Extending Construct

Adapters

Adapters are the standard way to extend and customize the library. Adapters operate at the object level (unlike constructs, which operate at the stream level), and are thus easy to write and more flexible. For more info see the adapter tutorial.

In order to write custom adapters, implement _decode and _encode:

class MyAdapter(Adapter):
    def _decode(self, obj, context, path):
        # called at parsing time to return a modified version of obj
        pass

    def _encode(self, obj, context, path):
        # called at building time to return a modified version of obj
        pass

Constructs

Generally speaking, you should not write constructs by yourself:

  • It’s a craft that requires skills and understanding of the internals of the library (which change over time).
  • Adapters should really be all you need and are much simpler to implement.
  • To make things faster, try using compilation feature, or pypy. The python-level classes are as fast as it gets, assuming generality.

The only reason you might want to write a custom class is to achieve something that’s not currently possible. This might be a construct that computes/corrects the checksum of data, altough that already exists. Or a compression, or hashing. These also exist. But surely there is something that was not invented yet. If you need a semantics modification to an existing class, you can post a feature request, or copy the code of existing class into your project and modify it.

There are at least two kinds of constructs: raw construct and subconstructs.

Raw constructs

Deriving directly from class Construct, raw constructs can do as they wish by implementing _parse, _build, and _sizeof:

class MyConstruct(Construct):
    def _parse(self, stream, context, path):
        # read from the stream
        # return object
        pass

    def _build(self, obj, stream, context, path):
        # write obj to the stream
        # return same value (obj) or a modified value
        # that will replace the context dictionary entry
        pass

    def _sizeof(self, context, path):
        # return computed size (when fixed size or depends on context)
        # or raise SizeofError (when variable size or unknown)
        pass

Variable size fields typically raise SizeofError, for example VarInt and CString.

Subconstructs

Deriving from class Subconstruct, these wrap an inner construct, inheriting it’s properties (name and flags). In their _parse and _build and _sizeof methods, they will call self.subcon._parse and self.subcon._build and self.subcon._sizeof respectively.

class MySubconstruct(Subconstruct):
    def __init__(self, subcon):
        self.name = subcon.name
        self.subcon = subcon
        self.flagbuildnone = subcon.flagbuildnone
        self.flagembedded = subcon.flagembedded

    def _parse(self, stream, context, path):
        obj = self.subcon._parse(stream, context, path)
        # do something with obj
        return obj

    def _build(self, obj, stream, context, path):
        # do something with obj
        return self.subcon._build(obj, stream, context, path)
        # return same value (obj) or a modified value
        # that will replace the context dictionary entry

    def _sizeof(self, context, path):
        # if not overriden, defers to subcon size
        return self.subcon._sizeof(context, path)