Cross-client memcached compatibility

Tomash Brechko tomash.brechko at
Wed Jan 30 09:53:46 UTC 2008

On Wed, Jan 30, 2008 at 08:34:44 +0000, Ciaran wrote:
> I understand exactly what you're saying about the data-type in flags
> approach being a corruption of the flag intent, but if there was to be an
> agreed 'cross-platform serialisation' strategy (such as the first one or
> two bytes of the actual data being the 'serialisation flag' )

Note that I'm not against the "SERIALIZED" flag itself, only against
using flags to encode data type.  Thus the client can always tell that
the data is serialized by looking into the flags.  But it won't tell
the serialization method from that.

Yes, it's possible to rise SERIALIZED flag, then encode serialization
method in two first bytes, and put the rest after that.  IMHO this is
preferrable over encoding serializarion type in flags, as was
suggested in other email.

But the problem of choosing common serialization method itself is not
limited to memcached domain.  There's no single library that would
allow you to pass data structures back and forth between different
environments, over, say, a socket, so it sounds ambitious if we are
going to implement one for memcached ;).  Serialization of arbitrary
data structure is a complex task, as one of sub-problems is
reconstruction of directed graph, with cycles in a general case (think
of pointers/references).

As for limiting it to some basic scalar types, strings, and arrays
thereof, even here there are deviations: not every language has
distinct boolean type, integers of various widths, internal support
for UTF-8, etc.  The common subset would leave us with integer,
floating point, and string (as a byte sequence; even character vs byte
distinction is disputable).  And it's easy to write a serializer for
these three (by stringifying numbers as the last resort for instance).

Sad, but true.

   Tomash Brechko

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