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Python multi-engine PCAP analyse kit.

Project description


  The pcapkit project is an open source Python program focus on PCAP parsing and analysis, which works as a stream PCAP file extractor. With support of dictdumper, it shall support multiple output report formats.

Note that the whole project only supports Python 3.6 or later.


pcapkit is an independent open source library, using only dictdumper as its formatted output dumper.

There is a project called jspcapy works on pcapkit, which is a command line tool for PCAP extraction but now DEPRECATED.

  Unlike popular PCAP file extractors, such as Scapy, dpkt, pyshark, and etc, pcapkit uses streaming strategy to read input files. That is to read frame by frame, decrease occupation on memory, as well as enhance efficiency in some way.

Module Structure

  In pcapkit, all files can be described as following six parts.

  • Interface (pcapkit.interface) -- user interface for the pcapkit library, which standardise and simplify the usage of this library
  • Foundation ( -- synthesise file I/O and protocol analysis, coordinate information exchange in all network layers
  • Reassembly (pcapkit.reassembly) -- base on algorithms described in RFC 815, implement datagram reassembly of IP and TCP packets
  • IPSuite (pcapkit.ipsuite) -- collection of constructors for Internet Protocol Suite
  • Protocols (pcapkit.protocols) -- collection of all protocol family, with detail implementation and methods
  • Utilities (pcapkit.utilities) -- collection of four utility functions and classes
  • CoreKit (pcapkit.corekit) -- core utilities for pcapkit implementation
  • ToolKit (pcapkit.toolkit) -- capability tools for pcapkit implementation
  • DumpKit (pcapkit.dumpkit) -- dump utilities for pcapkit implementation

Engine Comparison

  Besides, due to complexity of pcapkit, its extraction procedure takes around 0.01 seconds per packet, which is not ideal enough. Thus, pcapkit introduced alternative extraction engines to accelerate this procedure. By now, pcapkit supports Scapy, DPKT, and PyShark. Plus, pcapkit supports two strategies of multiprocessing (server & pipeline). For more information, please refer to the document.

Engine Performance (seconds per packet)
dpkt 0.0003609057267506917
scapy 0.002443440357844035
default 0.017523006995519
pipeline 0.014550424114863079
server 0.04667099356651306
pyshark 0.0792640733718872



Note that pcapkit only supports Python versions since 3.6

  Simply run the following to install the current version from PyPI:

pip install pypcapkit

  Or install the latest version from the git repository:

git clone
cd pypcapkit
pip install -e .
# and to update at any time
git pull

  And since pcapkit supports various extraction engines, and extensive plug-in functions, you may want to install the optional ones:

# for DPKT only
pip install pypcapkit[DPKT]
# for Scapy only
pip install pypcapkit[Scapy]
# for PyShark only
pip install pypcapkit[PyShark]
# and to install all the optional packages
pip install pypcapkit[all]
# or to do this explicitly
pip install pypcapkit dpkt scapy pyshark





extract extract a PCAP file
analyse analyse application layer packets
reassemble reassemble fragmented datagrams
trace trace TCP packet flows


JSON JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format
PLIST macOS Property List (PLIST) format
TREE Tree-View text format
PCAP PCAP format
RAW no specific layer
LINK data-link layer
INET internet layer
TRANS transport layer
APP application layer
PCAPKit the default engine
MPServer the multiprocessing engine with server process strategy
MPPipeline the multiprocessing engine with pipeline strategy
DPKT the DPKT engine
Scapy the Scapy engine
PyShark the PyShark engine


NoPayload No-Payload
Raw Raw Packet Data
ARP Address Resolution Protocol
Ethernet Ethernet Protocol
L2TP Layer Two Tunnelling Protocol
OSPF Open Shortest Path First
RARP Reverse Address Resolution Protocol
VLAN 802.1Q Customer VLAN Tag Type
AH Authentication Header
HIP Host Identity Protocol
HOPOPT IPv6 Hop-by-Hop Options
IP Internet Protocol
IPsec Internet Protocol Security
IPv4 Internet Protocol version 4
IPv6 Internet Protocol version 6
IPv6_Frag Fragment Header for IPv6
IPv6_Opts Destination Options for IPv6
IPv6_Route Routing Header for IPv6
IPX Internetwork Packet Exchange
MH Mobility Header
TCP Transmission Control Protocol
UDP User Datagram Protocol
HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol

  Documentation can be found in submodules of pcapkit. Or, you may find usage sample in the test folder. For further information, please refer to the source code -- the docstrings should help you :)

ps: help function in Python should always help you out.

CLI Usage

The following part was originally described in jspcapy, which is now deprecated and merged into this repository.

  As it shows in the help manual, it is quite easy to use:

$ pcapkit --help
usage: pcapkit [-h] [-V] [-o file-name] [-f format] [-j] [-p] [-t] [-a] [-v]
               [-F] [-E PKG] [-P PROTOCOL] [-L LAYER]

PCAP file extractor and formatted exporter

positional arguments:
  input-file-name       The name of input pcap file. If ".pcap" omits, it will
                        be automatically appended.

