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wallarmlabIvan NovikovWALLARMLAB:C0D0D45BBB6DE719615867A64E63C156
HistoryFeb 08, 2024 - 11:19 a.m.

avro vs protobuf

Ivan Novikov
data serialization
schema evolution
apache hadoop
programming languages
schema adaptability
performance measurement

6.9 Medium

AI Score



A Kickoff Discussion on Core Aspects of Avro & Protobuf

When deliberating on the subject of data structure encoding, a tandem of tools frequently emerges in technical discussions: Avro and Protobuf. Originating from a vision of precise data compression, the distinguishable features and applications of these two tools form a fascinating subject. Our joint exploration of their characteristics will impart a profound comprehension of their functionalities, grounding us perfectly for comparative analysis in the succeeding chapters.

Emerging from the bustling community of Apache’s Hadoop agenda, Avro, the abbreviation for Apache Avro, is a module committed to data serialization. Avro exploits JSON to characterize data models and protocols and condenses serialized information into a binary format. Its roles primarily lie in the heart of the Apache Hadoop system, where it supports the system’s ever-present need for continuous data serialization. Furthermore, it encourages communication amongst Hadoop modules and initiates interactions from client-focused applications towards Hadoop services.

Here’s an example of how an Avro schema is represented:

  &quot;type&quot;: &quot;record&quot;,
  &quot;name&quot;: &quot;User&quot;,
  &quot;fields&quot;: [
    {&quot;name&quot;: &quot;name&quot;, &quot;type&quot;: &quot;string&quot;},
    {&quot;name&quot;: &quot;age&quot;,  &quot;type&quot;: &quot;int&quot;}

On the other side of this discussion, we have Protocol Buffers or more widely known as Protobuf - a brainchild of Google’s inventive sparks. Protobuf is a serialization instrument that exhibits a fair tolerance towards language and platform restrictions. It allows you to formalize your data structure once, using personalized source code. This smoothens the path for structural data transition across multiple data streams and languages.

Here’s an example that demonstrates what a Protobuf schema looks like:

<code>message User {
  required string name = 1;
  required int32 age = 2;

How protobuf works

Avro and Protobuf are not only designed for speed and compactness, but they also embrace modifications in your schemas. This means adjusting your data models without disrupting the harmony of existing programs accustomed to the prior data architecture.

Notwithstanding, Avro and Protobuf diverge significantly when it comes to addressing schema adaptability, simplicity, and performance. The upcoming discussions will further delineate and clarify these divergences. It’s crucial to remember that Avro and Protobuf are proficient encoding tools, each equipped with their distinctive strengths and weaknesses.

In the following chapter, we will carry forward with our comparative study, dissecting the traits of Avro and Protobuf with respect to schema evolution, performance measurement, and user experience. Stay tuned for the journey ahead!

Transforming the Information Landscape: A Profound Analysis of Avro and Protobuf Key Features

With today’s continuously evolving technology environment, there is no question about the importance of reshaping information into a transmittable model, a process termed as data serialization in IT terminology. Two technology titans that have taken centre stage due to their high-speed performance, efficient resource management, and adept data handling are Avro and Protobuf. Our study uncovers their functionalities, highlighting both distinct and shared characteristics.

1. Demystifying the Complexities of Data Schemas and Their Origins:

Avro’s Unique Proposition:
Avro makes a mark with its exceptional data schema procedures. Its strength lies in its effortless integration of schemas that adhere to JSON construct norms to enable smooth data serialization and seamless interchange between different schema variants. Shown below is a prototypical Avro schema format:

  &quot;type&quot;: &quot;entity&quot;,
  &quot;name&quot;: &quot;Subscriber&quot;,
  &quot;fields&quot;: [
    {&quot;name&quot;: &quot;identityId&quot;, &quot;type&quot;: &quot;string&quot;},
    {&quot;name&quot;: &quot;digitalPreference&quot;, &quot;type&quot;: [&quot;integer&quot;, &quot;null&quot;]},
    {&quot;name&quot;: &quot;colourChoice&quot;, &quot;type&quot;: [&quot;string&quot;, &quot;null&quot;]}

Protobuf’s Revolutionary Approach:
Contrastingly, Protobuf set a new standard in schema creation with its ultra-compact .proto files. For enhanced understanding, here is a Protobuf schema demonstrated in a .proto file:

<code>message Subscriber {
  required string identityId = 1;
  optional int64 digitalPreference = 2;
  optional string colourChoice = 3;

2. Mastery Across Diverse Programming Platforms:

Avro’s Breadth:
With a plethora of resources spread across numerous coding systems including C-family, Java, Python, and Ruby, Avro clearly shows its versatility across distinct developer communities.

