The ProtobufReader Controller Service reads and parses a Protocol Buffers Message from binary format and creates a Record object. The Controller Service must be configured with the same '.proto' file that was used for the Message encoding, and the fully qualified name of the Message type including its package (e.g. mypackage.MyMessage). The Reader will always generate one record from the input data which represents the provided Protocol Buffers Message type. Further information about Protocol Buffers can be found here:

Data Type Mapping

When a record is parsed from incoming data, the Controller Service is going to map the Proto Message field types to the corresponding NiFi data types. The mapping between the provided Message fields and the encoded input is always based on the field tag numbers. When a field is defined as 'repeated' then it's data type will be an array with data type of it's originally specified type. The following tables show which proto field type will correspond to which NiFi field type after the conversion.

Scalar Value Types

Proto TypeProto Wire TypeNiFi Data Type
stringlength delimitedstring
byteslength delimitedarray[byte]

Composite Value Types

Proto TypeProto Wire TypeNiFi Data Type
messagelength delimitedrecord
maplength delimitedmap

Schemas and Type Coercion

When a record is parsed from incoming data, it is separated into fields. Each of these fields is then looked up against the configured schema (by field name) in order to determine what the type of the data should be. If the field is not present in the schema, that field will be stored in the Record's value list on its original type. If the field is found in the schema, the data type of the received data is compared against the data type specified in the schema. If the types match, the value of that field is used as-is. If the schema indicates that the field should be of a different type, then the Controller Service will attempt to coerce the data into the type specified by the schema. If the field cannot be coerced into the specified type, an Exception will be thrown.

The following rules apply when attempting to coerce a field value from one data type to another:

If none of the above rules apply when attempting to coerce a value from one data type to another, the coercion will fail and an Exception will be thrown.

Schema Access Strategy

Beside the common Schema Access strategies like getting the schema from property value or accessing it from Schema Registry, the ProtobufReader Controller Service offers another access strategy option called "Generate from Proto file". When using this strategy, the Reader will generate the Record Schema from the provided '.proto' file and Message type. This is a recommended strategy when the user doesn't want to manually create the schema or when no type coercion is needed.

Protobuf Any Field Type

Protocol Buffers offers further Message types called Well-Known Types. These are additionally provided messages that defines complex structured types and wrappers for scalar types. The Any type is one of these Well-Known Types which is used to store an arbitrary serialized Message along with an URL that describes the type of the serialized Message. Since the Message type and the embedded Message will be available only when the Any Message is already populated with data, the ProtobufReader needs to do this Message processing at data conversion time. The Reader is capable to generate schema for the embedded Message in the Any field and replace it in the result Record schema.


There is a Message called 'TestMessage' which has only one field that is an Any typed field. There is another Message called 'NestedMessage' that we would like to add as serialized Message in the value of 'anyField'.

message Any {
    string type_url = 1;
    bytes value = 2;

message TestMessage {
    google.protobuf.Any anyField = 3;

message NestedMessage {
    string field_1 = 1;
    string field_2 = 2;
    string field_3 = 3;

With normal data conversion our result would look like this:

    anyField : {
        type_url : ""
        value : [84, 101, 115, 116, 32, 98, 121, 116, 101, 115]

Result after the Protobuf Reader replaces the Any Message's fields with the processed embedded Message:

    anyField : {
        field_1 : "value 1",
        field_2 : "value 2",
        field_3 : "value 3"