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Posted at 2017-07-28 12:44 | RSS feed (Full text feed) | Blog Index
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Friday Q&A 2017-07-28: A Binary Coder for Swift
by Mike Ash  
This article is also available in Hungarian (translation by Zsolt Boros).

In my last article I discussed the basics of Swift's new Codable protocol, briefly discussed how to implement your own encoder and decoder, and promised another article about a custom binary coder I've been working on. Today, I'm going to present that binary coder.

Source Code
As usual, the source code is available on GitHub:

https://github.com/mikeash/BinaryCoder/tree/887cecd70c070d86f338065f59ed027c13952c83

Concept and Approach
This coder serializes fields by writing them out sequentially as raw bytes, with no metadata. For example:

    struct S {
        var a: Int16
        var b: Int32
        var c: Int64
    }

The result of encoding an instance of S is fourteen bytes long, with two bytes for a, four bytes for b, and eight bytes for c. The result is almost the same as writing out the raw underlying memory of S, except there's no padding, the numbers are byte-swapped to be endian agnostic, and it's able to intelligently chase down references and do custom encoding when needed.

This type of straightforward binary encoding is a little hobby of mine, and I've previously experimented with other approaches to it in Swift, none of which were satisfactory. When the Swift 4 beta became available with Codable, I looked to see if it would work for this, and it did!

My use of Codable is somewhat abusive. I want to take advantage of the compiler-generated Encodable and Decodable implementations, but those use keyed coding, whereas the straight-line no-metadata binary format is pretty much the polar opposite of keyed coding. The solution is simple: ignore the keys, and rely on the encoding and decoding order to be consistent. This is ugly, and a bad idea in general, but it does work, and even got a tweet from a member of the Swift core team indicating it might be OK. This approach is obviously not resilient to changes in your field layout or field types, but as long as you're aware of this and understand it, that's acceptable.

It does mean that arbitrary implementations of Codable can't be trusted to work with this coder. We know that the compiler-generated implementations work, with limitations, but there may be implementations in the standard library (for example, the implementation for Array) which rely on semantics that this coder doesn't support. In order to ensure that types don't partipate in binary coding without some vetting, I created my own protocols for binary coding:

    public protocol BinaryEncodable: Encodable {
        func binaryEncode(to encoder: BinaryEncoder) throws
    }

    public protocol BinaryDecodable: Decodable {
        init(fromBinary decoder: BinaryDecoder) throws
    }

    public typealias BinaryCodable = BinaryEncodable & BinaryDecodable

I wrote extensions to simplify the common case where you just want to use the compiler's implementation of Codable:

    public extension BinaryEncodable {
        func binaryEncode(to encoder: BinaryEncoder) throws {
            try self.encode(to: encoder)
        }
    }

    public extension BinaryDecodable {
        public init(fromBinary decoder: BinaryDecoder) throws {
            try self.init(from: decoder)
        }
    }

This way, your own types can just conform to BinaryCodable, and they'll get a default implementation of everything they need, as long as they meet the requirements. It's required that all fields must be Codable, but we can't require all fields to be BinaryCodable. That type checking has to be done at runtime, which is unfortunate, but acceptable.

The encoder and decoder implementation are straightforward: they encode/decode everything in order, ignoring the keys. The encoder produces bytes corresponding to the values that are encoded, and the decoder produces values from the bytes it has stored.

BinaryEncoder Basics
The encoder is a public class:

    public class BinaryEncoder {

It has one field, which is the data it has encoded so far:

    fileprivate var data: [UInt8] = []

This data starts out empty, and bytes are appended to it as values are encoded.

A convenience method wraps up the process of creating an encoder instance, encoding an object into it, and returning the instance's data:

    static func encode(_ value: BinaryEncodable) throws -> [UInt8] {
        let encoder = BinaryEncoder()
        try value.binaryEncode(to: encoder)
        return encoder.data
    }

The encoding process can throw runtime errors, so the encoder needs an error type:

    enum Error: Swift.Error {
        case typeNotConformingToBinaryEncodable(Encodable.Type)
        case typeNotConformingToEncodable(Any.Type)
    }

Let's move on to the low-level encoding methods. We'll start with a generic method which will encode the raw bytes of a value:

    func appendBytes<T>(of: T) {
        var target = of
        withUnsafeBytes(of: &target) {
            data.append(contentsOf: $0)
        }
    }

This will form the basis for other encoding methods.

