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XPAClient: The XPA Client-side Programming Interface

Summary

A description of the XPA client-side programming interface.

Introduction to XPA Client Programming

Sending/receiving data to/from an XPA access point is easy: you generally only need to call the XPAGet() or XPASet() subroutines.

  #include <xpa.h>

  int XPAGet(XPA xpa,
      char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
      char **bufs, size_t *lens, char **names, char **messages, int n);

  int XPASet(XPA xpa,
      char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
      char *buf, size_t len, char **names, char **messages, int n);

  int XPAInfo(XPA xpa,
      char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
      char **names, char **messages, int n);

  int XPAAccess(XPA xpa,
      char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
      char **names, char **messages, int n);

  int XPAGetFd(XPA xpa,
      char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
      int *fds, char **names, char **messages, int n);

  int XPASetFd(XPA xpa,
      char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
      int fd, char **names, char **messages, int n);

  XPA XPAOpen(char *mode);

  void XPAClose(XPA xpa);

  int XPANSLookup(XPA xpa,
      char *template, char *type,
      char ***classes, char ***names, char ***methods, char ***infos);

Introduction

To use the XPA application programming interface, a software developer generally will include the xpa.h definitions file:
  #include <xpa.h>
in the software module that defines or accesses an XPA access point and then will link against the libxpa.a library:
  gcc -o foo foo.c libxpa.a
XPA has been compiled using both C and C++ compilers.

Client communication with XPA public access points generally is accomplished using XPAGet() or XPASet() within a program (or xpaget and xpaset at the command line). Both routines require specification of the name of the access point. If a template is used to specify the access point name (e.g., "ds9*"), then communication will take place with all servers matching that template.

XPAGet: retrieve data from one or more XPA servers

  #include <xpa.h>

  int XPAGet(XPA xpa,
             char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
             char **bufs, size_t *lens, char **names, char **messages,
	     int n);

Retrieve data from one or more XPA servers whose class:name identifier matches the specified template.

A template of the form "class1:name1" is sent to the XPA name server, which returns a list of at most n matching XPA servers. A connection is established with each of these servers and the paramlist string is passed to the server as the data transfer request is initiated. If an XPA struct is passed to the call, then the persistent connections are updated as described above. Otherwise, temporary connections are made to the servers (which will be closed when the call completes).

The XPAGet() routine then retrieves data from at most n XPA servers, places these data into n allocated buffers and places the buffer pointers in the bufs array. The length of each buffer is stored in the lens array. A string containing the class:name and ip:port is stored in the name array. If a given server returned an error or the server callback sends a message back to the client, then the message will be stored in the associated element of the messages array. NB: if specified, the name and messages arrays must be of size n or greater.

The returned message string will be of the form:

  XPA$ERROR error-message (class:name ip:port)
or
  XPA$MESSAGE message (class:name ip:port)

Note that when there is an error stored in an messages entry, the corresponding bufs and lens entry may or may not be NULL and 0 (respectively), depending on the particularities of the server.

The return value will contain the actual number of servers that were processed. This value thus will hold the number of valid entries in the bufs, lens, names, and messages arrays, and can be used to loop through these arrays. In names and/or messages is NULL, no information is passed back in that array.

The bufs, names, and messages arrays should be freed upon completion (if they are not NULL);

The mode string is of the form: "key1=value1,key2=value2,..." The following keywords are recognized:

  key   	value		default		explanation
  ------	--------	--------	-----------
  ack		true/false	true		if false, don't wait for ack from server (after callback completes)
  doxpa		true/false	true		client processes xpa requests

The ack keyword is not very useful, since the server completes the callback in order to return the data anyway. It is here for completion (and perhaps for future usefulness).

Normally, an XPA client will process incoming XPA server requests while awaiting the completion of the client request. Setting this variable to "false" will prevent XPA server requests from being processed by the client.

