The background to my question is that, as an amateur programmer, I
want an easy way to create Wireshark custom dissectors to capture and
decode some legacy proprietary protocols and, at first glance,
Protocol Buffers with protobuf-wireshark (
protobuf-wireshark/) looked great.

However, the legacy protocols that I'm interested in contain 'packed'
binary data elements with arbitrary bit lengths (e.g. 5 bit integers,
1 bit booleans, etc) that are not (necessarily) byte-aligned and, as
far as I can tell, Protocol Buffers only supports byte-aligned data

Is this truly the case and, if so, what are the likely opportunities
to extend Protocol Buffers to support arbitrarily sized data elements?


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