The Bond logo: a stylized glue gun


Bond is an extensible framework for working with schematized data. It is suitable for scenarios ranging from service communications to Big Data storage and processing.

Bond defines a rich type system and schema versioning rules which allow forward and backward compatibility. The core Bond features include high performance serialization/deserialization and a very powerful, generic data transform mechanism. The framework is highly extensible via pluggable serialization protocols, data streams, user defined type aliases and more.

By design Bond is language and platform independent and is currently supported for C++, C#, Java, and Python on Linux, macOS, and Windows.

Bond is published on GitHub at


The Python support is implemented as a library for building C++ extensions exposing Bond generated types and associated APIs to Python.

Basic example

We start with defining a data schema using Bond idl language:

namespace example

struct Record
    0: string          name;
    1: vector<double>  items;

In order to use the schema in a Python program we need to implement a Python extension that exposes types representing the schema. The first step is to generate Bond C++ bindings for the schema using the Bond compiler:

gbc c++

With the generated C++ code (example_reflection.h in this case) implementing the Python extension is as simple as specifying which structs we want to expose to Python:

#include "example_reflection.h"
#include <bond/python/struct.h>


Finally, we can import the extension as a module that can be used in a Python program:

import example

src = example.Record() = "test"
src.items = [3.14, 6.28]

data = example.Serialize(src)

dst = example.Record()
example.Deserialize(data, dst)

Building extensions

Python extensions are simply shared libraries with the same file name as the module name. On Windows the extension should have .pyd file extension. Bond extensions depend on Boost Python library, and thus need to be linked with both the Boost Python library and the Python library. Refer to Boost documentation for details.

Exposing types


Structs generated from Bond schemas can be exposed by calling def method of the bond::python::struct_ class template within a BOOST_PYTHON_MODULE block. The template takes one parameter: the C++ struct to be exposed. The def method has two overloads. When def if called without any arguments the struct is exposed using unqualified name. To expose a struct using the fully qualified name, the def method can be called with bond::qualified_name as argument.

If a struct is exposed, all of its dependencies are implicitly exposed as well and often don’t need to be exposed explicitly. Note however that APIs are defined only for explicitly exposed types. Implicitly exposed types always use unqualified name. If it is necessary to use the qualified name for a struct, it should be explicitly exposed before its dependent structs.

    using namespace bond::python;




Since enums are almost always used in exposed structs, usually it is not necessary to expose them explicitly. One common exception, as was the case with structs, is when we want to explicitly expose an enum using the qualified name.

Enumerator types generated from Bond schema can be exposed by calling def method of the bond::python::enum_ class template from a BOOST_PYTHON_MODULE block. The template takes one parameter: the C++ enum to be exposed. The def method has two overloads. When def is called without any arguments the enum is exposed using unqualified name. To expose an enum using the fully qualified name, the def method can be called with bond::qualified_name as argument.

    using namespace bond::python;




Any container classes used in exposed schema structs are automatically exposed to Python. The exposed types behave just like Python built-in equivalent containers, supporting Python style indexing, including slices and negative indices, list/set/dictionary comprehension as well as many of the built-in functions and operations like len(), del and in. Built-in container objects also are implicitly convertible to containers exposed by Bond.

There is a noteworthy difference between Bond map and Python dictionary: iterating over elements of a map doesn’t yield tuples (key, value) but instead objects with two methods: key() and data().


Bond blob is represented as either a string object in Python2 or a bytes object in Python3. Initializing a blob from a Python object does not involve a memory copy; instead, the reference count on the underlying Python object is increased.

Nullable and nothing

The null value for nullable types and default value of nothing are both mapped to the Python None object. For example, given the schema:

struct Record
    0: int32 x = nothing;
    1: nullable<string> s;

We can write the following Python program:

obj = example.Record()

assert(obj.x is None)
assert(obj.s is None)

x = 100
s = "test"

assert(obj.x is not None)
assert(obj.s is not None)


While generic Bond schemas can not be instantiated from within a Python program, specific instances of generic schemas can be used like any other concrete structs. In fact any instances of a generic schema used within exposed structs are also implicitly exposed, just like any other nested struct.

namespace generic

struct Generic<T>
    0: T field;

struct Example
    0: Generic<string> field;

For example, an extension exposing the struct Example will also automatically expose the instance Generic<string>. Additionally, we can explicitly expose other instances of Generic<T>:

    // Expose Example and implicitly Generic<string>

    // Explicitly expose Generic<bond.GUID>
    bond::python::struct_<generic.Generic<bond::GUID> >()

The name of a generic schema instance is converted to a valid Python identifier by replacing all non-alphanumeric characters with an underscore. The names of type parameters that are Bond-defined structs are used in their fully qualified form. For example, using the extension defined above we can use the following types:

import example

# The instance Generic<string>
obj1 = example.Generic_string_()

# The instance Generic<bond.GUID>
obj2 = example.Generic_bond_GUID_()

Exposed APIs

For every exposed schema struct Bond exposes appropriate overloads of the following API functions:

The Serialize, Deserialize and Marshal APIs use the Compact Binary protocol by default but they also take an optional argument of type bond::ProtocolType to specify a different protocol.

The Deserialize and Unmarshal APIs take an optional argument of type SchemaDef to specify the schema of the serialized data.

import example

obj = example.Record()

# serialize to Compact Binary
data = example.Serialize(obj)

# serialize to JSON
json = example.Serialize(obj, example.ProtocolType.SIMPLE_JSON_PROTOCOL)

# marshal schema to Compact Binary
data = example.Marshal(example.GetRuntimeSchema(obj))

# unmarshal SchemaDef
schema = example.SchemaDef()
example.Unmarshal(data, schema)

# deserialize from Simple Protocol with runtime schema
example.Deserialize(data, obj, schema, example.ProtocolType.SIMPLE_PROTOCOL)


Bond compiler reference

C++ User’s Manual

C# User’s Manual

Boost Python