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Struct + Buffer = Struffer. Also works with Uint8Arrays

Why? Because Buffers (and Uint8Arrays) are great, but manipulating data with them is highly unconfortable. Struffers overlay a structure definition (that you provide) to easily interact with data in Buffers.


As simple as 1, 2, 3:

npm install --save struffer


Struffers come in two flavors: normal and advanced. Both share the same exact API and are almost identical. The only difference is normal struffers require members to be sized in multiples of eight (8, 16, 32, etc.) while advanced struffers allow members to be arbitrary bit sizes (3, 17, 22, etc.). Advanced struffers are recommended if you're looking to cut down on size and know the exact limit of the values you'll be using. Normal struffers are recommended for pretty much everything else (since they enforce standard bit sizes).

⚠️ Wait! ⚠️ If you're like me and learn best by reading through some code, head on over to the examples. Otherwise, keep reading and enjoy.

All API examples here are done using normal struffers, but for advanced struffers, just replace the Struffer factory with AdvancedStruffer.

By the way, the examples here are all based on previous ones. So if you're lost as to where a piece of an example came from, look at examples before it.

// pick your poison
import Struffer, { AdvancedStruffer } from 'struffer';

Template Creation

Defining a struffer layout is extremely simple and as similar as possible to defining a struct in C. As mentioned before, normal struffers can only use sizes that are multiples of eight. Since examples are done with normal struffers, we'll be following this limitation. Keep in mind, though, that advanced struffers can use any bit size in place of sizes in these examples.

Templates (i.e. your custom struffer classes) can be created by calling the factory for your desired struffer flavor (Struffer or AdvancedStruffer) with 2 arguments: the name for your template and the layout definition.

The layout definition is an array of [string, string]. Each tuple represents one member. The first string in each tuple is the member's type (more on that in a bit). The second string in each tuple is the member's name.

Types are nearly identical to C types, but with a few improvements. First off, they can be upper- or lowercase, it doesn't matter. They can be simple words like int, uint, byte, and char, or they can be abbreviations like i and u. uint and u are special in that (if not overridden by a signed modifier) they are unsigned. Types can also have a size manually specified by putting it after the type name (e.g. int_16, u64, char 80, etc.).

Types can include modifiers at the before the type name like signed, unsigned, short, and long. signed and unsigned modify the signature of the type (i.e. exactly what they do in C). But unlike their C counterparts, short and long don't strictly set a type size. Instead, short divides the type size by 2, and long multiplies it by 2. The number of times you specify them also matters. For example, ints are 32 bits. Doing long int makes it 64 bits. Doing long long int makes it 128 bits. The same applies to shorts.

The last 2 modifiers available are endianness specifiers, and they go after the type name (and type size, if included). They're le for little-endian and be for big-endian. Types are by default little-endian.

Modifiers, type names, and type sizes can all be separated by any non-alphanumeric character. Thus, unsigned int 32 is the same as unsigned_int_32. Each separator can also be different from other separators, so unsigned int_32 works. However, note the careful wording: they can be separated by such characters, but they don't have to. unsignedint32, while hardly readable, is perfectly valid.

Got all that? Yes? No? How about an example to help explain? Here you go:

const MyStruffer = Struffer('MyStruffer', [
  ['int', 'foo'],
  ['unsigned int', 'bar'],
  ['short uint be', 'foobar'], // same as `u16be`
  ['long long unsigned i16', 'some'], // same as `long uint` or `uint_64`
  ['byte_32', 'thing'], // same as `int`
  ['short long short int', 'something'], // same as `short int`
  ['int le', 'cool'], // same as `int`
  ['SIGNED U32 BE', 'WHY_AM_I_YELLING'], // same as `int be`
  // you probably get the gist by now

Alright, well, that was lot, wasn't it? Don't worry, that was the hardest part. It's all downhill from here.