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -V, --version         show program's version number and exit
  -o file-name, --output file-name
                        The name of input pcap file. If format extension
                        omits, it will be automatically appended.
  -f format, --format format
                        Print a extraction report in the specified output
                        format. Available are all formats supported by
                        dictdumper, e.g.: json, plist, and tree.
  -j, --json            Display extraction report as json. This will yield
                        "raw" output that may be used by external tools. This
                        option overrides all other options.
  -p, --plist           Display extraction report as macOS Property List
                        (plist). This will yield "raw" output that may be used
                        by external tools. This option overrides all other
  -t, --tree            Display extraction report as tree view text. This will
                        yield "raw" output that may be used by external tools.
                        This option overrides all other options.
  -a, --auto-extension  If output file extension omits, append automatically.
  -v, --verbose         Show more information.
  -F, --files           Split each frame into different files.
  -E PKG, --engine PKG  Indicate extraction engine. Note that except default
                        engine, all other engines need support of corresponding
  -P PROTOCOL, --protocol PROTOCOL
                        Indicate extraction stops after which protocol.
  -L LAYER, --layer LAYER
                        Indicate extract frames until which layer.

  Under most circumstances, you should indicate the name of input PCAP file (extension may omit) and at least, output format (json, plist, or tree). Once format unspecified, the name of output file must have proper extension (*.json, *.plist, or *.txt), otherwise FormatError will raise.

  As for verbose mode, detailed information will print while extraction (as following examples). And auto-extension flag works for the output file, to indicate whether extensions should be appended.



Usage Samples

  As described in test folder, pcapkit is quite easy to use, with simply three verbs as its main interface. Several scenarios are shown as below.

  • extract a PCAP file and dump the result to a specific file (with no reassembly)

    import pcapkit
    # dump to a PLIST file with no frame storage (property frame disabled)
    plist = pcapkit.extract(fin='in.pcap', fout='out.plist', format='plist', store=False)
    # dump to a JSON file with no extension auto-complete
    json = pcapkit.extract(fin='in.cap', fout='out.json', format='json', extension=False)
    # dump to a folder with each tree-view text file per frame
    tree = pcapkit.extract(fin='in.pcap', fout='out', format='tree', files=True)
  • extract a PCAP file and fetch IP packet (both IPv4 and IPv6) from a frame (with no output file)

    >>> import pcapkit
    >>> extraction = pcapkit.extract(fin='in.pcap', nofile=True)
    >>> frame0 = extraction.frame[0]
    # check if IP in this frame, otherwise ProtocolNotFound will be raised
    >>> flag = pcapkit.IP in frame0
    >>> tcp = frame0[pcapkit.IP] if flag else None
  • extract a PCAP file and reassemble TCP payload (with no output file nor frame storage)

    import pcapkit
    # set strict to make sure full reassembly
    extraction = pcapkit.extract(fin='in.pcap', store=False, nofile=True, tcp=True, strict=True)
    # print extracted packet if HTTP in reassembled payloads
    for packet in extraction.reassembly.tcp:
        for reassembly in packet.packets:
            if pcapkit.HTTP in reassembly.protochain:

CLI Samples

  The CLI (command line interface) of pcapkit has two different access.

  • through console scripts -- use command name pcapkit [...] directly (as shown in samples)
  • through Python module -- python -m pypcapkit [...] works exactly the same as above

Here are some usage samples:

  • export to a macOS Property List (Xcode has special support for this format)
$ pcapkit in --format plist --verbose
🚨Loading file 'in.pcap'
 - Frame   1: Ethernet:IPv6:ICMPv6
 - Frame   2: Ethernet:IPv6:ICMPv6
 - Frame   3: Ethernet:IPv4:TCP
 - Frame   4: Ethernet:IPv4:TCP
 - Frame   5: Ethernet:IPv4:TCP
 - Frame   6: Ethernet:IPv4:UDP
🍺Report file stored in 'out.plist'
  • export to a JSON file (with no format specified)
$ pcapkit in --output out.json --verbose
🚨Loading file 'in.pcap'
 - Frame   1: Ethernet:IPv6:ICMPv6
 - Frame   2: Ethernet:IPv6:ICMPv6
 - Frame   3: Ethernet:IPv4:TCP
 - Frame   4: Ethernet:IPv4:TCP
 - Frame   5: Ethernet:IPv4:TCP
 - Frame   6: Ethernet:IPv4:UDP
🍺Report file stored in 'out.json'
  • export to a text tree view file (without extension autocorrect)
$ pcapkit in --output out --format tree --verbose
🚨Loading file 'in.pcap'
 - Frame   1: Ethernet:IPv6:ICMPv6
 - Frame   2: Ethernet:IPv6:ICMPv6
 - Frame   3: Ethernet:IPv4:TCP
 - Frame   4: Ethernet:IPv4:TCP
 - Frame   5: Ethernet:IPv4:TCP
 - Frame   6: Ethernet:IPv4:UDP
🍺Report file stored in 'out'



  • specify Raw packet
  • interface verbs
  • review docstrings
  • merge jspcapy
  • write documentation
  • implement IP and MAC address containers
  • implement option list extractors
  • implement more protocols

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