Example:

  #include <xpa.h>

  #define NXPA 10
  int  i, got;
  size_t  lens[NXPA];
  char *bufs[NXPA];
  char *names[NXPA];
  char *messages[NXPA];
  got = XPAGet(NULL, "ds9", "file", NULL, bufs, lens, names, messages,
  NXPA);
  for(i=0; i<got; i++){
    if( messages[i] == NULL ){
      /* process buf contents */
      ProcessImage(bufs[i], ...);
      free(bufs[i]);
    }
    else{
      /* error processing */
      fprintf(stderr, "ERROR: %s (%s)\n", messages[i], names[i]);
    }
    if( names[i] )
      free(names[i]);
    if( messages[i] )
      free(messages[i]);
  }

XPASet: send data to one or more XPA servers

  #include <xpa.h>

  int XPASet(XPA xpa,
             char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
             char *buf, size_t len, char **names, char **messages,
             int n);

Send data to one or more XPA servers whose class:name identifier matches the specified template.

A template of the form "class1:name1" is sent to the XPA name server, which returns a list of at most n matching XPA servers. A connection is established with each of these servers and the paramlist string is passed to the server as the data transfer request is initiated. If an XPA struct is passed to the call, the persistent connections are updated as described above. Otherwise, temporary connections are made to the servers (which will be closed when the call completes).

The XPASet() routine transfers data from buf to the XPA servers. The length of buf (in bytes) should be placed in the len variable.

A string containing the class:name and ip:port of each of these server is returned in the name array. If a given server returned an error or the server callback sends a message back to the client, then the message will be stored in the associated element of the messages array. NB: if specified, the name and messages arrays must be of size n or greater.

The returned message string will be of the form:

  XPA$ERROR   [error] (class:name ip:port)
or
  XPA$MESSAGE [message] (class:name ip:port)

The return value will contain the actual number of servers that were processed. This value thus will hold the number of valid entries in the names and messages arrays, and can be used to loop through these arrays. In names and/or messages is NULL, no information is passed back in that particular array.

The mode string is of the form: "key1=value1,key2=value2,..." The following keywords are recognized:

  key   	value		default		explanation
  ------	--------	--------	-----------
  ack		true/false	true		if false, don't wait for ack from server (after callback completes)
  verify	true/false	false		send buf from XPASet[Fd] to stdout
  doxpa		true/false	true		client processes xpa requests

The ack keyword is useful in cases where one does not want to wait for the server to complete, e.g. if a lot of processing needs to be done by the server on the passed data or when the success of the server operation is not relevant to the client.

Normally, an XPA client will process incoming XPA server requests while awaiting the completion of the client request. Setting this variable to "false" will prevent XPA server requests from being processed by the client.

Example:

  #include <xpa.h>

  #define NXPA 10
  int  i, got;
  size_t  len;
  char *buf;
  char *names[NXPA];
  char *messages[NXPA];
  ...
  [fill buf with data and set len to the length, in bytes, of the data]
  ...
  /* send data to all access points */
  got = XPASet(NULL, "ds9", "fits", NULL, buf, len, names, messages, NXPA);
  /* error processing */
  for(i=0; i<got; i++){
    if( messages[i] ){
      fprintf(stderr, "ERROR: %s (%s)\n", messages[i], names[i]);
    }
    if( names[i] )    free(names[i]);
    if( messages[i] ) free(messages[i]);
  }

XPAInfo: send short message to one or more XPA servers

  #include <xpa.h>

  int XPAInfo(XPA xpa,
              char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
	      char **names, char **messages, int n);

Send a short paramlist message to one or more XPA servers whose class:name identifier matches the specified template.

A template of the form "class1:name1" is sent to the XPA name server, which returns a list of at most n matching XPA servers. A connection is established with each of these servers and the paramlist string is passed to the server as the data transfer request is initiated. If an XPA struct is passed to the call, then the persistent connections are updated as described above. Otherwise, temporary connections are made to the servers (which will be closed when the call completes).

The XPAInfo() routine does not send data from a buf to the XPA servers. Only the paramlist is sent. The semantics of the paramlist is not formalized, but at a minimum is should tell the server how to get more information. For example, it might contain the class:name of the XPA access point from which the server (acting as a client) can obtain more info using XPAGet.

