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Thrift is a software framework for scalable cross-language services development. It combines a software stack with a code generation engine to build services that work efficiently and seamlessly between C++, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, Erlang, Perl, Haskell, C#, Cocoa, Smalltalk, and OCaml.

Originally developed at Facebook, Thrift was open sourced in April 2007 and entered the Apache Incubator in May, 2008.

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Getting Started

An Example

Thrift allows you to define data types and service interfaces in a simple definition file. Taking that file as input, the compiler generates code to be used to easily build RPC clients and servers that communicate seamlessly across programming languages.

For instance, say you would like to write a service to store user objects for your web frontend. You could write a Thrift file as follows:

struct UserProfile {
  1: i32 uid,
  2: string name,
  3: string blurb
service UserStorage {
  void store(1: UserProfile user),
  UserProfile retrieve(1: i32 uid)

Thrift does the heavy lifting. Instead of writing a load of boilerplate code to serialize and transport your objects and invoke remote methods, you can get right down to business. Here is some sample Python client code:

# Make an object
up = UserProfile({"uid" : 1,
                  "name" :"Mark Slee",
                  "blurb" : "I'll find something to put here."})

# Talk to a server via TCP sockets, using a binary protocol
transport = TSocket.TSocket("localhost", 9090)
protocol = TBinaryProtocol.TBinaryProtocol(transport)

# Use the service we already defined
service = UserStorage.client(protocol)

# Retrieve something as well
up2 = service.retrieve(2)

Not much to it. Implementing the server as simple as filling in the blanks:

class UserStorageHandler : virtual public UserStorageIf {
  UserStorageHandler() {
    // Your initialization goes here

  void store(const UserProfile& user) {
    // Your implementation goes here

  void retrieve(UserProfile& _return, const int32_t uid) {
    // Your implementation goes here

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
  int port = 9090;
  shared_ptr<UserStorageHandler> handler(new UserStorageHandler());
  shared_ptr<TProcessor> processor(new UserStorageProcessor(handler));
  shared_ptr<TServerTransport> serverTransport(new TServerSocket(port));
  shared_ptr<TTransportFactory> transportFactory(new TBufferedTransportFactory());
  shared_ptr<TProtocolFactory> protocolFactory(new TBinaryProtocolFactory());
  TSimpleServer server(processor, serverTransport, transportFactory, protocolFactory);
  return 0;

Learn more about Thrift:»Read the Whitepaper