Libbson provides a simple way to generate ObjectIDs. It can be used in a single-threaded or multi-threaded manner depending on your requirements.

The bson_oid_t structure represents an ObjectI in MongoDB. It is a 96-bit identifier that includes various information about the system generating the OID.


  • 4 bytes : The UNIX timestamp in big-endian format.
  • 3 bytes : The first 3 bytes of MD5(hostname).
  • 2 bytes : The pid_t of the current process. Alternatively the task-id if configured.
  • 3 bytes : A 24-bit monotonic counter incrementing from rand() in big-endian.

Sorting ObjectIDs

The typical way to sort in C is using qsort(). Therefore, Libbson provides a qsort() compatible callback function named bson_oid_compare(). It returns less than 1, greater than 1, or 0 depending on the equality of two bson_oid_t structures.

Comparing Object IDs

If you simply want to compare two bson_oid_t structures for equality, use bson_oid_equal().


To generate a bson_oid_t, you may use the following.

bson_oid_t oid;

bson_oid_init (&oid, NULL);

Parsing ObjectID Strings

You can also parse a string contianing a bson_oid_t. The input string MUST be 24 characters or more in length.

bson_oid_t oid;

bson_oid_init_from_string (&oid, "123456789012345678901234");

If you need to parse may bson_oid_t in a tight loop and can guarantee the data is safe, you might consider using the inline variant. It will be inlined into your code and reduce the need for a foreign function call.

bson_oid_t oid;

bson_oid_init_from_string_unsafe (&oid, "123456789012345678901234");

Hashing ObjectIDs

If you need to store items in a hashtable, you may want to use the bson_oid_t as the key. Libbson provides a hash function for just this purpose. It is based on DJB hash.

unsigned hash;

hash = bson_oid_hash (oid);

Fetching ObjectID Creation Time

You can easily fetch the time that a bson_oid_t was generated using bson_oid_get_time_t().

time_t t;

t = bson_oid_get_time_t (oid);
printf ("The OID was generated at %u\n", (unsigned) t);