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BSON, short for Binary JSON, is a binary-encoded serialization of JSON-like documents. Like JSON, BSON supports the embedding of documents and arrays within other documents and arrays. BSON also contains extensions that allow representation of data types that are not part of the JSON spec. For example, BSON has a Date type and a BinData type.



The library uses the following mapping from JSON values types to BSON types:

JSON value type value/range BSON type marker
null null null 0x0A
boolean true, false boolean 0x08
number_integer -9223372036854775808..-2147483649 int64 0x12
number_integer -2147483648..2147483647 int32 0x10
number_integer 2147483648..9223372036854775807 int64 0x12
number_unsigned 0..2147483647 int32 0x10
number_unsigned 2147483648..9223372036854775807 int64 0x12
number_unsigned 9223372036854775808..18446744073709551615 -- --
number_float any value double 0x01
string any value string 0x02
array any value document 0x04
object any value document 0x03
binary any value binary 0x05

Incomplete mapping

The mapping is incomplete, since only JSON-objects (and things contained therein) can be serialized to BSON. Also, integers larger than 9223372036854775807 cannot be serialized to BSON, and the keys may not contain U+0000, since they are serialized a zero-terminated c-strings.

#include <iostream>
#include <iomanip>
#include <nlohmann/json.hpp>

using json = nlohmann::json;
using namespace nlohmann::literals;

int main()
    // create a JSON value
    json j = R"({"compact": true, "schema": 0})"_json;

    // serialize it to BSON
    std::vector<std::uint8_t> v = json::to_bson(j);

    // print the vector content
    for (auto& byte : v)
        std::cout << "0x" << std::hex << std::setw(2) << std::setfill('0') << (int)byte << " ";
    std::cout << std::endl;


0x1b 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x08 0x63 0x6f 0x6d 0x70 0x61 0x63 0x74 0x00 0x01 0x10 0x73 0x63 0x68 0x65 0x6d 0x61 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 


The library maps BSON record types to JSON value types as follows:

BSON type BSON marker byte JSON value type
double 0x01 number_float
string 0x02 string
document 0x03 object
array 0x04 array
binary 0x05 binary
undefined 0x06 unsupported
ObjectId 0x07 unsupported
boolean 0x08 boolean
UTC Date-Time 0x09 unsupported
null 0x0A null
Regular Expr. 0x0B unsupported
DB Pointer 0x0C unsupported
JavaScript Code 0x0D unsupported
Symbol 0x0E unsupported
JavaScript Code 0x0F unsupported
int32 0x10 number_integer
Timestamp 0x11 unsupported
128-bit decimal float 0x13 unsupported
Max Key 0x7F unsupported
Min Key 0xFF unsupported

Incomplete mapping

The mapping is incomplete. The unsupported mappings are indicated in the table above.

#include <iostream>
#include <iomanip>
#include <nlohmann/json.hpp>

using json = nlohmann::json;

int main()
    // create byte vector
    std::vector<std::uint8_t> v = {0x1b, 0x00, 0x00, 0x00, 0x08, 0x63, 0x6f, 0x6d,
                                   0x70, 0x61, 0x63, 0x74, 0x00, 0x01, 0x10, 0x73,
                                   0x63, 0x68, 0x65, 0x6d, 0x61, 0x00, 0x00, 0x00,
                                   0x00, 0x00, 0x00

    // deserialize it with BSON
    json j = json::from_bson(v);

    // print the deserialized JSON value
    std::cout << std::setw(2) << j << std::endl;


  "compact": true,
  "schema": 0

Last update: August 5, 2022