Let's take a quick look at the methods for encoding Float and Double next. CoreFoundation has helper functions which take care of any byte swapping that's needed for them, so these methods call those functions and then call appendBytes with the result:

    func encode(_ value: Float) {
        appendBytes(of: CFConvertFloatHostToSwapped(value))
    }

    func encode(_ value: Double) {
        appendBytes(of: CFConvertDoubleHostToSwapped(value))
    }

While we're at it, here's the method for encoding a Bool. It translates the Bool to a UInt8 containing a 0 or 1 and encodes that:

    func encode(_ value: Bool) throws {
        try encode(value ? 1 as UInt8 : 0 as UInt8)
    }

BinaryEncoder has one more encode method, which takes care of encoding all other Encodable types:

    func encode(_ encodable: Encodable) throws {

This has special cases for various types, so it switches on the parameter:

        switch encodable {

Int and UInt need special handling, because their sizes aren't consistent. Depending on the target platform, they may be 32 bits or 64 bits. To solve this, we convert them to Int64 or UInt64 and then encode that value:

        case let v as Int:
            try encode(Int64(v))
        case let v as UInt:
            try encode(UInt64(v))

All other integer types are handled with the FixedWidthInteger protocol, which exposes enough functionality to do the necessary byte swapping for encoding values. Because FixedWidthInteger uses Self for some return types, I wasn't able to do the work directly here. Instead, I extended FixedWidthInteger with a binaryEncode method that handles the work:

        case let v as FixedWidthInteger:
            v.binaryEncode(to: self)

Float, Double, and Bool call the type-specific methods above:

        case let v as Float:
            encode(v)
        case let v as Double:
            encode(v)
        case let v as Bool:
            try encode(v)

Anything that's BinaryEncodable is encoded by calling its binaryEncode method and passing self:

        case let binary as BinaryEncodable:
            try binary.binaryEncode(to: self)

There's one more case to handle. Any value that gets this far is not a type that we know how to encode natively, nor is it BinaryEncodable. In this case, we throw an error to inform the caller that this value doesn't conform to the protocol:

        default:
            throw Error.typeNotConformingToBinaryEncodable(type(of: encodable))
        }
    }

Finally, let's look at the FixedWidthInteger extension. All this has to do is call self.bigEndian to get a portable representation of the integer type, and then call appendBytes on the encoder to encode that representation:

    private extension FixedWidthInteger {
        func binaryEncode(to encoder: BinaryEncoder) {
            encoder.appendBytes(of: self.bigEndian)
        }
    }

We now have all the important parts of binary encoding, but we still don't have an Encoder implementation. To accomplish that, we'll create implementations of the container protocols which call back to the BinaryEncoder to do the work.

BinaryEncoder Encoder Implementation
Let's start by looking at the implementations of the containers. We'll start with the KeyedEncodingContainerProtocol implementation:

    private struct KeyedContainer<Key: CodingKey>: KeyedEncodingContainerProtocol {

The implementation needs a reference to the binary encoder that it's working in:

        var encoder: BinaryEncoder

Encoder requires a codingPath property which returns an array of CodingKey values indicating the current path into the encoder. Since this encoder doesn't really support keys in the first place, we always return an empty array:

        public var codingPath: [CodingKey] { return [] }

Code which uses this class will have to be implemented not to require this value to make any sense.

The protocol then has a ton of methods for encoding all of the various types that it supports:

    public mutating func encode(_ value: Bool, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: Int, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: Int8, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: Int16, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: Int32, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: Int64, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: UInt, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: UInt8, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: UInt16, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: UInt32, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: UInt64, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: Float, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: Double, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode(_ value: String, forKey key: Self.Key) throws
    public mutating func encode<T>(_ value: T, forKey key: Self.Key) throws where T : Encodable

We'll have to implement all of those one by one. Let's start with the last one, which handles generic Encodable values. It just needs to call through to BinaryEncoder's encode method:

        func encode<T>(_ value: T, forKey key: Key) throws where T : Encodable {
            try encoder.encode(value)
        }

We can use a similar technique to implement the other methods, and... what's this? All of the compiler errors about protocol conformance have gone away?

It turns out that this one implementation of encode satisfies all of the encode methods in the protocol, because all of the other types are Encodable. A suitable generic method will fulfill any matching protocol requirements. It's obvious in retrospect, but I didn't realize it until I was halfway done with this code and saw that errors didn't appear when I deleted type-specific methods.

