Topics of interest

Strings vs. arrays

Strings in asyn have two faces. When reading and writing data, they behave like arrays. For that reason, autoparamDriver represents them with Autoparam::Octet, which derives from Autoparam::Array<char>. However, unlike arrays, they are represented by asynPortDriver parameters. This means that they are propagated to I/O Intr records using Autoparam::Driver::setParam() instead of Autoparam::Driver::doCallbacksArray().

Digital IO and unsigned integers

asyn only supports signed integers. It may be tempting to register handlers for epicsUInt32 to handle unsigned integers, but that is not the way to go: that type is mapped to the asynUInt32Digital interface, which serves a different purpose — I/O on specific bits of an integer register. For example, a bi record like this:

record(bi, "$(PREFIX):bits_b3") {
    field(DESC, "A single bit")
    field(DTYP, "asynUInt32Digital")
    field(INP, "@asynMask($(PORT), 0, 0x8) DIGIO")
    field(ZNAM, "Down")
    field(ONAM, "Up")

will pass the given mask, which only has bit 3 set, to the read handler. The read handler can then either read the whole register from device and apply the mask when returning the value, or, if the device supports it, fetch only the requested bit. For writes, the handler also receives a mask, and it must only modify the unmasked bits of the device register.

If you are doing “normal” integer I/O, you can only use signed integers. If the device deals in 32-bit unsigned values where all 32 bits are used, you need to use the epicsInt64 type.

Arrays are a bit different. While e.g. the longin record is unsuitable for unsigned 32-bit values larger than 2³¹-1, the waveform record supports integers of all sizes, both signed and unsigned, by setting the FTVL field appropriately. Again, asyn only supports signed types. But because no arithmetic is done by asyn device support code, it is perfectly ok to push unsigned data via signed integers of the same size. They will end up in the waveform record unchanged. Just be careful when converting endianness from device order to host order, or if your driver code needs to do arithmetic.

Connection management

By default, Autoparam::DriverOpts enables the autoconnect functionality. This is useful for the simplest case where your driver does no connection management, or simply does its best to always stay connected. In this case, the asyn port (which is the interface through which records and other users talk to your driver) will always appear connected.

However, you may want to implement connection management to allow the port to disconnect and connect to the device as needed. An example of where this is useful is when the control system has states where some devices are completely turned off. A state machine in the IOC needs to be able to connect and disconnect in the appropriate state transitions.

To implement connection management, one needs to override the asynPortDriver::connect() and asynPortDriver::disconnect() functions, then use Autoparam::DriverOpts::setAutoConnect() to disable autoconnect. It is important that autoconnect is disabled even if you do want the driver to connect to the device immediately. The reason is that asynManager attempts to connect too early, before the driver is completely constructed and the function overrides are in place.

With autoconnect disabled, there are several options on how to connect after the driver is constructed:

  • If you want to connect immediately, call either Driver::connect() or asynManager::autoConnect() at the end of the driver’s constructor.

  • If you want to connect automatically, but only after the records are initialized, do the above call at IOC init via Autoparam::DriverOpts::setInitHook().

  • Do no connect automatically at all, but let the user initiate the connection as needed, via IOC shell command, a sequence program (using the asynCommon or asynCommonSyncIO interfaces) or other means.