Deprecated RLP serialization library for Nim (now part of the 'eth' module)



Build Status (Travis) Windows build status (Appveyor) License: Apache License: MIT Stability: experimental


A Nim implementation of the Recursive Length Prefix encoding (RLP) as specified in the Ethereum's Yellow Papper and Wiki.


$ nimble install rlp

Reading RLP data

The Rlp type provided by this library represents a cursor over a RLP-encoded byte stream. Before instantiating such a cursor, you must convert your input data a BytesRange value provided by the nim-ranges library, which represents an immutable and thus cheap-to-copy sub-range view over an underlying seq[byte] instance:

proc rlpFromBytes*(data: BytesRange): Rlp

Streaming API

Once created, the Rlp object will offer procs such as isList, isBlob, getType, listLen, blobLen to determine the type of the value under the cursor. The contents of blobs can be extracted with procs such as toString, toBytes and toInt without advancing the cursor.

Lists can be traversed with the standard items iterator, which will advance the cursor to each sub-item position and yield the Rlp object at that point. As an alternative, listElem can return a new Rlp object adjusted to a particular sub-item position without advancing the original cursor. Keep in mind that copying Rlp objects is cheap and you can create as many cursors pointing to different positions in the RLP stream as necessary.

skipElem will advance the cursor to the next position in the current list. hasData will indicate that there are no more bytes in the stream that can be consumed.

Another way to extract data from the stream is through the universal read proc that accepts a type as a parameter. You can pass any supported type such as string, int, seq[T], etc, including composite user-defined types (see Object Serialization). The cursor will be advanced just past the end of the consumed object.

The toXX and read family of procs may raise a RlpTypeMismatch in case of type mismatch with the stream contents under the cursor. A corrupted RLP stream or an attemp to read past the stream end will be signaled with the MalformedRlpError exception. If the RLP stream includes data that cannot be processed on the current platform (e.g. an integer value that is too large), the library will raise an UnsupportedRlpError exception.


Calling Rlp.toNodes at any position within the stream will return a tree of RlpNode objects representing the collection of values begging at that position:

  RlpNodeType* = enum

  RlpNode* = object
    case kind*: RlpNodeType
    of rlpBlob:
      bytes*: BytesRange
    of rlpList:
      elems*: seq[RlpNode]

As a short-cut, you can also call decode directly on a byte sequence to avoid creating a Rlp object when obtaining the nodes. For debugging purposes, you can also create a human readable representation of the Rlp nodes by calling the inspect proc:

proc inspect*(self: Rlp, indent = 0): string

Creating RLP data

The RlpWriter type can be used to encode RLP data. Instances are created with the initRlpWriter proc. This should be followed by one or more calls to append which is overloaded to accept arbitrary values. Finally, you can call finish to obtain the final BytesRange.

If the end result should by a RLP list of particular length, you can replace the initial call to initRlpWriter with initRlpList(n). Calling finish before writing a sufficient number of elements will then result in a PrematureFinalizationError.

As an alternative short-cut, you can also call encode on an arbitrary value (including sequences and user-defined types) to execute all of the steps at once and directly obtain the final RLP bytes. encodeList(varargs) is another short-cut for creating RLP lists.

Object serialization

As previously explained, generic procs such as read, append, encode and decode can be used with arbitrary used-defined object types. By default, the library will serialize all of the fields of the object using the fields iterator, but you can also include only a subset of the fields or modify the order of serialization or by employing the rlpIgnore pragma or by using the rlpFields macro:

macro rlpFields*(T: typedesc, fields: varargs[untyped])

## example usage:

  Transaction = object
    amount: int
    time: DateTime
    sender: string
    receiver: string

rlpFields Transaction,
  sender, receiver, amount


var t1 = rlp.read(Transaction)
var bytes = encode(t1)
var t2 = bytes.decode(Transaction)

By default, sub-fields within objects are wrapped in RLP lists. You can avoid this behavior by adding the custom pragma rlpInline on a particular field. In rare circumstances, you may need to serialize the same field type differently depending on the enclosing object type. You can use the rlpCustomSerialization pragma to achieve this.

Contributing / Testing

To test the correctness of any modifications to the library, please execute nimble test at the root of the repo.


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