User guide - Serialization

This part of the user guide provides information on serialization of beans. See the main user guide for a higher level introduction.


The org.joda.beans.ser package provides support for serializing Joda-Beans via JSON, XML or MsgPack binary. The main class is JodaBeanSer. It contains the relevant settings and methods to access the serialization and deserialization.

 // write to XML
 // read from XML
 MyBean bean = JodaBeanSer.COMPACT.xmlReader().read(xmlStr, MyBean.class);

Two standard layouts are provided - COMPACT and PRETTY. The compact layout has no whitespace, whereas the pretty layout uses indentation and new-lines. Methods on JodaBeanSer allow for further customization.

For binary, replace xmlWriter() by binWriter() and xmlReader() by binReader(). If the object model is entirely formed of immutable beans, it is usually worth using the referencing binary writer which is typically faster/smaller, see binWriterReferencing().

For JSON, replace xmlWriter() by jsonWriter() and xmlReader() by jsonReader().

There is also a simple JSON reader/writer that does not expose Java types, and a simple Map-base reader/writer for interoperation with other libraries.

The serializer makes use the meta-data in the bean to minimize the output size. In effect, the Joda-Bean acts as a schema to interpret the data.

Handling change

When deserializing, the Joda-Bean meta-data is used to parse the input JSON/XML/binary. However, this causes a problem if the bean is refactored between serialization and deserialization. To handle this, three mechanisms are provided.

Firstly, the RenameHandler class from Joda-Convert is used. This allows type renames and enum constant renames to be handled. The class is a singleton and must be configured at application startup.

Secondly, Joda-Beans provides the SerDeserializer mechanism. A SerDeserializer class can be written for each refactored bean. It supports multiple kinds of change, including property rename, property type change and complex semantic changes. It is registered with SerDeserializers and called directly as part of the parsing process.

Finally, the PropertyDefinition annotation has an “alias” attribute. Setting that allows the old name of a property to be retained when a property is renamed.


The default deserialization mechanism is relatively strict. If the input contains an unknown property then an error will be thrown. Similarly, if a Java type is not handled by SerTypeMapper then an exception is thrown.

There is an alternative mode that is more lenient:

JodaBeanSer s = JodaBeanSer.COMPACT.withDeserializers(SerDeserializers.LENIENT);

This mode will ignore unknown properties received for a bean. If a Java type cannot be found, lenient mode will attempt to fallback to an alternative type, such as String. Together these help solve problems when integrating multiple projects/services using Joda-Beans.

Smart reader

When reading data, it is possible to determine the type of the serialized data dynamically. Use JodaBeanSer.COMPACT.smartReader() to read an input stream that contains a JSON, XML or binary serialized bean.

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Version: 2.8.1. Last Published: 2020-10-20.

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