What is Protocol Buffers?
Protocol Buffers (a.k.a., protobuf) are Google's language-neutral, platform-neutral, extensible mechanism for serializing structured data. Protocol buffers are a flexible, efficient, automated mechanism for serializing structured data – think XML, but smaller, faster, and simpler. You define how you want your data to be structured once, then you can use special generated source code to easily write and read your structured data to and from a variety of data streams and using a variety of languages. You can even update your data structure without breaking deployed programs that are compiled against the "old" format.
Why not just use XML?
Protocol buffers have many advantages over XML for serializing structured data. Protocol buffers:
- are simpler
- are 3 to 10 times smaller
- are 20 to 100 times faster
- are less ambiguous
- generate data access classes that are easier to use programmatically