AVRO - Serialization

Data is serialized for two objectives −

What is Serialization?

Serialization is the process of translating data structures or objects state into binary or textual form to transport the data over network or to store on some persisten storage. Once the data is transported over network or retrieved from the persistent storage, it needs to be deserialized again. Serialization is termed as marshalling and deserialization is termed as unmarshalling.

Serialization in Java

Java provides a mechanism, called object serialization where an object can be represented as a sequence of bytes that includes the object's data as well as information about the object's type and the types of data stored in the object.

After a serialized object is written into a file, it can be read from the file and deserialized. That is, the type information and bytes that represent the object and its data can be used to recreate the object in memory.

ObjectInputStream and ObjectOutputStream classes are used to serialize and deserialize an object respectively in Java.

Serialization in Hadoop

Generally in distributed systems like Hadoop, the concept of serialization is used for Interprocess Communication and Persistent Storage.

Interprocess Communication

Persistent Storage

Persistent Storage is a digital storage facility that does not lose its data with the loss of power supply. Files, folders, databases are the examples of persistent storage.

Writable Interface

This is the interface in Hadoop which provides methods for serialization and deserialization. The following table describes the methods −

S.No. Methods and Description

void readFields(DataInput in)

This method is used to deserialize the fields of the given object.


void write(DataOutput out)

This method is used to serialize the fields of the given object.

Writable Comparable Interface

It is the combination of Writable and Comparable interfaces. This interface inherits Writable interface of Hadoop as well as Comparable interface of Java. Therefore it provides methods for data serialization, deserialization, and comparison.

S.No. Methods and Description

int compareTo(class obj)

This method compares current object with the given object obj.

In addition to these classes, Hadoop supports a number of wrapper classes that implement WritableComparable interface. Each class wraps a Java primitive type. The class hierarchy of Hadoop serialization is given below −

Hadoop Serialization Hierarchy

These classes are useful to serialize various types of data in Hadoop. For instance, let us consider the IntWritable class. Let us see how this class is used to serialize and deserialize the data in Hadoop.

IntWritable Class

This class implements Writable, Comparable, and WritableComparable interfaces. It wraps an integer data type in it. This class provides methods used to serialize and deserialize integer type of data.


S.No. Summary
1 IntWritable()
2 IntWritable( int value)


S.No. Summary

int get()

Using this method you can get the integer value present in the current object.


void readFields(DataInput in)

This method is used to deserialize the data in the given DataInput object.


void set(int value)

This method is used to set the value of the current IntWritable object.


void write(DataOutput out)

This method is used to serialize the data in the current object to the given DataOutput object.

Serializing the Data in Hadoop

The procedure to serialize the integer type of data is discussed below.


The following example shows how to serialize data of integer type in Hadoop −

import java.io.ByteArrayOutputStream;
import java.io.DataOutputStream;

import java.io.IOException;

import org.apache.hadoop.io.IntWritable;

public class Serialization {
   public byte[] serialize() throws IOException{
      //Instantiating the IntWritable object
      IntWritable intwritable = new IntWritable(12);
      //Instantiating ByteArrayOutputStream object
      ByteArrayOutputStream byteoutputStream = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
      //Instantiating DataOutputStream object
      DataOutputStream dataOutputStream = new
      //Serializing the data
      //storing the serialized object in bytearray
      byte[] byteArray = byteoutputStream.toByteArray();
      //Closing the OutputStream
   public static void main(String args[]) throws IOException{
      Serialization serialization= new Serialization();

Deserializing the Data in Hadoop

The procedure to deserialize the integer type of data is discussed below −


The following example shows how to deserialize the data of integer type in Hadoop −

import java.io.ByteArrayInputStream;
import java.io.DataInputStream;

import org.apache.hadoop.io.IntWritable;

public class Deserialization {

   public void deserialize(byte[]byteArray) throws Exception{
      //Instantiating the IntWritable class
      IntWritable intwritable =new IntWritable();
      //Instantiating ByteArrayInputStream object
      ByteArrayInputStream InputStream = new ByteArrayInputStream(byteArray);
      //Instantiating DataInputStream object
      DataInputStream datainputstream=new DataInputStream(InputStream);
      //deserializing the data in DataInputStream
      //printing the serialized data
   public static void main(String args[]) throws Exception {
      Deserialization dese = new Deserialization();
      dese.deserialize(new Serialization().serialize());

Advantage of Hadoop over Java Serialization

Hadoop’s Writable-based serialization is capable of reducing the object-creation overhead by reusing the Writable objects, which is not possible with the Java’s native serialization framework.

Disadvantages of Hadoop Serialization

To serialize Hadoop data, there are two ways −

The main drawback of these two mechanisms is that Writables and SequenceFiles have only a Java API and they cannot be written or read in any other language.

Therefore any of the files created in Hadoop with above two mechanisms cannot be read by any other third language, which makes Hadoop as a limited box. To address this drawback, Doug Cutting created Avro, which is a language independent data structure.