Now we can see why I implemented BinaryEncoder's encode method with a big switch statement instead of using separate implementations for all of the various supported types. Overloaded methods are resolved at compile time based on the static type that's available at the call site. The above call to encoder.encode(value) will always call func encode(_ encodable: Encodable) even if the actual value passed in is, say, a Double or a Bool. In order to allow for this simple wrapper, the implementation in BinaryEncoder has to work with a single entry point, which means it needs to be a big switch statement.

KeyedEncodingContainerProtocol requires a few other methods. There's one for encoding nil, which we implement to do nothing:

        func encodeNil(forKey key: Key) throws {}

Then there are four methods for returning nested containers or superclass encoders. We don't do anything clever here, so this just delegates back to the encoder:

        func nestedContainer<NestedKey>(keyedBy keyType: NestedKey.Type, forKey key: Key) -> KeyedEncodingContainer<NestedKey> where NestedKey : CodingKey {
            return encoder.container(keyedBy: keyType)
        }

        func nestedUnkeyedContainer(forKey key: Key) -> UnkeyedEncodingContainer {
            return encoder.unkeyedContainer()
        }

        func superEncoder() -> Encoder {
            return encoder
        }

        func superEncoder(forKey key: Key) -> Encoder {
            return encoder
        }
    }

We also need implementations of UnkeyedEncodingContainer and SingleValueEncodingContainer. It turns out that those protocols are similar enough that we can use a single implementation for both. The actual implementation is almost the same as it was for KeyedEncodingContainerProtocol, with the addition of a dummy count property:

    private struct UnkeyedContanier: UnkeyedEncodingContainer, SingleValueEncodingContainer {
        var encoder: BinaryEncoder

        var codingPath: [CodingKey] { return [] }

        var count: Int { return 0 }

        func nestedContainer<NestedKey>(keyedBy keyType: NestedKey.Type) -> KeyedEncodingContainer<NestedKey> where NestedKey : CodingKey {
            return encoder.container(keyedBy: keyType)
        }

        func nestedUnkeyedContainer() -> UnkeyedEncodingContainer {
            return self
        }

        func superEncoder() -> Encoder {
            return encoder
        }

        func encodeNil() throws {}

        func encode<T>(_ value: T) throws where T : Encodable {
            try encoder.encode(value)
        }
    }

Using these containers, we'll make BinaryEncoder conform to Encoder.

Encoder requires a codingPath property like the containers do:

    public var codingPath: [CodingKey] { return [] }

It also requires a userInfo property. We don't support that either, so it returns an empty dictionary:

    public var userInfo: [CodingUserInfoKey : Any] { return [:] }

Then there are three methods which return containers:

    public func container<Key>(keyedBy type: Key.Type) -> KeyedEncodingContainer<Key> where Key : CodingKey {
        return KeyedEncodingContainer(KeyedContainer<Key>(encoder: self))
    }

    public func unkeyedContainer() -> UnkeyedEncodingContainer {
        return UnkeyedContanier(encoder: self)
    }

    public func singleValueContainer() -> SingleValueEncodingContainer {
        return UnkeyedContanier(encoder: self)
    }

That's the end of BinaryEncoder.

BinaryDecoder Basics
The decoder is a public class too:

    public class BinaryDecoder {

Like the encoder, it has some data:

    fileprivate let data: [UInt8]

Unlike the encoder, the decoder's data is loaded into the object when it's created. The caller provides the data that the decoder will decode from:

    public init(data: [UInt8]) {
        self.data = data
    }

The decoder also needs to keep track of where it is inside the data it's decoding. It does that with a cursor property, which starts out at the beginning of the data:

    fileprivate var cursor = 0

A convenience method wraps up the process of creating a decoder and decoding a value:

    static func decode<T: BinaryDecodable>(_ type: T.Type, data: [UInt8]) throws -> T {
        return try BinaryDecoder(data: data).decode(T.self)
    }

The decoder has its own errors it can throw during the decoding process. Decoding can fail in many more ways than encoding, so BinaryDecoder's Error type has a lot more cases:

    enum Error: Swift.Error {
        case prematureEndOfData
        case typeNotConformingToBinaryDecodable(Decodable.Type)
        case typeNotConformingToDecodable(Any.Type)
        case intOutOfRange(Int64)
        case uintOutOfRange(UInt64)
        case boolOutOfRange(UInt8)
        case invalidUTF8([UInt8])
    }

