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Data::CompactReadonly::V0::Format - a description of CompactReadonly data format, version 0.


Bytes with values that are printable ASCII will be shown as a single ASCII character. Otherwise bytes will be shown either in hexadecimal - 0xAB - or binary - 0b01010101.

When appropriate bit-fields will be shown in binary 0b100.

Bytes will be separated by spaces, bit-fields within a byte by hyphens - 0b11-0000-00.


All internal structures are big-endian.


The file header is five bytes long. The first four serve to identify the file type:

    C R O D

The fifth is a bit-field that encodes in the most significant five bits the file format version number, and in the least significant three bits encodes the pointer length that is used in the file. Values from 0 to 7 correspond to pointer lengths from 1 to 8 bytes.

The five byte header is immediately followed by the root node.

Version number 31 (0b11111-XXX) is reserved for future use.


Data is encoded in nodes, which can be of several types. The types fall into two categories:

Scalar types

Scalars encode a simple value. That can be a number or the NULL value. The five integer numeric types are also available as NegativeByte, NegativeMedium and so on.

Byte - 8 bit integer
Short - 16 bit integer
Medium - 24 bit integer
Long - 32 bit integer
Huge - 64 bit integer
Float64 - 64 bit IEEE754 double-precision
Collection types

Collections encode multiple values.


Encodes a list of characters - that is, a string.


Encodes a list of nodes, which can themselves be of any type.


Encodes a list of key-value pairs, the keys being strings or numbers and the values being nodes of any type. The keys must be stored in ASCIIbetical order. Note that while the use of numeric types is *permitted* for keys it is not recommended, as you may run into problems finding floating point keys because of the usual floating point imprecision issues.

Each node is encoded as a type header occupying from 1 to 9 bytes, followed by data if necessary


The type header consists of a type specifier followed by up to 8 bytes telling us how much data is in the node. The type specifier is a bit field. The first two bits will tell us whether the node is a collection or not.

    0b00 - Text node

    0b01 - Array node
    0b10 - Dictionary node

    0b11 - it's not a collection, it's a scalar node

The next four bits tell us, for scalar nodes, the type, or for collection nodes some of them tell us what type is used to encode the collection's length. Only Byte, Short, Medium, and Long are valid for lengths.

    0b0000 - Byte (valid as a length)        0b0001 - NegativeByte

    0b0010 - Short (valid as a length)       0b0011 - NegativeShort

    0b0100 - Medium (valid as a length)      0b0101 - NegativeMedium

    0b0110 - Long (valid as a length)        0b0111 - NegativeLong

    0b1000 - Huge                            0b1001 - NegativeHuge

    0b1010 - Null

    0b1011 - Float64

    0b1100 - True

    0b1101 - False

Any unspecified bits or combinations of bits are reserved for future use. Unspecified bits should be set to zero if you want your data to be compatible with future versions.



The header is followed by the appropriate number of bytes of data.


These are just a header.


The header is followed by the appropriate number of bytes to encode the text's length, followed by that many bytes of text. Note that text lengths are stored in bytes but text is actually encoded in UTF-8. So the 3 character string "北京市" is stored as the 9 bytes:

    北: 0xE5 0x8C 0x97    京: 0xE4 0xBA 0xAC    市: 0xE5 0xB8 0x82

and the entire node would be the 11 bytes:

    0b00-0000-00:  this is a Text node, with the length stored in a Byte
    0x09:          the length of the text
    0xE5 ... 0x82: nine bytes of text


The header is followed by the appropriate number of bytes to encode the number of elements in the array, N. Zero obviously means an empty array. That is immediately followed by N pointers of the size specified in the database header. Each pointer is the location in the file of another node, which can be of any type.


The hader is followed by the appropriate number of bytes to encode the number of elements in thedictionary, N. Zero means an empty dictionary. That is immediately followed by N pairs of pointers of the size specifed in the database header. The first pointer in each pair must point to a Text or numeric node which will be used as a key for looking up values. The second pointer in each pair points to the value, which can be any type of node. The pointers to keys must list them in ASCIIbetical order. If they are out of order some elements may not be able to be found.