Created: 2012-08-21 02:17
Updated: 2019-02-12 17:33
License: mit



travis-ci build status

An Objective-C implementation of Google proto buffer for iOS. The orignal code comes from Booyah Inc. This implemenation add features to support write to / parse from delimited stream. This git repo also support cocoapods.

Supported Platform

  • iOS 4.0 and above
  • Xcode 4 and above


  • Support write to / parse from delimited stream (protobuf 2.3 feature).


Simple Usage

You write a foo.proto file like this:

message Person {
    required int32 id = 1;
    required string name = 2;
    optional string email = 3;

Then you compile it with protoc to produce code in Objective-C (see below).

Serialize to protobuf format:

Person* person = [[[[[Person builder] setId:123]
                                   setEmail:@""] build];
NSData* data = [person data];

Unserialize from protobuf format data:

NSData* raw_data = ...;
Person* person = [Person parseFromData:raw_data];

Delimited encode

Sometime is very useful to write multiple protobuf objects into a single file. This need use delimited format. Here is an example:

// serialize
NSOutputStream *ouputStream = [NSOutputStream outputStreamToFileAtPath:@"filename.dat" append:YES];
[ouputStream open];
for (int i=0; i<count; i++) {
    // create a new Person object and assign value.
    Person* person = ...;
    // write to stream use delimited format
    [person writeDelimitedToOutputStream:outputStream];

// unserialize
NSInputStream* inputStream = ...;
while(true) {
    // read object one by one from stream.
    Person* person = [Person parseDelimitedFromInputStream:inputStream];
    if (!person) {

Xcode integration

Integrate with CocoaPods

If your project support cocoapods, add a line to your Podfile:

pod 'protobuf-ios'

Then update your dependences:

pod update

Integrate with source code

Drag protoc-ios.xcodeproj to your Xcode project.

That's all.

Compiler setting

Since the generated code is non-ARC, if your project use ARC by default, you need add -fno-objc-arc to generated files.

In Xcode, select the main project/targets/build phases/compile sources, select the m files/double click under compiler flag/add -fno-objc-arc to the popped window.

How to use

Get the compiler

Run following command to compile and install the project.

$ cd compiler
$ ./
$ ./configure
$ make
$ make install (optional)

The compiler is genrated at src/protoc.


You need autoconf to compile from source code. If your system is not install autoconf, you can install it by brew:

$ brew install autoconf

If you system already install autoconf but linked, you can link it, here is an example:

$ brew install autoconf
Warning: autoconf-2.69 already installed, it's just not linked    
$ brew link autoconf
Linking /usr/local/Cellar/autoconf/2.69... 28 symlinks created


To compile the proto definition to Objective-C, use following command:

./src/protoc --objc_out=. foo.proto


Contributions are welcome!

If you would like to contribute this project, please feel free to fork and send pull request.



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