2 unstable releases

0.1.0 Mar 21, 2023
0.0.1 Mar 20, 2023

#2309 in Encoding

24 downloads per month

MIT license



ser_raw is a simple and fast serializer.

Please see documentation on doc.rs.



ser_raw is a simple and fast serializer.

It uses Rust's native memory layouts as the serialization format, so serializing is largely as simple as just copying raw bytes. This offers two main advantages:

  1. The simplicity means it's very fast.
  2. Deserialization can be zero-copy and instantaneous - just cast a pointer to the serialized data into a &T.

The primary target for this library is sharing data between different processes on the same machine (including between different languages), but it can also be used for other purposes.

How fast is it?

Fast! Benchmark of serializing a large AST structure produced by SWC:

serde_json: 226.99 µs
rkyv:        44.98 µs
ser_raw:     14.35 µs


This crate provides 4 different serializers for different use cases. They offer a range of options, between doing work during serialization, or during deserialization. They mostly differ in how they deal with pointers.

PureCopySerializer is the fastest and simplest serializer. Does not correct pointers, so the data can only be deserialized by traversing the tree of values in order.

UnalignedSerializer is identical to PureCopySerializer, except that it doesn't attempt to correctly align data.

PtrOffsetSerializer replaces pointers in the input (e.g. in Box, Vec or String) with offsets. i.e. what byte index the pointee is located in the output.

This allows lazy deserialization, and for a deserializer to traverse the tree of values in any order/direction.

CompleteSerializer replaces pointers in the input with valid pointers into the output, and makes other corrections to ensure output is a completely valid representation of the input. Input can be "rehydrated" just by casting a pointer to the start of the output buffer as a &T.

Custom serializers

This crate provides an easy-to-use derive macro to create custom Serializers, based on any of the above.

Serializers can also choose between different backing storage options. This crate provides two - AlignedVec and UnalignedVec - or it's possible to build your own Storage implementation.

Serializable types

Only owned, sized types are supported at present.

Support for serializing common Rust types (e.g. u8, isize, NonZeroU32, Box, Vec, String, Option) is included out of the box.

For your own types, implement the Serialize trait. Usually, you can use the derive macro.

use ser_raw::Serialize;

struct Foo {
	small: u8,
	vec: Vec<u32>

For foreign types (i.e. from external crates), use SerializeWith.


No deserializers are provided at present.

CompleteSerializer doesn't require a deserializer anyway, as you can just cast a pointer to the output buffer to a &T.


As serializers just copy Rust's memory verbatim, a serializer's output will depend on the system it's run on (processor architecture, big endian or little endian, 64 bit or 32 bit).

Rust also offers no guarantee that even the same code compiled twice on the same system will result in the same memory layouts (in practice it does, but you can always tag your types #[repr(C)] to make sure).

Therefore, great care should be taken to ensure deserialization occurs on same type of machine as serialization occured on, and ideally using the same binary. A mismatch will be very likely to cause memory unsafety and the dreaded undefined behavior.

For the primary use case for `ser_raw` - transfer of data within a single

system - these constraints are not a problem.


derive feature enables the Serialize derive macro. Enabled by default.

Future direction and motivation

The primary motivator for creating this library is to enable fast sharing of data between Rust and JavaScript (via napi-rs). The classic approach of using serde JSON is much too slow for some use cases, and rkyv turned out also to be slower than expected.

The idea is to use layout_inspect to produce a schema of Rust's type layouts, and to use that schema to generate a matching JavaScript serializer / deserializer in which can deserialize ser_raw's output.

This is the main reason why there aren't deserializers implemented in Rust yet! I'm planning to be doing the deserialization in JavaScript.


ser_raw follows the same approach to serialization as abomonation. It matches abomonation's extremely fast speed, while aiming to avoid its safety issues (and halloween theme!)

rkyv is also an inspiration, and the backing storage used by most of ser_raw's serializers, AlignedVec, is based on rkyv's type of the same name.

Traits which are composed to create Serializers. Used internally by Serializer derive macro.


~35K SLoC