Structs#

Structs are the preferred way of defining structured data types in msgspec. They’re written in C and are quite speedy and lightweight (measurably faster to create/compare/encode/decode than similar options like dataclasses, attrs, or pydantic). They’re great for representing structured data both for serialization and for use in an application.

Structs are defined by subclassing from msgspec.Struct and annotating the types of individual fields. Default values can also be provided for any optional arguments. Here we define a struct representing a user, with one required field and two optional fields.

>>> import msgspec

>>> from typing import Set, Optional

>>> class User(msgspec.Struct):
...     """A struct describing a user"""
...     name : str
...     email : Optional[str] = None
...     groups : Set[str] = set()
  • name is a required field expecting a str

  • email is an optional field expecting a str or None, defaulting to None if no value is provided.

  • groups is an optional field expecting a set of str. If no value is provided, it defaults to the empty set.

Struct types automatically generate a few methods based on the provided type annotations:

  • __init__

  • __repr__

  • __copy__

  • __eq__ & __ne__

  • __match_args__ (for Python 3.10+’s pattern matching)

  • __rich_repr__ (for pretty printing support with rich)

>>> alice = User("alice", groups={"admin", "engineering"})

>>> alice
User(name='alice', email=None, groups={'admin', 'engineering'})

>>> bob = User("bob", email="bob@company.com")

>>> bob
User(name='bob', email='bob@company.com', groups=set())

>>> alice.name
"alice"

>>> bob.groups
set()

>>> alice == bob
False

>>> alice == User("alice", groups={"admin", "engineering"})
True

Note that it is forbidden to override __init__/__new__ in a struct definition, but other methods can be overridden or added as needed. If you need to customize the generated __init__, see Post-Init Processing.

The struct fields are available via the __struct_fields__ attribute (a tuple of the fields in argument order ) if you need them. Here we add a method for converting a struct to a dict.

>>> class Point(msgspec.Struct):
...     """A point in 2D space"""
...     x : float
...     y : float
...
...     def to_dict(self):
...         return {f: getattr(self, f) for f in self.__struct_fields__}
...

>>> p = Point(1.0, 2.0)

>>> p.to_dict()
{"x": 1.0, "y": 2.0}

Default Values#

Struct fields may be given default values, which are used if no value is provided to __init__, or when decoding a message. Default values are configured as part of a Struct definition by assigning them after a field’s type annotation.

>>> from msgspec import Struct, field

>>> import uuid

>>> class Example(Struct):
...     a: int = 1
...     b: uuid.UUID = field(default_factory=uuid.uuid4)
...     c: list[int] = []

>>> Example()
Example(a=1, b=UUID('f63219d5-e9ca-4ae8-afd0-cba30e84222d'), c=[])

>>> Example(a=2)
Example(a=2, b=UUID('319a6c0f-2841-4439-8bc8-2c1daf7d77a2'), c=[])

>>> Example().c is Example().c  # new list instance used each time
False

Default values may be one of 3 kinds:

  • A “static” default value. Here the same default value is used for all instances. These are specified by assigning the default value itself as part of the field definition (as in a above). Most default values will be of this variety.

  • A “dynamic” default value. Here a new default value is used for every instance. These are specified by passing a 0-argument callable to the default_factory argument of msgspec.field (as in b above). This function will be called as needed to create a new default value per instance. These are mainly useful for occasions where you need dynamic defaults, or when a default value is a mutable object that you don’t want to share between all instances of the struct (a common gotcha in Python). Note that since the default_factory callables take no arguments, you might need to make use of a lambda or functools.partial to forward any additional parameters needed to the default factory.

  • Builtin empty mutable collections ([], {}, set(), and bytearray()) may be used as default values (as in c above). Since defaults of these types are so common, these are “syntactic sugar” for specifying the corresponding default_factory (to avoid accidental sharing of mutable values). A default of [] is identical to a default of field(default_factory=list), with a new list instance used each time. Specifying a non-empty mutable collection (e.g. [1, 2, 3]) as a default value will cause the struct definition to error (you should manually define a default_factory in this case).

Post-Init Processing#

If a struct type defines a __post_init__(self) method, this will be called at the end of the generated __init__ method. It has the same semantics as the dataclasses method of the same name. This method may be useful for adding additional logic to the init (such as custom validation).

