ASN.1 to C compiler takes the ASN.1 module files (example) and generates the C++ compatible C source code. That code can be used to serialize the native C structures into compact and unambiguous BER/OER/PER/XER-based data files, and deserialize the files back.
Various ASN.1 based formats are widely used in the industry, such as to encode the X.509 certificates employed in the HTTPS handshake, to exchange control data between mobile phones and cellular networks, to perform car-to-car communication in intelligent transportation networks.
The ASN.1 family of standards is large and complex, and no open source compiler supports it in its entirety. The asn1c is arguably the most evolved open source ASN.1 compiler.
ASN.1 Transfer Syntaxes
ASN.1 encodings interoperability table
The ASN.1 family of standards define a number of ways to encode data, including byte-oriented (e.g., BER), bit-oriented (e.g., PER), and textual (e.g., XER). Some encoding variants (e.g., DER) are just stricter variants of the more general encodings (e.g., BER).
The interoperability table below specifies which API functions can be used to exchange data in a compatible manner. If you need to produce data conforming to the standard specified in the column 1, use the API function in the column 2. If you need to process data conforming to the standard(s) specified in the column 3, use the API function specified in column 4. See the doc/asn1c-usage.pdf for details.
|Encoding||API function||Understood by||API function|
|CER||not supported||CER, BER||ber_decode()|
|*-APER||not supported||*-APER||not supported|
*) Asterisk means both BASIC and CANONICAL variants.
Build and Install
If you haven't installed the asn1c yet, read the INSTALL.md file for a short installation guide.
For the list of asn1c command line options, see
asn1c -h or
The comprehensive documentation on this compiler is in doc/asn1c-usage.pdf.
Please also read the FAQ file.
An excellent book on ASN.1 is written by Olivier Dubuisson: "ASN.1 Communication between heterogeneous systems", ISBN:0-12-6333361-0.
(also check out doc/asn1c-quick.pdf)
After installing the compiler (see INSTALL.md), you may use the asn1c command to compile the ASN.1 specification:
asn1c <module.asn1> # Compile module
If several specifications contain interdependencies, all of them must be specified at the same time:
asn1c <module1.asn1> <module2.asn1> ... # Compile interdependent modules
To compile the X.509 PKI module:
./asn1c/asn1c -P ./examples/rfc3280-*.asn1 # Compile-n-print
In this example, the -P option is to print the compiled text on the standard output. The default behavior is that asn1c compiler creates multiple .c and .h files for every ASN.1 type found inside the specified ASN.1 modules.
The compiler's -E and -EF options are used for testing the parser and the semantic fixer, respectively. These options will instruct the compiler to dump out the parsed (and fixed) ASN.1 specification as it was "understood" by the compiler. It might be useful for checking whether a particular syntactic construction is properly supported by the compiler.
asn1c -EF <module-to-test.asn1> # Check semantic validity
Model of operation
The asn1c compiler works by processing the ASN.1 module specifications in several stages:
- During the first stage, the ASN.1 file is parsed. (Parsing produces an ASN.1 syntax tree for the subsequent levels)
- During the second stage, the syntax tree is "fixed". (Fixing is a process of checking the tree for semantic errors, accompanied by the tree transformation into the canonical form)
- During the third stage, the syntax tree is compiled into the target language.
There are several command-line options reserved for printing the results after each stage of operation:
<parser> => print (-E) <parser> => <fixer> => print (-E -F) <parser> => <fixer> => <compiler> => print (-P) <parser> => <fixer> => <compiler> => save-compiled [default]
-- Lev Walkin firstname.lastname@example.org