Grasping Snappy: What is it and How Does it Define Our Lives?

In today’s fast-paced IT industry, having efficient and high-performance software is crucial for businesses to stay competitive. Snappy, an open-source data compression library, promises to bring both speed and effectiveness together in a single solution. This glossary page aims to provide an insight into what Snappy is, how it works, its benefits, use cases, best practices, and recommended books to gain a deeper understanding of this powerful tool.

“Snappiness is the art of capturing life’s most fleeting moments in a snap, giving the world a taste of time’s ephemeral nature.” – Annie Leibovitz

What is Snappy? Definition of Snap package manager

Snappy, formerly known as Zippy, is a data compression and decompression library developed by Google. It is primarily used for optimizing data storage and reducing the size of network communication in various applications such as databases, big data processing, and content delivery systems. The main goal of Snappy is to provide high-speed compression and decompression while maintaining an acceptable compression ratio. In other words, Snappy prioritizes speed over the highest possible compression rate.

ℹ️ Synonyms: Quick, fast, speedy, rapid, prompt, agile, nimble, brisk, lively, energetic.

How it Works

Snappy achieves its fast compression speeds through the use of a combination of algorithms, including the LZ77 (Lempel-Ziv 1977) algorithm and Huffman coding. The LZ77 algorithm compresses data by finding repeating patterns in the input data and replacing them with shorter references. Huffman coding is then used to reduce the size of the encoded data further using variable-length codes tailored for the specific input data.

Snappy compresses data in chunks, which allows it to work with streaming data effectively. This also enables Snappy to maintain performance when processing large datasets, as it doesn’t need to hold the entire dataset in memory. Decompression works in a similar manner by processing chunks and reconstructing the original data.

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Benefits of using Snappy

  • High-speed compression and decompression: Snappy is designed for performance, offering faster compression and decompression than other compression libraries like gzip and bzip2.
  • Low memory usage: Snappy works with data in small chunks, which reduces memory requirements and makes it suitable for large datasets.
  • Robustness: Snappy is highly resilient to input data changes, ensuring stable and consistent compression ratios.
  • Wide compatibility: Snappy has bindings and support for multiple programming languages, including C++, Java, Python, and Go.
  • Open-source: Snappy is open-source software, which allows developers to study, modify, and contribute to its improvement.

Snappy use cases

The performance-focused design of Snappy makes it ideal for various applications in the IT industry, some of which include:

Database storage

Snappy can be used to compress data stored in databases like Hadoop, LevelDB, and RocksDB, reducing storage requirements and providing faster read and write access.

Big data processing

In big data frameworks like Apache Hadoop, Apache Kafka, and Apache Flink, Snappy is used to compress large datasets to decrease storage space and to speed up data processing.

Real-time communication

Snappy can be used to compress data in real-time applications like video streaming, enhancing user experience by reducing bandwidth and latency.

Content delivery networks (CDNs)

Snappy is used in CDNs to optimize the transfer of large files like images, video files, and documents, providing faster, more efficient content delivery.

Best Practices

With a focus on speed, using Snappy effectively requires understanding its limitations and adapting your approach to maximize its benefits. While Snappy may not offer the best compression ratios, implementation in cases where speed is more critical, like real-time applications and big data processing, is recommended. Additionally, combining Snappy with other data compression methods, like columnar formats and dictionary coding, can improve overall performance. Always benchmark your application to ensure it meets your performance requirements and adjust your implementation accordingly.

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Most recommended books about Snappy

While there are no specific books solely dedicated to Snappy, many books on data compression cover the concepts and algorithms used in Snappy. Some recommended titles include:

  • Data Compression: The Complete Reference by David Salomon
  • Introduction to Data Compression by Khalid Sayood
  • Compressed Data Structures for Strings: On Searching and Extracting Strings from Compressed Databases by Rossano Venturini

These books provide insights into topics like the LZ77 algorithm and Huffman coding – fundamental building blocks of Snappy – and help readers understand the principles behind its design.


Snappy is a powerful data compression library that prioritizes speed over maximal compression ratios, making it ideal for applications where rapid compression and decompression are essential. With its wide compatibility, low memory usage, and high performance, Snappy is an attractive choice for IT professionals looking to optimize their software development projects. Understanding Snappy’s inner workings and best practices will ensure you get the most out of this valuable tool.

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Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
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li-url Lou Reverchuk

IT Entrepreneur

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