Dalvik Executable Format

This document describes the layout and contents of .dex files, which are used to hold a set of class definitions and their associated adjunct data.

Guide To Types

Name Description
byte 8-bit signed int
ubyte 8-bit unsigned int
short 16-bit signed int, little-endian
ushort 16-bit unsigned int, little-endian
int 32-bit signed int, little-endian
uint 32-bit unsigned int, little-endian
long 64-bit signed int, little-endian
ulong 64-bit unsigned int, little-endian
sleb128 signed LEB128, variable-length (see below)
uleb128 unsigned LEB128, variable-length (see below)
uleb128p1 unsigned LEB128 plus 1, variable-length (see below)

LEB128

LEB128 ("Little-Endian Base 128") is a variable-length encoding for arbitrary signed or unsigned integer quantities. The format was borrowed from the DWARF3 specification. In a .dex file, LEB128 is only ever used to encode 32-bit quantities.

Each LEB128 encoded value consists of one to five bytes, which together represent a single 32-bit value. Each byte has its most significant bit set except for the final byte in the sequence, which has its most significant bit clear. The remaining seven bits of each byte are payload, with the least significant seven bits of the quantity in the first byte, the next seven in the second byte and so on. In the case of a signed LEB128 (sleb128), the most significant payload bit of the final byte in the sequence is sign-extended to produce the final value. In the unsigned case (uleb128), any bits not explicitly represented are interpreted as 0.

Bitwise diagram of a two-byte LEB128 value
First byte Second byte
1 bit6 bit5 bit4 bit3 bit2 bit1 bit0 0 bit13 bit12 bit11 bit10 bit9 bit8 bit7

The variant uleb128p1 is used to represent a signed value, where the representation is of the value plus one encoded as a uleb128. This makes the encoding of -1 (alternatively thought of as the unsigned value 0xffffffff) — but no other negative number — a single byte, and is useful in exactly those cases where the represented number must either be non-negative or -1 (or 0xffffffff), and where no other negative values are allowed (or where large unsigned values are unlikely to be needed).

Here are some examples of the formats:

Encoded Sequence As sleb128 As uleb128 As uleb128p1
0000-1
01110
7f-1127126
80 7f-1281625616255

Overall File Layout

Name Format Description
header header_item the header
string_ids string_id_item[] string identifiers list. These are identifiers for all the strings used by this file, either for internal naming (e.g., type descriptors) or as constant objects referred to by code. This list must be sorted by string contents, using UTF-16 code point values (not in a locale-sensitive manner), and it must not contain any duplicate entries.
type_ids type_id_item[] type identifiers list. These are identifiers for all types (classes, arrays, or primitive types) referred to by this file, whether defined in the file or not. This list must be sorted by string_id index, and it must not contain any duplicate entries.
proto_ids proto_id_item[] method prototype identifiers list. These are identifiers for all prototypes referred to by this file. This list must be sorted in return-type (by type_id index) major order, and then by arguments (also by type_id index). The list must not contain any duplicate entries.
field_ids field_id_item[] field identifiers list. These are identifiers for all fields referred to by this file, whether defined in the file or not. This list must be sorted, where the defining type (by type_id index) is the major order, field name (by string_id index) is the intermediate order, and type (by type_id index) is the minor order. The list must not contain any duplicate entries.
method_ids method_id_item[] method identifiers list. These are identifiers for all methods referred to by this file, whether defined in the file or not. This list must be sorted, where the defining type (by type_id index) is the major order, method name (by string_id index) is the intermediate order, and method prototype (by proto_id index) is the minor order. The list must not contain any duplicate entries.
class_defs class_def_item[] class definitions list. The classes must be ordered such that a given class's superclass and implemented interfaces appear in the list earlier than the referring class. Furthermore, it is invalid for a definition for the same-named class to appear more than once in the list.
data ubyte[] data area, containing all the support data for the tables listed above. Different items have different alignment requirements, and padding bytes are inserted before each item if necessary to achieve proper alignment.
link_data ubyte[] data used in statically linked files. The format of the data in this section is left unspecified by this document. This section is empty in unlinked files, and runtime implementations may use it as they see fit.

Bitfield, String, and Constant Definitions

DEX_FILE_MAGIC

embedded in header_item

The constant array/string DEX_FILE_MAGIC is the list of bytes that must appear at the beginning of a .dex file in order for it to be recognized as such. The value intentionally contains a newline ("\n" or 0x0a) and a null byte ("\0" or 0x00) in order to help in the detection of certain forms of corruption. The value also encodes a format version number as three decimal digits, which is expected to increase monotonically over time as the format evolves.

ubyte[8] DEX_FILE_MAGIC = { 0x64 0x65 0x78 0x0a 0x30 0x33 0x35 0x00 }
                        = "dex\n035\0"

Note: At least a couple earlier versions of the format have been used in widely-available public software releases. For example, version 009 was used for the M3 releases of the Android platform (November–December 2007), and version 013 was used for the M5 releases of the Android platform (February–March 2008). In several respects, these earlier versions of the format differ significantly from the version described in this document.

