TypeScript icon, indicating that this package has built-in type declarations

9.0.2 • Public • Published


Encode and parse data in the Concise Binary Object Representation (CBOR) data format (RFC8949).

Supported Node.js versions

This project now only supports versions of Node that the Node team is currently supporting. Ava's support statement is what we will be using as well. Currently, that means Node 10+ is required. If you need to support an older version of Node (back to version 6), use cbor version 5.2.x, which will get nothing but security updates from here on out.


$ npm install --save cbor

NOTE If you are going to use this on the web, use cbor-web instead.

If you need support for encoding and decoding BigDecimal fractions (tag 4) or BigFloats (tag 5), please see cbor-bigdecimal.


See the full API documentation.

For a command-line interface, see cbor-cli.


const cbor = require('cbor')
const assert = require('assert')

let encoded = cbor.encode(true) // Returns <Buffer f5>
cbor.decodeFirst(encoded, (error, obj) => {
  // If there was an error, error != null
  // obj is the unpacked object
  assert.ok(obj === true)

// Use integers as keys?
const m = new Map()
m.set(1, 2)
encoded = cbor.encode(m) // <Buffer a1 01 02>

Allows streaming as well:

const cbor = require('cbor')
const fs = require('fs')

const d = new cbor.Decoder()
d.on('data', obj => {

const s = fs.createReadStream('foo')

const d2 = new cbor.Decoder({input: '00', encoding: 'hex'})
d.on('data', obj => {

There is also support for synchronous decodes:

try {
  console.log(cbor.decodeFirstSync('02')) // 2
  console.log(cbor.decodeAllSync('0202')) // [2, 2]
} catch (e) {
  // Throws on invalid input

The sync encoding and decoding are exported as a leveldb encoding, as cbor.leveldb.


The synchronous routines for encoding and decoding will have problems with objects that are larger than 16kB, which the default buffer size for Node streams. There are a few ways to fix this:

  1. pass in a highWaterMark option with the value of the largest buffer size you think you will need:
cbor.encodeOne(new ArrayBuffer(40000), {highWaterMark: 65535})
  1. use stream mode. Catch the data, finish, and error events. Make sure to call end() when you're done.
const enc = new cbor.Encoder()
enc.on('data', buf => /* Send the data somewhere */ null)
enc.on('error', console.error)
enc.on('finish', () => /* Tell the consumer we are finished */ null)

enc.end(['foo', 1, false])
  1. use encodeAsync(), which uses the approach from approach 2 to return a memory-inefficient promise for a Buffer.

Supported types

The following types are supported for encoding:

  • boolean
  • number (including -0, NaN, and ±Infinity)
  • string
  • Array, Set (encoded as Array)
  • Object (including null), Map
  • undefined
  • Buffer
  • Date,
  • RegExp
  • URL
  • TypedArrays, ArrayBuffer, DataView
  • Map, Set
  • BigInt

Decoding supports the above types, including the following CBOR tag numbers:

Tag Generated Type
0 Date
1 Date
2 BigInt
3 BigInt
21 Tagged, with toJSON
22 Tagged, with toJSON
23 Tagged, with toJSON
32 URL
33 Tagged
34 Tagged
35 RegExp
64 Uint8Array
65 Uint16Array
66 Uint32Array
67 BigUint64Array
68 Uint8ClampedArray
69 Uint16Array
70 Uint32Array
71 BigUint64Array
72 Int8Array
73 Int16Array
74 Int32Array
75 BigInt64Array
77 Int16Array
78 Int32Array
79 BigInt64Array
81 Float32Array
82 Float64Array
85 Float32Array
86 Float64Array
258 Set

Adding new Encoders

There are several ways to add a new encoder:

encodeCBOR method

This is the easiest approach, if you can modify the class being encoded. Add an encodeCBOR method to your class, which takes a single parameter of the encoder currently being used. Your method should return true on success, else false. Your method may call encoder.push(buffer) or encoder.pushAny(any) as needed.

For example:

class Foo {
  constructor() {
    this.one = 1
    this.two = 2

  encodeCBOR(encoder) {
    const tagged = new Tagged(64000, [this.one, this.two])
    return encoder.pushAny(tagged)

You can also modify an existing type by monkey-patching an encodeCBOR function onto its prototype, but this isn't recommended.


Sometimes, you want to support an existing type without modification to that type. In this case, call addSemanticType(type, encodeFunction) on an existing Encoder instance. The encodeFunction takes an encoder and an object to encode, for example:

class Bar {
  constructor() {
    this.three = 3
const enc = new Encoder()
enc.addSemanticType(Bar, (encoder, b) => {

Adding new decoders

Most of the time, you will want to add support for decoding a new tag type. If the Decoder class encounters a tag it doesn't support, it will generate a Tagged instance that you can handle or ignore as needed. To have a specific type generated instead, pass a tags option to the Decoder's constructor, consisting of an object with tag number keys and function values. The function will be passed the decoded value associated with the tag, and should return the decoded value. For the Foo example above, this might look like:

const d = new Decoder({
  tags: {
    64000: val => {
      // Check val to make sure it's an Array as expected, etc.
      const foo = new Foo()
      ;[foo.one, foo.two] = val
      return foo

You can also replace the default decoders by passing in an appropriate tag function. For example:

cbor.decodeFirstSync(input, {
  tags: {
    // Replace the Tag 0 (RFC3339 Date/Time string) decoder.
    // See https://tc39.es/proposal-temporal/docs/ for the upcoming
    // Temporal built-in, which supports nanosecond time:
    0: x => Temporal.Instant.from(x),


The tests for this package use a set of test vectors from RFC 8949 appendix A by importing a machine readable version of them from https://github.com/cbor/test-vectors. For these tests to work, you will need to use the command git submodule update --init after cloning or pulling this code. See https://gist.github.com/gitaarik/8735255#file-git_submodules-md for more information.

Get a list of build steps with npm run. I use npm run dev, which rebuilds, runs tests, and refreshes a browser window with coverage metrics every time I save a .js file. If you don't want to run the fuzz tests every time, set a NO_GARBAGE environment variable:

env NO_GARBAGE=1 npm run dev

Build Status Coverage Status

Package Sidebar


npm i cbor

Weekly Downloads






Unpacked Size

166 kB

Total Files


Last publish


  • paroga
  • dotcypress
  • hildjj