nil],
              6 [:sint64_val :sint64 [:oneof :either] nil],
              7 [:int64_string :map [:int64 :string] nil],
              8 [:double_vals :double :repeated nil]}},
            {:syntax :proto2,
             :type :msg,
             {:msg1 [1 "my.pb.ns/Msg" :optional nil],
              :msg1s [2 "my.pb.ns/Msg" :repeated nil]},
             {1 [:msg1 "my.pb.ns/Msg" :optional nil],
              2 [:msg1s "my.pb.ns/Msg" :repeated nil]}}}

Sample validation schema

  • note you have to invoke protoc with optional named arg :auto-malli-registry false to get a schema as plain map like below
  • and yes this is malli schema :)
 #:my.pb.ns{:Enum [:enum :MINUS_ONE :ZERO :ONE],
              {:closed true}
              [:int32_val {:optional true} :int32]
              [:string_val {:optional true} :string]
              [:bool_val {:optional true} :boolean]
              [:enum_val {:optional true} [:ref :my.pb.ns/Enum]]
               {:optional true}
               [:enum :sint32_val :sint64_val]]
              [:sint32_val {:optional true} :sint32]
              [:sint64_val {:optional true} :sint64]
              [:int64_string {:optional true} [:map-of :int64 :string]]
              [:double_vals {:optional true} [:vector :double]]]
             [:oneof :either [:sint32_val :sint64_val]]],
             {:closed true}
             [:msg1 {:optional true} [:ref :my.pb.ns/Msg]]
             [:msg1s {:optional true} [:vector [:ref :my.pb.ns/Msg]]]]}]

You can also use clojobuf.core/->malli-registry to convert above plain map into a malli registry. See src/clojobuf/example/ex2.cljc for a working example.


clojobuf.nodejs/protoc uses NodeJS file system module but otherwise works exactly that same way as clojobuf.core/protoc. It is placed in a separate namespace to provide flexibility to require it separately, as file access isn't available to browser runtime.


You can use protoc-macro to invoke protoc at compile time. For this, :auto-malli-registry is hardcoded to false, hence use of ->malli-registry is needed to convert the malli schema into malli registry.

(ns clojobuf.example.ex3
  (:require [clojobuf.core :refer [->malli-registry]]
            [clojobuf.macro :refer [protoc-macro]]))

(def registry (let [[codec-schema malli-schema] (protoc-macro ["resources/protobuf/"] ["example.proto"])]
                [codec-schema (->malli-registry malli-schema)]))

protoc-macro works on all runtime, but is especially useful for cljs targeting browser as it doesn't have file system access at runtime. See src/clojobuf/example/ex3.cljc for a working example.

Unknown Fields

During decode, unknown fields are placed into :? as a vector of 3 values (field number, wire type, wire value).

{:normal_field 1
 :? [[2 0 123] ; field number: 2, wire-type: 0, value: 123 
     [3 1 456] ; field number: 3, wire-type: 1, value: 456

Related Protobuf Projects

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