ENDIAN_CONSTANT and REVERSE_ENDIAN_CONSTANT

embedded in header_item

The constant ENDIAN_CONSTANT is used to indicate the endianness of the file in which it is found. Although the standard .dex format is little-endian, implementations may choose to perform byte-swapping. Should an implementation come across a header whose endian_tag is REVERSE_ENDIAN_CONSTANT instead of ENDIAN_CONSTANT, it would know that the file has been byte-swapped from the expected form.

uint ENDIAN_CONSTANT = 0x12345678;
uint REVERSE_ENDIAN_CONSTANT = 0x78563412;

NO_INDEX

embedded in class_def_item and debug_info_item

The constant NO_INDEX is used to indicate that an index value is absent.

Note: This value isn't defined to be 0, because that is in fact typically a valid index.

Also Note: The chosen value for NO_INDEX is representable as a single byte in the uleb128p1 encoding.

uint NO_INDEX = 0xffffffff;    // == -1 if treated as a signed int

access_flags Definitions

embedded in class_def_item, encoded_field, encoded_method, and InnerClass

Bitfields of these flags are used to indicate the accessibility and overall properties of classes and class members.

Name Value For Classes (and InnerClass annotations) For Fields For Methods
ACC_PUBLIC 0x1 public: visible everywhere public: visible everywhere public: visible everywhere
ACC_PRIVATE 0x2 * private: only visible to defining class private: only visible to defining class private: only visible to defining class
ACC_PROTECTED 0x4 * protected: visible to package and subclasses protected: visible to package and subclasses protected: visible to package and subclasses
ACC_STATIC 0x8 * static: is not constructed with an outer this reference static: global to defining class static: does not take a this argument
ACC_FINAL 0x10 final: not subclassable final: immutable after construction final: not overridable
ACC_SYNCHRONIZED 0x20     synchronized: associated lock automatically acquired around call to this method. Note: This is only valid to set when ACC_NATIVE is also set.
ACC_VOLATILE 0x40   volatile: special access rules to help with thread safety  
ACC_BRIDGE 0x40     bridge method, added automatically by compiler as a type-safe bridge
ACC_TRANSIENT 0x80   transient: not to be saved by default serialization  
ACC_VARARGS 0x80     last argument should be treated as a "rest" argument by compiler
ACC_NATIVE 0x100     native: implemented in native code
ACC_INTERFACE 0x200 interface: multiply-implementable abstract class    
ACC_ABSTRACT 0x400 abstract: not directly instantiable   abstract: unimplemented by this class
ACC_STRICT 0x800     strictfp: strict rules for floating-point arithmetic
ACC_SYNTHETIC 0x1000 not directly defined in source code not directly defined in source code not directly defined in source code
ACC_ANNOTATION 0x2000 declared as an annotation class    
ACC_ENUM 0x4000 declared as an enumerated type declared as an enumerated value  
(unused) 0x8000      
ACC_CONSTRUCTOR 0x10000     constructor method (class or instance initializer)
ACC_DECLARED_
SYNCHRONIZED
0x20000     declared synchronized. Note: This has no effect on execution (other than in reflection of this flag, per se).

* Only allowed on for InnerClass annotations, and must not ever be on in a class_def_item.

MUTF-8 (Modified UTF-8) Encoding

As a concession to easier legacy support, the .dex format encodes its string data in a de facto standard modified UTF-8 form, hereafter referred to as MUTF-8. This form is identical to standard UTF-8, except:

  • Only the one-, two-, and three-byte encodings are used.
  • Code points in the range U+10000U+10ffff are encoded as a surrogate pair, each of which is represented as a three-byte encoded value.
  • The code point U+0000 is encoded in two-byte form.
  • A plain null byte (value 0) indicates the end of a string, as is the standard C language interpretation.

The first two items above can be summarized as: MUTF-8 is an encoding format for UTF-16, instead of being a more direct encoding format for Unicode characters.

The final two items above make it simultaneously possible to include the code point U+0000 in a string and still manipulate it as a C-style null-terminated string.

However, the special encoding of U+0000 means that, unlike normal UTF-8, the result of calling the standard C function strcmp() on a pair of MUTF-8 strings does not always indicate the properly signed result of comparison of unequal strings. When ordering (not just equality) is a concern, the most straightforward way to compare MUTF-8 strings is to decode them character by character, and compare the decoded values. (However, more clever implementations are also possible.)

Please refer to The Unicode Standard for further information about character encoding. MUTF-8 is actually closer to the (relatively less well-known) encoding CESU-8 than to UTF-8 per se.

encoded_value Encoding

embedded in annotation_element and encoded_array_item

An encoded_value is an encoded piece of (nearly) arbitrary hierarchically structured data. The encoding is meant to be both compact and straightforward to parse.

Name Format Description
(value_arg << 5) | value_type ubyte byte indicating the type of the immediately subsequent value along with an optional clarifying argument in the high-order three bits. See below for the various value definitions. In most cases, value_arg encodes the length of the immediately-subsequent value in bytes, as (size - 1), e.g., 0 means that the value requires one byte, and 7 means it requires eight bytes; however, there are exceptions as noted below.
value ubyte[] bytes representing the value, variable in length and interpreted differently for different value_type bytes, though always little-endian. See the various value definitions below for details.

