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Chunk-based file formats
Some file formats in Git use a common concept of "chunks" to describe
sections of the file. This allows structured access to a large file by
scanning a small "table of contents" for the remaining data. This common
format is used by the `commit-graph` and `multi-pack-index` files. See
link:technical/pack-format.html[the `multi-pack-index` format] and
link:technical/commit-graph-format.html[the `commit-graph` format] for
how they use the chunks to describe structured data.
A chunk-based file format begins with some header information custom to
that format. That header should include enough information to identify
the file type, format version, and number of chunks in the file. From this
information, that file can determine the start of the chunk-based region.
The chunk-based region starts with a table of contents describing where
each chunk starts and ends. This consists of (C+1) rows of 12 bytes each,
where C is the number of chunks. Consider the following table:
| Chunk ID (4 bytes) | Chunk Offset (8 bytes) |
| ID[0] | OFFSET[0] |
| ... | ... |
| ID[C] | OFFSET[C] |
| 0x0000 | OFFSET[C+1] |
Each row consists of a 4-byte chunk identifier (ID) and an 8-byte offset.
Each integer is stored in network-byte order.
The chunk identifier `ID[i]` is a label for the data stored within this
fill from `OFFSET[i]` (inclusive) to `OFFSET[i+1]` (exclusive). Thus, the
size of the `i`th chunk is equal to the difference between `OFFSET[i+1]`
and `OFFSET[i]`. This requires that the chunk data appears contiguously
in the same order as the table of contents.
The final entry in the table of contents must be four zero bytes. This
confirms that the table of contents is ending and provides the offset for
the end of the chunk-based data.
Note: The chunk-based format expects that the file contains _at least_ a
trailing hash after `OFFSET[C+1]`.
Functions for working with chunk-based file formats are declared in
`chunk-format.h`. Using these methods provide extra checks that assist
developers when creating new file formats.
Writing chunk-based file formats
To write a chunk-based file format, create a `struct chunkfile` by
calling `init_chunkfile()` and pass a `struct hashfile` pointer. The
caller is responsible for opening the `hashfile` and writing header
information so the file format is identifiable before the chunk-based
format begins.
Then, call `add_chunk()` for each chunk that is intended for write. This
populates the `chunkfile` with information about the order and size of
each chunk to write. Provide a `chunk_write_fn` function pointer to
perform the write of the chunk data upon request.
Call `write_chunkfile()` to write the table of contents to the `hashfile`
followed by each of the chunks. This will verify that each chunk wrote
the expected amount of data so the table of contents is correct.
Finally, call `free_chunkfile()` to clear the `struct chunkfile` data. The
caller is responsible for finalizing the `hashfile` by writing the trailing
hash and closing the file.
Reading chunk-based file formats
To read a chunk-based file format, the file must be opened as a
memory-mapped region. The chunk-format API expects that the entire file
is mapped as a contiguous memory region.
Initialize a `struct chunkfile` pointer with `init_chunkfile(NULL)`.
After reading the header information from the beginning of the file,
including the chunk count, call `read_table_of_contents()` to populate
the `struct chunkfile` with the list of chunks, their offsets, and their
Extract the data information for each chunk using `pair_chunk()` or
* `pair_chunk()` assigns a given pointer with the location inside the
memory-mapped file corresponding to that chunk's offset. If the chunk
does not exist, then the pointer is not modified.
* `read_chunk()` takes a `chunk_read_fn` function pointer and calls it
with the appropriate initial pointer and size information. The function
is not called if the chunk does not exist. Use this method to read chunks
if you need to perform immediate parsing or if you need to execute logic
based on the size of the chunk.
After calling these methods, call `free_chunkfile()` to clear the
`struct chunkfile` data. This will not close the memory-mapped region.
Callers are expected to own that data for the timeframe the pointers into
the region are needed.
These file formats use the chunk-format API, and can be used as examples
for future formats:
* *commit-graph:* see `write_commit_graph_file()` and `parse_commit_graph()`
in `commit-graph.c` for how the chunk-format API is used to write and
parse the commit-graph file format documented in
link:technical/commit-graph-format.html[the commit-graph file format].
* *multi-pack-index:* see `write_midx_internal()` and `load_multi_pack_index()`
in `midx.c` for how the chunk-format API is used to write and
parse the multi-pack-index file format documented in
link:technical/pack-format.html[the multi-pack-index file format].