Skip to main content

Serialization & compression

Connect can work with any schema definition language, but it comes with built-in support for Protocol Buffers. Because the Protocol Buffer specification includes mappings to and from JSON, any Connect API defined with a Protobuf schema also supports JSON. This is especially convenient for web browsers and ad-hoc debugging with cURL.

Connect handlers automatically accept JSON-encoded requests there's no special configuration required. Connect clients default to using binary Protobuf. To configure your client to use JSON instead, use the WithProtoJSON() option during client construction.

Replacing standard Protobuf

By default, Connect uses to serialize and deserialize Protobuf messages. To use a different Protobuf runtime, implement the Codec interface using the "proto" name. Then pass your implementation to your handlers and clients using the WithCodec option. Connect will use your custom codec to marshal and unmarshal a variety of unexported, protocol-specific messages, so take care to fall back to the standard Protobuf runtime if necessary.

Custom serialization

To support a completely different serialization mechanism, you'll first need to implement Codec. If your new serialization mechanism uses a schema, you'll also need to write a binary to generate RPC code from the schema. Typically, this binary is a plugin for the appropriate compiler (for example, thriftrw-go for Thrift). This isn't as complex as it may sound! Because it uses Go type parameters, Connect doesn't require much generated code.


Connect clients and handlers support compression. Usually, compression is helpful the small increase in CPU usage is more than offset by the reduction in network I/O.

In particular, Connect encourages asymmetric compression: clients can send uncompressed requests while asking for compressed responses. Because responses are usually larger than requests, this approach compresses most of the data on the network without requiring the client to make any assumptions about the server.

By default, Connect handlers support gzip compression using the standard library's compress/gzip at the default compression level. Connect clients default to sending uncompressed requests and asking for gzipped responses. If you know that the server supports gzip, you can also compress requests by using the WithSendGzip option during client construction.

Like most compression schemes, gzip increases the size of very small messages. By default, Connect handlers (and clients using WithSendGzip) compress messages without considering their size. To only compress messages larger than some threshold, use WithCompressMinBytes during handler and client construction. In most cases, this improves overall performance.

Finally, it's worth noting that clients using the Connect protocol for unary RPCs ask for compressed responses using the Accept-Encoding HTTP header. This matches standard HTTP semantics, so browsers can easily make efficient Connect RPCs: they automatically ask for compressed responses, and the network inspector tab automatically decompresses the data if necessary. Connect's Accept-Encoding support also works well with cURL's --compressed flag.

Custom compression

In Go, Connect comes with gzip support because it's widely used and included in the standard library. To support newer compression algorithms, like Brotli or Zstandard, first implement the Compressor and Decompressor interfaces. Configure your handlers with WithCompression, and configure your clients with WithAcceptCompression. Where appropriate, take care to use the IANA name for your compression algorithm (for example, br for Brotli and zstd for Zstandard). To have your client also send compressed requests, use WithSendCompression.