Value Formats

Type Name value_type value_arg Format value Format Description
VALUE_BYTE 0x00 (none; must be 0) ubyte[1] signed one-byte integer value
VALUE_SHORT 0x02 size - 1 (0…1) ubyte[size] signed two-byte integer value, sign-extended
VALUE_CHAR 0x03 size - 1 (0…1) ubyte[size] unsigned two-byte integer value, zero-extended
VALUE_INT 0x04 size - 1 (0…3) ubyte[size] signed four-byte integer value, sign-extended
VALUE_LONG 0x06 size - 1 (0…7) ubyte[size] signed eight-byte integer value, sign-extended
VALUE_FLOAT 0x10 size - 1 (0…3) ubyte[size] four-byte bit pattern, zero-extended to the right, and interpreted as an IEEE754 32-bit floating point value
VALUE_DOUBLE 0x11 size - 1 (0…7) ubyte[size] eight-byte bit pattern, zero-extended to the right, and interpreted as an IEEE754 64-bit floating point value
VALUE_STRING 0x17 size - 1 (0…3) ubyte[size] unsigned (zero-extended) four-byte integer value, interpreted as an index into the string_ids section and representing a string value
VALUE_TYPE 0x18 size - 1 (0…3) ubyte[size] unsigned (zero-extended) four-byte integer value, interpreted as an index into the type_ids section and representing a reflective type/class value
VALUE_FIELD 0x19 size - 1 (0…3) ubyte[size] unsigned (zero-extended) four-byte integer value, interpreted as an index into the field_ids section and representing a reflective field value
VALUE_METHOD 0x1a size - 1 (0…3) ubyte[size] unsigned (zero-extended) four-byte integer value, interpreted as an index into the method_ids section and representing a reflective method value
VALUE_ENUM 0x1b size - 1 (0…3) ubyte[size] unsigned (zero-extended) four-byte integer value, interpreted as an index into the field_ids section and representing the value of an enumerated type constant
VALUE_ARRAY 0x1c (none; must be 0) encoded_array an array of values, in the format specified by "encoded_array Format" below. The size of the value is implicit in the encoding.
VALUE_ANNOTATION 0x1d (none; must be 0) encoded_annotation a sub-annotation, in the format specified by "encoded_annotation Format" below. The size of the value is implicit in the encoding.
VALUE_NULL 0x1e (none; must be 0) (none) null reference value
VALUE_BOOLEAN 0x1f boolean (0…1) (none) one-bit value; 0 for false and 1 for true. The bit is represented in the value_arg.

encoded_array Format

Name Format Description
size uleb128 number of elements in the array
values encoded_value[size] a series of size encoded_value byte sequences in the format specified by this section, concatenated sequentially.

encoded_annotation Format

Name Format Description
type_idx uleb128 type of the annotation. This must be a class (not array or primitive) type.
size uleb128 number of name-value mappings in this annotation
elements annotation_element[size] elements of the annotataion, represented directly in-line (not as offsets). Elements must be sorted in increasing order by string_id index.

annotation_element Format

Name Format Description
name_idx uleb128 element name, represented as an index into the string_ids section. The string must conform to the syntax for MemberName, defined above.
value encoded_value element value

String Syntax

There are several kinds of item in a .dex file which ultimately refer to a string. The following BNF-style definitions indicate the acceptable syntax for these strings.

SimpleName

A SimpleName is the basis for the syntax of the names of other things. The .dex format allows a fair amount of latitude here (much more than most common source languages). In brief, a simple name consists of any low-ASCII alphabetic character or digit, a few specific low-ASCII symbols, and most non-ASCII code points that are not control, space, or special characters. Note that surrogate code points (in the range U+d800U+dfff) are not considered valid name characters, per se, but Unicode supplemental characters are valid (which are represented by the final alternative of the rule for SimpleNameChar), and they should be represented in a file as pairs of surrogate code points in the MUTF-8 encoding.

SimpleName
SimpleNameChar (SimpleNameChar)*
SimpleNameChar
'A''Z'
| 'a''z'
| '0''9'
| '$'
| '-'
| '_'
| U+00a1U+1fff
| U+2010U+2027
| U+2030U+d7ff
| U+e000U+ffef
| U+10000U+10ffff

MemberName

used by field_id_item and method_id_item

A MemberName is the name of a member of a class, members being fields, methods, and inner classes.

MemberName
SimpleName
| '<' SimpleName '>'

FullClassName

A FullClassName is a fully-qualified class name, including an optional package specifier followed by a required name.

FullClassName
OptionalPackagePrefix SimpleName
OptionalPackagePrefix
(SimpleName '/')*

TypeDescriptor

used by type_id_item

A TypeDescriptor is the representation of any type, including primitives, classes, arrays, and void. See below for the meaning of the various versions.

TypeDescriptor
'V'
| FieldTypeDescriptor
FieldTypeDescriptor
NonArrayFieldTypeDescriptor
| ('[' * 1…255) NonArrayFieldTypeDescriptor
NonArrayFieldTypeDescriptor
'Z'
| 'B'
| 'S'
| 'C'
| 'I'
| 'J'
| 'F'
| 'D'
| 'L' FullClassName ';'

ShortyDescriptor

used by proto_id_item

A ShortyDescriptor is the short form representation of a method prototype, including return and parameter types, except that there is no distinction between various reference (class or array) types. Instead, all reference types are represented by a single 'L' character.

ShortyDescriptor
ShortyReturnType (ShortyFieldType)*
ShortyReturnType
'V'
| ShortyFieldType
ShortyFieldType
'Z'
| 'B'
| 'S'
| 'C'
| 'I'
| 'J'
| 'F'
| 'D'
| 'L'

TypeDescriptor Semantics

This is the meaning of each of the variants of TypeDescriptor.

