ZIPVFS File Format

1.0 Overview

A ZIPVFS database file is logically divided into three sections: the header, the page-map, and the data area.

2.0 The Header

The header is the first 200 bytes of the file. The header is further subdivided into the first and second header, each of 100 bytes.

The first header (the first 100 bytes of the file) are not used by directly by ZIPVFS, though the bytes still must be initialized correctly for an SQLite database file. (See the SQLite File Format documentation for additional information.) The first 100 bytes of a ZIPVFS database are used by the underlying SQLite pager module layer for storing information such as the database change counter. ZIPVFS maintains the first 92 bytes of the first header as a copy of the first 92 bytes in the decoded (uncompressed and unencrypted) database file except that the first 16 bytes are changed from "SQLite version 3" to to "ZV-name" where "name" is the name of the encoding algorithm passed as the first parameter to zipvfs_create_vfs(). The "name", which is guaranteed to be 13 bytes or less in size, is padded with 0x00 bytes to make up the full 16 bytes. The last 8 bytes of the first header, and some other bytes in the interior of the header, are set by the underlying pager layer.

The second header (bytes 100 through 199 inclusive) is the ZIPVFS header. The ZIPVFS header contains a serialization of the ZipvfsHdr structure:

struct ZipvfsHdr {
  i64 iFreeSlot;         /* 100: Byte offset of first free-slot in file */
  i64 iDataStart;        /* 108: Byte offset of first byte in data-area */
  i64 iDataEnd;          /* 116: pOffset of first byte following data-area */
  i64 iGapStart;         /* 124: Offset of first byte in gap region */
  i64 iGapEnd;           /* 132: Offset of first byte after gap region */
  i64 iSize;             /* 140: Size of user database in bytes */
  i64 nFreeSlot;         /* 148: Number of free-slots in file */
  i64 nFreeByte;         /* 156: Total size of all free-slots */
  i64 nFreeFragment;     /* 164: Total size of all padding in used slots */
  int pgsz;              /* 172: User db page size */
  int iVersion;          /* 176: Zipvfs file version */

All values are either 64-bit or 32-bit unsigned twos-complement integers. The values are stored in the header as big-endian, and at the byte offset from the start of the file given by the integer at the beginning of the corresponding comment. So, for example, the iGapStart value is a 64-bit big-endian twos-complement integer stored at an offset of 124 from the start of the file. Bytes 180 through 199 are not currently used by ZIPVFS but are reserved for future expansion. Bytes 180 through 199 should be zero in all existing ZIPVFS database files.

3.0 The Page-Map

The page-map begins at byte offset 200 into the ZIPVFS database file. The page-map contains an 8-byte entry for each page in the users database. The entry consists of the following elements, each stored as big-endian integers:

Another way to think of the encoding of a page-map entry is as a single big-endian 64-bit unsigned integer from which the upper 40 bits become the offset, the middle 17 bits become the compressed page size, and the lower 7 bits are the unused bytes following the compressed page. If the lower 7 bits are all 1, that means the number of unused bytes is greater than or equal to 127 and the precise number of unused bytes must be obtained from the slot header.

Any page-map entries that refer to unused pages have an offset of 0.

4.0 The Data Area

The data-area begins at some point in the file after the end of the page-map, as determined by the iDataStart field of the ZIPVFS header. The data-area contains the compressed page images. Each page is stored as follows:

The initial page number and slot payload size are stored as big-endian integers. Or, to look at it another way, the combined page number and slot payload size can be viewed as a 6-byte big-endian integer in which the page number is the upper 31 bits and the slot payload size is the lower 17 bits.

The page number and slot payload size numbers at the beginning of each page are collectively called the "slot-header".

When SQLite overwrites a database page, the compressed image may change size. As a result, Zipvfs may not (usually does not) write the new compressed image back to the same point in the file as the old. The part of the file then occupied by the old compressed image becomes a "free-slot". It may be reused later.

Free slots are organized using a b-tree that allows for the "best fit" slot to be located efficiently, even for large free lists. Btree nodes are themselves stored within free-slots. Additional information about Btree nodes is given below.

The data-area may also contain a "gap", defined by two offsets stored in the header. A gap is a chunk of completely unused space. Neither compressed images or free-slots are found within a gap. A gap is created and manipulated by incremental-compact options (see file-control ZIPVFS_CTRL_COMPACT).

The iVersion value of the second header may be 1 or 2. A value of 1 means that a rollback journal is used for transaction control. A value of 2 means that a WAL is used. Some very early ZIPVFS database files contained a value of 0 for iVersion, but that format is no longer supported. Future versions of ZIPVFS might use larger iVersion values to indicate new file-format extensions.

5.0 Freelist B-Tree Nodes

All slots in the database, free or otherwise, begin with a slot-header. For b-tree (or other free) slots, the page-number field is meaningless. The slot payload size is used though. Following the slot-header is a 4 byte b-tree node header composed of two 16-bit big-endian integers, "height" and "number of entries".

Height fields is the height of the sub-tree headed by this node. Leaf nodes have a height of 1, the parents of leaf nodes have 2, and so forth.

The number of entries field stores the number of entries in the btree node.

Each entry in the b-tree is an 8-byte integer. The integer is broken down into three components describing the free-slot that the key represents:

Following the header, a leaf b-tree node contains N entries of 8 bytes each (just the key value), where N is the value stored in the "Number of entries" field of the b-tree node header.

For internal nodes (those with height>1), the b-tree node header is followed by a 5 byte offset (offset of the right-child) and N 13-byte entries, where each entry is a key value is followed by a 5 byte child slot offset.

For both internal and leaf nodes, keys are stored in ascending order.

For each entry on an internal node, all keys stored in the sub-tree headed by the child slot are less than the key stored as part of the entry itself. If the slot is not the left-most on its node, then all keys stored in the sub-tree are greater than the key associated with the key in the previous entry. All keys stored in the sub-tree headed by the right-child are greater than all keys stored on the internal node page.

The minimum payload size for an internal node is (6 + 5 + 2*13)==37 bytes (the Page Number field of the header is not part of the payload). To ensure that this is always true, the zipvfs module never allocates a slot with a payload smaller than ZIPVFS_MIN_PAYLOAD bytes.

6.0 Reading

Reading a page from the file is simple. First lookup the entry for the requested page in the page map. Then read the blob of data from the data area and decompress it.

If there is no write transaction active and the pager is running in rollback mode, data can be read directly from the file, bypassing the pager module.

7.0 Writing

The upper layer writes to the file a page at a time. If the upper layer is overwriting an existing page, then the slot that currently contains the compressed page image is added to the free slot b-tree.

This module then compresses the page image and writes it into the file. There are two ways in which this can be done:

  1. The new page may be inserted into a free slot, or
  2. The new page may be appended to the end of the data area.

If there are less than N free slots in the database, then option 1 is only taken if an exact fit can be found - a free-slot of the exact size required by the compressed page. If there are greater than or equal to N free slots, then option 1 is taken if there exists any free-slot large enough to accommodate the compressed page. The btree mechanism described further down in this file is used to locate the best fit efficiently.

The value of N is configurable using the ZIPVFS_CTRL_MAXFREE file-control.