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NetworkStack

The Network-Socket-API (NSAPI) provides a TCP/UDP API on top of any IP based network interface. With the NSAPI, you can write applications and libraries that use TCP/UDP Sockets without regard to the type of IP connectivity. In addition to providing the TCP/UDP API, the NSAPI includes virtual base classes for the different IP interface types.

Class hierarchy

All network-socket API implementations inherit from two classes: a NetworkStack and a communication specific subclass of NetworkInterface.

NetworkInterface Class

The current NetworkInterface subclasses are CellularBase, EthernetInterface, MeshInterface and WiFiInterface. Your communication interface is a subclass of one of these, as well as the NetworkStack. For example, the ESP8266Interface inheritance structure looks like this:

Class

There are three pure virtual methods in the NetworkInterface class.

  • connect() - to connect the interface to the network.
  • disconnect() - to disconnect the interface from the network.
  • get_stack() - to return the underlying NetworkStack object.

Each subclass has distinct pure virtual methods. Visit their class references (linked above) to determine those you must implement.

NetworkStack class

NetworkStack provides a common interface that hardware shares. By implementing the NetworkStack, you can use a class as a target for instantiating network sockets.

NetworkStack provides these functions. Look for the function signature like declarator virt-specifier(optional) = 0 to determine which functions are pure virtual and which you must override in your child class.

Errors

Many functions of NetworkStack and NetworkInterface have return types of nsapi_error_t, which is a type used to represent error codes. You can see a list of these return codes here. You can view the integer values the error macros in this file. A negative error code indicates failure, while 0 indicates success.

The connect() method

High-level API calls to an implementation of a network-socket API are identical across networking protocols. The only difference is the interface object constructor and the method through which you connect to the network. For example, a Wi-Fi connection requires an SSID and password, a cellular connection requires an APN and Ethernet doesn't require any credentials. Only the connect method syntax of the derived classes reflects these differences. The intended design allows the user to change out the connectivity of the app by adding a new library and changing the API call for connecting to the network.

Below is a demonstration with the code that sends an HTTP request over Ethernet:

    EthernetInterface net;
    int return_code = net.connect();
    if (return_code < 0)
        printf("Error connecting to network %d\r\n", return_code);

    // Open a socket on the network interface, and create a TCP connection to api.ipify.org
    TCPSocket socket;
    socket.open(&net);
    socket.connect("api.ipify.org", 80);
    char *buffer = new char[256];

    // Send an HTTP request
    strcpy(buffer, "GET / HTTP/1.1\r\nHost: api.ipify.org\r\n\r\n");
    int scount = socket.send(buffer, strlen(buffer));

    // Recieve an HTTP response and print out the response line
    int rcount = socket.recv(buffer, 256);

    // Close the socket to return its memory and bring down the network interface
    socket.close();
    delete[] buffer;

    // Bring down the ethernet interface
    net.disconnect();

To change the connectivity to ESP8266 Wi-Fi, change these lines:

    EthernetInterface net;
    int return_code = net.connect();

To:

    ESP8266Interface net(TX_PIN, RX_PIN);
    int return_code = net.connect("my_ssid", "my_password");

Testing

When adding a new connectivity class, you can use mbed test to verify your implementation.

  1. Make a new Mbed OS project: mbed new [directory_name], where directory name is the name you'd like to use as your testing directory.

  2. Move into that folder: cd [directory_name].

  3. Add your library to the project: mbed add [driver URL] or copy the driver files to this directory.

  4. You need to create a JSON test configuration file using the following format:

    {
        "config": {
            "header-file": {
                "help" : "String for including your driver header file",
                "value" : "\"EthernetInterface.h\""
            },
            "object-construction" : {
                "value" : "new EthernetInterface()"
            },
            "connect-statement" : {
                "help" : "Must use 'net' variable name",
                "value" : "((EthernetInterface *)net)->connect()"
            },
            "echo-server-addr" : {
                "help" : "IP address of echo server",
                "value" : "\"195.34.89.241\""
            },
            "echo-server-port" : {
                "help" : "Port of echo server",
                "value" : "7"
            },
            "tcp-echo-prefix" : {
                "help" : "Some servers send a prefix before echoed message",
                "value" : "\"u-blox AG TCP/UDP test service\\n\""
            }
        }
    }
    

    The configuration values you need to replace are header-file, object-construction and connect-statement.

    • header-file - Replace EthernetInterface.h with the correct header file of your class
    • object-construction - Replace EthernetInterface() with the syntax for your class' object construction.
    • connect-statement - Replace EthernetInterface* with a pointer type to your class and connect() to match your class' connect function signature.
  5. Save the content as a new JSON file.