Now we can get on to actual decoding. The lowest level method reads a certain number of bytes out of data into a pointer, advancing cursor, or throwing prematureEndOfData if data doesn't have enough bytes in it:

    func read(_ byteCount: Int, into: UnsafeMutableRawPointer) throws {
        if cursor + byteCount > data.count {
            throw Error.prematureEndOfData
        }

        data.withUnsafeBytes({
            let from = $0.baseAddress! + cursor
            memcpy(into, from, byteCount)
        })

        cursor += byteCount
    }

There's also a small generic wrapper which takes an inout T and reads into that value, using MemoryLayout to figure out how many bytes to read.

    func read<T>(into: inout T) throws {
        try read(MemoryLayout<T>.size, into: &into)
    }

Like BinaryEncoder, BinaryDecoder has methods for decoding floating-point types. For these, it creates an empty CFSwappedFloat value, reads into it, and then calls the appropriate CF function to convert it to the floating-point type in question:

    func decode(_ type: Float.Type) throws -> Float {
        var swapped = CFSwappedFloat32()
        try read(into: &swapped)
        return CFConvertFloatSwappedToHost(swapped)
    }

    func decode(_ type: Double.Type) throws -> Double {
        var swapped = CFSwappedFloat64()
        try read(into: &swapped)
        return CFConvertDoubleSwappedToHost(swapped)
    }

The method for decoding Bool decodes a UInt8 and then returns false if it's 0, true if it's 1, and otherwise throws an error:

    func decode(_ type: Bool.Type) throws -> Bool {
        switch try decode(UInt8.self) {
        case 0: return false
        case 1: return true
        case let x: throw Error.boolOutOfRange(x)
        }
    }

The general decode method for Decodable uses a big switch statement to decode various specific types:

    func decode<T: Decodable>(_ type: T.Type) throws -> T {
        switch type {

For Int and UInt, it decodes an Int64 or UInt64, then converts to an Int or UInt, or throws an error:

        case is Int.Type:
            let v = try decode(Int64.self)
            if let v = Int(exactly: v) {
                return v as! T
            } else {
                throw Error.intOutOfRange(v)
            }
        case is UInt.Type:
            let v = try decode(UInt64.self)
            if let v = UInt(exactly: v) {
                return v as! T
            } else {
                throw Error.uintOutOfRange(v)
            }

The compiler doesn't realize that T's type must match the values being produced, so the as! T convinces it to compile this code.

Other integers are handled through FixedWidthInteger using an extension method:

        case let intT as FixedWidthInteger.Type:
            return try intT.from(binaryDecoder: self) as! T

Float, Double, and Bool all call their type-specific decoding methods:

        case is Float.Type:
            return try decode(Float.self) as! T
        case is Double.Type:
            return try decode(Double.self) as! T
        case is Bool.Type:
            return try decode(Bool.self) as! T

BinaryDecodable types use the initializer defined in that protocol, passing self:

        case let binaryT as BinaryDecodable.Type:
            return try binaryT.init(fromBinary: self) as! T

If none of the cases are hit, then throw an error:

        default:
            throw Error.typeNotConformingToBinaryDecodable(type)
        }
    }

The FixedWidthInteger method uses Self.init() to make a value, reads bytes into it, and then uses the bigEndian: initializer to perform byte swapping:

    private extension FixedWidthInteger {
        static func from(binaryDecoder: BinaryDecoder) throws -> Self {
            var v = Self.init()
            try binaryDecoder.read(into: &v)
            return self.init(bigEndian: v)
        }
    }

That takes care of the foundation. Now to implement Decoder.

BinaryDecoder Decoder Implementation
As before, we implement the three container protocols. We'll start with the keyed container:

    private struct KeyedContainer<Key: CodingKey>: KeyedDecodingContainerProtocol {

It delegates everything to the decoder, so it needs a reference to that:

        var decoder: BinaryDecoder

The protocol requires codingPath:

        var codingPath: [CodingKey] { return [] }

It also requires allKeys, which returns all keys that the container knows about. Since we don't really support keys in the first place, this returns an empty array:

        var allKeys: [Key] { return [] }

There's also a method to see if the container contains a given key. We'll just blindly say "yes" to all such questions:

        func contains(_ key: Key) -> Bool {
            return true
        }

As before, KeyedDecodingContainerProtocol has a ton of different decode methods which can all be satisfied with a single generic method for Decodable:

        func decode<T>(_ type: T.Type, forKey key: Key) throws -> T where T : Decodable {
            return try decoder.decode(T.self)
        }

There's also a decodeNil, which we'll have do nothing and always succeed:

        func decodeNil(forKey key: Key) throws -> Bool {
            return true
        }

