~coder_kalyan/pubsub

A lightweight, high bandwidth publish-subscribe framework, primarily for Zephyr RTOS.
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#pubsub

#Introduction

This is a very lightweight publish - subscribe framework for embedded systems, written in C89. It is targeted for the Zephyr RTOS framework, and therefore uses some Zephyr libraries - but it can be easily ported to other frameworks, see below. The library consists of a single source file (src/pubsub.c) and a single header (include/pubsub/pubsub.h). It currently supports a single publisher and multiple subscribers per data topic. It is designed to be thread safe and as efficient as possible, with minimal overhead while offering a very simple API. This makes it suitable for anything from periodic events to high rate (kHz) sensor data exchange between threads.

#Warning

Pubsub is early in development. It has been shown to work reliably for "standard" use cases involving inter-thread communication of sensor data using Zephyr on an STM32 device (although there is no STM32 specific code other than higher resolution timestamping). It may not work for certain use cases or environments. If you find a bug, please file an issue or send a PR!

#Installation

#West + Zephyr

For west-managed zephyr workspaces, just add this project to your west manifest:

manifest:
  remotes:
    - name: pubsub
      url-base: https://github.com/coderkalyan
  projects:
    - name: pubsub
      path: modules/lib/pubsub
      remote: pubsub

#Non-west/zephyr

If you are not using west or Zephyr, you can simply copy src/pubsub.c and include/pubsub/pubsub.h into your own tree. Keep in mind that if you are not using Zephyr, you will have to port the library by providing replacements for the (few) Zephyr specific APIs used.

#Usage

A complete example can be found in the examples/ directory. The code here is shortened for brevity.

Pubsub follows a single-publisher, multi-subscriber architecture - but first we need to define the data type we want to publish!

Create a file in your project, include/topics/my_message.h:

#include <pubsub/pubsub.h>

/* Pubsub types are just C structs contained in header files like this one. */
struct my_message_s {
	/* add your data types here */
	int counter1;
	int counter2;

	/* all messages should contain (64 bit) microsecond timestamps. At time of writing,
	the internal library does not make use of this timestamp, but this field is reserved
	for future use. Additionally, many/most applications are likely to benefit from message
	timestamping, so it's a good idea to include it. */
	int64_t timestamp;
};

/* the following line allows the message topic to be shared between the publisher and subscriber(s). */
extern struct pubsub_topic_s my_message_topic;

Now that we have a data type, we can start publishing to it:

src/publisher.c

#include <pubsub/pubsub.h>
#include "topics/my_message.h"

/* this macro statically initializes the topic, and can only be used in a single file (per topic) */
PUBSUB_TOPIC_DEFINE(my_message_topic, sizeof(struct my_message_s));

static void publisher_thread_entry_point(void)
{
	struct my_message_s message;
	memset(message, 0, sizeof(struct my_message_s));

	while (1) {
		/* how you want to handle timestamps is up to you, but it's good practice
		   to populate it with something, even if it isn't accurate down to the
		   microsecond
		 */
		message.timestamp = get_current_time_us(); /* not a real function */

		message.counter1 += 1;
		message.counter2 += 2;

		/* publish the message on the `my_message_topic` topic, on channel 0.
		   Channels allow you to publish multiple streams on the same topic. 
		   For instance, you might have a temperature sample topic, and want to 
		   publish independent samples from 2 separate temperature sensors. 
		   If you only plan to publish to a single channel, use channel 0.
		 */
		pubsub_publish(&my_message_topic, 0, &message);

		sleep_ms(500); /* not a real function */
	}
}

Now that we have a sample being published at 2Hz, we can subscribe to it. There are 2 main ways to do this - by checking for updates on a topic, or using the polling API.

Let's start with manually checking for updates. If your subscriber thread only needs to check for new data relatively infrequently, or you want to synchronize new data subscriptions to the subscriber thread's clock, this is what you want.

src/subscriber1.c

#include <pubsub/pubsub.h>
#include "topics/my_message.h"

/* this macro statically defines a subscriber `my_message_sub` and subscribes it to `my_message_topic` on channel 0. */
PUBSUB_SUBSCRIBER_DEFINE(my_message_topic, my_message_sub, 0);

static void subscriber_thread_entry_point(void)
{
	struct my_message_s message;

	while (1) {
		/* have we gotten any new published data since last time? */
		if (pubsub_subscriber_updated(my_message_sub)) {
			/* if so, copy it into our own struct */
			pubsub_copy(my_message_sub, message);

			printf("Received counter1: %d, counter2: %d\n", message.counter1, message.counter2);
		}

		sleep_ms(1000); /* not a real function */
	}
}

The other way to subscribe to data is through the polling API, which piggybacks Zephyr's k_poll API. This way is (slightly) less code, much lower latency, and does not waste resources manually polling for new data, and is especially useful when your thread is consistently consuming high-rate data samples from a publisher. The downside is that the poll API suspends your thread until the kernel is alerted that new data has arrived, so the subscriber thread cannot keep its own clock.

Pubsub can have multiple threads subscribed to the same topic at the same time, using the manual and/or poll API. Try running this second thread at the same time:

src/subscriber2.c

#include <pubsub/pubsub.h>
#include "topics/my_message.h"

/* this macro statically defines a subscriber `my_message_sub` and subscribes it to `my_message_topic` on channel 0. */
PUBSUB_SUBSCRIBER_DEFINE(my_message_topic, my_message_sub, 0);

static void subscriber_thread_entry_point(void)
{
	struct my_message_s message;
	int ret;

	while (1) {
		/* this function will return once new data has arrived, or upon timeout (1000ms in this case). */
		ret = pubsub_poll(&my_message_sub, K_MSEC(1000));
		/* ret returns:
		* a positive value if new data was successfully returned
		* 0 if the poll timed out
		* negative if an error occured while polling
		*/

		if (ret > 0) {
			/* got new data, copy it into our own struct */
			pubsub_copy(my_message_sub, message);

			printf("Received counter1: %d, counter2: %d\n", message.counter1, message.counter2);
		} else if (ret == 0) {
			printf("WARNING: Did not receive new data for 1000ms. Continuing poll.\n");
		} else {
			printf("ERROR: error while polling: %d\n", ret);
			return;
		}
	}
}

#When to use this

This is by no means an exhaustive list of considerations when choosing whether or not to use pubsub. However, since the use case for pubsub differs from some of the other built in communication utilities in Zephyr, here's a brief overview:

  • Use pubsub when you need high rate communication (i.e. sensor data)
  • Use pubsub when you want a single-publisher, multi-subscriber API.
  • Use pubsub when your data format/structure is static, not different between samples
  • Don't use pubsub when you need to store or batch multiple samples in a queue or stack
  • Use a FIFO if you need a single subscriber API with potentially varying data structures
  • Use a mailbox when you need bidirectional data transfer

#Porting

To port pubsub to another framework, you will have to provide the following interfaces:

  • a C heap implementation (malloc/free)
  • a linked list implementation
  • semaphores/mutexes for multithreading
  • (optional) a kernel polling API for poll based usage
  • a high resolution timestamping implementation is very useful for usage. Microsecond resolution is preferred but millisecond resolution is sufficient.