Hypercore superpowers

Hypercore is very simple. It only supports appending data.

But hypercore has a few magic features:

  • Pluggable storage backends

    The default storage backend that comes with hypercore uses disk storage in a subdirectory on your computer. It works much like any other disk-backed database. So the data you append will be persisted to disk, and will still be available even if you stop and then restart your program. Because the data is stored on disk, it can be larger than the memory in your computer.

    Alternatively, you can supply alternative storage backends. Any module that supports the random-access-storage interface will work.

    The most common alternate storage backend is random-access-memory which allows you to keep the hypercore data entirely in memory. It is ideal for applications that just need to query data from the network on demand, and which do not need to persist data.

    The random-access-storage organization on GitHub has collected together several popular storage backend implementations.

  • Replication

    Hypercore was created for the purpose of making it easy to replicate data.

    Two hypercores connected over a bi-directional connection can talk to each other and efficiently sync data using the "hypercore-protocol".

    Hypercore has special support for sparse replication, so it is possible to connect to hypercore and only sync the data you are interested in.

    If connections are long-lived, it is possible to replicate data in live mode, allowing peers to subscribe to data and to get events in real-time as data is synced immediately after being appended.

  • Cryptography

    When you create a hypercore, it randomly generates a keypair consisting of a public key and a secret key.

    The 32-byte (64 hex characters) public key is used for sharing references to the hypercore. The public key is also used to encrypt data in-transit so that it can't be snooped on by anybody who does not have the key.

    All data that is appended to the hypercore is signed with the private key. When hypercores are replicated, the signatures are verified against the public key, so only the owner of the hypercore can append data.

    A special discovery key derived from the public key is used when talking to untrusted services to avoid revealing the public key so that interlopers can't snoop on the data passing through.

    Internally, data is hashed and stored in a merkle tree based data structure, which enables quick lookups and ensures data integrity.

  • Streams

    You can use Node.js streams to pipe data directly into or out of a hypercore.

  • Binary data, unicode strings, JSON or pluggable encodings

    Hypercore is built for binary data. But it also works well with unicode string data or JSON data. You can specify any encoding that conforms to the abstract-encoding interface.

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