Protobuf’s Tract:
Resonating with Google’s initial frameworks, Protobuf matches Avro’s extensive compatibility, exhibiting its flexibility with various languages such as C++, Java, Python, Go, and Ruby. This internationally compliant mentality lifts Protobuf’s popularity within the global developer sorority.

3. Revealing the Tactics of Data Serialization:

Avro’s Route:
A proponent of binary encoding, Avro recommends this method for data serialization for its excellent compression functionality, efficiency, and clean JSON-like data configurations.

Protobuf’s Course:
Protobuf, on the other hand, crafts its unique binary protocol to produce compressed, effective data. However, it may lack the simplicity and initial recognition that Avro harnesses.

4. Performance & Versatility:

Avro’s Accomplishment:
Showing excellence in handling extensive data warehouse systems, Avro has consolidated its strong hold on the Hadoop community. Moreover, it excels in enabling Remote Procedure Calls (RPCs), underpinning its value in intricate systems.

Protobuf’s Position:
Protobuf, not primarily intended for managing broad data warehouse systems, shines due to its efficiency, thus emerging as a favourite for performance-driven systems. Avro’s knack for handling RPCs parallels Protobuf’s proficiencies.

5. Seamless Functioning:

Avro’s Vision:
Avro’s schemas mimic the globally accepted JSON structure, fostering an intuitive environment and polishing programming methods. This adaptable feature is beneficial across various deployment scenarios.

Protobuf’s Viewpoint:
Conversely, Protobuf’s .proto files underscore precision but might present a challenge for novices. By maintaining rigid coding standards, Protobuf encourages orderly and structured, albeit stringent, coding practices.

To wrap it up, both Avro and Protobuf have carved out notable niches and functionalities. Avro is appreciated for its understandable data configuration and flexible coding practices, while Protobuf finds favour among performance-oriented setups owing to its quick operations and meticulous schema layouts. Our ongoing exploration aims to delve deeper into the multitude of capabilities both Avro and Protobuf possess.



An In-Depth Comparison: Unravelling the Divergence between Avro and Protobuf

In the ensuing content, we proceed to carefully evaluate Avro and Protobuf. These two leading figures are central in the arena of data serialization. The mission at hand is to uncover the individual variances, parallels, and special attributes inherent within each infrastructure. Recognizing these intricacies is crucial for creating a tailor-made solution that aligns with your particular requirements.

1. Diversity in Data Formats:

Celebrated for its adaptability, Avro proficiently manages multiple data types. It gracefully hops through elementary components (such as null, bytes, boolean, and string, to name a few), more intricate constructs (like maps, fixed, union, records, etc.), and elaborate formats (including various date and time stamps). The adaptable approach of Avro distinguishes it as a scalable solution for a wide array of data structures.

Protobuf endorses an extensive array of data formats, spanning basic data elements (such as bool, bytes, string, multiple fixed and integral types, float, double) and detailed structures (like message, repeated, enum). Nonetheless, its inability to handle null data types might limit its applicability in certain situations.

2. Flexibility in Schema:

Avro’s dynamic nature allows the schema to evolve over time, a critical aspect that supports both retroactive and proactive compatibility. It employs a schema synchronization method to balance the sender’s schema with that of the receiver. This ensures uninterrupted data interpretation, even in the face of changes in the schema.

While Protobuf indeed accommodates the evolution of schema, its flexibility doesn’t match that of Avro. Protobuf can permit eliminations or additions of fields but it requires the maintenance of field identifiers to maintain retroactive compatibility. Any mishandling of these identifiers could produce data inconsistencies.

3. Process of Data Serialization:

Avro invokes binary encoding for data serialization. Its unique advantage stems from the capability to transmit the schema alongside the actual data. This self-enclosed attribute of Avro proves beneficial in distributed networks, where conventional architectures might not exist between data providers and consumers.