Syntax Meaning
V void; only valid for return types
Z boolean
B byte
S short
C char
I int
J long
F float
D double
Lfully/qualified/Name; the class fully.qualified.Name
[descriptor array of descriptor, usable recursively for arrays-of-arrays, though it is invalid to have more than 255 dimensions.

Items and Related Structures

This section includes definitions for each of the top-level items that may appear in a .dex file.

header_item

appears in the header section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
magic ubyte[8] = DEX_FILE_MAGIC magic value. See discussion above under "DEX_FILE_MAGIC" for more details.
checksum uint adler32 checksum of the rest of the file (everything but magic and this field); used to detect file corruption
signature ubyte[20] SHA-1 signature (hash) of the rest of the file (everything but magic, checksum, and this field); used to uniquely identify files
file_size uint size of the entire file (including the header), in bytes
header_size uint = 0x70 size of the header (this entire section), in bytes. This allows for at least a limited amount of backwards/forwards compatibility without invalidating the format.
endian_tag uint = ENDIAN_CONSTANT endianness tag. See discussion above under "ENDIAN_CONSTANT and REVERSE_ENDIAN_CONSTANT" for more details.
link_size uint size of the link section, or 0 if this file isn't statically linked
link_off uint offset from the start of the file to the link section, or 0 if link_size == 0. The offset, if non-zero, should be to an offset into the link_data section. The format of the data pointed at is left unspecified by this document; this header field (and the previous) are left as hooks for use by runtime implementations.
map_off uint offset from the start of the file to the map item, or 0 if this file has no map. The offset, if non-zero, should be to an offset into the data section, and the data should be in the format specified by "map_list" below.
string_ids_size uint count of strings in the string identifiers list
string_ids_off uint offset from the start of the file to the string identifiers list, or 0 if string_ids_size == 0 (admittedly a strange edge case). The offset, if non-zero, should be to the start of the string_ids section.
type_ids_size uint count of elements in the type identifiers list
type_ids_off uint offset from the start of the file to the type identifiers list, or 0 if type_ids_size == 0 (admittedly a strange edge case). The offset, if non-zero, should be to the start of the type_ids section.
proto_ids_size uint count of elements in the prototype identifiers list
proto_ids_off uint offset from the start of the file to the prototype identifiers list, or 0 if proto_ids_size == 0 (admittedly a strange edge case). The offset, if non-zero, should be to the start of the proto_ids section.
field_ids_size uint count of elements in the field identifiers list
field_ids_off uint offset from the start of the file to the field identifiers list, or 0 if field_ids_size == 0. The offset, if non-zero, should be to the start of the field_ids section.
method_ids_size uint count of elements in the method identifiers list
method_ids_off uint offset from the start of the file to the method identifiers list, or 0 if method_ids_size == 0. The offset, if non-zero, should be to the start of the method_ids section.
class_defs_size uint count of elements in the class definitions list
class_defs_off uint offset from the start of the file to the class definitions list, or 0 if class_defs_size == 0 (admittedly a strange edge case). The offset, if non-zero, should be to the start of the class_defs section.
data_size uint Size of data section in bytes. Must be an even multiple of sizeof(uint).
data_off uint offset from the start of the file to the start of the data section.

map_list

appears in the data section

referenced from header_item

alignment: 4 bytes

This is a list of the entire contents of a file, in order. It contains some redundancy with respect to the header_item but is intended to be an easy form to use to iterate over an entire file. A given type must appear at most once in a map, but there is no restriction on what order types may appear in, other than the restrictions implied by the rest of the format (e.g., a header section must appear first, followed by a string_ids section, etc.). Additionally, the map entries must be ordered by initial offset and must not overlap.

Name Format Description
size uint size of the list, in entries
list map_item[size] elements of the list

map_item Format

Name Format Description
type ushort type of the items; see table below
unused ushort (unused)
size uint count of the number of items to be found at the indicated offset
offset uint offset from the start of the file to the items in question

Type Codes

Item Type Constant Value Item Size In Bytes
header_item TYPE_HEADER_ITEM 0x0000 0x70
string_id_item TYPE_STRING_ID_ITEM 0x0001 0x04
type_id_item TYPE_TYPE_ID_ITEM 0x0002 0x04
proto_id_item TYPE_PROTO_ID_ITEM 0x0003 0x0c
field_id_item TYPE_FIELD_ID_ITEM 0x0004 0x08
method_id_item TYPE_METHOD_ID_ITEM 0x0005 0x08
class_def_item TYPE_CLASS_DEF_ITEM 0x0006 0x20
map_list TYPE_MAP_LIST 0x1000 4 + (item.size * 12)
type_list TYPE_TYPE_LIST 0x1001 4 + (item.size * 2)
annotation_set_ref_list TYPE_ANNOTATION_SET_REF_LIST 0x1002 4 + (item.size * 4)
annotation_set_item TYPE_ANNOTATION_SET_ITEM 0x1003 4 + (item.size * 4)
class_data_item TYPE_CLASS_DATA_ITEM 0x2000 implicit; must parse
code_item TYPE_CODE_ITEM 0x2001 implicit; must parse
string_data_item TYPE_STRING_DATA_ITEM 0x2002 implicit; must parse
debug_info_item TYPE_DEBUG_INFO_ITEM 0x2003 implicit; must parse
annotation_item TYPE_ANNOTATION_ITEM 0x2004 implicit; must parse
encoded_array_item TYPE_ENCODED_ARRAY_ITEM 0x2005 implicit; must parse
annotations_directory_item TYPE_ANNOTATIONS_DIRECTORY_ITEM 0x2006 implicit; must parse

string_id_item

appears in the string_ids section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
string_data_off uint offset from the start of the file to the string data for this item. The offset should be to a location in the data section, and the data should be in the format specified by "string_data_item" below. There is no alignment requirement for the offset.

