Serializable Object

May 20, 2023

A serializable object is an object in programming that is capable of being converted into a stream of bytes and sent across a network, stored in a file or database, or otherwise persisted beyond the lifetime of the application that created it. The process of converting an object into a stream of bytes is called serialization, while the process of converting a stream of bytes back into an object is called deserialization.

In web development, serializable objects are important because they enable the transfer of data between the frontend and backend of an application. For example, if a user creates an account on a website, the information provided by the user needs to be sent from the frontend (usually a web browser) to the backend (usually a web server) for processing and storage. This data is typically serialized into a stream of bytes, which is then sent over the network as an HTTP request. The backend is then responsible for deserializing the data and storing it in a database.

Serializable objects can also be used for communication between different parts of an application, such as between a client and a server or between different modules within the same application. For example, if an online store needs to retrieve a list of products from a database, it might send a request to the backend asking for the data. The backend would then serialize the data into a stream of bytes and send it back to the frontend as an HTTP response. The frontend would then deserialize the data and use it to populate a list of products on the webpage.

Serializable Object Formats

There are many different formats that can be used to serialize objects. Some of the most common formats include:


JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a lightweight data interchange format that is easy for humans to read and write and easy for machines to parse and generate. It is based on a subset of the JavaScript programming language and is widely used for transmitting data between a server and a web application, as an alternative to XML.

JSON is a text-based format that represents objects as a collection of name/value pairs, separated by commas and enclosed in curly braces. For example:

  "name": "John Smith",
  "email": "",
  "age": 30


XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a markup language that is widely used for storing and exchanging data between different systems. It is a text-based format that is similar to HTML, but is designed to be more flexible and extensible.

XML represents objects as a hierarchy of elements, each of which may contain attributes and child elements. For example:

  <name>John Smith</name>

Protocol Buffers

Protocol Buffers is a language-neutral, platform-neutral, extensible way of serializing structured data for use in communications protocols, data storage, and more. It was developed by Google and is widely used within the company for a variety of purposes.

Protocol Buffers represent objects as a series of fields, each of which has a name, a type, and a unique number. For example:

message Person {
  string name = 1;
  string email = 2;
  int32 age = 3;

Protocol Buffers are designed to be highly efficient and compact, making them well-suited for use in data-intensive applications.

Serialization and Security

Serialization can be a potential security risk if not implemented correctly. In particular, if an attacker can inject malicious data into the serialized stream, this could lead to a range of attacks, including injection attacks, denial-of-service attacks, and remote code execution.

To mitigate these risks, it is important to ensure that any data being serialized is properly validated and sanitized before being serialized, and that any deserialized data is properly validated and sanitized before being used. It is also important to use a secure serialization format that is resistant to attacks, such as Protocol Buffers or JSON.