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We recommend completing the Tour of Buf for an overview of Protobuf linting with the buf lint command.

Define a module#

To get started linting your Protobuf sources, create a Buf module by adding a buf.yaml file to the root of the directory that holds your Protobuf definitions. You can create the default buf.yaml file with this command:

$ buf mod init

That creates this file:

version: v1lint:  use:    - DEFAULTbreaking:  use:    - FILE

As you can see, the default configuration applies the DEFAULT rules.

Run lint#

You can run buf lint on your module by specifying the filepath to the directory containing the buf.yaml. It uses the current directory by default, so you can target the input defined in the current directory with this command:

$ buf lint

The buf lint command performs these actions in order:

  • Discovers all of the Protobuf files per your buf.yaml configuration.
  • Copies them into memory.
  • Compiles them
  • Runs the compilation result against the configured lint rules.
Example project

For a more practical look at linting Protobuf sources with Buf, see the linting example project.

Error syntax#

Any lint errors discovered are printed out in this format:

Lint error syntax
Examplepet/v1/pet.proto:47:9:Service name "PetStore" should be suffixed with "Service".

Here's a full example output:

$ buf lint
google/type/datetime.proto:17:1:Package name "google.type" should be suffixed with a correctly formed version, such as "google.type.v1".pet/v1/pet.proto:42:10:Field name "petID" should be lower_snake_case, such as "pet_id".pet/v1/pet.proto:47:9:Service name "PetStore" should be suffixed with "Service".

JSON output#

You can print lint output as JSON:

$ buf lint --error-format=json
{"path":"google/type/datetime.proto","start_line":17,"start_column":1,"end_line":17,"end_column":21,"type":"PACKAGE_VERSION_SUFFIX","message":"Package name \"google.type\" should be suffixed with a correctly formed version, such as \"google.type.v1\"."}{"path":"pet/v1/pet.proto","start_line":42,"start_column":10,"end_line":42,"end_column":15,"type":"FIELD_LOWER_SNAKE_CASE","message":"Field name \"petID\" should be lower_snake_case, such as \"pet_id\"."}{"path":"pet/v1/pet.proto","start_line":47,"start_column":9,"end_line":47,"end_column":17,"type":"SERVICE_SUFFIX","message":"Service name \"PetStore\" should be suffixed with \"Service\"."}

Copy errors into your configuration#

We can output errors in a format that you can copy into your buf.yaml configuration file. This enables you to ignore specific lint errors and gradually correct them over time:

$ buf lint --error-format=config-ignore-yaml
version: v1lint: ignore_only: FIELD_LOWER_SNAKE_CASE: - pet/v1/pet.proto PACKAGE_VERSION_SUFFIX: - google/type/datetime.proto SERVICE_SUFFIX: - pet/v1/pet.proto

Common use cases#

buf can lint inputs beyond your local Protobuf files, such as Git repositories and tarballs. This can be useful in a variety of scenarios, such as using protoc output as buf input. Here are some examples script:

# Lint output from protoc passed to stdin.protoc -I . --include_source_info $(find . -name '*.proto') -o /dev/stdout | buf lint -
# Lint a remote git repository on the fly and override the config to be your local config file.buf lint '' --config buf.yaml
# Lint a module published to the Buf Schema Registry.buf lint

For remote locations that require authentication, see HTTPS Authentication and SSH Authentication.

Limit to specific files#

By default, the buf CLI builds all files under your buf.yaml configuration file. But you can optionally lint only specific files or directories. This is an advanced feature that's mostly intended to be used by other systems, like editors. In general, it's better to let the buf CLI discover all files and handle this for you. But if you do need this, you can use the --path flag:

$ buf lint \  --path path/to/foo.proto \  --path path/to/bar.proto

You can also combine this with an in-line configuration override:

$ buf lint \  --path path/to/foo.proto \  --path path/to/bar.proto \  --config '{"version":"v1","lint":{"use":["BASIC"]}}'


Buf ships a Docker image, bufbuild/buf, that enables you to use buf as part of your Docker workflow. Here's an example:

$ docker run \  --volume "$(pwd):/workspace" \  --workdir /workspace \  bufbuild/buf lint