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>Being able to stream a collections of bytes (and collections of collections of bytes, recursively) is one case that I find myself wanting when sending data between programs at the command line.

If you don't mind using JSON as intermediary format, you might like to have a look at jq: http://stedolan.github.io/jq/

jq can also convert raw (binary) data to JSON objects containing strings (and vice versa) for further processing. Naturally, jq filters can be pipelined in many useful ways.

There's work ongoing on FreeBSD to add libxo support to tools in the base system, which will allow you to get (amongst others) JSON out of various commands: https://github.com/Juniper/libxo

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