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15.10 System Services Protocol (SSP)

The purpose of the System Services protocol (SSP) is described in 'What is SSP?'

Planning phase

Idea: Joakim Högberg
Server Code and this Specification: Olaf Piesche

CCurrently involved in specification, planning and future first implementations:

Joakim Högberg (AtarICQ)
Lonny Pursell (AtarIRC)
Olaf Piesche(Smurf)
Odd Skancke (TextView)
Jo Even Skarstein (TaskBar)
Ralph Lowinski (GuiTar)
Rafal Kawecki (WAP-Browser, ArchView)
Dan Ackermann (mICQ, AtarICQ-Overlay)
Jan Krivanek (Atack) (aMail, aFTP)
Erik Häll (MyMail)
Martin Elsässer (ACSPro)
Denis Huguet FalcAmp

Emailed people (got the spec, waiting for reply):

Joachim Fornallaz (GEMSetup)

News

UPDATED to V0.9: Nov. 17th, 2000 (see changes!)

Dec. 9th, 4:39pm
Martin Elsässer has announced interest to implement SSP in ACSPro. That means that all applications constructed with ACSPro could support basic SSP functionality from the start!

Nov. 17th, 1:46pm
AES message definitions added. Basically the protocol is ready.

Just decided that the Server will feature 2 different debug modes. Because it will take a short while until we have implemented the protocol, it might be difficult to find out if the protocol is implemented correctly in terms of how SPAs and SRAs react to different messages. The standard debug mode will feature output and logging of incoming and sent messages and their parameters, but this doesn't show the reaction of SPAs and SRAs to different messages, if the protocol implementation in these applications is not finished. This will be solved by the Server providing an extended debug mode in which it can simulate both SRAs and SPAs, additionally to the logging.

SPA programers: you'll get a dialog window in which you can send different service requests directly from the Server, as if another application requested a service (SRA simulation).

SRA programmers: You'll have display in the same dialog window showing different requests coming in, and the Server will simulate being an SPA and sending back acknowledgement (SPA simulation) including simulation of Service Initialization and DRS delays.

The debug modes will not be available in the first official release version, to keep the Server code small and efficient.

About this spec

Welcome to the online SSP specs ;)

I want to ask everybody involved to tell me if you send the specs to somebody else, so that we can keep track of things and I can send updates to everybody.

Target for V1.0 is an as complete as possible spec of Send File, Display Message, Send Message, Status Display, Context Popup, Compress File and Display Information Services.

These are the services that will be primarily used by the currently involved applications.

Changes to the spec will be listed on the 'SSP changes' page.

Everybody involved is encouraged to come up with suggestions, improvement, criticism and anything else you can come up with. There are 2 reasons for not specifying SSP alone and releasing it then. One is, this way we have a broad base of applications supporting the protocol at release time already, which will increase the acceptance of it on the side of the users, and hence also on the side of developers. The other reason, just as, if not more important, is that this way not only ideas of one or two persons flow into the project, but of a variety of developers working on all different kinds of software. That'll make SSP more versatile and flexible and make it take several different points of view into account. Read SSP changes for everything else ;)

15.10.1 SSP changes

Specification changes as of Nov. 17th, 2000

Specification changes as of Nov. 9th, 2000

Specification changes as of Nov. 7th, 2000

Specification changes as of Nov. 6th, 2000

Specification changes as of Nov. 4th, 2000

Specification changes as of Nov. 3rd, 2000

15.10.2 What is SSP?

SSP is an approach to make functionality of different applications useable throughout the whole system. All applications are targeted, although networking applications will probably benefit most quickly. SSP is a Client-Server architecture. The SSP-Server (background application) has globally registered applications providing different services (service providing applications or SPAs). Service Requesting Applications (SRAs) can use the SPA's services for their own documents.

Example:

Possible services and registered applications are held in different configuration files on the Server side. When new applications want to be registered, it can be done at the first communication between the SSP-Server and the application, or pre-use, by the application installer or config program. The first possibility is for convenience to the user, because simply copying and using a new version of a program would not corrupt the registration with the SSP-Server, since the application would register itself with the Server at startup. Registering with the SSP-Server consists of a short communication in which the program path and name of the SPA and the provided services are sent to the Server. The Server could runtime (when services are requested by the SRA) check for the existence of registered SPAs, which will prevent errors upon service initialization.

What is the SSP-Server?

