TCP & UDP Binding v1

The TCP and UDP bindings provide basic support for simple ASCII-based protocols. They send and receive data as ASCII strings. Data sent out is by default padded with a CR/LF. This should be sufficient for many home automation devices that take simple ASCII-based control commands, or that send back text-based status messages.

The TCP part of the binding has a built-in mechanism to keep connections to remote hosts alive, and will reset connections at regular intervals to overcome the limitation of "stalled" connections or remote hosts.

The TCP & UDP Bindings act as a network client or as a network server.

Binding Configuration

The TCP and UDP bindings can be configured in the files services/tcp.cfg and services/udp.cfg, respectively. Note that the parameters set in these files will be common for all the TCP connections of this binding, both client and server connections. It is thus not possible to have different postambles for two distinct endpoints.

Note: This is optional for the configuration and not necessary for receiving data. Item-definitions are enough for receiving data. There's a bug in the binding that requires at least one udp configuration to be defined or the binding will not send UDP messages.

Property Default Required Description
refreshinterval only for receiving data Refresh interval in milliseconds for polling data. Example: 250
port only for receiving data Port to listen on for incoming connections
addressmask false No Set to true to allow masks in ip:port addressing, e.g. 192.168.0.1:** etc.
reconnectcron Cron-like string to reconnect remote ends, e.g for unstable connection or remote ends. Example: 0 0 0 ** * ?
retryinterval No Interval between reconnection attempts when recovering from a communication error, in seconds. Example: 5
queue false No Queue data whilst recovering from a connection problem (TCP only)
buffersize 1024 No Maximum buffer size whilst reading incoming data
preamble No Pre-amble string that will be put in front of data being sent
postamble \r\n No Post-amble that will be appended to data being sent
blocking false` No Perform all write/read (send/receive) operations in a blocking mode, e.g. the binding will wait for a reply from the remote end after data has been sent
timeout 3000 No Timeout, in milliseconds, to wait for a reply when initiating a blocking write/read operation
updatewithresponse false No Update the status of items using the response received from the remote end (if the remote end sends replies to commands)
itemsharedconnections false No Set to true to share connections within the item binding configurations
bindingsharedconnections false No Set to true to share connections between item binding configurations
directionssharedconnections true No Set to false to not share connections between inbound and outbound connections

The indicated default values apply to both bindings unless otherwise noted.

Use of certain parameters requires other parameters. If these dependencies are not satisified, warnings will be generated:

  • bindingsharedconnections=true requires itemsharedconnections=true
  • directionssharedconnections=true requires bindingsharedconnections=true

Item Configuration

The syntax for the TCP & UDP binding configuration string is explained here:

Note: The examples here below are for the TCP protocol. UDP binding configuration are exactly the same, one only has to substitute "tcp=" with "udp="

The format of the binding configuration is simple and looks like this:

tcp="<direction>[<command>:<ip address>:<port>:<transformationrule>], <direction>[<command>:<ip address>:<port>:<transformationrule>], ..."

where <direction> is one of the following values:

  • < for inbound-triggered communication, whereby the openHAB runtime will act as a server and listen for incoming connections from the specified <ip address>:<port>
  • > for outbound-triggered communication, whereby the openHAB runtime will act as a client and establish an outbound connection to the specified <ip address>:<port>

<command> is the openHAB command. <command>: can be omitted or have the value '*'. Omit the command if using generic mapping via transformations, or if no mapping is needed.

<ip address> is the hostname or IP address in dotted notation of the remote host.

<transformationrule> can be one of:

  • a string in the form of TEXT1(TEXT2), and then it goes through the transformation TEXT1 with the argument TEXT2;
  • empty or the string default, and then it returns the State or the Command as a String;
  • anything else and it sends back the <transformationrule> string itself.

⚠️ The <transformationrule> field will be stripped of its single quotes if they are present; this means that in any case, 'TEXT' is treated the same way as TEXT.

Item Commands and updates - sending and receiving data

When the item receives a command it will send that data to the remote party. When data is received on the TCP connection, the item will get its state updated with a postUpdate. This is identical for incoming and outgoing directions. The direction just says who connects to whom (client/server); data can be sent and received from either.

Examples

Here are some examples of valid binding configuration strings.

Open a port on the openHAB server and listen for incoming connections (e.g. for a String Item that captures some state of a remote device that connects to openHAB):

tcp="<[192.168.0.2:3000:'REGEX((.*))']"

Connect to a remote server, for a Switch Item where values are converted using the my.device.map:

tcp=">[ON:192.168.0.1:3000:'MAP(my.device.map)'], >[OFF:192.168.0.1:3000:'MAP(my.device.map)']"

Connect to a remote server and send any commands received. Both of the following are equivalent.

tcp=">[192.168.0.2:3000:REGEX((.*))]" 
tcp=">[192.168.0.2:3000:]"

Here's a full item configuration:

String TCP_Lyngdorf	"Lyngdorf TCP"      	(gHifi)	[ "Hifi" ]	  { tcp=">[*:10.0.0.4:7000:]" }
Switch	MyVirtualLyngdorfPowerSwitch	"Lyngdorf TDAI-2170"	(gHifi)	[ "Hifi" ]

The TCP Binding will open a port to remote host 10.0.0.4:7000. Any commands received on the item will be sent to the remote with pre and postfix specified by preamble and postamble. The Item will get postUpdate on any data received from the remote via the TCP connection. The data can be mapped via rules to virtual items such as MyVirtualLyngdorfPowerSwitch.

Known Issues

The TCP binding may exhaust the memory and/or use up the CPU by trying to rebind connections. (GitHub issue 2706).

Alternative Solutions

An alternative solution to using the TCP Binding may be to use MQTT. See JGluch's example on the community forum.