GRPC Core  28.0.0
Service Config in gRPC


The service config is a mechanism that allows service owners to publish parameters to be automatically used by all clients of their service.


The fields of the service config are defined by the grpc.service_config.ServiceConfig protocol buffer message. Note that new fields may be added in the future as new functionality is introduced.

Internally, gRPC uses the service config in JSON form. The JSON representation is the result of converting the protobuf form into JSON using the normal protobuf to JSON translation rules. In particular, this means:

  • Field names are converted from snake_case to camelCase.
  • Field values are converted as per the documented translation rules:
    • Strings, 32-bit integers, and bools are converted into the corresponding JSON types.
    • 64-bit integers are converted into strings (e.g., "251").
    • The value of a repeated field will be represented as a JSON array.
    • The value of a google.protobuf.Duration will be represented as a string containing a decimal number of seconds (e.g., "1.000340012s").

For more details, see the protobuf docs linked above.

Note that the JSON representation has one advantage over the protobuf representation, which is that it is possible to encode configurations for LB policies that are not known to gRPC. In protobuf form, the loadBalancingConfig field contains a oneof supporting only the built-in LB policies. However, in JSON form, the field inside the oneof is encoded as a string that indicates the LB policy name. In JSON form, that string can be any arbitrary value, not just one of the supported policies inside of the oneof, so third-party policies can be selected.


A service config is associated with a server name. The nameresolver" plugin, when asked to resolve a particular server name, will return both the resolved addresses and the service config.

The name resolver returns the service config to the gRPC client in JSON form. Individual resolver implementations determine where and in what format the service config is stored. If the resolver implemention obtains the service config in protobuf form, it must convert it to JSON. Alternatively, a resolver implementation may obtain the service config already in JSON form, in which case it may return it directly. Or it may construct the JSON dynamically from some other source data.

For details of how the DNS resolver plugin supports service configs, see gRFC A2: Service Config via DNS.


Here is an example service config in protobuf form:

// Use round_robin LB policy.
load_balancing_config: { round_robin: {} }
// This method config applies to method "foo/bar" and to all methods
// of service "baz".
method_config: {
name: {
service: "foo"
method: "bar"
name: {
service: "baz"
// Default timeout for matching methods.
timeout: {
seconds: 1
nanos: 1

Here is the same example service config in JSON form:

"loadBalancingConfig": [ { "round_robin": {} } ],
"methodConfig": [
"name": [
{ "service": "foo", "method": "bar" },
{ "service": "baz" }
"timeout": "1.000000001s"


The service config is used in the following APIs:

  • In the resolver API, used by resolver plugins to return the service config to the gRPC client.
  • In the gRPC client API, where users can query the channel to obtain the service config associated with the channel (for debugging purposes).
  • In the gRPC client API, where users can set the service config explicitly. This can be used to set the config in unit tests. It can also be used to set the default config that will be used if the resolver plugin does not return a service config.