Just like Avro, Protobuf exercises binary encoding, but in a more reduced format. The choice of Protobuf to exclude schema information makes it more compact. However, it surrenders the self-reliance gained by Avro.

4. Interoperability Across Languages:

Avro successfully integrates numerous programming languages, such as C, C++, C#, Python, Java, and Ruby, ensuring smooth interoperability across diverse coding environments.

Even though Protobuf emulates Avro’s expansive language support, with languages like Dart, Go, Ruby, C++, Objective-C, Python, Java, it doesn’t quite meet the comprehensiveness exhibited by Avro.

5. Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Proficiencies:

Avro is enhanced with a built-in RPC mechanism, inclusive of a protocol that prescribes the operations and the types of messages to be communicated.

Unlike Avro, Protobuf is devoid of a native RPC system but can be integrated with gRPC. This is an open-source RPC platform known for its remarkable performance.

In summing up, both Avro and Protobuf possess unique capabilities and qualities. Avro excels in adaptability and independence, while Protobuf shines due to its precision and functional effectiveness. The final selection primarily hinges on your individual needs and restrictions.

Expertise Evaluation: A Comprehensive Dissection of Avro Versus Protobuf

Data conversion invariably possesses impact on system performance metrics, making an in-depth study of performance elements crucial. The transformation of data, amalgamating encoding and decoding processes, plays a strategic role in boosting the overall pace and strength of your software milieu. This section aims to draw a meaningful comparison between Avro and Protobuf, two significant juggernauts ruling the data conversion spectrum.

1. Charting the Data Transformation Journey: Encoding to Decoding

The rapidity in data modification, bridging encoding to decoding, operates as a vital performance measuring criterion. In this sphere, Protobuf outweighs Avro, primarily due to its binary architecture buttressed by holistic read-write procedures.

<code># Protobuf translation
init_time = time.time()
with open(&quot;info.pb&quot;, &quot;wb&quot;) as f:
print(&quot;Protobuf translation efficiency: &quot;, time.time() - init_time)

# Avro translation
init_time = time.time()
with open(&quot;info.avro&quot;, &quot;wb&quot;) as f:
    writer = avro.datafile.DataFileWriter(f,, schema)
print(&quot;Avro translation efficiency: &quot;, time.time() - init_time)</code>

The Python script showcased above records the time utilized in data conversion via Protobuf and Avro, illustrating Protobuf’s relative swiftness.

2. Examining the Capacity of Encoded Data

Examining and controlling encoded data necessitates an understanding of its size. A significant reduction in data size lightens storage needs and enhances network data transmission. The charm of Protobuf comes from its ability to produce less voluminous data than Avro, thanks to its binary nature and schema’s elective fields dispensation.

Data Type Avro Byte Dimension Protobuf Byte Dimension
Integer 4 bytes 1-5 bytes
String Variable Variable
Boolean 1 byte 1 byte

The chart above offers an overview of data sizes for different data types under Avro and Protobuf.

3. Harnessing CPU Resources

CPU resources engagement is another significant performance index. Less involvement translates to freer resources for other operations. Protobuf shines in its minimal reliance on processor horsepower for data modifications, credited to its sophisticated algorithms.

<code>// Protobuf processing strain
long inceptionCpuTime = measureCpuUsageTime();
long conclusionCpuTime = measureCpuUsageTime();
System.out.println(&quot;Protobuf&#039;s CPU involvement: &quot; + (conclusionCpuTime - inceptionCpuTime));

// Avro processing strain
inceptionCpuTime = measureCpuUsageTime();
datumWriter.write(message, encoder);
conclusionCpuTime = measureCpuUsageTime();
System.out.println(&quot;Avro&#039;s CPU involvement: &quot; + (conclusionCpuTime - inceptionCpuTime));</code>

This extract from a Java code elucidates a comparison in CPU resources consumption for Protobuf and Avro, underlining Protobuf as a more resource-conservative choice.

In hindsight, Protobuf typically triumphs over Avro in spheres like data alteration speed, data blob dimension, and CPU resources stewardship. However, these performance victories are counterbalanced by other factors such as complex deployment and balance of flexibility. Future sections will delve into specific situations where Avro or Protobuf may outshine, hinging on the distinct pathway of your system’s requirements.

