What Is Avro File Based Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

What Is Avro File Based Data Structure?

Avro is a file-based data structure that provides a compact, efficient, and self-describing way to store data. It is commonly used in Big Data processing frameworks like Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark. Avro files are binary files that contain serialized data records along with a schema that describes the structure of the data.

Advantages of Avro

Avro offers several advantages over other file-based data structures:

  • Compactness: Avro uses a binary format, which makes it more space-efficient compared to text-based formats like CSV or JSON.
  • Schema Evolution: Avro supports schema evolution, allowing you to easily modify your data structure without breaking compatibility with existing data.
  • Data Compression: Avro supports built-in compression codecs like Snappy or Deflate, which further reduce the file size and improve performance.
  • Data Validation: The schema in an Avro file provides a way to validate the integrity and correctness of the stored data.

The Structure of an Avro File

An Avro file consists of three main parts: header, metadata, and data blocks.


The header contains metadata about the file, including the version of Avro used and any synchronization markers if applicable.


The metadata section contains information about the schema used in the file. This includes the full schema definition as well as additional properties such as codec used for compression.

Data Blocks

The actual serialized data records are stored in one or more data blocks. Each block contains a sequence of data records, along with any necessary synchronization markers for random access.

Working with Avro Files

To work with Avro files, you need to define a schema that describes the structure of your data. The schema can be written in JSON or Avro’s own schema definition language (DSL). Once you have the schema, you can use various programming languages and libraries to read and write Avro files.

Here’s an example of a simple Avro schema for storing employee information:

  "type": "record",
  "name": "Employee",
  "fields": [
    {"name": "id", "type": "int"},
    {"name": "name", "type": "string"},
    {"name": "salary", "type": ["int", "null"]}

Using this schema, you can create Avro files that store employee records. The files will be self-describing, meaning that anyone who reads the file can understand its structure by examining the embedded schema.


Avro provides a flexible and efficient way to store structured data in binary files. Its compactness, support for schema evolution, and built-in compression make it a popular choice for Big Data processing. By understanding the structure of an Avro file and how to work with schemas, you can effectively utilize Avro in your data processing workflows.

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