Monday, June 17, 2024

From Objects to Byte: Understanding Serialization for beginners.

User avatar of Michael Unah

Michael Unah

5 min read·9 Reads
From Objects to Byte: Understanding Serialization for beginners.

Although objects are made up of multiple components, saving or delivering all of them often requires significant coding work, hence serialization is a common method for capturing the object into a sharable format. In this article, I'll walk you through what serialization is, why you should use serialization, and the importance of serialization for data transmission.

What is Serialization

Let's imagine you went to a store to get some groceries and the only form of payment is cash payment and you don't have enough with you. Instead of returning the items, The storekeeper keeps the items while you get some cash. The storekeeper keeps the bill as a pending one in a file, Rather than keeping it in his memory, because he could easily forget about the bill. For transmission between workers in the store, The storekeeper stores the pending bill in a file format. This process is known as Serialization.

In more technical terms, Serialization is the process of converting the state of an object into a byte stream and saving the state of the object to be stored on a disk or transmitted across a network. Serialization encompasses both the storage of the object and the exchange of data. It is applied in different programming languages. For example in JavaScript, you can serialize an object to a JSON string by calling the function JSON.stringify().

Serialization helps to improve data persistence which plays a crucial role in data storage, enabling data to be easily retrieved. Also, Network communication between applications and distributed systems improves object sharing between different programming languages.

The reverse process of Serialization is Deserialization, which is reconstructing a byte stream back to an object.

Serialized data can be stored in different types of formats, some of which include JSON Format, XML Format, and binary format. This enables easy transmission of data within a network, efficiency, and storage.

Serialized data stored in JSON format is the most dominant way to store data compared to other formats. This format makes it relatively simple for humans to read, its syntax is simple and widely understood and it is lightweight and compact compared to the XML and binary format.

Importance of Serialization

Serialization plays a crucial role by allowing data persistence, network communication between different platforms, and sharing of complex data structure in the conversion of objects into a format that is easily transmitted.

We'll talk about some of the importance of Serialization.

  • Data Persistence

  • Network communication

  • Interoperability

1. Data Persistence

Serialization allows you to save the current state of your application (including user data, configurations, or game progress) to a file or database. This data can then be loaded back later, enabling you to resume from where you left off.

Many databases use serialization internally to store and retrieve data objects efficiently. Serialized data can be easily written to and read from database tables.

A common example of data persistence is creating a document in a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, the data is persistently stored on your computer or cloud storage, allowing you to access and edit it later.

2. Network communication

In Network communication applications can communicate with each other over a network, and serialization allows them to exchange complex data structures like objects or arrays. These data structures are converted into a transferable format (often a stream of bytes) and then deserialized back into usable objects on the receiving end.

Network communication is also applied in distributed systems, where components are spread across different machines, Serialization plays a crucial role in enabling data exchange between these components. It facilitates communication and coordination among them.

3. Interoperability

Serialization enables data to be shared across multiple programs, even those written in various programming languages. As long as they employ compatible serialization formats, they can read and interpret each other's data.

Serialization is commonly used in version control systems such as Git to store code snippets and track changes over time. Files are serialized in a way that allows for efficient storage and comparison.


Serialization is a critical concept in modern software development, allowing for efficient storage, transport, and reconstruction of complicated data structures. Serialization improves system interoperability and streamlines data sharing by transforming items into an easily shareable and stored format. As previously discussed, understanding the fundamentals of serialization, including its many forms and practical applications, provides you with the skills you need to manage data more effectively and design more resilient and scalable applications. Whether you're working with JSON, XML, or binary serialization, learning these approaches will surely benefit your programming toolset. As you continue to develop your skills, remember that the concepts of serialization go beyond the particular of any one language or architecture, emphasizing the importance of data integrity and seamless communication across diverse systems.


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