In addition to in __init__, the __post_init__ hook is also called when:

  • Decoding into a struct type (e.g. msgspec.json.decode(..., type=MyStruct))

  • Converting into a struct type (e.g. msgspec.convert(..., type=MyStruct))

In these cases any TypeError or ValueError exceptions raised by this method will be considered “user facing” and converted into a msgspec.ValidationError with additional context. All other exceptions will be raised directly.

>>> import msgspec

>>> class Interval(msgspec.Struct):
...     low: float
...     high: float
...
...     def __post_init__(self):
...         if self.low > self.high:
...             raise ValueError("`low` may not be greater than `high`")

>>> Interval(1, 2)  # valid interval
Interval(low=1, high=2)

>>> Interval(2, 1)  # invalid interval
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "<stdin>", line 6, in __post_init__
ValueError: `low` may not be greater than `high`

>>> msgspec.json.decode(b'{"low": 2, "high": 1}', type=Interval)  # invalid interval from JSON
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 6, in __post_init__
ValueError: `low` may not be greater than `high`

The above exception was the direct cause of the following exception:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
msgspec.ValidationError: `low` may not be greater than `high`

Field Ordering#

When defining a new struct type, fields are stored in the order they’re defined (keyword-only fields excluded, more on this later). This is nice for readability since the generated __init__ matches the field order.

class Example(msgspec.Struct):
    a: str
    b: int = 0

The generated __init__() for User looks like:

def __init__(self, a: str, b: int = 0):

One consequence of this is that you can’t put fields without defaults after fields with defaults, since the Python VM doesn’t allow keyword arguments before positional arguments. The following struct definition will error:

>>> class Invalid(msgspec.Struct):
...     a: str = ""
...     b: int  # oop, no default!
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
TypeError: Required field 'b' cannot follow optional fields. Either reorder
the struct fields, or set `kw_only=True` in the struct definition.

Thankfully the error message includes some solutions:

  • Reorder the struct fields, putting all required fields before all optional fields.

  • Set kw_only=True in the struct definition. This option makes all fields defined on the struct keyword-only parameters.

Keyword-only parameters have no such restriction; required and optional parameters can be mixed in any order.

>>> class Example(msgspec.Struct, kw_only=True):
...     a: str = ""
...     b: int  # this is fine with kw_only=True

>>> Example(a="example", b=123)
Example(a='example', b=123)

Note that the kw_only setting only affects fields defined on that class, not those defined on base or subclasses. This means you can define keyword-only parameters on a base class then add positional parameters in a subclass. All keyword-only parameters are reordered to go after all positional fields.

>>> class Base(msgspec.Struct, kw_only=True):
...     a: str = ""
...     b: int

>>> class Subclass(Base):
...     c: float
...     d: bytes = b""

The generated __init__() for Subclass looks like:

def __init__(self, c: float, d: bytes = b"", * a: str, b: int = 0):

The field ordering rules for Struct types are identical to those for dataclasses, see the dataclasses docs for more information.

Class Variables#

Like dataclasses, msgspec.Struct types will exclude any attribute annotations wrapped in typing.ClassVar from their fields.

>>> import msgspec

>>> from typing import ClassVar

>>> class Example(msgspec.Struct):
...     x: int
...     a_class_variable: ClassVar[int] = 2

>>> Example.a_class_variable
2

>>> Example(1)  # only `x` is counted as a field
Example(x=1)

Note that if using PEP 563 “postponed evaluation of annotations” (e.g. from __future__ import annotations) only the following spellings will work:

  • ClassVar or ClassVar[<type>]

  • typing.ClassVar or typing.ClassVar[<type>]

Importing ClassVar or typing under an aliased name (e.g. import typing as typ or from typing import ClassVar as CV) will not be properly detected.

Type Validation#

Unlike some other libraries (e.g. pydantic), the type annotations on a msgspec.Struct class are not checked at runtime during normal use. Types are only checked when decoding a serialized message when using a typed decoder.

>>> import msgspec

>>> class Point(msgspec.Struct):
...     x: float
...     y: float

>>> # Improper types in *your* code aren't checked at runtime
... Point(x=1, y="oops")
Point(x=1, y='oops')

>>> # Improper types when decoding *are* checked at runtime
... msgspec.json.decode(b'{"x": 1.0, "y": "oops"}', type=Point)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
msgspec.ValidationError: Expected `float`, got `str` - at `$.y`

This is intentional. Static type checkers like mypy/pyright work well with msgspec, and can be used to catch bugs without ever running your code. When possible, static tools or unit tests should be preferred over adding expensive runtime checks which slow down every __init__ call.

