Biggest differences of Thrift vs Protocol Buffers? [closed] – Dev

The best answers to the question “Biggest differences of Thrift vs Protocol Buffers? [closed]” in the category Dev.


What are the biggest pros and cons of Apache Thrift vs Google’s Protocol Buffers?


Another important difference are the languages supported by default.

  • Protocol Buffers: Java, Android Java, C++, Python, Ruby, C#, Go, Objective-C, Node.js
  • Thrift: Java, C++, Python, Ruby, C#, Go, Objective-C, JavaScript, Node.js, Erlang, PHP, Perl, Haskell, Smalltalk, OCaml, Delphi, D, Haxe

Both could be extended to other platforms, but these are the languages bindings available out-of-the-box.


They both offer many of the same features; however, there are some differences:

  • Thrift supports ‘exceptions’
  • Protocol Buffers have much better documentation/examples
  • Thrift has a builtin Set type
  • Protocol Buffers allow “extensions” – you can extend an external proto to add extra fields, while still allowing external code to operate on the values. There is no way to do this in Thrift
  • I find Protocol Buffers much easier to read

Basically, they are fairly equivalent (with Protocol Buffers slightly more efficient from what I have read).


  • Protobuf serialized objects are about 30% smaller than Thrift.
  • Most actions you may want to do with protobuf objects (create, serialize, deserialize) are much slower than thrift unless you turn on option optimize_for = SPEED.
  • Thrift has richer data structures (Map, Set)
  • Protobuf API looks cleaner, though the generated classes are all packed as inner classes which is not so nice.
  • Thrift enums are not real Java Enums, i.e. they are just ints. Protobuf has real Java enums.

For a closer look at the differences, check out the source code diffs at this open source project.


RPC is another key difference. Thrift generates code to implement RPC clients and servers wheres Protocol Buffers seems mostly designed as a data-interchange format alone.