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A module for constructions of structured binary packets.

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'Hydras' is a python library that allows the developer to create structured binary data according to simple rules, somewhat similar to how C does it with a struct.


class Header(Struct):
  Opcode = UInt8(4)       # The `opcode`'s default value will now be `4`
  DataLength = UInt32()

class DataPacket(Struct):
  # A nested structure. "DataLength = 128" sets the default DataLength value for `Header`s inside `DataPacket`s
  Header = NestedStruct(Header(DataLength = 128))
  # Creates an array of bytes with a length of 128 bytes.
  Payload = Array(length = 128)

  # To override the constructor it must be able to override the default ctor (1 argument)
  def __init__(self, opcode=0):
    # Must call the base ctor
    super(DataPacket, self).__init__()
    self.Header.Opcode = opcode

if __name__ == '__main__':
  packet = DataPacket()
  # After you create the object, you can ignore the formatting rules, and assign the data directly to the properties.
  packet.Header.Opcode = DATAPACKET_OPCODE

  # You can transform the object into a byte string using the `serialize` method.
  data_to_send = packet.serialize() # => b'\x04\x80\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00...'

  packet.Payload = '\xFF' * 128
  data_to_send = packet.serialize() # => b'\x04\x80\x00\x00\x00\xFF\xFF\xFF\xFF\xFF\xFF\xFF\xFF...'

  # . . .

  # You can parse raw byte strings into an object using the deserialize class method.
  received_data = some_socket.recv(len(packet))
  parsed_packet = DataPacket.deserialize(received_data)

You can find more examples in the examples directory.

How does it work?

In the core of the library, there are two types of objects: TypeFormatter and Struct.

TypeFormatter is a formatting object, and can parse and format values of a specified type. Struct is a structure object, which enables you to define rules for object serialization.

The developer can thus declare a class using the following notation:

class <StructName>(Struct):
  <member_name> = <TypeClass>(<default_value>)


class Message(Struct):
  TimeOfDay = UInt64()      # This creates a UInt64 formatter.
  DataLength = UInt8(128)   # A default value is optional

Message().serialize() #=> b'\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x80'

The declared data members are in fact (due to python's syntax), static. When a class object is created, the constructor (deep) copies each of the formatters' default_values into an instance variable in the same name, so some transparency is achieved by "tricking" the user into thinking no formatters are involved:

Class members:
  TimeOfDay:  UInt64 (default_value = 0)
  DataLength: UInt8  (default_value = 128)
Object members:
  TimeOfDay:  0
  DataLength: 128

When the object is serialized, the object's data is cross-referenced with the class's formatters. All of the integers are internally converted using python's struct.pack function.


A validator object can be assigned to a struct data member to define validation rules. When deserializing an object from binary data, the framework will validate the values using the user-defined validation-rules.

If an invalid value is encountered, a ValueError is raised.

class MeIsValidated(Struct):
    member = Int8(0, validator=RangeValidator(-15, 15))


MeIsValidated.deserialize('\x10')  # => ValueError: The deserialized data is invalid.

There are a few built-in validators defined for the following rules:

  • RangeValidator: Range check
  • ExactValueValidator: Exact value check
  • BitSizeValidator: Bit-Length check
  • CustomValidator: Lambda validation (receives a user function.)
  • TrueValidator & FalseValidator: Dummy validators (always true / always false)

More validators can be defined by subclassing the Validator class.

Lambda Validators

The user can use a lambda expression (or any function) instead of a validator object as validation rule.

class MeIsLambda(Struct):
    member = Int8(0, validator=lambda value: value % 3 == 0)


A Struct derived class can implement hooks.


This method will be called before a serialization is about to occur.

Note: This method will not be called if either HydraSettings.dry_run is True, or serialize is called with dry_run=True


This method will be called after a serialization has occurd.

Note: This method will not be called if either HydraSettings.dry_run is True, or serialize is called with dry_run=True


Called after a de-serialization is completed. If it returns a Falsey value, the deserialize raises an error.

If not overriden by the user in a custom Struct class, the method will validate using the type formatters' validators.

The user can, of course, override the method to add custom validations, and then invoke the original validate method.

Note: No errors will be raised if HydraSettings.validate is set to False.

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