Critical Notes: Avro’s Alignment or Protobuf’s Predominance

Thriving in the terrain of data serialization may initially seem intimidating, considering it entails decoding the perfect encoding protocol to employ. Two strong contenders in this arena are Avro and Protobuf, both possessing distinguishing aspects that make them suited to varying situations. This part succinctly sheds light on the specific scenarios where either protocol leads, thus imbuing you with insights to judiciously select between them.

1. Applications of Avro

how apache avro works

Born from the stables of the Apache Software Foundation, Avro was crafted with extensive data and interconnected systems in focus, rendering it an excellent solution for certain tasks.

  • Voluminous Data Management: Avro forges a solid bond with Apache Hadoop, a heavy-duty data management system, thanks to its flexible adaptability and categorical freedom. Avro’s formulation empowers the addition, subtraction, or alteration of fields in the data structure without interrupting the interpretation of older variants.

    "type": "record",
    "name": "User",
    "fields": [
    {"name": "name", "type": "string"},
    {"name": "age", "type": "int"},
    {"name": "email", "type": ["null", "string"], "default": null}

  • Instantaneous Data Administration: Avro’s compact binary design and speedy operation set it up as an unbeatable choice for real-time data administration. It can proficiently administer colossal amounts of data instantaneously, thus finding synergy with systems like Apache Kafka.

  • Sustained Data Preservation: Avro’s unhindered flexibility permits the data structure evolution through time, a vital quality in prolonged data conservation.

2. Applications of Protobuf

A brainchild of Google, Protobuf – short for Protocol Buffers - is a streamed serialization structure. Its optimization for data flow between services positions it as an ideal candidate for a range of scenarios.

  • Intercommunication Among Microservices: Given its petite size and swift encoding or decoding, Protobuf is favored for microservices interaction. It ensures smooth data migration between services - an integral part of the microservices design.

    <code>message User {
    string name = 1;
    int32 age = 2;
    string email = 3;

  • API Development: When intertwined with gRPC (a high-velocity RPC mechanism), Protobuf is frequently engaged in API formulation. It introduces a method to independently define the service agreement, paving the groundwork for subsequent client and server procedures generation in various languages.

  • IoT Equipments: The lightweight design and efficacy of Protobuf make it suitable for IoT devices with finite resources. It ensures proficient data transfers between machinery and servers, making it an essential component in an IoT framework.

In conclusion, the engagement of Avro or Protobuf pivots on your precise necessities. Avro aligns more with managing bulky data, immediate data processing, and maintaining data while Protobuf is superior in microservice interactions, API foundations, and IoT devices. Recognizing these application environments can guide you in making an educated decision between Avro and Protobuf.

Assessing Avro and Protobuf: A Rigorous Study of Strengths and Flaws

Delving into this chapter, we will undertake an exhaustive examination of the merits and demerits intrinsic to Avro and Protobuf. This inclusive overview aims to portray a crystal clear image of each platform’s potency and vulnerabilities. This knowledge aids you in making an educated selection, keeping in mind your bespoke demands.

Avro: A Peek at its Merits and Shortcomings:


  1. Shifting Schemas: The highlight of Avro is its capacity to modify schemas in due course, bringing adaptability and flexibility onboard. This feature arises as especially essential in large-volume data applications with mutable schemas.
  &quot;style&quot;: &quot;document&quot;,
  &quot;label&quot;: &quot;Consumer&quot;,
  &quot;components&quot;: [
    {&quot;tag&quot;: &quot;moniker&quot;, &quot;style&quot;: &quot;string&quot;},
    {&quot;tag&quot;: &quot;preferred_digit&quot;,  &quot;style&quot;: [&quot;numeric&quot;, &quot;void&quot;]},
    {&quot;tag&quot;: &quot;preferred_shade&quot;, &quot;style&quot;: [&quot;alphanumeric&quot;, &quot;void&quot;]}
  1. Linguistic Versatility: Avro promotes code-generation for various programming languages encompassing Java, C, C++, C#, Python, and Ruby, thereby serving as a flexible option for divergent development contexts.

  2. Streamlined Data Deconstruction: Avro employs JSON as the foundation for determining data kinds and processes, besides manifesting data in a concise binary style, thus mitigating data transmission dimensions.


  1. Efficacy: Though Avro shines in terms of transforming data into a serialized format, it may falter in high-velocity systems due to its slower pace as compared to Protobuf.