The input(s) to your programs however cannot be checked statically, as they aren’t known until runtime. As such, msgspec does perform type validation when decoding messages (provided an expected decode type is provided). This validation is fast enough that it is negligible in cost - there is no added performance benefit when not using it. In fact, in most cases it’s faster to decode a message into a type validated msgspec.Struct than into an untyped dict.

Pattern Matching#

If using Python 3.10+, msgspec.Struct types can be used in pattern matching blocks. Replicating an example from PEP 636:

# NOTE: this example requires Python 3.10+
>>> import msgspec

>>> class Point(msgspec.Struct):
...     x: float
...     y: float

>>> def where_is(point):
...     match point:
...         case Point(0, 0):
...             print("Origin")
...         case Point(0, y):
...             print(f"Y={y}")
...         case Point(x, 0):
...             print(f"X={x}")
...         case Point():
...             print("Somewhere else")
...         case _:
...             print("Not a point")

>>> where_is(Point(0, 6))
"Y=6"

Equality and Order#

By default struct types define an __eq__ method based on the type definition. This enables support for equality comparisons. Additionally, you may configure order=True to make a struct type orderable through generation of __lt__, __le__, __gt__, and __ge__ methods. These methods compare and order instances of a struct type the same as if they were tuples of their field values (in definition order).

>>> class Point(msgspec.Struct, order=True):
...     x: float
...     y: float

>>> Point(1, 2) == Point(1, 2)
True

>>> Point(1, 2) < Point(3, 4)
True

In rare instances you may opt to disable generation of the __eq__ method by configuring eq=False. Equality checks will then fall back to identity comparisons, where the only value a struct instance of that type will compare equal to is itself.

>>> class Point(msgspec.Struct, eq=False):
...     x: float
...     y: float


>>> p = Point(1, 2)

>>> p == Point(1, 2)
False

>>> p == p  # identity comparison only
True

Frozen Instances#

A struct type can optionally be marked as “frozen” by specifying frozen=True. This disables modifying attributes after initialization, and adds a __hash__ method to the class definition. Note that for the __hash__ to work, all fields on the struct must also be hashable.

>>> class Point(msgspec.Struct, frozen=True):
...     """This struct is immutable & hashable"""
...     x: float
...     y: float
...

>>> p = Point(1.0, 2.0)

>>> {p: 1}  # frozen structs are hashable, and can be keys in dicts
{Point(1.0, 2.0): 1}

>>> p.x = 2.0  # frozen structs cannot be modified after creation
Traceback (most recent call last):
    ...
AttributeError: immutable type: 'Point'

Tagged Unions#

By default a serialized struct only contains information on the values present in the struct instance - no information is serialized noting which struct type corresponds to the message. Instead, the user is expected to know the type the message corresponds to, and pass that information appropriately to the decoder.

>>> import msgspec

>>> class Get(msgspec.Struct):
...     key: str

>>> msg = msgspec.json.encode(Get("my key"))

>>> msg  # No type information present in the message
b'{"key":"my key"}'

>>> msgspec.json.decode(msg, type=Get)
Get(key='my key')

In most cases this works well - schemas are often simple and each value may only correspond to at most one Struct type. However, sometimes you may have a message (or a field in a message) that may contain one of a number of different structured types. In this case we need some way to determine the type of the message from the message itself!

msgspec handles this through the use of Tagged Unions. A new field (the “tag field”) is added to the serialized representation of all struct types in the union. Each struct type associates a different value (the “tag”) with this field. When the decoder encounters a tagged union it decodes the tag first and uses it to determine the type to use when decoding the rest of the object. This process is efficient and makes determining the type of a serialized message unambiguous.

The quickest way to enable tagged unions is to set tag=True when defining every struct type in the union. In this case tag_field defaults to "type", and tag defaults to the struct class name (e.g. "Get").

>>> import msgspec

>>> from typing import Union

>>> # Pass in ``tag=True`` to tag the structs using the default configuration
... class Get(msgspec.Struct, tag=True):
...     key: str

>>> class Put(msgspec.Struct, tag=True):
...     key: str
...     val: str

>>> msg = msgspec.json.encode(Get("my key"))

>>> msg  # "type" is the tag field, "Get" is the tag
b'{"type":"Get","key":"my key"}'

>>> # Create a decoder for decoding either Get or Put
... dec = msgspec.json.Decoder(Union[Get, Put])

>>> # The tag value is used to determine the message type
... dec.decode(b'{"type": "Put", "key": "my key", "val": "my val"}')
Put(key='my key', val='my val')

>>> dec.decode(b'{"type": "Get", "key": "my key"}')
Get(key='my key')

>>> # A tagged union can also contain non-struct types.
... msgspec.json.decode(
...     b'123',
...     type=Union[Get, Put, int]
... )
123

If you want to change this behavior to use a different tag field and/or value, you can further configure things through the tag_field and tag kwargs. A struct’s tagging configuration is determined as follows.