string_data_item

appears in the data section

alignment: none (byte-aligned)

Name Format Description
utf16_size uleb128 size of this string, in UTF-16 code units (which is the "string length" in many systems). That is, this is the decoded length of the string. (The encoded length is implied by the position of the 0 byte.)
data ubyte[] a series of MUTF-8 code units (a.k.a. octets, a.k.a. bytes) followed by a byte of value 0. See "MUTF-8 (Modified UTF-8) Encoding" above for details and discussion about the data format.

Note: It is acceptable to have a string which includes (the encoded form of) UTF-16 surrogate code units (that is, U+d800U+dfff) either in isolation or out-of-order with respect to the usual encoding of Unicode into UTF-16. It is up to higher-level uses of strings to reject such invalid encodings, if appropriate.

type_id_item

appears in the type_ids section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
descriptor_idx uint index into the string_ids list for the descriptor string of this type. The string must conform to the syntax for TypeDescriptor, defined above.

proto_id_item

appears in the proto_ids section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
shorty_idx uint index into the string_ids list for the short-form descriptor string of this prototype. The string must conform to the syntax for ShortyDescriptor, defined above, and must correspond to the return type and parameters of this item.
return_type_idx uint index into the type_ids list for the return type of this prototype
parameters_off uint offset from the start of the file to the list of parameter types for this prototype, or 0 if this prototype has no parameters. This offset, if non-zero, should be in the data section, and the data there should be in the format specified by "type_list" below. Additionally, there should be no reference to the type void in the list.

field_id_item

appears in the field_ids section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
class_idx ushort index into the type_ids list for the definer of this field. This must be a class type, and not an array or primitive type.
type_idx ushort index into the type_ids list for the type of this field
name_idx uint index into the string_ids list for the name of this field. The string must conform to the syntax for MemberName, defined above.

method_id_item

appears in the method_ids section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
class_idx ushort index into the type_ids list for the definer of this method. This must be a class or array type, and not a primitive type.
proto_idx ushort index into the proto_ids list for the prototype of this method
name_idx uint index into the string_ids list for the name of this method. The string must conform to the syntax for MemberName, defined above.

class_def_item

appears in the class_defs section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
class_idx uint index into the type_ids list for this class. This must be a class type, and not an array or primitive type.
access_flags uint access flags for the class (public, final, etc.). See "access_flags Definitions" for details.
superclass_idx uint index into the type_ids list for the superclass, or the constant value NO_INDEX if this class has no superclass (i.e., it is a root class such as Object). If present, this must be a class type, and not an array or primitive type.
interfaces_off uint offset from the start of the file to the list of interfaces, or 0 if there are none. This offset should be in the data section, and the data there should be in the format specified by "type_list" below. Each of the elements of the list must be a class type (not an array or primitive type), and there must not be any duplicates.
source_file_idx uint index into the string_ids list for the name of the file containing the original source for (at least most of) this class, or the special value NO_INDEX to represent a lack of this information. The debug_info_item of any given method may override this source file, but the expectation is that most classes will only come from one source file.
annotations_off uint offset from the start of the file to the annotations structure for this class, or 0 if there are no annotations on this class. This offset, if non-zero, should be in the data section, and the data there should be in the format specified by "annotations_directory_item" below, with all items referring to this class as the definer.
class_data_off uint offset from the start of the file to the associated class data for this item, or 0 if there is no class data for this class. (This may be the case, for example, if this class is a marker interface.) The offset, if non-zero, should be in the data section, and the data there should be in the format specified by "class_data_item" below, with all items referring to this class as the definer.
static_values_off uint offset from the start of the file to the list of initial values for static fields, or 0 if there are none (and all static fields are to be initialized with 0 or null). This offset should be in the data section, and the data there should be in the format specified by "encoded_array_item" below. The size of the array must be no larger than the number of static fields declared by this class, and the elements correspond to the static fields in the same order as declared in the corresponding field_list. The type of each array element must match the declared type of its corresponding field. If there are fewer elements in the array than there are static fields, then the leftover fields are initialized with a type-appropriate 0 or null.

class_data_item

referenced from class_def_item

appears in the data section

alignment: none (byte-aligned)

Name Format Description
static_fields_size uleb128 the number of static fields defined in this item
instance_fields_size uleb128 the number of instance fields defined in this item
direct_methods_size uleb128 the number of direct methods defined in this item
virtual_methods_size uleb128 the number of virtual methods defined in this item
static_fields encoded_field[static_fields_size] the defined static fields, represented as a sequence of encoded elements. The fields must be sorted by field_idx in increasing order.
instance_fields encoded_field[instance_fields_size] the defined instance fields, represented as a sequence of encoded elements. The fields must be sorted by field_idx in increasing order.
direct_methods encoded_method[direct_methods_size] the defined direct (any of static, private, or constructor) methods, represented as a sequence of encoded elements. The methods must be sorted by method_idx in increasing order.
virtual_methods encoded_method[virtual_methods_size] the defined virtual (none of static, private, or constructor) methods, represented as a sequence of encoded elements. This list should not include inherited methods unless overridden by the class that this item represents. The methods must be sorted by method_idx in increasing order.