  2. Absent Direct Interpretability: The binary layout adopted by Avro poses challenges in debugging due to the absence of direct interpretability.

Protobuf: A Glance at its Upsides and Downsides:


  1. Velocity: Protobuf stands out for its rapidity and effectiveness, surpassing Avro and comparable data serialization structures.
<code>message QuerySubmission {
  string inquiry = 1;
  int32 leaf_number = 2;
  int32 result_quota = 3;
  1. Economy of Size: Protobuf broadcasts its messages in a binary style superior to that of Avro in terms of compactness, catering to systems apprehensive about bandwidth usage.

  2. Mandatory Typing: Protobuf insists on strict typing, a feature which assists in early error detection during the compile phase as opposed to the runtime phase.


  1. Schema Modifiability: Protobuf doesn’t fare as well as Avro when it comes to adapting to schema alterations, implying a reduced flexibility when dealing with evolving demands.

  2. Linguistic Range: Despite supporting numerous languages, Protobuf lacks the extensive linguistic range characteristic of Avro.

To wrap up, both Avro and Protobuf boast unique strengths, with Avro’s capability for schema modification and linguistic versatility making it adaptable and multifaceted. Meanwhile, Protobuf excels in terms of speed and space efficiency, optimizing it for rapid-functioning systems. Despite these strengths, Protobuf’s inflexibility with schema alterations and Avro’s comparatively slow pace may prove to be deciding factors depending on your unique requirements.



Final Thoughts: Navigating Between Avro and Protobuf Based on Your Requirements

We have embarked on a remarkable adventure through the realm of data marshalling techniques, predominantly Avro and Protobuf. The expedition delineated their salient aspects, tech-specific details, effectiveness indicators, applications, plus their pros and contras. Now, it is the optimum moment to infer some judgments to facilitate an impartial selection of the appropriate one based on your particular requirements.

Deciding between Avro and Protobuf isn’t a straight-forward task. The choice profoundly hinges on the unique demands of your endeavor. Here are a series of essential elements worthy of consideration:

1. Evolution of Schema: For projects that necessitate continuous shifts and enhancements to the data blueprint, Avro should be given due consideration. Avro extends support to both forward and backward congruity, allowing the addition, deletion, or amendment of fields whilst maintaining the integrity of your current data.

  &quot;type&quot;: &quot;record&quot;,
  &quot;name&quot;: &quot;User&quot;,
  &quot;fields&quot;: [
    {&quot;name&quot;: &quot;name&quot;, &quot;type&quot;: &quot;string&quot;},
    {&quot;name&quot;: &quot;age&quot;, &quot;type&quot;: &quot;int&quot;, &quot;default&quot;: -1}, // recent field with default value

2. Efficiency: Protobuf is often renowned for superior performance related to marshalling and unmarshalling speeds. If efficiency is a paramount aspect for your endeavor, Protobuf could be the apt choice.

<code>message User {
  string name = 1;
  int32 age = 2; // recent field

3. Compatibility with Programming Languages: Both Avro and Protobuf extend compatibility with various programming scripts. Nonetheless, Protobuf extends more comprehensive language compatibility, encompassing C++, Java, Python, and supplemental ones. If your project involves a less generic programming script, Protobuf might be a worthy consideration.

4. Data Magnitude: If handling colossal data is on the cards, Avro’s compact data capacity could come in quite handy. Avro needs less room to host analogous data in contrast to Protobuf, potentially leading to remarkable storage conservation.

5. Simplicity: Avro is generally perceived as more user-friendly with a more palatable learning curve in comparison to Protobuf. If you’re migrating to data marshalling or if simplicity is your priority, Avro might be the suitable pick.

6. Support from the Developer Community: Protobuf, being Google’s brainchild, boasts a significantly vibrant community and superior assistance. If foreseeing comprehensive help or valuing a highly responsive community is a priority, Protobuf should be your go-to.

Eventually, Avro and Protobuf are both endowed with their unique strengths and pitfalls. The selection between the duo needs to pivot on your project’s distinct demands and limitations. Before finalizing any choice, a comprehensive evaluation of these elements is recommended. Remember, the optimal tool is the one that best syncs with your requirements.

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6.9 Medium

AI Score