A string containing the class:name and ip:port of each server is returned in the name array. If a given server returned an error or the server callback sends a message back to the client, then the message will be stored in the associated element of the messages array. The returned message string will be of the form:

  XPA$ERROR   error-message (class:name ip:port)
or
  XPA$MESSAGE message 	  (class:name ip:port)

The return value will contain the actual number of servers that were processed. This value thus will hold the number of valid entries in the names and messages arrays, and can be used to loop through these arrays. In names and/or messages is NULL, no information is passed back in that array.

The following keywords are recognized:

  key   	value		default		explanation
  ------	--------	--------	-----------
  ack		true/false	true		if false, don't wait for ack from server

When ack is false, XPAInfo() will not wait for an error return from the XPA server. This means, in effect, that XPAInfo will send its paramlist string to the XPA server and then exit: no information will be sent from the server to the client. This UDP-like behavior is essential to avoid race conditions in cases where XPA servers are sending info messages to other servers. If two servers try to send each other an info message at the same time and then wait for an ack, a race condition will result and one or both will time out.

Example:

  (void)XPAInfo(NULL, "IMAGE", "ds9 image", NULL, NULL, NULL, 0);

XPAGetFd: retrieve data from one or more XPA servers and write to files

  #include <xpa.h>

  int XPAGetFd(XPA xpa,
               char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
	       int *fds, char **names, char **messages, int n);

Retrieve data from one or more XPA servers whose class:name identifier matches the specified template and write it to files associated with one or more standard I/O fds (i.e, handles returned by open()).

A template of the form "class1:name1" is sent to the XPA name server, which returns a list of at most ABS(n) matching XPA servers. A connection is established with each of these servers and the paramlist string is passed to the server as the data transfer request is initiated. If an XPA struct is passed to the call, then the persistent connections are updated as described above. Otherwise, temporary connections are made to the servers (which will be closed when the call completes).

The XPAGetFd() routine then retrieves data from the XPA servers, and write these data to the fds associated with one or more fds (i.e., results from open). Is n is positive, then there will be n fds and the data from each server will be sent to a separate fd. If n is negative, then there is only 1 fd and all data is sent to this single fd. (The latter is how xpaget is implemented.)

A string containing the class:name and ip:port is stored in the name array. If a given server returned an error or the server callback sends a message back to the client, then the message will be stored in the associated element of the messages array. NB: if specified, the name and messages arrays must be of size n or greater.

The returned message string will be of the form:

  XPA$ERROR   error-message (class:name ip:port)
or
  XPA$MESSAGE message 	  (class:name ip:port)

Note that when there is an error stored in an messages entry, the corresponding bufs and lens entry may or may not be NULL and 0 (respectively), depending on the particularities of the server.

The return value will contain the actual number of servers that were processed. This value thus will hold the number of valid entries in the bufs, lens, names, and messages arrays, and can be used to loop through these arrays. In names and/or messages is NULL, no information is passed back in that array.

The mode string is of the form: "key1=value1,key2=value2,..." The following keywords are recognized:

  key   	value		default		explanation
  ------	--------	--------	-----------
  ack		true/false	true		if false, don't wait for ack from server (after callback completes)

The ack keyword is not very useful, since the server completes the callback in order to return the data anyway. It is here for completion (and perhaps for future usefulness).

Example:

  #include <xpa.h>
  #define NXPA 10
  int  i, got;
  int fds[NXPA];
  char *names[NXPA];
  char *messages[NXPA];
  for(i=0; i<NXPA; i++)
    fds[i] = open(...);
  got = XPAGetFd(NULL, "ds9", "file", NULL, fds, names, messages, NXPA);
  for(i=0; i<got; i++){
    if( messages[i] != NULL ){
      /* error processing */
      fprintf(stderr, "ERROR: %s (%s)\n", messages[i], names[i]);
    }
    if( names[i] )
      free(names[i]);
    if( messages[i] )
      free(messages[i]);
  }

XPASetFd: send data from stdin to one or more XPA servers

  #include <xpa.h>

  int XPASetFd(XPA xpa,
               char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
	       int fd, char **names, char **messages, int n)

Read data from a standard I/O fd and send it to one or more XPA servers whose class:name identifier matches the specified template.