Note: All elements' field_ids and method_ids must refer to the same defining class.

encoded_field Format

Name Format Description
field_idx_diff uleb128 index into the field_ids list for the identity of this field (includes the name and descriptor), represented as a difference from the index of previous element in the list. The index of the first element in a list is represented directly.
access_flags uleb128 access flags for the field (public, final, etc.). See "access_flags Definitions" for details.

encoded_method Format

Name Format Description
method_idx_diff uleb128 index into the method_ids list for the identity of this method (includes the name and descriptor), represented as a difference from the index of previous element in the list. The index of the first element in a list is represented directly.
access_flags uleb128 access flags for the method (public, final, etc.). See "access_flags Definitions" for details.
code_off uleb128 offset from the start of the file to the code structure for this method, or 0 if this method is either abstract or native. The offset should be to a location in the data section. The format of the data is specified by "code_item" below.

type_list

referenced from class_def_item and proto_id_item

appears in the data section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
size uint size of the list, in entries
list type_item[size] elements of the list

type_item Format

Name Format Description
type_idx ushort index into the type_ids list

code_item

referenced from encoded_method

appears in the data section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
registers_size ushort the number of registers used by this code
ins_size ushort the number of words of incoming arguments to the method that this code is for
outs_size ushort the number of words of outgoing argument space required by this code for method invocation
tries_size ushort the number of try_items for this instance. If non-zero, then these appear as the tries array just after the insns in this instance.
debug_info_off uint offset from the start of the file to the debug info (line numbers + local variable info) sequence for this code, or 0 if there simply is no information. The offset, if non-zero, should be to a location in the data section. The format of the data is specified by "debug_info_item" below.
insns_size uint size of the instructions list, in 16-bit code units
insns ushort[insns_size] actual array of bytecode. The format of code in an insns array is specified by the companion document "Bytecode for the Dalvik VM". Note that though this is defined as an array of ushort, there are some internal structures that prefer four-byte alignment. Also, if this happens to be in an endian-swapped file, then the swapping is only done on individual ushorts and not on the larger internal structures.
padding ushort (optional) = 0 two bytes of padding to make tries four-byte aligned. This element is only present if tries_size is non-zero and insns_size is odd.
tries try_item[tries_size] (optional) array indicating where in the code exceptions are caught and how to handle them. Elements of the array must be non-overlapping in range and in order from low to high address. This element is only present if tries_size is non-zero.
handlers encoded_catch_handler_list (optional) bytes representing a list of lists of catch types and associated handler addresses. Each try_item has a byte-wise offset into this structure. This element is only present if tries_size is non-zero.

try_item Format

Name Format Description
start_addr uint start address of the block of code covered by this entry. The address is a count of 16-bit code units to the start of the first covered instruction.
insn_count ushort number of 16-bit code units covered by this entry. The last code unit covered (inclusive) is start_addr + insn_count - 1.
handler_off ushort offset in bytes from the start of the associated encoded_catch_hander_list to the encoded_catch_handler for this entry. This must be an offset to the start of an encoded_catch_handler.

encoded_catch_handler_list Format

Name Format Description
size uleb128 size of this list, in entries
list encoded_catch_handler[handlers_size] actual list of handler lists, represented directly (not as offsets), and concatenated sequentially

encoded_catch_handler Format

Name Format Description
size sleb128 number of catch types in this list. If non-positive, then this is the negative of the number of catch types, and the catches are followed by a catch-all handler. For example: A size of 0 means that there is a catch-all but no explicitly typed catches. A size of 2 means that there are two explicitly typed catches and no catch-all. And a size of -1 means that there is one typed catch along with a catch-all.
handlers encoded_type_addr_pair[abs(size)] stream of abs(size) encoded items, one for each caught type, in the order that the types should be tested.
catch_all_addr uleb128 (optional) bytecode address of the catch-all handler. This element is only present if size is non-positive.

encoded_type_addr_pair Format

Name Format Description
type_idx uleb128 index into the type_ids list for the type of the exception to catch
addr uleb128 bytecode address of the associated exception handler

debug_info_item

referenced from code_item

appears in the data section

alignment: none (byte-aligned)

Each debug_info_item defines a DWARF3-inspired byte-coded state machine that, when interpreted, emits the positions table and (potentially) the local variable information for a code_item. The sequence begins with a variable-length header (the length of which depends on the number of method parameters), is followed by the state machine bytecodes, and ends with an DBG_END_SEQUENCE byte.

The state machine consists of five registers. The address register represents the instruction offset in the associated insns_item in 16-bit code units. The address register starts at 0 at the beginning of each debug_info sequence and must only monotonically increase. The line register represents what source line number should be associated with the next positions table entry emitted by the state machine. It is initialized in the sequence header, and may change in positive or negative directions but must never be less than 1. The source_file register represents the source file that the line number entries refer to. It is initialized to the value of source_file_idx in class_def_item. The other two variables, prologue_end and epilogue_begin, are boolean flags (initialized to false) that indicate whether the next position emitted should be considered a method prologue or epilogue. The state machine must also track the name and type of the last local variable live in each register for the DBG_RESTART_LOCAL code.

