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Compress NIO

A compression library for Swift NIO ByteBuffers.

Compress and Decompress

Compress NIO contains a number of methods for compressing and decompressing ByteBuffers. A simple usage would be

var compressedBuffer = buffer.compress(with: .gzip)
var uncompressedBuffer = buffer.decompress(with: .gzip)

These methods allocate a new ByteBuffer for you. The decompress method can allocate multiple ByteBuffers while it is uncompressing depending on how well compressed the original ByteBuffer is. It is preferable to know in advance the size of buffer you need and allocate it yourself just the once and use the following functions.

let uncompressedSize = buffer.readableBytes
let maxCompressedSize = CompressionAlgorithm.deflate.compressor.maxSize(from:buffer)
var compressedBuffer = ByteBufferAllocator().buffer(capacity: maxCompressedSize)
try buffer.compress(to: &compressedBuffer, with: .deflate)
var uncompressedBuffer = ByteBufferAllocator().buffer(capacity: uncompressedSize)
try compressedBuffer.decompress(to: &uncompressedBuffer, with: .deflate)

In the above example there is a call to a function CompressionAlgorithm.deflate.compressor.maxSize(from:buffer). This returns the maximum size of buffer required to write out compressed data for the deflate compression algorithm.

If you provide a buffer that is too small a CompressNIO.bufferOverflow error is thrown. You will need to provide a larger ByteBuffer to complete your operation.


There are situations where you might want to or are required to compress/decompress a block of data in smaller slices. If you have a large file you want to compress it is probably best to load it in smaller slices instead of loading it all into memory in one go. If you are receiving a block of compressed data via HTTP you cannot guarantee it will be delivered in one slice. Swift NIO Compress provides a streaming api to support these situations.


There are three methods for doing stream compressing: window, allocating and raw. All of them start with calling compressor.startStream and end with calling compressor.finishStream.

Window method

For the window method you provide a working buffer for the compressor to use. When you call compressStream it compresses into this buffer and when the buffer is full it will call a process closure you have provided.

let compressor = CompressionAlgorithm.gzip.compressor
compressor.window = ByteBufferAllocator().buffer(capacity: 64*1024)
try compressor.startStream()
while var buffer = getData() {
    try buffer.compressStream(with: compressor, flush: .finish) { buffer in
        // process your compressed data
try compressor.finishStream()

Allocation method

With the allocating method you leave the compressor to allocate the ByteBuffers for output data. It will calculate the maximum possible size the compressed data could be and allocates that amount of space for each compressed data block. The last compressed block needs to have the flush parameter set to .finish

let compressor = CompressionAlgorithm.gzip.compressor
try compressor.startStream()
while var buffer = getData() {
    let flush: CompressNIOFlush = isThisTheFinalBlock ? .finish : .sync
    let compressedBuffer = try buffer.compressStream(with: compressor, flush: flush, allocator: ByteBufferAllocator())
try compressor.finishStream()

If you don't know when you are receiving your last data block you can always compress an empty ByteBuffer with the flush set to .finish to get your final block. Also note that the flush parameter is set to .sync in the loop. This is required otherwise the next compressStream cannot successfully estimate its buffer size as there might be buffered data still waiting to be output.

Raw method

With this mehod you call the lowest level function and deal with .bufferOverflow errors thrown whenever you run out of space in your output buffer. You will need a loop for receiving data and then you will need an inner loop for compressing that data. You call the compress until you have no more data to compress. Everytime you receive a .bufferOverflow error you have to provide a new output data. Once you have read all the input data you do the same again but with the flush parameter set to .finish.


The same three methods window, allocation, raw are available for decompressing streamed data but you don't need to set a flush parameter to .finish while decompressing which makes everything a little easier.

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