Driver Conventions

Driver URIs

In a BOSSWAVE URI, we use the following standard structure:
<namespace>/...: This is usually referred to as the prefix or the base URI. Drivers will be written to publish/consume data on URIs that are relative to the prefix, which simplifies deployment.
<service name>: By convention, these start with s. (e.g. s.venstar for the Venstar-brand thermostat). A service is a name for a particular grouping of interfaces (see below), and typically represents an instance of a driver. A driver may expose more than one service, and a service may be composed of multiple drivers (rare).
<instance name>: A driver or service may expose several instances of an interface. In the case where there is only one instance of an interface for a service, the instance is conventionally denoted as the underscore character (_). Otherwise, the instances are conventionally given some human-readable name that helps differentiate them. For example, a thermostat service that exposes multiple thermostats might name instances by which room the thermostats are in (note: this kind of naming should not be considered in place of proper metadata)
<interface name>: By convention, these start with i. (e.g. i.xbos.thermostat for the standard XBOS thermostat interface). Interfaces encapsulate a set of signals and slots (see below). Interfaces are well-defined, and a standard set of XBOS interfaces exist here.
signal: is a keyword in the URI that indicates that the name specified afterwards is an output of the driver
slot: is a keyword in the URI that indicates that the name specified afterwards is an input to the driver
<signal, slot name>: this is the name of the signal or slot. These are defined by the corresponding interface.
The details for specific drivers can be found in the git repository of the drivers and in the "DRIVERS" section of this document.

Message Types and Payload Objects

All messages exchanged on BOSSWAVE contain 0 or more payload objects. A payload object is a combination of a serialized binary data blob and a payload object ID number (or PO num). A PO num is a 32-bit number (typically written in dot-decimal form) that represents a combination of the serialization _and _contents of the corresponding binary data blob.
The bw2_pid repository contains the current allocations of PO nums and what they mean. Each XBOS interface defines a set of PO nums for the messages it publishes. By keeping PO nums consistent, consumers of data can easily find the relevant pieces of data in published data.
As of this date, XBOS messages mostly use the msgpack.


The BOSSWAVE URI structure allows us different permission granularities, based on what URI pattern we grant to. There are 2 main flavors of BOSSWAVE permissions: publish and consume. _In BOSSWAVE, an entity can be granted permission to publish or _consume on a URI pattern; for a given URI, the entity is allowed to perform a requested action only if it has been granted that permission on a matching URI pattern.
Note: right now we assume an understanding of *, +, P, C, C+ and C* in the context of BOSSWAVE permissions.
Here are some common permission patterns in XBOS:
  • <namespace>/.../<service name>/*:
    • access to a particular service
  • <namespace>/.../<service name>/<instance name>/*:
    • access to all interfaces for particular instance within a service
  • <namespace>/.../<service name>/<instance name>/<interface name>/*:
    • access to a particular interface of a given instance
  • <namespace>/.../<service name>/<instance name>/<interface name>/signal/<signal name>:
    • access to a particular signal for a particular interface for a given instance
    • Typically only read-permissions are given here (C/consume permissions)
  • <namespace>/.../<service name>/<instance name>/<interface name>/slot/<slot name>:
    • access to a particular slot for a particular interface for a given instance
Using BOSSWAVE's URI patterns, we can grant more general permissions as well; for example
  • <namespace>/.../<service name>/+/<interface name>/signal/+:
    • access to all signals for all instances that expose a given interface

Designing Signals and Slots

When designing a driver, the question of how to divide up device functionality among signals and slots arises. The signal or the slot name is the finest unit of permission granting in BOSSWAVE, so properties of an interface should be grouped into signals or slots depending on how permissions should be bundled.
For example, consider the XBOS thermostat interface. There is a single signal (info) that publishes all state for an instance of the device. We do not divide this data up in any way because thermostat data generally requires the context of the whole device's state to make sense of the data.
However, there are two slots: setpoints, which only grants control over the thermostat's heating and cooling setpoints, and state, which grants control for all available device state. This division exists because being able to change the thermostat's heating/cooling/off mode and override and fan states constitute a much larger degree of control than changing the setpoint parameters to the control loop. We could imagine granting access to the setpoints to more people, and leave access to the full device state for building administrators.