The header is as follows:

Name Format Description
line_start uleb128 the initial value for the state machine's line register. Does not represent an actual positions entry.
parameters_size uleb128 the number of parameter names that are encoded. There should be one per method parameter, excluding an instance method's this, if any.
parameter_names uleb128p1[parameters_size] string index of the method parameter name. An encoded value of NO_INDEX indicates that no name is available for the associated parameter. The type descriptor and signature are implied from the method descriptor and signature.

The byte code values are as follows:

Name Value Format Arguments Description
DBG_END_SEQUENCE 0x00 (none) terminates a debug info sequence for a code_item
DBG_ADVANCE_PC 0x01 uleb128 addr_diff addr_diff: amount to add to address register advances the address register without emitting a positions entry
DBG_ADVANCE_LINE 0x02 sleb128 line_diff line_diff: amount to change line register by advances the line register without emitting a positions entry
DBG_START_LOCAL 0x03 uleb128 register_num
uleb128p1 name_idx
uleb128p1 type_idx
register_num: register that will contain local
name_idx: string index of the name
type_idx: type index of the type
introduces a local variable at the current address. Either name_idx or type_idx may be NO_INDEX to indicate that that value is unknown.
DBG_START_LOCAL_EXTENDED 0x04 uleb128 register_num
uleb128p1 name_idx
uleb128p1 type_idx
uleb128p1 sig_idx
register_num: register that will contain local
name_idx: string index of the name
type_idx: type index of the type
sig_idx: string index of the type signature
introduces a local with a type signature at the current address. Any of name_idx, type_idx, or sig_idx may be NO_INDEX to indicate that that value is unknown. (If sig_idx is -1, though, the same data could be represented more efficiently using the opcode DBG_START_LOCAL.)

Note: See the discussion under "dalvik.annotation.Signature" below for caveats about handling signatures.

DBG_END_LOCAL 0x05 uleb128 register_num register_num: register that contained local marks a currently-live local variable as out of scope at the current address
DBG_RESTART_LOCAL 0x06 uleb128 register_num register_num: register to restart re-introduces a local variable at the current address. The name and type are the same as the last local that was live in the specified register.
DBG_SET_PROLOGUE_END 0x07 (none) sets the prologue_end state machine register, indicating that the next position entry that is added should be considered the end of a method prologue (an appropriate place for a method breakpoint). The prologue_end register is cleared by any special (>= 0x0a) opcode.
DBG_SET_EPILOGUE_BEGIN 0x08 (none) sets the epilogue_begin state machine register, indicating that the next position entry that is added should be considered the beginning of a method epilogue (an appropriate place to suspend execution before method exit). The epilogue_begin register is cleared by any special (>= 0x0a) opcode.
DBG_SET_FILE 0x09 uleb128p1 name_idx name_idx: string index of source file name; NO_INDEX if unknown indicates that all subsequent line number entries make reference to this source file name, instead of the default name specified in code_item
Special Opcodes 0x0a…0xff (none) advances the line and address registers, emits a position entry, and clears prologue_end and epilogue_begin. See below for description.

Special Opcodes

Opcodes with values between 0x0a and 0xff (inclusive) move both the line and address registers by a small amount and then emit a new position table entry. The formula for the increments are as follows:

DBG_FIRST_SPECIAL = 0x0a  // the smallest special opcode
DBG_LINE_BASE   = -4      // the smallest line number increment
DBG_LINE_RANGE  = 15      // the number of line increments represented

adjusted_opcode = opcode - DBG_FIRST_SPECIAL

line += DBG_LINE_BASE + (adjusted_opcode % DBG_LINE_RANGE)
address += (adjusted_opcode / DBG_LINE_RANGE)

annotations_directory_item

referenced from class_def_item

appears in the data section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
class_annotations_off uint offset from the start of the file to the annotations made directly on the class, or 0 if the class has no direct annotations. The offset, if non-zero, should be to a location in the data section. The format of the data is specified by "annotation_set_item" below.
fields_size uint count of fields annotated by this item
annotated_methods_size uint count of methods annotated by this item
annotated_parameters_size uint count of method parameter lists annotated by this item
field_annotations field_annotation[fields_size] (optional) list of associated field annotations. The elements of the list must be sorted in increasing order, by field_idx.
method_annotations method_annotation[methods_size] (optional) list of associated method annotations. The elements of the list must be sorted in increasing order, by method_idx.
parameter_annotations parameter_annotation[parameters_size] (optional) list of associated method parameter annotations. The elements of the list must be sorted in increasing order, by method_idx.