Nested containers and superclass decodes delegate back to the decoder:

        func nestedContainer<NestedKey>(keyedBy type: NestedKey.Type, forKey key: Key) throws -> KeyedDecodingContainer<NestedKey> where NestedKey : CodingKey {
            return try decoder.container(keyedBy: type)
        }

        func nestedUnkeyedContainer(forKey key: Key) throws -> UnkeyedDecodingContainer {
            return try decoder.unkeyedContainer()
        }

        func superDecoder() throws -> Decoder {
            return decoder
        }

        func superDecoder(forKey key: Key) throws -> Decoder {
            return decoder
        }
    }

Like before, one type can implement both of the other container protocols:

    private struct UnkeyedContainer: UnkeyedDecodingContainer, SingleValueDecodingContainer {
        var decoder: BinaryDecoder

        var codingPath: [CodingKey] { return [] }

        var count: Int? { return nil }

        var currentIndex: Int { return 0 }

        var isAtEnd: Bool { return false }

        func decode<T>(_ type: T.Type) throws -> T where T : Decodable {
            return try decoder.decode(type)
        }

        func decodeNil() -> Bool {
            return true
        }

        func nestedContainer<NestedKey>(keyedBy type: NestedKey.Type) throws -> KeyedDecodingContainer<NestedKey> where NestedKey : CodingKey {
            return try decoder.container(keyedBy: type)
        }

        func nestedUnkeyedContainer() throws -> UnkeyedDecodingContainer {
            return self
        }

        func superDecoder() throws -> Decoder {
            return decoder
        }
    }

Now BinaryDecoder itself can provide dummy implementations of the properties required by Decoder and implement methods to return instances of the containers:

    public var codingPath: [CodingKey] { return [] }

    public var userInfo: [CodingUserInfoKey : Any] { return [:] }

    public func container<Key>(keyedBy type: Key.Type) throws -> KeyedDecodingContainer<Key> where Key : CodingKey {
        return KeyedDecodingContainer(KeyedContainer<Key>(decoder: self))
    }

    public func unkeyedContainer() throws -> UnkeyedDecodingContainer {
        return UnkeyedContainer(decoder: self)
    }

    public func singleValueContainer() throws -> SingleValueDecodingContainer {
        return UnkeyedContainer(decoder: self)
    }

That is the end of BinaryDecoder.

Array and String Extensions
In order to make the coders more useful, I implemented BinaryCodable for Array and String. In theory I could call through to their Codable implementation, but I can't count on that implementation to work with the limitations of the binary coders, and I wouldn't have control over the serialized representation. Instead, I manually implemented it.

The plan is to have Array encode its count, and then encode its elements. To decode, it can decode the count, then decode that many elements. String will convert itself to UTF-8 in the form of Array and then use Array's implementation to do the real work.

Someday, when Swift gets conditional conformances, we'll be able to write extension Array: BinaryCodable where Element: BinaryCodable to indicate that Array is is only codable when its contents are. For now, Swift can't express that notion. Instead, we have to say that Array is always BinaryCodable, and then do runtime type checks to ensure the content is suitable.

Encoding is a matter of checking the type of Element, encoding self.count, then encoding all of the elements:

    extension Array: BinaryCodable {
        public func binaryEncode(to encoder: BinaryEncoder) throws {
            guard Element.self is Encodable.Type else {
                throw BinaryEncoder.Error.typeNotConformingToEncodable(Element.self)
            }

            try encoder.encode(self.count)
            for element in self {
                try (element as! Encodable).encode(to: encoder)
            }
        }

Decoding is the opposite. Check the type, decode the count, then decode that many elements:

        public init(fromBinary decoder: BinaryDecoder) throws {
            guard let binaryElement = Element.self as? Decodable.Type else {
                throw BinaryDecoder.Error.typeNotConformingToDecodable(Element.self)
            }

            let count = try decoder.decode(Int.self)
            self.init()
            self.reserveCapacity(count)
            for _ in 0 ..< count {
                let decoded = try binaryElement.init(from: decoder)
                self.append(decoded as! Element)
            }
        }
    }

String can then encode itself by creating an Array from its utf8 property and encoding that:

    extension String: BinaryCodable {
        public func binaryEncode(to encoder: BinaryEncoder) throws {
            try Array(self.utf8).binaryEncode(to: encoder)
        }

Decoding decodes the UTF-8 Array and then creates a String from it. This will fail if the decoded Array isn't valid UTF-8, so there's a little extra code here to check for that and throw an error:

        public init(fromBinary decoder: BinaryDecoder) throws {
            let utf8: [UInt8] = try Array(fromBinary: decoder)
            if let str = String(bytes: utf8, encoding: .utf8) {
                self = str
            } else {
                throw BinaryDecoder.Error.invalidUTF8(utf8)
            }
        }
    }