  • If tag and tag_field are None (the default), or tag=False, then the struct is considered “untagged”. The struct is serialized with only its standard fields, and cannot participate in Union types with other structs.

  • If either tag or tag_field are non-None, then the struct is considered “tagged”. The struct is serialized with an additional field (the tag_field) mapping to its corresponding tag value. It can participate in Union types with other structs, provided they all share the same tag_field and have unique tag values.

  • If a struct is tagged, tag_field defaults to "type" if not provided or inherited. This can be overridden by passing a tag field explicitly (e.g. tag_field="kind"). Note that tag_field must not conflict with any other field names in the struct, and must be the same for all struct types in a union.

  • If a struct is tagged, tag defaults to the class name (e.g. "Get") if not provided or inherited. This can be overridden by passing a string (or less commonly an integer) value explicitly (e.g. tag="get"). tag can also be passed a callable that takes the class qualname and returns a valid tag value (e.g. tag=str.lower). Note that tag values must be unique for all struct types in a union, and str and int tag types cannot both be used within the same union.

If you like subclassing, both tag_field and tag are inheritable by subclasses, allowing configuration to be set once on a base class and reused for all struct types you wish to tag.

>>> import msgspec

>>> from typing import Union

>>> # Create a base class for tagged structs, where:
... # - the tag field is "op"
... # - the tag is the class name lowercased
... class TaggedBase(msgspec.Struct, tag_field="op", tag=str.lower):
...     pass

>>> # Use the base class to pass on the configuration
... class Get(TaggedBase):
...     key: str

>>> class Put(TaggedBase):
...     key: str
...     val: str

>>> msg = msgspec.json.encode(Get("my key"))

>>> msg  # "op" is the tag field, "get" is the tag
b'{"op":"get","key":"my key"}'

>>> # Create a decoder for decoding either Get or Put
... dec = msgspec.json.Decoder(Union[Get, Put])

>>> # The tag value is used to determine the message type
... dec.decode(b'{"op": "put", "key": "my key", "val": "my val"}')
Put(key='my key', val='my val')

>>> dec.decode(b'{"op": "get", "key": "my key"}')
Get(key='my key')

Omitting Default Values#

By default, msgspec encodes all fields in a Struct type, including optional fields (those configured with a default value).

>>> import msgspec

>>> class User(msgspec.Struct):
...     name : str
...     email : Optional[str] = None
...     groups : Set[str] = set()

>>> alice = User("alice")

>>> alice  # email & groups are using the default values
User(name='alice', email=None, groups=set())

>>> msgspec.json.encode(alice)  # default values are present in encoded message
b'{"name":"alice","email":null,"groups":[]}'

If the default values are known on the decoding end (making serializing them redundant), it may be beneficial and desired to omit default values from the encoded message. This can be done by configuring omit_defaults=True as part of the Struct definition:

>>> import msgspec

>>> class User(msgspec.Struct, omit_defaults=True):
...     name : str
...     email : Optional[str] = None
...     groups : Set[str] = set()

>>> alice = User("alice")

>>> msgspec.json.encode(alice)  # default values are omitted
b'{"name":"alice"}'

>>> bob = User("bob", email="bob@company.com")

>>> msgspec.json.encode(bob)
b'{"name":"bob","email":"bob@company.com"}'

Omitting defaults reduces the size of the encoded message, and often also improves encoding and decoding performance (since there’s less work to do).

Note that detection of default values is optimized for performance; in certain situations a default value may still be encoded. For the curious, the current detection logic is as follows:

>>> def matches_default(value: Any, default: Any) -> bool:
...     """Whether a value matches the default for a field"""
...     if value is default:
...         return True
...     if type(value) != type(default):
...         return False
...     if type(value) in (list, set, dict) and (len(value) == len(default) == 0):
...         return True
...     return False

Forbidding Unknown Fields#

By default msgspec will skip unknown fields encountered when decoding into Struct types. This is normally desired, as it allows for Schema Evolution and more flexible decoding.