The SSP-Server is an application running in the background that manages all communication between SRAs and SPAs. All services are hardwired into the Server. This system has been chosen for several reasons:

The Server may install a cookie to indicate its presence. This might make it possible to have the Server run without menu_register, which would keep it more or less completely invisible to the user. This will prevent accidental termination of the Server (by [Control]-clicking on its desk-menu entry) and make it work more as an integral part of the system.

The SPAs have to register with the Server. Currently, the best way to do this seems to be at 2 different points:

a. At the SPA's first time installation
b. At every startup of the SPA

b is for convenience and reliability reasons. Sending a small registration information block to the Server at any SPA startup makes it possible, for example, to simply copy a new version of an SPA over an old one. If the new version supports new services, the Server will find out about this on the SPA's startup and can automatically update its configuration files, without the user having to mess with anything.

The user will have the possibility to switch single SPAs for certain services on and off, for example for the Status Display Service (see sspServices.txt). Registration protocol still has to be specified.

15.10.3 SSP messages

Messagesare currently undefined. Free AES message numbers have to be found and the SSP messages defined.

  1. Service Requesting Application Service Request

    #define SSP_SRASR 0x126F
    SRA -> Server
    
    AES message-buffer:
    
      [0]    = SSP_SRASR
      [1]    = appl_id        - Application ID of SRA
      [2][3] = (long)dataLen  - LONG that gives length of data in the
                                shm-block
      [4]    = dataID         - Data identification (SSP_TEXT,
                                SSP_FILENAME ...)
      [5]    = shmID          - ID number for shared memory file
      Filename for shm-file is u:/shm/[applid]_data[id].ssp
    
      For example, if Smurf has appl_id 25, is sending a file and
      chose id 0: u:/shm/25_data0.ssp
    


    The shm-block contains data to be transferred:
    SSP_COMPRESSFILE: Complete Filepath, including name and extension
    SSP_SENDFILE: Complete Filepath, including name and extension
    SSP_UPLOADFILE: Complete Filepath, including name and extension
    SSP_SENDMSG: Complete text message to be sent


    [4] is important to the Server. Since the SRA doesn't have any influence on the selection of services by the user, the SRA has to tell the Server what the shared memory block contains, so that the Server can decide which services apply to the data, how these services are to be handled and what to send to the SPA, especially when combining services.

    This is all the SRA has to do. The Server will open popups/dialog windows for choosing possible services and service providing applications - open shared memory file with Fcreate and Fcntl, Fclose - send SRASR message to SSP-Server

  2. Server Service Initialization Request

    #define SSP_SSIR 0x1270
    Server -> SPA
    
    AES message-buffer:
    
      [0] = SSP_SSIR
      [1] = requestID - ID of Server request (SSP_RECIPIENTS, SSP_COMPRESSFORMAT...)
      [2] = sessionID - ID of SSP session
      Filename for shm-file is u:/shm/[applID]_init[sessionID].ssp
    


    For example, if aICQ is to send a file to another user, [1] will contain SSP_RECIPIENTS. aICQ is then to open an shm-file with the name built by the above conventions: u:/shm/32_init0.ssp (given aICQs appl_id is 32), containing a list of recipients (nicknames) separated by CRLF terminated by NULL. requestID will only contain values for possible services for the SPA, as transmitted to the Server upon SSP initialization (e.g. aICQ will only receive SSP_RECIPIENTS for SSP_SENDFILE and SSP_SENDMSG). The SPA has to respond with SSP_SPASI.

  3. Service Providing Application Service Initialization

    #define SSP_SPASI 0x1271
    SPA -> Server
    
    AES message-buffer:
    
      [0] = SSP_SPASI
      [1] = sessionID - ID of SSP session as given in SSP_SSIR
    


    The Server holds the status of each session and can hence determine by the sessionID the name of the shm-file to open and the type of data that it contains.

    In the SSP_SENDFILE / SSP_RECIPIENTS case, the Server will retrieve the list of recipients from the file and open a popup/dialog, listing them. After the user picks a recipient, the SPA will receive SSP_SSUR:

  4. Server Service Use Request

    #define SSP_SSUR 0x1272
    Server -> SPA
    
    AES message-buffer:
    
      [0]    = SSP_SSUR
      [1]    = serviceID    - ID of service (e.g. SSP_SENDFILE)
      [2]    = sessionID    - ID of SSP session as given in SSP_SSIR
      [3][4] = (long)initID - ID of picked initialization datum
      [5]    = shmID1       - ID 1 for shm-block
      [5]    = shmID2       - ID 2 for shm-block
      [7]    = sspPar1
      [8]    = sspPar2
    


    The SPA can then open the file u:/shm/[shmID1]_data[shmID2].ssp (e.g. 25_data0.ssp) and retrieve the data, initID is the number of the initialization datum chosen by the user, for a ICQ sendfile it would be the number of the recipient out of the list it transmitted in SSP_SPASI. 1 would be the first recipient, n the n-th.

