11/Key Value Store Tree Object Format v1

The Flux Key Value Store (KVS) implements hierarchical key namespaces layered atop the content storage service described in RFC 10. Namespaces are organized as hash trees of content-addressed tree objects and values. This specification defines the version 1 format of key value store tree objects.




Jim Garlick <garlick@llnl.gov>




The key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL” in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.


  • Define KVS metadata compatible with the RFC 10 content storage service.

  • Tree objects can be parsed years after they were written (provenance).

  • Values exceeding the blob size limit (RFC 10) can be represented.

  • Tree objects exceeding the blob size limit (RFC 10) can be represented.

  • Values support an append operation.

  • A KVS namespace of arbitrary depth can be “rolled up” into one tree object.

  • Tree objects are (somewhat) self-describing.

  • Large directories are not expensive to access or update.


In contrast to the original KVS prototype, in this specification, KVS values are unstructured, opaque data.

All tree objects SHALL be represented as JSON objects containing three top level names:

  • ver, an integer version number

  • type, a string type name

  • data, a type dependent JSON object

There are six types:

  • valref, data is an array of blobrefs. The concatenated blobs are an opaque data value (not a val object).

  • val, data is a base64 string representing opaque data.

  • dirref, data is an array of blobrefs. The concatenated blobs are interpreted as a dir or hdir object.

  • dir, data is a map of names to tree objects.

  • hdir, data is a map of integer-hashed names to dirref objects.

  • symlink, data is an object containing a target key and optionally a namespace.


A valref refers to opaque data in the content store (the actual data, not a val object).

{ "ver":1,


A val represents opaque data directly, base64-encoded.

{ "ver":1,

Short values that are not large enough to warrant a valref and independent blobs SHOULD be represented as a val when written to the content store.

The val object MAY be used as part of the protocol for sending key-value tuples of any size to the KVS in the JSON payload of an RPC.


A dirref refers to a dir or hdir object that was serialized and stored in the content store.

{ "ver":1,

Although the dirref definition supports an array of multiple blobrefs, at this time the array size is limited to one.


A dir is a dictionary mapping keys to any of the tree object types.

{ "ver":1,


A hdir is a dictionary mapping keys to any of the tree object types, though a level of indirection. The hdir object is for efficiently representing large directories.

A dir SHALL be converted to an hdir once the number of entries exceeds a configurable maxdirent value. The hdir SHALL have a fixed number of buckets represented by size, fixed when the hdir is created. The hash function used to map keys to buckets SHALL be identified with func. Hash buckets MAY be sparsely populated. Each hash bucket contains a single dirref object.

{ "ver":1,

At this time, hdir objects have not been implemented.