  6. Run the following command to execute the tests: mbed test -m [MCU] -t [toolchain] -n mbed-os-tests-netsocket* --test-config path/to/config.json

  7. Use -vv for very verbose to view detailed test output.

Case Study: ESP8266 Wi-Fi component

This example ports a driver for the ESP8266 Wi-Fi module to the NSAPI.

Required methods

Because ESP8266 is a Wi-Fi component, choose WiFiInterface as the NetworkworkInterface parent class.

WiFiInterface defines the following pure virtual functions:

  • set_credentials(const char *ssid, const char *pass, nsapi_security_t security).
  • set_channel(uint8_t channel).
  • get_rssi().
  • connect(const char *ssid, const char *pass, nsapi_security_t security, uint8_t channel).
  • connect().
  • disconnect().
  • scan(WiFiAccessPoint *res, nsapi_size_t count).

Additionally, WiFiInterface parent class NetworkInterface introduces NetworkStack *get_stack() as a pure virtual function.

You must also use NetworkStack as a parent class of the interface. You've already explored the pure virtual methods here.

Implementing connect()

Because a Wi-Fi connection requires an SSID and password, you need to implement a connect function that doesn't have these as a parameter.

One of the WiFiInterface pure virtual functions is set_credentials(const char *ssid, const char *pass, nsapi_security_t security). Implement set_credentials to store the SSID and password in private class variables. When you call connect() with no SSID and password, it is assumed that set_credentials has been called.

The next step is to implement this with the connect() method.

This is the first method that needs to interact with the Wi-Fi chip. You need to do some configuration to get the chip in a state where you can open sockets. You need to send some AT commands to the chip to accomplish this.

The AT commands you want to send are:

  1. AT+CWMODE=3 - This sets the Wi-Fi mode of the chip to 'station mode' and 'SoftAP mode', where it acts as a client connection to a Wi-Fi network, as well as a Wi-Fi access point.
  2. AT+CIPMUX=1 - This allows the chip to have multiple socket connections open at once.
  3. AT+CWDHCP=1,1 - To enable DHCP.
  4. AT+CWJAP=[ssid,password] - To connect to the network.
  5. AT+CIFSR - To query your IP address and ensure that the network assigned you one through DHCP.

Sending AT Commands

You can use the AT command parser to send AT commands and parse their responses. The AT command parser operates with a BufferedSerial object that provides software buffers and interrupt driven TX and RX for Serial.

ESP8266Interface uses an underlying interface called ESP8266 to handle the communication with the Wi-Fi modem. ESP8266 maintains an instance of AT command parser to handle communcation with the module. An instance of ESP8266 is in a private ESP8266Interface class variable _esp. In turn, ESP8266 maintains an instance of AT command parser called _parser.

To send AT commands 1-2, there is an ESP8266 method called startup(int mode). Use the AT command parser's send and recv functions to accomplish this.

The necessary code is:


bool ESP8266::startup(int mode)
{
    ...

    bool success =
        && _parser.send("AT+CWMODE=%d", mode)
        && _parser.recv("OK")
        && _parser.send("AT+CIPMUX=1")
        && _parser.recv("OK");

    ...

The parser's send function returns true if the command succesully sent to the Wi-Fi chip. The recv function returns true if you receive the specified text. In the code example above, sending two commands and receiving the expected OK responses determines success.

Return values

So far, our connect method looks something like:

int ESP8266Interface::connect()
{
    if (!_esp.startup(3)) {
        return X;

If this !_esp.startup(3) evaluates to true, something went wrong when configuring the chip, and you should return an error code.

The NSAPI provides a set of error code return values for network operations. They documentation is here.

Of them, the most appropriate is NSAPI_ERROR_DEVICE_ERROR. So replace X in the return statement with NSAPI_ERROR_DEVICE_ERROR.

Finishing

You implemented similar methods to startup in ESP8266 to send AT commands 3-5. Then, you used them to determine the success of the connect() method. You can find the completed implementation here.

Implementing socket_open

The NetworkStack parent class dictates that you implement the functionality of opening a socket. This is the method signature in the interface:

int ESP8266Interface::socket_open(void **handle, nsapi_protocol_t proto)

This method doesn't necessitate any AT commands. The purpose is to create a socket in software and store the information in the handle parameter for use in other socket operations.

The ESP8266 module can only handle 5 open sockets, so you want to ensure that you don't open a socket when none are available. In the header file, use this macro for convenience: #define ESP8266_SOCKET_COUNT 5. Use a private class variable array to keep track of open sockets bool _ids[ESP8266_SOCKET_COUNT]. In socket_open, first iterate over _ids, and look for an element in the array whose value is false.