    The shm file contains:
    SSP_COMPRESSFILE: Complete filepath, including name and extension
    SSP_SENDFILE: Complete filepath, including name and extension
    SSP_UPLOADFILE: Complete filepath, including name and extension
    SSP_SENDMSG: Complete text message to be sent


    sspPar1 and sspPar2 are parameters set by the Server that indicate what to do. For SSP_SENDFILE, both are unused. For SSP_COMPRESSFILE sspPar1 would be the ID of a shared memory file (u:/shm/cffile[ssPar1].ssp) that contains the filename to pack the archive to.

    For SSP_UPLOADFILE sspPar1 would be the ID of a shared memory file u:/shm/uplfile[sspPar1].ssp) that contains the directory name to upload the file to on the chosen Server (initID).

    The SPA is to copy or use the data contained in the shm-block as quickly as possible, and then send SSP_SPASA back to the Server. After that, the service should be performed (see also Immediate Response and Delayed Response services!)

  5. Service Providing Application Service Acknowledge

    #define SSP_SPASA 0x1273
    SPA -> Server
    
    AES message-buffer:
    
      [0] = SSP_SPASA
      [1] = sessionID - ID of SSP session as given in SSP_SSIR
    


    This acknowledges performing the service and closes the current session. Finally, the Server will send SSP_SSA to the SRA, after receiving SSP_SPASA:

  6. Server Service Acknowledge

    #define SSP_SSA 0x1274
    Server -> SRA
    
    AES message-buffer:
    
      [0] = SSP_SSA
      [1] = dataID  - ID of data shm file as given in SSP_SRASR
    


    This indicates that the service is performing or has been performed, and the SRA can close and delete the shared memory file u:/shm/[appl_id]_data[dataID].ssp (e.g. 25_data0.ssp) using Fdelete.

15.10.4 Services

The services are not directly requested by the SRA, but determined by the Server, from the data identification provided by the SRA in messagebuf[4] when sending SSP_SRASR.

15.10.5 SSP Server registration

Messagesare currently undefined. Free AES message numbers have to be found and the SSP messages defined.

All SPAs have to register with the Server at installation and at every startup of the application. Here's how it works:

  1. Service Providing Application Server registration

    #define SSP_SPASREG

    First initial message from the SPA to the Server.

    AESmessage-buffer:

      [0] = SSP_SPASREG
      [1] = appl_id           - Application ID of SPA
      [2][3] = (long)services - Long bit vector for supported services
                                (see below)
    


    Put your application ID into messagebuf[1]. messagebuf[2]/[3] is a 32bit LONG value that describes the services provided by the application, composed as follows:
    #define SSP_PSENDFILE        0x01
    #define SSP_PSTATUSDISPLAY   0x02
    #define SSP_PDISPLAYMESSAGE  0x04
    #define SSP_PSENDMESSAGE     0x08
    #define SSP_PUPLOADFILE      0x10
    #define SSP_PCOMPRESSFILE    0x20
    #define SSP_PCONTEXTPOPUP    0x40
    #define SSP_PDISPLAYINFO     0x80
    


    Bringing the values together composes a bit-vector that tells the Server which services are provided. Response to this message is SSP_SREG.

  2. SSP Server Registration

    #define SSP_SREG

    AESmessage-buffer:



    shmID is identification for a shared memory block provided by the Server with this message.

    For example, if Smurf has appl_id 25, the registration shared memory block is: u:/shm/25_reg.ssp

    This shm-block provides 4096 bytes of space and is read/write. Copy the full path and name of your application into this memory block, terminate with CRLF and append the long application name of your app (like used in menu_register) and terminate with NULL again. Example: d:\apps\misc\my_application.app[CRLF]My Application[NULL]

    For the special case that your application has changed the long app name in a new version, terminate the application name with CRLF instead of NULL and append other possible old application names, then terminate with NULL:

    d:\apps\misc\my_application.app[CRLF]My old application[CRLF]My newer Application [CRLF]My current Application[NULL]

    Respond to the Server with SSP_SPARF.

