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Socket Client

The Socket Client module provides a generic interface to Socket based (network) servers. The Socket Client module should allow you to send and receive data to any network accessible server. Note that this is a generic module in that you will need to adhere to the protocol of the external server.

More specialized communications (like HTTP) have their own modules but cannot be used in servers that are not known to RoboRealm or created as custom products. This module provides the underlying basic networking connection to remote servers but requires that you specify what and how data is transmitted and received.

This module provides yet another way of integrating RoboRealm with external applications. For a more comprehensive overview please have a look at our Integration documentation.

Only ONE client connection is permitted at a time.

Interface

Instructions

1. Settings - Specify the name/IP address and port number of the server you would like to communicate to.

2. Method - Specify what protocol you would like to use when sending information. Note that TCP/IP should work in most cases across the Internet as it is a standard protocol with built in error checking. UPD and Broadcast modes are quicker than TCP but do not guarantee delivery of the information and should only be used on local networks as most routers will block UDP traffic.

3. Console - If the server responds with any data you will start to see a large amount of numbers scrolling by in the console. This shows the current values being read from the server and provides a log of the ongoing communication activities. The red text are characters received from the server while the green text are characters sent by RoboRealm to the server. To copy the log click on the Copy button, likewise to clear it click on the Clear button. Note that the console log only shows several lines at a time with older information being discarded.
You can switch the output to various formats for better viewing:

ASCII - shows new data as ASCII characters. Any character outside of printable characters will be represented with a \ followed by the actual integer data that was read

Decimal - shows new data as sets of single byte integer numbers

Hexadecimal - shows new data as sets of hexadecimal numbers (base 16 numbers, e.g. FF)

Short Binary - shows new data as binary numbers with prefix 0's removed

Binary - shows new data as sets of single byte binary numbers

4. Send Now - often you need to quickly test the server by sending a certain sequence of characters. To do so just type in the character sequence (using for carriage return, [image_count] for variables, etc.) and click on Send Now. The text will be parsed and sent to the server whose response will then appear in the console log. Note that this is different from the send sequence which will be sent each time the module is encountered in the processing pipeline. The Send Now button is a manual testing mechanism meant for debugging purposes. Also note that the returned text will be parsed by the Receive Sequence so that you can test your parsing code and see if the variables have been created. Use the Watch Variables module to see those variables being created.

5. Refresh Rate - to slow the scrolling of the numbers select a different refresh rate for the console. This will just slow down how quickly RoboRealm reads information from the server.

6. Initialization Sequence - The initialization data sequence sends the provided string to the server on initialization of communication. You may want to use this to command the receiving server into a specific mode ready for communication with RoboRealm. This initialization sequence is sent each time the communication is reset. This happens when you click on the "Stop" button in this interface or when the RoboRealm starts running for the first time. It is NOT sent when the Run button in the main RoboRealm interface is toggled. See the Text Formats page for additional information about the text string format.

7. Send sequence - Used to enter commands sent per pipeline loop (i.e. image processed) by RoboRealm. You can use this sequence to transmit variables created by other RoboRealm modules to the server. Each time an image is captured and processed the Socket Client module will interpret the Send Sequence text and send the result to the server. See the Text Formats page for additional information about the text string format.

8. Enable - Allows you to temporarily disable sending text to the server while performing edits. Note that the Send Sequence textarea will turn red to indicate this setting.

9. Send Rate - Some servers cannot handle rapid data streams. Use this dropdown to select how quickly you want the data to be sent. At AFAP (As Fast As Possible) the data will be sent out about 30 times a second (this assumes a camera running at 30 fps).

10. Send only on change - If your data does need to be sent out to your server every iteration through the processing pipeline loop this selection will prevent the same data from being sent to the server that was last sent. This is also an elegant way to reduce the data bandwidth to the server if your sequence does not change rapidly.

11. Receive sequence - used to receive and parse text send from the server. The text string is matched against the incoming bytes. When a match is found variables are added into RoboRealm for use in other modules. Reading into variables just requires adding in a variable at the appropriate spot within the receive string similar to the scanf routine in C/C++. The Receive sequence works similar to an expect string, i.e. you need to specify patterns that match the incoming text and substitute the areas that need to be fed into variables with the [ variable_nane ] format. Note that even if you are missing one space or newline the patter will not match and the variable will be zero or blank. See the Text Formats page for additional information about the text string format.

Example

1. Download this Socket Server program that can be run by unzipping and executing the Release\Socket.exe application. Note the source is included for this small application which effectively shows how to listen on a socket port in C/C++. Once run, this application attaches to port 4040 and waits for any incoming messages.

2. Launch RoboRealm, click on the Search tab, and enter in Socket. Double Click on Socket_Client that will add this module to the pipeline. Immediately the module will connect to the running socket server.

3. Type in characters into the Send Now text area and press the send button. You should see the text reflected in the Socket server's window. If you type in \128 which means send the byte 128 the Socket Server program will respond with "Hello!".

4. This example shows how RoboRealm can communication with an external application listening on a socket port. As is seen from this example the protocol is not defined and you can make it as simple or as complex as needed. Note that for very complex interactions you may instead want to create a Plugin or use the API as they provide similar means of communication but in a more defined way.

See Also


Socket Server
Serial
USB HID

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