Protocol Message Buffers for C
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README.rdoc

protomsg

Protocol Message Buffers for C. This gem generates C socket code for reading and writing messages described in the protomsg DSL. The code is highly optimised and often similar to what you would write by hand manually.

Overview

Input for a 'request' message:

request {
  int     type
  string  key
  raw     data
}

Output is a header file of macros for reading, writing and manipulating request messages:

// attribute getters
get_request_type
get_request_key
get_request_data

// attribute setters
set_request_type
set_request_key
set_request_data

// lengths
request_key_length
request_data_length
request_length

// memory & IO
init_request
free_request
write_request
read_request

The macros generate highly optimised copy free socket code (using scatter/gather IO functions), and automatically check message sanity and handle incomplete reads and writes. The generated code is often very similar to what you would write by hand, and in some cases is even faster.

Usage

Call the protomsg script with the message types input file.

$ protomsg mymessages.protomsg
Created protomsg.h
Created request_message.h

Each file may describe multiple message types. The format for each message type is:

message_type_name {
    attribute_type  attribute_name
    ...
}

All message type and attribute names must be valid C identifiers. Valid attribute types are:

int     64 bit signed integer
float   64 bit float
string  C string
raw     Raw bytes

Example

Once you have defined your message types, sending and receiving messages is easy. For example, given the following message type definitions:

# ping_message.protomsg
ping {
    int     number
    string  message
}

response {
    int     code
}

Use the protomsg script:

$ protomsg ping_message.protomsg
Created protomsg.h
Created ping_message.h
Creates response_message.h

A number of utility macros are defined that make it easy to write clients and servers. An example client could be written as:

#include "response_message.h"
#include "ping_message.h"

int main(void) {
    int error, server;
    response *r;
    ping *p;

    // create the ping message
    init_ping(p);
    set_ping_number(p, 1);
    set_ping_message(p, "Hello World!");

    // connect to the server and send the message
    connect_to_server("localhost", 9000, server, error);
    write_ping(p, server, error);

    // read a response message
    read_response(r, server, error);
    printf("Response code was: %llu\n", get_response_code(r));
}

And the corresponding server could be:

#include "response_message.h"
#include "ping_message.h"

int main(void) {
    int error, server, client;
    response *r;
    ping *p;

    // start a server and wait for a ping message
    create_server_socket(9000, 1, server, error);
    accept_client(server, client, error);
    read_ping(p, client, error);
    printf("Received ping: %llu, %s\n", get_ping_number(p), get_ping_message(p));

    // create a response message and send
    init_response(r);
    set_response_code(r, 1);
    write_response(r, client, error);
}

It's not necessary to use the included socket helper macros - you can use proto messages over any socket - but for simple client/server applications like this they help reduce the amount of code required to get something running quickly.

Known Issues

All clients are servers are assumed to be on machines of the same endianess. The simple socket creation macros can't create IP6 sockets as yet. Writev is used to send messages; an error is currently raised when an incomplete write completes, rather than restart the write where it was left off.