  3. SSP Service Providing Application Registration Finish

    #define SSP_SPARF

    AESmessage-buffer:

      [0] = SSP_SPARF
      [1] = appl_id           - Application ID of SPA
      [2] = version as BCD    - Version ID of SPA
    


    Upon sending this message, the shm-block provided with SSP_SREG must contain the full path and name of your application.

    The version ID is a binary coded decimal. For example, for Version 1.0 of your program pass 0x0100. Version 1.01 would be 0x0101, 12.10 would be 0x1210. The version number in combination with the long application name will provide pretty safe identifications of applications for the Server, which will make automatic registration and configuration update possible.

    This message closes the registration session. The Server will take the sent data into its configuration and update existing configurations for this application with the new one.

15.10.6 General Rules

Why shared memory?

Using shared memory for the data and parameter transfer between SPA, Server and SRA has several reasons. There is an ongoing fight about whether to use globally allocated memory blocks (Mxalloc) or shared memory for data transfer. Reasons that speak for shared memory are the following:

15.10.7 Timeouts and error handling

There will be no SRA-side timeouts. Timing out will be handled completely on the Server side, because a) the SRA doesn't know about Immediate or Delayed Response Services, and b) depending on the SPA that might have to be started first, startup time may screw up SRA- side timeouts. Besides that, it takes even more work off the SRA's back ;)

Timing out between SSP_SRASR and SSP_SSA will be done by the SSP- Server, with consideration of startup times and IRS/DRS cases. The amount of time before a service times out will have to be determined once the first Server implementations and protocol implementations on application side are done. Approximately 3 to 5 seconds after possible startup of the SPA should be sufficient for IRS.

The Server will check all errors it can (nonexisting or empty shm- files, etc.). If an error during a session occurs, the Server will send SSP_SSA to the SRA to make sure the shm-file gets closed, and then report the error in an alert box. Timeout for delayed response services will depend on the type of service and on Server-side determinations. For example, If the SPA knows an error occured, it can send an error-message instead of SSP_SPASA. Still, in case of a crash of the SPA, a timeout has to be implemented.

Compress File Service timeouts can be done with consideration of the time between size changes of the archive file, opened and closed files or memory usage of the SPA. If none of the above changes, at some point it's safe to say that some error occured during performing the service (probably a crash of the SPA). In this case the Server could try to terminate what's left of the SPA, close shared memory files, clean up and close the communication session and start the whole thing over (Server-side retry). If that doesn't work, the Server will send @{"SSP_SSA" ignore} to the SRA to acknowledge and make sure the SRA frees temporary memory and closes shared memory files, and then display an error-message.

15.10.8 SSP message pipeline

Every arrow is one AES message. This makes clear that there are only 2 messages (send one, receive one) to handle for the SRA, and only 4 (send 2, receive 2) for the SPA. The majority of the work is done by the SSP-Server. The communication is a request-response scheme, where every message has a response from the messages' recipient.

15.10.9 Defines (SSP)

Provided Services for Server registration

#define SSP_PSENDFILE        0x01
#define SSP_PSTATUSDISPLAY   0x02
#define SSP_PDISPLAYMESSAGE  0x04
#define SSP_PSENDMESSAGE     0x08
#define SSP_PUPLOADFILE      0x10
#define SSP_PCOMPRESSFILE    0x20
#define SSP_PCONTEXTPOPUP    0x40
#define SSP_PDISPLAYINFO     0x80

Services for Service Requesting Application Service Request

Same as when registering to the Server.

#define SSP_SENDFILE        0x01
#define SSP_STATUSDISPLAY   0x02
#define SSP_DISPLAYMESSAGE  0x04
#define SSP_SENDMESSAGE     0x08
#define SSP_UPLOADFILE      0x10
#define SSP_COMPRESSFILE    0x20
#define SSP_CONTEXTPOPUP    0x40
#define SSP_DISPLAYINFO     0x80

Data identification for Service Requesting Application Service Request

messagebuf[4], identifies the type of data for the Server to determine possible services.