A template of the form "class1:name1" is sent to the XPA name server, which returns a list of at most n matching XPA servers. A connection is established with each of these servers and the paramlist string is passed to the server as the data transfer request is initiated. If an XPA struct is passed to the call, then the persistent connections are updated as described above. Otherwise, temporary connections are made to the servers (which will be closed when the call completes).

The XPASetFd() routine then reads bytes from the specified fd until EOF and sends these bytes to the XPA servers. The final parameter n specifies the maximum number of servers to contact. A string containing the class:name and ip:port of each server is returned in the name array. If a given server returned an error, then the error message will be stored in the associated element of the messages array. NB: if specified, the name and messages arrays must be of size n or greater.

The return value will contain the actual number of servers that were processed. This value thus will hold the number of valid entries in the names and messages arrays, and can be used to loop through these arrays. In names and/or messages is NULL, no information is passed back in that array.

The mode string is of the form: "key1=value1,key2=value2,..." The following keywords are recognized:

  key   	value		default		explanation
  ------	--------	--------	-----------
  ack		true/false	true		if false, don't wait for ack from server (after callback completes)
  verify	true/false	false		send buf from XPASet[Fd] to stdout

The ack keyword is useful in cases where one does not want to wait for the server to complete, e.g. is a lot of processing needs to be done on the passed data or when the success of the server operation is not relevant to the client.

Example:

  #include <xpa.h>

  #define NXPA 10
  int  i, got;
  int fd;
  char *names[NXPA];
  char *messages[NXPA];
  fd = open(...);
  got = XPASetFd(NULL, "ds9", "fits", NULL, fd, names, messages, NXPA);
  for(i=0; i<got; i++){
    if( messages[i] != NULL ){
      /* error processing */
      fprintf(stderr, "ERROR: %s (%s)\n", messages[i], names[i]);
    }
    if( names[i] )
      free(names[i]);
    if( messages[i] )
      free(messages[i]);
  }

XPAOpen: allocate a persistent client handle

  #include <xpa.h>

  XPA XPAOpen(char *mode);

XPAOpen() allocates a persistent XPA struct that can be used with calls to XPAGet(), XPASet(), XPAInfo(), XPAGetFd(), and XPASetFd(). Persistence means that a connection to an XPA server is not closed when one of the above calls is completed but will be re-used on successive calls. Using XPAOpen() therefore saves the time it takes to connect to a server, which could be significant with slow connections or if there will be a large number of exchanges with a given access point. The mode argument currently is ignored ("reserved for future use").

An XPA struct is returned if XPAOpen() was successful; otherwise NULL is returned. This returned struct can be passed as the first argument to XPAGet(), etc. Those calls will update the list of active XPA connections. Already connected servers (from a previous call) are left connected and new servers also will be connected. Old servers (from a previous call) that are no longer needed are disconnected. The connected servers will remain connected when the next call to XPAGet() is made and connections are once again updated.

Example:

 #include <xpa.h>

  XPA xpa;
  xpa = XPAOpen(NULL);

XPAClose: close a persistent XPA client handle

  #include <xpa.h>

  void XPAClose(XPA xpa);

XPAClose closes the persistent connections associated with this XPA struct and frees all allocated space. It also closes the open sockets connections to all XPA servers that were opened using this handle.

Example:

  #include <xpa.h>

  XPA xpa;
  XPAClose(xpa);

XPANSLookup: lookup registered XPA access points

  #include <xpa.h>

  int XPANSLookup(XPA xpa,
  	          char *template, char type,
	          char ***classes, char ***names,
	          char ***methods, char ***infos)

XPA routines act on a class:name identifier in such a way that all access points that match the identifier are processed. It is sometimes desirable to choose specific access points from the candidates that match the template. In order to do this, the XPANSLookup routine can be called to return a list of matches, so that specific class:name instances can then be fed to XPAGet(), XPASet(), etc.

The first argument is an optional XPA struct. If non-NULL, the existing name server connection associated with the specified xpa is used to query the xpans name server for matching templates. Otherwise, a new (temporary) connection is established with the name server.

The second argument to XPANSLookup is the class:name template to match.