So far, the method looks like this:

int ESP8266Interface::socket_open(void **handle, nsapi_protocol_t proto)
{
    // Look for an unused socket
    int id = -1;

    for (int i = 0; i < ESP8266_SOCKET_COUNT; i++) {
        if (!_ids[i]) {
            id = i;
            _ids[i] = true;
            break;
        }
    }

    if (id == -1) {
        return NSAPI_ERROR_NO_SOCKET;
    }

    ...

After you've determined that you have an open socket, you want to store some information in the handle parameter. We've created a struct to store information about the socket that will be necessary for network operations:

struct esp8266_socket {
    int id; // Socket ID number
    nsapi_protocol_t proto; // TCP or UDP
    bool connected; // Is it connected to a server?
    SocketAddress addr; // The address that it is connected to
};

Create one of these, store some information in it and then point the handle at it:

int ESP8266Interface::socket_open(void **handle, nsapi_protocol_t proto)
{
    ...
    struct esp8266_socket *socket = new struct esp8266_socket;
    if (!socket) {
        return NSAPI_ERROR_NO_SOCKET;
    }

    socket->id = id; // store the open ID we found above
    socket->proto = proto; // TCP or UDP as specified in parameter
    socket->connected = false; // default state not connected

    *handle = socket;
    return 0; // success

See the full implementation here.

Implementing socket_connect

The NetworkStack parent class dictates that you implement the functionality of connecting a socket to a remote server. This is the method signature in the interface:

int ESP8266Interface::socket_connect(void *handle, const SocketAddress &addr)

In this case, the handle is one that has been assigned in the socket_open method.

You can cast the void pointer to an esp8266_socket pointer. Do this in the body of socket_connect:

int ESP8266Interface::socket_connect(void *handle, const SocketAddress &addr)
{
    struct esp8266_socket *socket = (struct esp8266_socket *)handle;
    _esp.setTimeout(ESP8266_MISC_TIMEOUT);

    const char *proto = (socket->proto == NSAPI_UDP) ? "UDP" : "TCP";
    if (!_esp.open(proto, socket->id, addr.get_ip_address(), addr.get_port())) {
        return NSAPI_ERROR_DEVICE_ERROR;
    }

    socket->connected = true;
    return 0;
}

Focus on this line: !_esp.open(proto, socket->id, addr.get_ip_address(), addr.get_port().

Access the socket ID and socket protocol from the members of esp8266_socket. Access the IP address and port of the server with the SocketAddress addr parameter.

This method sends the AT command for opening a socket to the Wi-Fi module and is defined as follows:

bool ESP8266::open(const char *type, int id, const char* addr, int port)
{
    //IDs only 0-4
    if(id > 4) {
        return false;
    }

    return _parser.send("AT+CIPSTART=%d,\"%s\",\"%s\",%d", id, type, addr, port)
        && _parser.recv("OK");
}

In this instance, use the AT command parser to send AT+CIPSTART=[id],[TCP or UDP], [address] to the module. Expect to receive a response of OK. Only return true if you succesfully send the command AND receive an OK response.

Implementing socket_attach

The NetworkStack parent class dictates that you implement the functionality of registering a callback on state change of the socket. This is the method signature in the interface:

void ESP8266Interface::socket_attach(void *handle, void (*callback)(void *), void *data)

Call the specified callback on state changes, such as when the socket can recv/send/accept successfully.

ESP8266 can have up to five open sockets. You need to keep track of all their callbacks. This struct holds the callback as well as the data of these callbacks. It is stored as a private class variable _cbs:

struct {
    void (*callback)(void *);
    void *data;
} _cbs[ESP8266_SOCKET_COUNT];

The attach method is:

void ESP8266Interface::socket_attach(void *handle, void (*callback)(void *), void *data)
{
    struct esp8266_socket *socket = (struct esp8266_socket *)handle;    
    _cbs[socket->id].callback = callback;
    _cbs[socket->id].data = data;
}

Store the information in the _cbs struct for use on state changes. There is a method event() to call socket callbacks. It looks like this:

void ESP8266Interface::event() {
    for (int i = 0; i < ESP8266_SOCKET_COUNT; i++) {
        if (_cbs[i].callback) {
            _cbs[i].callback(_cbs[i].data);
        }
    }
}

Look for sockets that have callbacks. Then, call them with the specified data!

Know when to trigger these events. You've used the ESP8266 class object, _esp, to attach a callback on a Serial RX event like so: _esp.attach(this, &ESP8266Interface::event). The _esp attach function creates _serial.attach(func), which attaches the function to the underlying UARTSerial RX event. Whenever the radio receives something, consider that a state change, and invoke any attach callbacks. A common use case is to attach socket_recv to a socket, so the socket can receive data asynchronously without blocking.

