#database #key-value-store


Lightweight embedded key-value store/database backed by files in a virtual file system interface

3 releases (breaking)

new 0.3.0 Apr 20, 2021
0.2.0 Apr 7, 2021
0.1.0 Mar 29, 2021

#18 in Database implementations

Used in grebedb-tool

MPL-2.0 license

3.5K SLoC


GrebeDB is a Rust library that provides a lightweight embedded key-value store/database backed by files in a virtual file system interface. It is intended for single-process applications that prefer a key-value database-like interface to data instead operating on file formats directly.

Crates.io docs.rs

Note: The library is not fully production-ready and has not been extensively tested, but it is in a usable state. Use with caution and make backups regularly of important data.

Design summary (limitations and guarantees)

Since there are too many key-value stores, the design of the database is immediately described upfront for you to decide whether GrebeDB is fit for your use:

  • The database is implemented as a B+ tree with each node saved to a file.
    • Both keys and values are treated as binary data. Keys with prefixes are not optimized.
    • Values are stored inline with the leaf nodes.
    • Lazy deletion is performed.
  • The size of each file is not fixed and can vary significantly depending on the data stored and configuration options.
  • Files are stored using a virtual file system interface. The implementation can be in memory, on a real disk, or your own implementation. Performance and durability is dependent on the file system.
  • Operations such as get, put, remove, and cursor are provided. There's no support for traditional transactions, but the flush operation provides atomic saving of data. Internal consistency is provided by file copy-on-writes, incrementing revision counters, and atomic file renames.
  • Compression of the file with Zstandard can be used.
  • Concurrency is not supported. No threads are used for background tasks.

For details about the file format, see format.md.

Getting started

Remember to add the grebedb crate dependency to your Cargo.toml.

A GrebeDB database is stored as multiple files in a directory. The following creates a database using the given path and default options:

let options = Options::default();
let mut db = Database::open_path("path/to/empty/directory/", options)?;

Storing, retrieving, and deleting keys is as simple as using the get(), put(), and remove() functions:

db.put("my_key", "hello world")?;

println!("The value of my_key is {:?}", db.get("my_key")?);


println!("The value of my_key is now {:?}", db.get("my_key")?);

To get all the key-values, use cursor():

for (key, value) in db.cursor() {
    println!("key = {}, value = {}", key, value);

The database uses an internal cache and automatically delays writing data to the file system. If you want to ensure all changes has been persisted to the file system at a certain point, use flush(). This operation saves the data with atomicity, effectively emulating a transaction, before returning:


Tip: When inserting a large amount of items, insert keys in sorted order for best performance. Inserting many random keys will be slow as it will require opening, writing, and closing the file that contains the position for it. If you need sorted ID generation, try algorithms based on Twitter Snowflake, MongoDB Object ID, or ULID.

For more information, check the examples directory and the API reference on docs.rs.


By default, the features are enabled:

  • compression: zstd crate is enabled for compression
  • file_locking: fslock is for cross-platform file locking
  • system: getrandom is a dependency for uuid

To disable them, use default-features = false in your Cargo.toml file.


For a command-line tool to provide basic manipulation (such as import & export for backup) and debugging, see grebedb-tool.


Please use the GitHub Issues, Pull Requests, and Discussions if you have any problems, bug fixes, or suggestions.


Possible improvements:

  • Better API for buffer arguments. The &mut Vec<u8> type might be inflexible.
  • Reduce internal memory allocation and copying.
  • Reduce disk IO with smarter caching.
  • More tests for error cases.

Not in scope

The following non-exhaustive features are not in scope and likely won't be implemented:

  • Additions or modifications of data structures that increase complexity (such as supporting reverse cursor direction).
  • Traditional grouping of operations into transactions with commit and rollback.
  • Threads for performing automatic background work.
  • Async/.await support.

If you need more features or require better performance, it's likely you need a more powerful database with a Rust binding such as RocksDB or a traditional database like SQLite.


Copyright 2021 Christopher Foo. Licensed under Mozilla Public License 2.0.


~67K SLoC