The third argument for XPANSLookup() is the type of access and can be any combination of:

  type   	explanation
  ------	-----------
  g		xpaget calls can be made on this access point
  s		xpaset calls can be made on this access point
  i		xpainfo calls can be made on this access point

The call typically specifies only one of these at a time.

The final arguments are pointers to arrays that will be filled in and returned by the name server. The name server will allocate and return arrays filled with the classes, names, and methods of all XPA access points that match the template and have the specified type. Also returned are info strings, which generally are used internally by the client routines. These can be ignored (but the strings must be freed). The function returns the number of matches. The returned value can be used to loop through the matches: Example:

  #include <xpa.h>

  char **classes;
  char **names;
  char **methods;
  char **infos;
  int i, n;
  n = XPANSLookup(NULL, "foo*", "g", &classes, &names, &methods, &infos);
  for(i=0; i<n; i++){
    [more specific checks on possibilities ...]
    [perhaps a call to XPAGet for those that pass, etc. ...]
    /* don't forget to free alloc'ed strings when done */
    free(classes[i]);
    free(names[i]);
    free(methods[i]);
    free(infos[i]);
  }
  /* free up arrays alloc'ed by names server */
  if( n > 0 ){
    free(classes);
    free(names);
    free(methods);
    free(infos);
  }

The specified template also can be a host:port specification, for example:

  myhost:12345

In this case, no connection is made to the name server. Instead, the call will return one entry such that the ip array contains the ip for the specified host and the port array contains the port. The class and name entries are set to the character "?", since the class and name of the access point are not known.

XPAAccess: return XPA access points matching template (XPA 2.1 and above)

  #include <xpa.h>

  int XPAAccess(XPA xpa,
	        char *template, char *paramlist, char *mode,
	        char **names, char **messages, int n);

The XPAAccess routine returns the public access points that match the specified second argument template and have the specified access type.

A template of the form "class1:name1" is sent to the XPA name server, which returns a list of at most n matching XPA servers. A connection is established with each of these servers and the paramlist string is passed to the server as the data transfer request is initiated. If an XPA struct is passed to the call, then the persistent connections are updated as described above. Otherwise, temporary connections are made to the servers (which will be closed when the call completes).

The XPAAccess() routine retrieves names from at most n XPA servers that match the specified template and that were checked for access using the specified mode. The return string contains both the class:name and ip:port. If a given server returned an error or the server callback sends a message back to the client, then the message will be stored in the associated element of the messages array. NB: if specified, the name and messages arrays must be of size n or greater.

The returned message string will be of the form:

  XPA$ERROR error-message (class:name ip:port)

Note that names of matching registered access points are always returned but may not be valid; it is not sufficient to assume that the returned number of access points is the number of valid access points. Rather, it is essential to check the messages array for error messages. Any string in the messages array is an error message and indicated that the associated access point is not available.

For example, assume that a server registers a number of access points but delays entering its event loop. If a call to XPAAccess() is made before the event loop is entered, the call will timeout (after waiting for the long timeout period) and return an error of the form:

  XPA$ERROR: timeout waiting for server authentication (XPA:xpa1)
The error means that the XPA access point has been registered but is not yet available (because events are not being processed). When the server finally enters its event loop, subsequent calls to XPAAccess() will return successfully.

NB: This routine only works with XPA servers built with XPA 2.1.x and later. Servers with older versions of XPA will return the error message: XPA$ERROR invalid xpa command in initialization string If you get this error message, then the old server actually is ready for access, since it got to the point of fielding the query! The xpaaccess program, for example, ignores this message in order to work properly with older servers.

The third argument for XPAAccess() is the type of access and can be any combination of:

  type   	explanation
  ------	-----------
  g		xpaget calls can be made on this access point
  s		xpaset calls can be made on this access point
  i		xpainfo calls can be made on this access point

The mode string argument is of the form: "key1=value1,key2=value2,..." The following keywords are recognized:

  key   	value		default		explanation
  ------	--------	--------	-----------
  ack		true/false	true		if false, don't wait for ack from server (after callback completes)

The ack keyword is not very useful, since the server completes the callback in order to return the data anyway. It is here for completion (and perhaps for future usefulness).

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Last updated: March 10, 2007