[Cryptography] Is ASN.1 still the thing?

Ron Garret ron at flownet.com
Mon Nov 13 21:11:45 EST 2017

On Nov 13, 2017, at 6:20 AM, David Wong <davidwong.crypto at gmail.com> wrote:

> If you want something fast (binary), but don't want the awfulness of
> ASN.1 I believe google's protobuf is the state of the art solution. Or
> better, you can have a fixed structure (with fixed sized fields) and I
> believe this is what Wireguard does.

I got fed up with the complexity of ASN.1 and DER and designed my own binary serialization format for my implementation of the Signal double-ratchet.  The only documentation is in the in-line comments of the original implementation, which was done in Common Lisp:


Docs start at line 82.  The Javascript version is at:


The format is not quite unambiguous.  Binary fields whose length is a power of 2 can be encoded in two different ways.  But that is the only ambiguity, and it could easily be fixed if needed.

Feedback would be very much appreciated.


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