Testing

  • Make a new Mbed project - mbed new esp8266-driver-test.
  • Move into project folder - cd esp8266-driver-test.
  • Add ESP8266 driver - mbed add esp8266-driver.
  • Make a configuration file called esp8266_config.json with the following contents:
{
    "config": {
        "header-file": {
            "help" : "String for including your driver header file",
            "value" : "\"ESP8266Interface.h\""
        },
        "object-construction" : {
            "value" : "new ESP8266Interface(D1, D0)"
        },
        "connect-statement" : {
            "help" : "Must use 'net' variable name",
            "value" : "((ESP8266Interface *)net)->connect(\"my_ssid\", \"my_password\")"
        },
        "echo-server-addr" : {
            "help" : "IP address of echo server",
            "value" : "\"195.34.89.241\""
        },
        "echo-server-port" : {
            "help" : "Port of echo server",
            "value" : "7"
        },
        "tcp-echo-prefix" : {
            "help" : "Some servers send a prefix before echoed message",
            "value" : "\"u-blox AG TCP/UDP test service\\n\""
        }
    }
}
  • Run tests - mbed test -m [mcu] -t [toolchain] -n mbed-os-tests-netsocket* --test-config esp8266_config.json.
  • View test results:
mbedgt: test suite report:
+--------------+---------------+--------------------------------------------+--------+--------------------+-------------+
| target       | platform_name | test suite                                 | result | elapsed_time (sec) | copy_method |
+--------------+---------------+--------------------------------------------+--------+--------------------+-------------+
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-connectivity       | OK     | 32.24              | shell       |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-gethostbyname      | OK     | 24.01              | shell       |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-ip_parsing         | OK     | 14.31              | shell       |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-socket_sigio       | OK     | 29.23              | shell       |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-tcp_echo           | OK     | 51.39              | shell       |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-tcp_hello_world    | OK     | 21.03              | shell       |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-udp_dtls_handshake | OK     | 19.65              | shell       |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-udp_echo           | OK     | 23.22              | shell       |
+--------------+---------------+--------------------------------------------+--------+--------------------+-------------+
mbedgt: test suite results: 8 OK
mbedgt: test case report:
+--------------+---------------+--------------------------------------------+----------------------------------------+--------+--------+--------+--------------------+
| target       | platform_name | test suite                                 | test case                              | passed | failed | result | elapsed_time (sec) |
+--------------+---------------+--------------------------------------------+----------------------------------------+--------+--------+--------+--------------------+
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-connectivity       | Bringing the network up and down       | 1      | 0      | OK     | 7.61               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-connectivity       | Bringing the network up and down twice | 1      | 0      | OK     | 10.74              |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-gethostbyname      | DNS literal                            | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.09               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-gethostbyname      | DNS preference literal                 | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.1                |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-gethostbyname      | DNS preference query                   | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.13               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-gethostbyname      | DNS query                              | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.15               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-ip_parsing         | Hollowed IPv6 address                  | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.06               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-ip_parsing         | Left-weighted IPv4 address             | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.07               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-ip_parsing         | Left-weighted IPv6 address             | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.06               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-ip_parsing         | Null IPv4 address                      | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.04               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-ip_parsing         | Null IPv6 address                      | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.05               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-ip_parsing         | Right-weighted IPv4 address            | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.06               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-ip_parsing         | Right-weighted IPv6 address            | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.06               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-ip_parsing         | Simple IPv4 address                    | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.05               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-ip_parsing         | Simple IPv6 address                    | 1      | 0      | OK     | 0.04               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-socket_sigio       | Socket Attach Test                     | 1      | 0      | OK     | 2.04               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-socket_sigio       | Socket Detach Test                     | 1      | 0      | OK     | 6.26               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-socket_sigio       | Socket Reattach Test                   | 1      | 0      | OK     | 1.36               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-tcp_echo           | TCP echo                               | 1      | 0      | OK     | 6.24               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-tcp_hello_world    | TCP hello world                        | 1      | 0      | OK     | 7.34               |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-udp_dtls_handshake | UDP DTLS handshake                     | 1      | 0      | OK     | 5.9                |
| K64F-GCC_ARM | K64F          | mbed-os-tests-netsocket-udp_echo           | UDP echo                               | 1      | 0      | OK     | 9.75               |
+--------------+---------------+--------------------------------------------+----------------------------------------+--------+--------+--------+--------------------+
mbedgt: test case results: 22 OK
mbedgt: completed in 217.24 sec
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