One downside is that typos may go unnoticed when decoding Struct types with optional fields. For example:

>>> class Example(msgspec.Struct):
...     field_one: int
...     field_two: bool = False

>>> msgspec.json.decode(
...     b'{"field_one": 1, "field_twoo": true}',  # oops, a typo
...     type=Example
... )
Example(field_one=1, field_two=False)

In this example, the misspelled "field_twoo" is ignored since no field with that name exists. Since field_two has a default value, the default is used and no error is raised for a missing field.

To prevent typos like this, you can configure forbid_unknown_fields=True as part of the struct definition. If this option is enabled, any unknown fields encountered will result in an error.

>>> class Example(msgspec.Struct, forbid_unknown_fields=True):
...     field_one: int
...     field_two: bool = False

>>> msgspec.json.decode(
...     b'{"field_one": 1, "field_twoo": true}',  # oops, a typo
...     type=Example
... )
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
msgspec.ValidationError: Object contains unknown field `field_twoo`

Renaming Fields#

Sometimes you want the field name used in the encoded message to differ from the name used your Python code. Perhaps you want a camelCase naming convention in your JSON messages, but to use snake_case field names in Python.

msgspec supports two places for configuring a field’s name used for encoding/decoding:

On the field definition

If you’re only renaming a few fields, you might find configuring the new names as part of the field definition to be the simplest option. To do this you can use the name argument in msgspec.field. Any fields declared with this option will use the new name for encoding/decoding.

>>> import msgspec

>>> class Example(msgspec.Struct):
...     x: int
...     y: int
...     z: int = msgspec.field(name="field_z")  # renamed to "field_z"

>>> # Python code uses the original field names
... ex = Example(x=1, y=2, z=3)

>>> # Encoded messages use the renamed field names
... msgspec.json.encode(ex)
b'{"x":1,"y":2,"field_z":3}'

>>> # Decoding also uses the renamed field names
... msgspec.json.decode(b'{"x": 1, "y": 2, "field_z": 3}', type=Example)
Example(x=1, y=2, z=3)

On the struct definition

If you’re renaming lots of fields (especially if you’re renaming them with a naming convention like camelCase), you may wish to make use of the rename configuration option in the Struct definition instead. This can take a few different values:

  • None: the default, no field renaming (example_field)

  • "lower": lowercase all fields (example_field)

  • "upper": uppercase all fields (EXAMPLE_FIELD)

  • "camel": camelCase all fields (exampleField)

  • "pascal": PascalCase all fields (ExampleField)

  • A mapping from field names to the renamed names. Field names missing from the mapping will not be renamed.

  • A callable (signature rename(name: str) -> Optional[str]) to use to rename all field names. Note that None for a return value indicates the original field name should be used.

The renamed field names are used for encoding and decoding only, any python code will still refer to them using their original names.

>>> import msgspec

>>> class Example(msgspec.Struct, rename="camel"):
...     """A struct with fields renamed using camelCase"""
...     field_one: int
...     field_two: str

>>> # Python code uses the original field names
... ex = Example(1, field_two="two")

>>> # Encoded messages use the renamed field names
... msgspec.json.encode(ex)
b'{"fieldOne":1,"fieldTwo":"two"}'

>>> # Decoding uses the renamed field names
... msgspec.json.decode(b'{"fieldOne": 3, "fieldTwo": "four"}', type=Example)
Example(field_one=3, field_two='four')

>>> # Decoding errors also use the renamed field names
... msgspec.json.decode(b'{"fieldOne": 5}', type=Example)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
msgspec.ValidationError: Object missing required field `fieldTwo`

If renaming to camelCase, you may run into issues if your field names contain acronyms (e.g. FQDN in setHostnameAsFQDN). Some JSON style guides prefer to fully-uppercase these components (FQDN), but msgspec has no way to know if a component is an acroynm or not (and so will result in Fqdn). As such, we recommend using an explicit dict mapping for renaming if generating Struct types to match an existing API.

# https://kubernetes.io/docs/reference/generated/kubernetes-api/v1.19/#podspec-v1-core
# An explicit mapping from python name -> JSON field name
v1podspec_names = {
    ...
    "service_account_name": "serviceAccountName",
    "set_hostname_as_fqdn": "setHostnameAsFQDN",
    ...
}

# Pass the mapping to `rename` to explicitly rename all fields
class V1PodSpec(msgspec.Struct, rename=v1podspec_names):
    ...
    service_account_name: str = ""
    set_hostname_as_fqdn: bool = False
    ...