Example Use
That takes care of binary encoding and decoding. Use is simple. Declare conformance to BinaryCodable, then use BinaryEncoder and BinaryDecoder on your types:

    struct Company: BinaryCodable {
        var name: String
        var employees: [Employee]
    }

    struct Employee: BinaryCodable {
        var name: String
        var jobTitle: String
        var age: Int
    }

    let company = Company(name: "Joe's Discount Airbags", employees: [
        Employee(name: "Joe Johnson", jobTitle: "CEO", age: 27),
        Employee(name: "Stan Lee", jobTitle: "Janitor", age: 87),
        Employee(name: "Dracula", jobTitle: "Dracula", age: 41),
        Employee(name: "Steve Jobs", jobTitle: "Visionary", age: 56),
    ])
    let data = try BinaryEncoder.encode(company)
    let roundtrippedCompany = try BinaryDecoder.decode(Company.self, data: data)
    // roundtrippedCompany contains the same data as company

Conclusion
Swift's new Codable protocols are a welcome addition to the language to eliminate a lot of boilerplate code. It's flexible enough to make it straightforward to use/abuse it for things well beyond JSON and property list parsing. Unsophisticated binary formats such as this are not often called for, but they have their uses, and it's interesting to see how Codable can be used for something so different from the built-in facilities. The Encoder and Decoder protocols are large, but judicious use of generics can cut down a lot of the repetitive code, and implementation is relatively simple in the end.

BinaryCoder was written for exploratory and educational purposes, and it's probably not what you want to use in your own programs. However, there are cases where it could be suitable, as long as you understand the tradeoffs involved.

That's it for today! Come back again for more exciting byte-related adventures. As always, Friday Q&A is driven by reader ideas, so if you have a topic you'd like to see covered, please send it in!

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Comments:

Svetoslav at 2017-07-29 17:34:18:
The line

    let data = try BinaryEncoder.encode(original)

should be

    let data = try BinaryEncoder.encode(company)

mikeash at 2017-07-29 18:27:19:
Svetoslav: Yes indeed. I fixed it. Thanks!

Alan W at 2017-07-30 18:18:42:
I think that

    let roundtrippedCompany = try BinaryDecoder.decode(T.self, data: data)

should be

    let roundtrippedCompany = try BinaryDecoder.decode(Company.self, data: data)

It made a lot more sense when I saw that in the unit test. =)

mikeash at 2017-07-31 18:18:32:
Alan W: Thanks, I fixed that too. Who would have thought that the one piece of code in this post that I just wrote for the article and didn't test would be full of errors. If only there was some sort of lesson in here for me.

David Waite at 2017-08-01 03:25:01:
Similar to how you are swapping host bytes for floating point and integer numbers to big-endian/network byte order, shouldn't you always encode Int as 64 bits, and error on decode if the platform cannot fit the number?

David Waite at 2017-08-01 03:33:54:
...aaaaand never mind, thats exactly what you did. I guess I may be publicly humiliated at your sole discretion now.

mikeash at 2017-08-01 13:22:34:
David Waite: I give you minus two points for missing the part of the article where I mention that, but plus five points for figuring out the problem and a solution, so good job overall!

Colin at 2017-08-31 05:01:03:
Huh. I actually need a binary coder. Thx!

I've got a vector drawing app, and to store raw stroke point data needs to be fast. I'm currently using messagepack, which is alright. But faster would always be better for this!

Any data on performance of your implementation? Looks like it could be pretty optimal, this approach...

Maxim at 2017-09-01 15:19:13:
Hi Mike, thank you very much for the great article. Could you elaborate on CFConvertFloatHostToSwapped. Why exactly do you need it? I though it would imply the endianness of the machine but, there is no sign of changing ints to a particular endian in the example.

Maxim at 2017-09-01 15:27:14:
Sorry it's me again, just browsed through the code on github and saw that you turn FixedWidthInteger to bigEndian. Does CFConvertFloatHostToSwapped convert floats to big endian as well?

Arbi at 2017-09-08 06:46:23:
Currently we are using object mapper for coding decoding json and mapping return data. Apple did us a big favor by introducing the decodable and encodable protocol.I love how detailed you have gotten with it . I really appreciate and I will use it once I upgrade to swift 4.0 and Xcode 9.


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