Static Template Properties

Templates have 2 useful static properties:

  • byteLength - The total length in bytes of your template. Will always be rounded up if your template contains a partial byte (only possible in advanced struffers)
  • bitLength - The total length in bits of your template
MyStruffer.byteLength === 256;
MyStruffer.bitLength === 2048;

Template Instantiation

You can instantiate your template over a given Buffer or Uint8Array quite easily. Just pass in a a Buffer or Uint8Array as your first argument, and if you need to, the offset where the structure data should start. That's it.

const someBuffer = Buffer.alloc(MyStruffer.byteLength);
const struff = new MyStruffer(someBuffer);
// or you can offset it (say, for example, 8 bytes):
const someOtherBuffer = Buffer.alloc(MyStruffer.byteLength + 8);
const strufferWithAnOffset = new MyStruffer(someOtherBuffer, 8);

Data Interaction

Once you have your template instance created, you can use in 3 different ways:

  • The Object API
  • The Map API
  • The Batch API

There is one thing to note, however, and it's common across all 3 APIs: "deleting" only clears the value of the member(s) it's targeting (i.e. it sets it/them to 0).

Object API

Interact with your data as if it were located in a regular old JS object via the structure property on struffers. There's pretty much nothing to explain here. Just pretend that your member names are property names on the structure and interact with them as you would any other JS object. Here's an example:

// getting a member's value:
// setting a member's value:
struff.structure.foobar = 1234;
// checking for a member's presence/existence:
'foobar' in struff.structure;
// "deleting" a member:
delete struff.structure.foobar;
// enumerating members:
// works with computed keys, too

By the way, all this trickery is enabled by ES6 Proxies. (standards ftw!)


Allows you to interact with your data through Map methods like get, set, has, and more. In fact, each and every struffer implements Map<string, number>. Thus, you can use the full Map API with struffers.

// getting a member's value:
// setting a member's value:
struff.set('foobar', 1234);
// checking for member's presence/existence:
// "deleting" a member:
// enumerating members:
// you can also use all other Map methods and properties:
struff.size; // number of members in the struffer
struff.clear(); // "deletes" all members (i.e. sets all members to 0)
struff.entries(); // Iterator that yields tuples of `[name: string, value: number]` for each member
struff.forEach((value: number, key: string, map: MyStruffer) => undefined, optionalThisArgHere);
struff.values(); // Iterator that yields the numerical value of each member
struff[Symbol.iterator](); // same as `struff.entries()`; automatically called when doing the following:
for (const [name, value] of struff) { /* ... */ }

Batch API

Allows you to interact with multiple members at once. This API is mainly provided for user convenience, since it's actually just a simple layer over the Map API.

// get member values:
const { foo, bar, foobar } = struff.getMany(['foo', 'bar', 'foobar']);
// set member values:
  foo: -123456,
  bar: 123456,
  foobar: 1234,
// check for the presence/existence of multiple members:
const { foo: fooPresent, bar: barPresent, foobar: foobarPresent } = struff.hasMany(['foo', 'bar', 'foobar']);
// "delete" members:
struff.deleteMany(['foo', 'bar', 'foobar']);

String representations

Struffers come with some useful default string representations, through toString(), [Symbol.toPrimitive](), and [util.inspect.custom]().

struff.toString(); // manual `toString()` call
`my struff: ${struff}`; // calls `[Symbol.toPrimitive]('default')`
struff + 'foobar'; // calls `[Symbol.toPrimitive]('string')`
console.log(struff); // calls `[util.inspect.custom]()` in Node.js

The repesentation looks a little something like this (though your values may vary):

Struffer<MyStruffer> {
  foo: i32 = 0;
  bar: u32 = 0;
  foobar: u16be = 0;
  some: u64 = 0;
  thing: i32 = 0;
  something: i16 = 0;
  cool: i32 = 0;
  WHY_AM_I_YELLING: i32be = 0;

Miscellaneous methods

Some documentation for random methods that didn't really fit in any other section.

getBits(name: string): BinaryValue[]

Gets the individual bits of the given member. NOTE: while this may (and probably will and should) change in a future version, the order of the returned bits is platform dependent and should be handled accordingly.

struff.structure.foobar = 123456;
const bits = struff.getBits('foobar');
 * `bits` should be [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0]
 * on little-endian systems (reverse this for big-endian systems)

setBits(name: string, bits: BinaryValue[])

Sets the individual bits of the given member. NOTE: see getBits above.

// reverse this array for big-endian systems
struff.setBits('foobar', [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0]);
// struff.structure.foobar should now be 123456


Like values(), but yields bit arrays instead of numerical values. If you want bits along with member names see bitEntries().

for (const bitArray of struff.bits()) {
  // ...


Like entries(), but yields bit arrays instead of numerical values.

for (const [name, bits] of struff.bitEntries()) {
  // ...

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