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Using PIPES for messages (Views: 102)


Problem/Question/Abstract:

A pipe is a section of shared memory that processes use for communication. The process that creates a pipe is the pipe server. A process that connects to a pipe is a pipe client. One process writes information to the pipe, then the other process reads the information from the pipe. (MSDN)

Answer:

WHAT PIPES ARE

Pipes are used by independent processes to communicate with each other. For every pipe there must be a server that creates and manages the pipe and one or more clients that use the pipe to interchange messages between each other.

Pipes can be used for communication of processes residing on the same computer as well as processes residing on different machines within a network.

WHEN CAN YOU USE PIPES

Basically all Windows NT 3.51 and up, as well as Win95 and up support named pipes. You will use named pipes only to transfer information between applications or similar. I would not use them for use within a single application or when the SendMessage/PostMessage routines will suffice.

Named Pipes will ensure the data transport between to processes - therefore you will use them when data transport is essential. Mailslots, similar to named pipes, will not ensure data transport between processes, are, however much more efficient.

BLOCKING AND NON-BLOCKING MODES

Pipes can be created supporting blocking and non-blocking modes. This is essential for three routines: ReadFile, WriteFile, and ConnectNamedPipe. These routines will not return during blocking-mode until data are read/sent. MS recommends the use of the blocking-mode.

THEORIE OF THIS SAMPLE

Your Pipe-Server will create a named pipe and wait for clients to access the pipe in order to send data. Once a Pipe-Client sends data, the Pipe-Server will open the Pipe to the Client, process the data, send the "answer", and closes the Pipe to the Client.

The server will close the pipe after every message processed.

NOTE

This is a simple sample for the use of Pipes only, as samples are hard to find anyway. I am working on a more complex one, this may, however take quite some time - depending on my spare time. :)

THE UNIT UPIPES.PAS

In this sample, the Pipe-Server will reverse the data send by the Pipe-Client as Response. No Range Checking is done!

unit uPipes;

interface

uses
  Classes, Windows;

const
  cShutDownMsg = 'shutdown pipe ';
  cPipeFormat = '\\%s\pipe\%s';

type
  RPIPEMessage = record
    Size: DWORD;
    Kind: Byte;
    Count: DWORD;
    Data: array[0..8095] of Char;
  end;

  TPipeServer = class(TThread)
  private
    FHandle: THandle;
    FPipeName: string;

  protected
  public
    constructor CreatePipeServer(aServer, aPipe: string; StartServer: Boolean);
    destructor Destroy; override;

    procedure StartUpServer;
    procedure ShutDownServer;
    procedure Execute; override;
  end;

  TPipeClient = class
  private
    FPipeName: string;
    function ProcessMsg(aMsg: RPIPEMessage): RPIPEMessage;
  protected
  public
    constructor Create(aServer, aPipe: string);

    function SendString(aStr: string): string;
  end;

implementation

uses
  SysUtils;

procedure CalcMsgSize(var Msg: RPIPEMessage);
begin
  Msg.Size :=
    SizeOf(Msg.Size) +
    SizeOf(Msg.Kind) +
    SizeOf(Msg.Count) +
    Msg.Count +
    3;
end;

{ TPipeServer }

constructor TPipeServer.CreatePipeServer(
  aServer, aPipe: string; StartServer: Boolean
  );
begin
  if aServer = '' then
    FPipeName := Format(cPipeFormat, ['.', aPipe])
  else
    FPipeName := Format(cPipeFormat, [aServer, aPipe]);
  // clear server handle
  FHandle := INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE;
  if StartServer then
    StartUpServer;
  // create the class
  Create(not StartServer);
end;

destructor TPipeServer.Destroy;
begin
  if FHandle <> INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE then
    // must shut down the server first
    ShutDownServer;
  inherited Destroy;
end;

procedure TPipeServer.Execute;
var
  I, Written: Cardinal;
  InMsg, OutMsg: RPIPEMessage;
begin
  while not Terminated do
  begin
    if FHandle = INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE then
    begin
      // suspend thread for 250 milliseconds and try again
      Sleep(250);
    end
    else
    begin
      if ConnectNamedPipe(FHandle, nil) then
      try
        // read data from pipe
        InMsg.Size := SizeOf(InMsg);
        ReadFile(FHandle, InMsg, InMsg.Size, InMsg.Size, nil);
        if
          (InMsg.Kind = 0) and
          (StrPas(InMsg.Data) = cShutDownMsg + FPipeName) then
        begin
          // process shut down
          OutMsg.Kind := 0;
          OutMsg.Count := 3;
          OutMsg.Data := 'OK'#0;
          Terminate;
        end
        else
        begin
          // data send to pipe should be processed here
          OutMsg := InMsg;
          // we'll just reverse the data sent, byte-by-byte
          for I := 0 to Pred(InMsg.Count) do
            OutMsg.Data[Pred(InMsg.Count) - I] := InMsg.Data[I];
        end;
        CalcMsgSize(OutMsg);
        WriteFile(FHandle, OutMsg, OutMsg.Size, Written, nil);
      finally
        DisconnectNamedPipe(FHandle);
      end;
    end;
  end;
end;

