The DataIO.h/.C files contain the declaration and definitions for MOOSE's templated dataLoad/dataStore methods. These methods are scattered around the framework, modules and user applications and are used to store stateful information that cannot be recalculated during a restore operation. These methods enable MOOSE's checkpointing and restarting operations which enable several key capabilities in the MOOSE framework including:

  • Checkpointing -> the ability to terminate an application and restart it where you left off (useful for batch cluster systems).

  • Picard Iteration -> The ability to converge a "tighty" coupled multiApp simulation.

  • Restart -> the ability to save stateful data for a restart type simulation when using checkpoint format

What is stateful data?

Stateful data is any value, container of values, or complex data structure that cannont be recomputed from other available information such as coupled values or field variables. Additionally, it's not any data that is not directly owned by your object.

Here are a couple of examples to consider before defining a dataLoad/dataStore routine:

  • If you have an object that produces a value based on an "old" value of a coupled variable, your object does not contain any stateful data because it is a simple calculation based on a piece of information not owned by your object. No action is necessary for your object to be "restartable".

  • If your object has a data structure consisting of a vector of pairs of IDs and Real numbers that are computed from a Material property, your object does not contain any stateful data and no action is necessary for your object to be "restartable".

  • If your object has a simple Boolean used to indicate whether or not you have calculated some quantity before, that you set when you run some routine. Your object does contain stateful information since the state of that value depends on internal logic in your object. For this scenario, you will need to ask Moose to store your Boolean as "restartableData". See declareRestartableData.

  • If your object contains a dataStructure of some custom type that you produce internally and retrieve existing values from over the coarse of the simulation, you have a stateful data and may need to define the dataLoad and dataStore functions in your object. See declareRestartableData, and dataStore/dataLoad routines.


The declareRestartableData method is used to tell MOOSE that you would like to save some part of your object in a Backup object. This method is templated and declared here:

   * Declare a piece of data as "restartable".
   * This means that in the event of a restart this piece of data
   * will be restored back to its previous value.
   * NOTE: This returns a _reference_!  Make sure you store it in a _reference_!
   * @param data_name The name of the data (usually just use the same name as the member variable)
  template <typename T>
  T & declareRestartableData(std::string data_name);

This method is templated, so MOOSE will return a reference to the type that you request and manage the data storage for you. For all built-in types and combinations of containers and built-in types. This is all that needs to be done. If your type or your container of types is custom, you will have to define the dataLoad and dataStore routines to tell MOOSE how to serialize your new type.

dataStore/dataLoad routines

If any object has requested a restartable piece of data that contains or is a custom type, both the dataStore and dataLoad will need to be defined. These functions describe how to serialize a custom type.

The declarations for the two methods that may need to be specialized for your application take on on a form similar to this:

// *************** Global Load Declarations *****************
template <typename T>
inline void
dataLoad(std::istream & stream, T & v, void * /*context*/)
{ *)&v, sizeof(v));
// *************** Global Store Declarations *****************
template <typename T>
inline void
dataStore(std::ostream & stream, T & v, void * /*context*/)
  static_assert(std::is_polymorphic<T>::value == false,
                "Cannot serialize a class that has virtual "
                "members!\nWrite a custom dataStore() "
                "template specialization!\n\n");
  static_assert(std::is_trivially_copyable<T>::value || std::is_same<T, Point>::value,
                "Cannot serialize a class that is not trivially copyable!\nWrite a custom "
                "dataStore() template specialization!\n\n");


Typically, the serialization routine can be defined in terms of serializing the individual fields in your custom type. For example. If you had a class Foo that contained a few plain old data types, you'd just define the load and store terms interms of the combination of those POD types in order.

class Foo
  int bar;
  std::string baz;
  std::vector<unsigned int> qux;

// Definition
template <>
dataStore(std::ostream & stream, Foo & foo, void * context)
  // Defined in terms of the simple types that MOOSE already knows how to store
  storeHelper(stream,, context);
  storeHelper(stream, foo.baz, context);
  storeHelper(stream, foo.qux, context);

template <>
dataLoad(std::istream & stream, Foo & foo, void * context)
  // Defined in terms of the simple types that MOOSE already knows how to read.
  // Note the order of the calls, they should match the dataStore routine since each
  // type is being read from the stream.
  loadHelper(stream,, context);
  loadHelper(stream, foo.baz, context);
  loadHelper(stream, foo.qux, context);