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Purpose: notes about the stream format we talked about at the RPWS group.

Introduction: first das2streams, then qstreams. qstreams still weren't clean and extensible. This attempts to fix the problems.

T: the type of packet.  For example, stream descriptor, packet descriptor, or data.
N: the packet identifier.  numbers or zero-length string to indicate anonymous.  This must only be positive and less than 1000, or zero length.
L: decimal length.  Number of bytes following the packet.  Zero is acceptable (heartbeat).  999999999 is limit.

The type (T) of packet can be one of:

  • S, a stream header. What follows this will always be a valid stream. (This is the sync capability we revere but never implement.) Once a S is encountered, all Ss can be ignored. This will always be anonymous, so that streams have the magic number "[S||" The identifier (N) indicates the scheme for the stream, e.g. das2stream or QStream.
  • H, a packet header. This is an xml description of things that will be on the stream.
  • h, a zipped packet header. This can be unzipped to become an H.
  • D, a data packet. This is data described by an H with the same identifier.
  • d, a zipped packet. This can be unzipped to become a D.
  • C, a comment packet. This is intended to provide non-essential metadata such as progress information, etc for a stream.
  • c, a zipped comment packet.

Resolutions about the S11 layer:

  • number of packet types should be kept to a minimum. Semantic layers will provide abstraction.
  • one type of compression should be implemented at this layer, since it's possible to do compression regardless of content.
  • stream header serves as a sync so it should be its own type.
  • packet headers describe packets.
  • comments are non-essential metadata that can always be removed, like stderr messages vs stdout.

That's the S11 layer.

Things to think about:

  • repeat count? This would enable multiple packets to be compressed together.


  1. Limits
  2. Goals
  3. Questions
  4. Proposal on Stream Syntax numbers

1. Limits

Length of packet content, 0..999999999. (9 digits) Length of packet id, 0..999 (3 digits) Length of header packet, without content, is 1 + 1 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 9 + 1 = 27 bytes. Characters of packet length, must parse as integer, containing only 0..9 and spaces. Characters of packet id, containing 0..9.

2. Goals

With the old wiki, there was a list of about 12 things we wanted to accomplish with streams.

  • transmit data
  • ac-hoc method for storing data, just like .idlsav files.
  • provide self-describing but readable format. (ascii format)
  • provide efficient means for transmitting data. (binary format, compression.)
  • allow client to sync up with the stream. (like telemetry stream)
  • allow metadata such as progress information to be inserted into the stream.
  • valid stream concatenated with valid stream is valid stream.
  • heartbeats or keep-alive messages: comments allow for this...

3. Questions

  • Can properties be defined in the S packet, indicating stream properties?
 Chris answer:  Of course, the contents of S packets are defined by the
 protocol number.  Put whatever you like in there.

4. Proposal on Stream Syntax numbers

How about the following for a starter protocol index list:

  • 0 - Not a legal protocol ID. (Used to terminate a stream?)
  • 1 - Das1 Packets in this chucking format, stream would only have [D] packets, not [H] packets.
  • 2 - Das2 Packets in this chucking format
  • 3 - QStream Packets in this chunking format
  • 4 - Das2.2 server "in-band" queries
  • 100 - Chunked binary object transfer, a way to send a CDF file for example

? Also the 900 block is reserved for private use.

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