procedure TPipeServer.ShutDownServer;
var
  BytesRead: Cardinal;
  OutMsg, InMsg: RPIPEMessage;
  ShutDownMsg: string;
begin
  if FHandle <> INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE then
  begin
    // server still has pipe opened
    OutMsg.Size := SizeOf(OutMsg);
    // prepare shut down message
    with InMsg do
    begin
      Kind := 0;
      ShutDownMsg := cShutDownMsg + FPipeName;
      Count := Succ(Length(ShutDownMsg));
      StrPCopy(Data, ShutDownMsg);
    end;
    CalcMsgSize(InMsg);
    // send shut down message
    CallNamedPipe(
      PChar(FPipeName), @InMsg, InMsg.Size, @OutMsg, OutMsg.Size, BytesRead, 100
      );
    // close pipe on server
    CloseHandle(FHandle);
    // clear handle
    FHandle := INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE;
  end;
end;

procedure TPipeServer.StartUpServer;
begin
  // check whether pipe does exist
  if WaitNamedPipe(PChar(FPipeName), 100 {ms}) then
    raise Exception.Create('Requested PIPE exists already.');
  // create the pipe
  FHandle := CreateNamedPipe(
    PChar(FPipeName), PIPE_ACCESS_DUPLEX,
    PIPE_TYPE_MESSAGE or PIPE_READMODE_MESSAGE or PIPE_WAIT,
    PIPE_UNLIMITED_INSTANCES, SizeOf(RPIPEMessage), SizeOf(RPIPEMessage),
    NMPWAIT_USE_DEFAULT_WAIT, nil
    );
  // check if pipe was created
  if FHandle = INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE then
    raise Exception.Create('Could not create PIPE.');
end;

{ TPipeClient }

constructor TPipeClient.Create(aServer, aPipe: string);
begin
  inherited Create;
  if aServer = '' then
    FPipeName := Format(cPipeFormat, ['.', aPipe])
  else
    FPipeName := Format(cPipeFormat, [aServer, aPipe]);
end;

function TPipeClient.ProcessMsg(aMsg: RPIPEMessage): RPIPEMessage;
begin
  CalcMsgSize(aMsg);
  Result.Size := SizeOf(Result);
  if WaitNamedPipe(PChar(FPipeName), 10) then
    if not CallNamedPipe(
      PChar(FPipeName), @aMsg, aMsg.Size, @Result, Result.Size, Result.Size, 500
      ) then
      raise Exception.Create('PIPE did not respond.')
    else
  else
    raise Exception.Create('PIPE does not exist.');
end;

function TPipeClient.SendString(aStr: string): string;
var
  Msg: RPIPEMessage;
begin
  // prepare outgoing message
  Msg.Kind := 1;
  Msg.Count := Length(aStr);
  StrPCopy(Msg.Data, aStr);
  // send message
  Msg := ProcessMsg(Msg);
  // return data send from server
  Result := Copy(Msg.Data, 1, Msg.Count);
end;

end.

A SAMPLE USING UPIPES.PAS

Create a new application and add the unit uPipes.pas to the uses clause.
Add the following Controls to the Main Form


Checkbox: (Name: chkRunServer; Caption: Run Server)

Edit: (Name: edtServer)

Edit: (Name:edtTextToSend)

Button: (Name: btnSend)

Edit: (Name: edtResponse)



Add the private variable:

FServer: TPipeServer;

For the OnClick Event of the chkRunServer add the following code:

procedure TForm1.chkRunServerClick(Sender: TObject);
begin
  if chkRunServer.Checked then
  try
    FServer := TPipeServer.CreatePipeServer('', 'testit', True);
  except
    on E: Exception do
    begin
      ShowMessage(E.Message);
      chkRunServer.Checked := False;
    end;
  end
  else
  begin
    FServer.Destroy;
  end;
end;

For the OnClick Event of the btnSend add the following code:

procedure TForm1.btnSendClick(Sender: TObject);
begin
  with TPipeClient.Create(edtServer.Text, 'testit') do
  try
    edtResponse.Text := SendString(edtTextToSend.Text);
  finally
    Free;
  end;
end;

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