Note: All elements' field_ids and method_ids must refer to the same defining class.

field_annotation Format

Name Format Description
field_idx uint index into the field_ids list for the identity of the field being annotated
annotations_off uint offset from the start of the file to the list of annotations for the field. The offset should be to a location in the data section. The format of the data is specified by "annotation_set_item" below.

method_annotation Format

Name Format Description
method_idx uint index into the method_ids list for the identity of the method being annotated
annotations_off uint offset from the start of the file to the list of annotations for the method. The offset should be to a location in the data section. The format of the data is specified by "annotation_set_item" below.

parameter_annotation Format

Name Format Description
method_idx uint index into the method_ids list for the identity of the method whose parameters are being annotated
annotations_off uint offset from the start of the file to the list of annotations for the method parameters. The offset should be to a location in the data section. The format of the data is specified by "annotation_set_ref_list" below.

annotation_set_ref_list

referenced from parameter_annotations_item

appears in the data section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
size uint size of the list, in entries
list annotation_set_ref_item[size] elements of the list

annotation_set_ref_item Format

Name Format Description
annotations_off uint offset from the start of the file to the referenced annotation set or 0 if there are no annotations for this element. The offset, if non-zero, should be to a location in the data section. The format of the data is specified by "annotation_set_item" below.

annotation_set_item

referenced from annotations_directory_item, field_annotations_item, method_annotations_item, and annotation_set_ref_item

appears in the data section

alignment: 4 bytes

Name Format Description
size uint size of the set, in entries
entries annotation_off_item[size] elements of the set. The elements must be sorted in increasing order, by type_idx.

annotation_off_item Format

Name Format Description
annotation_off uint offset from the start of the file to an annotation. The offset should be to a location in the data section, and the format of the data at that location is specified by "annotation_item" below.

annotation_item

referenced from annotation_set_item

appears in the data section

alignment: none (byte-aligned)

Name Format Description
visibility ubyte intended visibility of this annotation (see below)
annotation encoded_annotation encoded annotation contents, in the format described by "encoded_annotation Format" under "encoded_value Encoding" above.

Visibility values

These are the options for the visibility field in an annotation_item:

Name Value Description
VISIBILITY_BUILD 0x00 intended only to be visible at build time (e.g., during compilation of other code)
VISIBILITY_RUNTIME 0x01 intended to visible at runtime
VISIBILITY_SYSTEM 0x02 intended to visible at runtime, but only to the underlying system (and not to regular user code)

encoded_array_item

referenced from class_def_item

appears in the data section

alignment: none (byte-aligned)

Name Format Description
value encoded_array bytes representing the encoded array value, in the format specified by "encoded_array Format" under "encoded_value Encoding" above.

System Annotations

System annotations are used to represent various pieces of reflective information about classes (and methods and fields). This information is generally only accessed indirectly by client (non-system) code.

System annotations are represented in .dex files as annotations with visibility set to VISIBILITY_SYSTEM.

dalvik.annotation.AnnotationDefault

appears on methods in annotation interfaces

An AnnotationDefault annotation is attached to each annotation interface which wishes to indicate default bindings.

Name Format Description
value Annotation the default bindings for this annotation, represented as an annotation of this type. The annotation need not include all names defined by the annotation; missing names simply do not have defaults.

dalvik.annotation.EnclosingClass

appears on classes

An EnclosingClass annotation is attached to each class which is either defined as a member of another class, per se, or is anonymous but not defined within a method body (e.g., a synthetic inner class). Every class that has this annotation must also have an InnerClass annotation. Additionally, a class must not have both an EnclosingClass and an EnclosingMethod annotation.

Name Format Description
value Class the class which most closely lexically scopes this class

dalvik.annotation.EnclosingMethod

appears on classes

An EnclosingMethod annotation is attached to each class which is defined inside a method body. Every class that has this annotation must also have an InnerClass annotation. Additionally, a class must not have both an EnclosingClass and an EnclosingMethod annotation.

Name Format Description
value Method the method which most closely lexically scopes this class

dalvik.annotation.InnerClass

appears on classes

An InnerClass annotation is attached to each class which is defined in the lexical scope of another class's definition. Any class which has this annotation must also have either an EnclosingClass annotation or an EnclosingMethod annotation.

Name Format Description
name String the originally declared simple name of this class (not including any package prefix). If this class is anonymous, then the name is null.
accessFlags int the originally declared access flags of the class (which may differ from the effective flags because of a mismatch between the execution models of the source language and target virtual machine)

dalvik.annotation.MemberClasses

appears on classes

A MemberClasses annotation is attached to each class which declares member classes. (A member class is a direct inner class that has a name.)

Name Format Description
value Class[] array of the member classes

dalvik.annotation.Signature

appears on classes, fields, and methods

A Signature annotation is attached to each class, field, or method which is defined in terms of a more complicated type than is representable by a type_id_item. The .dex format does not define the format for signatures; it is merely meant to be able to represent whatever signatures a source language requires for successful implementation of that language's semantics. As such, signatures are not generally parsed (or verified) by virtual machine implementations. The signatures simply get handed off to higher-level APIs and tools (such as debuggers). Any use of a signature, therefore, should be written so as not to make any assumptions about only receiving valid signatures, explicitly guarding itself against the possibility of coming across a syntactically invalid signature.

Because signature strings tend to have a lot of duplicated content, a Signature annotation is defined as an array of strings, where duplicated elements naturally refer to the same underlying data, and the signature is taken to be the concatenation of all the strings in the array. There are no rules about how to pull apart a signature into separate strings; that is entirely up to the tools that generate .dex files.

Name Format Description
value String[] the signature of this class or member, as an array of strings that is to be concatenated together

dalvik.annotation.Throws

appears on methods

A Throws annotation is attached to each method which is declared to throw one or more exception types.

Name Format Description
value Class[] the array of exception types thrown