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How to write a gRPC SDK for GreptimeDB

There are two gRPC services exposed by GreptimeDB. One is defined by GreptimeDB, the other is built on top of Apache Arrow Flight. If you want to write a gRPC SDK for GreptimeDB in a programming language you are familiar with, please read on!

Currently, the gRPC SDK is written in Java and Go, and you can find more details about Java and Go.

GreptimeDatabase Service

GreptimeDB defines a custom gRPC service called GreptimeDatabase. You can find its protobuf definitions here. It contains two RPC methods:

service GreptimeDatabase {
  rpc Handle(GreptimeRequest) returns (GreptimeResponse);

  rpc HandleRequests(stream GreptimeRequest) returns (GreptimeResponse);

The Handle method is for unary call: when a GreptimeRequest is received and processed by a GreptimeDB server, it responds with a GreptimeResponse immediately.

The HandleRequests acts in a "Client streaming RPC" style. It ingests a stream of GreptimeRequest, and handles them on the fly. After all the requests have been handled, it returns a summarized GreptimeResponse. Through HandleRequests, we can achieve a very high throughput of requests handling.

However, currently the GreptimeDatabase service can only handle insert requests. For query requests, we need to implement the Apache Arrow Flight gRPC client as well.

Apache Arrow Flight Service

First, you can find our protobuf definitions for GreptimeDB requests and responses in this repo. It is recommended to read the "For SDK developers" section in the README of that repository.

Make sure Arrow Flight RPC officially supports your chosen programming language. Currently, it supports C++, Java, Go, C#, and Rust. However, it may support additional languages in the future, so stay tuned with its Implementation Status. If you can't find the language you are using, you have to write a client from sketch (starting from Arrow Flight's raw gRPC service protobuf definition).

Now focus on the DoGet method of Arrow Flight gRPC service, which all GreptimeDB requests are handled in it.

The DoGet method is defined as follow:

rpc DoGet(Ticket) returns (stream FlightData) {}

To send a GreptimeDB request, encode it into raw bytes, then wrap it into a Ticket which is a protobuf message carrying bytes:

message Ticket {
  bytes ticket = 1;

Handling GreptimeDB responses is a little complicated. DoGet returns a stream of FlightData and the definition of FlightData is:

message FlightData {

   * The descriptor of the data. This is only relevant when a client is
   * starting a new DoPut stream.
  FlightDescriptor flight_descriptor = 1;

   * Header for message data as described in Message.fbs::Message.
  bytes data_header = 2;

   * Application-defined metadata.
  bytes app_metadata = 3;

   * The actual batch of Arrow data. Preferably handled with minimal-copies
   * coming last in the definition to help with sidecar patterns (it is
   * expected that some implementations will fetch this field off the wire
   * with specialized code to avoid extra memory copies).
  bytes data_body = 1000;

The fields are specified as follow:

  • flight_descriptor can be ignored here.
  • data_header must be first deserialized to Message (see its definition here) using FlatBuffer. The Message's header type determines how the following two fields are interpreted.
  • app_metadata carries GreptimeDB's custom data and this field is not empty only after client issues InsertRequest or Insert Into SQL. When it's not empty, Message's header type is set to None. You should deserialize app_metadata to FlightMetadata. FlightMetadata is defined here.
    • FlightMetadata only carries "Affected Rows" when writing data into GreptimeDB, just like what "Insert Into" SQL returns in MySQL. If you don't care about the result of the affected rows, you can omit the app_metadata field. (Still, the response of DoGet itself should be handled as well.)
  • When Message's header type is Schema or Recordbatch, data_body carries the actual data of part of the query result. You should parse all the FlightDatas in the response stream of DoGet to get the complete query result. Normally, the first FlightData in a stream is schema, and the rests are recordbatch. You should save the first schema for parsing the follow-up FlightDatas later.

Here we provide a pseudocode for decoding DoGet's FlightData stream:

Context {
  schema: Schema

Result {
  affected_rows: int
  recordbatches: List<Recordbatch>

function decode_do_get_stream(flight_datas: List<FlightData>) -> Result {
  result = Result
  context = Context

  for flight_data in flight_datas {
    decode(flight_data, context, result);

  return result;

function decode(flight_data: FlightData, context: Context, result: Result) {
  message = Message::deserialize(flight_data.data_header);

  switch message.header_type {
    case None:
      flight_metadata = FlightMetadata::deserialize(flight_data.app_metadata);

      result.affected_rows = flight_metadata.affected_rows;

    case Schema:
      context.schema = Schema::deserialize(flight_data.data_body);

    case Recordbatch:
      recordbatch = Recordbatch::deserialize(


You can also refer to our Rust client.