Note that if both the rename configuration option and the name arg to msgspec.field are used, names set explicitly via msgspec.field take precedence.

>>> import msgspec

>>> class Example(msgspec.Struct, rename="camel"):
...     field_x: int
...     field_y: int = msgspec.field(name="y")  # set explicitly

>>> msgspec.json.encode(Example(1, 2))
b'{"fieldX":1,"y":2}'

Encoding/Decoding as Arrays#

By default Struct objects encode the same dicts, with both the keys and values present in the message.

>>> import msgspec

>>> class Point(msgspec.Struct):
...     x: int
...     y: int

>>> msgspec.json.encode(Point(1, 2))
b'{"x":1,"y":2}'

If you need higher performance (at the cost of more inscrutable message encoding), you can set array_like=True on a struct definition. Structs with this option enabled are encoded/decoded as array-like types, removing the field names from the encoded message. This can provide on average another ~2x speedup for decoding (and ~1.5x speedup for encoding).

>>> class Point2(msgspec.Struct, array_like=True):
...     x: int
...     y: int

>>> msgspec.json.encode(Point2(1, 2))
b'[1,2]'

>>> msgspec.json.decode(b'[3,4]', type=Point2)
Point2(x=3, y=4)

Note that Tagged Unions also work with structs with array_like=True. In this case the tag is encoded as the first item in the array, and is used to determine which type in the union to use when decoding.

>>> import msgspec

>>> from typing import Union

>>> class Get(msgspec.Struct, tag=True, array_like=True):
...     key: str

>>> class Put(msgspec.Struct, tag=True, array_like=True):
...     key: str
...     val: str

>>> msgspec.json.encode(Get("my key"))
b'["Get","my key"]'

>>> msgspec.json.decode(
...     b'["Put", "my key", "my val"]',
...     type=Union[Get, Put]
... )
Put(key='my key', val='my val')

Runtime Definition#

In some cases it can be useful to dynamically generate msgspec.Struct classes at runtime. This can be handled through the use of msgspec.defstruct, which has a signature similar to dataclasses.make_dataclass. See msgspec.defstruct for more information.

>>> import msgspec

>>> Point = msgspec.defstruct("Point", [("x", float), ("y", float)])

>>> p = Point(1.0, 2.0)

>>> p
Point(x=1.0, y=2.0)

Disabling Garbage Collection (Advanced)#

Warning

This is an advanced optimization, and only recommended for users who fully understand the implications of disabling the GC.

Python uses reference counting to detect when memory can be freed, with a periodic cyclic garbage collector pass to detect and free cyclic references. Garbage collection (GC) is triggered by the number of uncollected GC-enabled (objects that contain other objects) objects passing a certain threshold. This design means that garbage collection passes often run during code that creates a lot of objects (for example, deserializing a large message).

By default, msgspec.Struct types will only be tracked if they contain a reference to a tracked object themselves. This means that structs referencing only scalar values (ints, strings, bools, …) won’t contribute to GC load, but structs referencing containers (lists, dicts, structs, …) will.

>>> import msgspec

>>> from typing import Any

>>> import gc

>>> class Example(msgspec.Struct):
...     x: Any
...     y: Any

>>> ex1 = Example(1, "two")

>>> # ex1 is untracked, since it only references untracked objects
... gc.is_tracked(ex1)
False

>>> ex2 = Example([1, 2, 3], (4, 5, 6))

>>> # ex2 is tracked, since it references tracked objects
... gc.is_tracked(ex2)
True

If you are certain that your struct types can never participate in a reference cycle, you may find a performance boost from setting gc=False on a struct definition. This boost is tricky to measure in isolation, since it should only result in the garbage collector not running as frequently - an integration benchmark is recommended to determine if this is worthwhile for your workload. A workload is likely to benefit from this optimization in the following situations:

  • You’re allocating a lot of struct objects at once (for example, decoding a large object). Setting gc=False on these types will reduce the likelihood of a GC pass occurring while decoding, improving application latency.

  • You have a large number of long-lived struct objects. Setting gc=False on these types will reduce the load on the GC during collection cycles of later generations.

Struct types with gc=False will never be tracked, even if they reference container types. It is your responsibility to ensure cycles with these objects don’t occur, as a cycle containing only gc=False structs will never be collected (leading to a memory leak).