#define SSP_TEXT 0x01
The shared memory block contains NULL-terminated ASCII text. Possible services will be: SSP_DISPLAYMESSAGE, SSP_SENDMESSAGE (sends or displays the text directly)
SSP_SENDFILE, SSP_UPLOADFILE, SSP_COMPRESSFILE and combinations (sends, uploads or compresses Text as file)

#define SSP_FILENAME 0x02
The shared memory block contains Null-terminated file path and -name. Possible services will be: SSP_SENDFILE, SSP_UPLOADFILE, SSP_COMPRESSFILE and combinations (sends, uploads or compresses file)

#define SSP_STATUSICON 0x04
The shared memory block contains Icon data. Possible Service: SSP_STATUSDISPLAY
This service will be started and performed without user interaction. The server will, when receiving SSP_SRASR with SSP_STATUSICON as dataID, send a request for SSP_STATUSDISPLAY to the SPA.

#define SSP_INFOBUF 0x08
The shared memory block contains nothing but has to be a buffer with space for the maximum length of displayable information (determined by the SRA) and have read and write access rights.. Possible Service:
SSP_DISPLAYINFO

#define SSP_CONTEXTREQUEST 0x10
No shared memory block has to be created. This dataID indicates use of the Context Popup Service. Possible Service:
SSP_CONTEXT

This makes clear that the SRA usually does not request a specific service. It provides a certain type of data to the Server (and thus to the SPA), and the Server determines which services can be used with this type of data. In case of SSP_CONTEXT, SSP_INFOBUF and SSP_STATUSICON there is only one possible service. The Status Display, Display Information and Context Popup Services are usually used in conjunction.

SRA-side definition of a data-type has the advantage that new services can be introduced and immediately used with a new Server release, without changes in the SRA. Also, the Server will provide the popup menus for choosing SPA and service in context to the data identification. For SSP_FILENAME for example, the popups could look like this:

System Services -> Send File
  Upload File
  Compress File
  Compress & Send
  Compress & Upload

While for SSP_TEXT it could be like this:

System Services -> Send as message
  Send as File
  Upload as File
  Compress as File
  Compress & Send as File
  Compress & Upload as File

AES message definitions

We reserve the messages 4719 (0x126F) to 4739 (0x128D), messages after 0x1274 for future use.

#define SSP_SRASR  0x126F
#define SSP_SSIR   0x1270
#define SSP_SPASI  0x1271
#define SSP_SSUR   0x1272
#define SSP_SPASA  0x1273
#define SSP_SSA    0x1274

15.10.10 How to implement an SRA

Here's a step-by-step instruction on how to implement SSP as a Service Requesting application. All code provided here is also available as sample code in the archive in the file SRAtools.c (SRAtools.gfa for GFABasic, SRAtools.s for assembler). Use and modify as necessary :)

The data identification

An important thing is that the SRA does not really request or distinguish between specific services. The SRA rather determines a dataID depending on the user action, and the type of object the user action leading to the use of system services was performed on, and sends this dataID to the Server. The Server will then figure out which services can be used with the provided data. This makes it possible to implement new services into the SSP-Server using the same data-types without changing the SRAs.

Communication Session

A second concept that should be understood is the use of sessions. A session between an SRA and the Server is started with the SSP_SRASR message, and ended when the SRA receives SSP_SSA. The Server can handle multiple sessions for one SRA and multiple SRAs at a time (up to 32 sessions per SRA at a time, and 32 different SRAs at a time, that's 1024 parallel SRA sessions, meaning the use of 1024 service requests at a time, max).

Every session is usually bound to a certain shared memory block that contains the data necessary for the session. One SRA session always refers to one service request. For this, it is necessary also that the SRA can distinguish between different sessions. Every session has an ID number, which also makes up the last characters of the shared memory filename (shmID passed in SSP_SRASR).

Multiple sessions from your application at a time can occur for example like this:

To implement this, a simple 32-bit bit-vector can be used to determine if a session is active or not. Each bit represents a possible session. Before starting a session (before sending SSP_SRASR), check the bits from 0 to 31. If a bit is not set, another session can be opened. Set the bit and use the index of the bit as the session ID (shmID). This code uses the global 32-bit integer sessionVector as the indicator for active sessions, and returns the next inactive session number, or -1, if all possible 32 sessions are active:

long sessionVector;

int determineSessionID(void){

  int idCounter, noMoreSessions=1;

  for(idCounter=0; idCounter
    if( (sessionVector&(1<<idCounter)==0 ){

      sessionVector |= (1<

1. Finding the Server

The SRA has to find the Server's appl_id in order to send messages. Do this at program startup and store the application id of the Server for later use. This is done basically the same way it is in OLGA:

2. Using a service

2.1 Determining the data-type

To use a service, the SSP_SRASR AES message has to be sent to the Server. Before sending the message, determine the data-type used. For example, if a block has been selected in an editor and the user wants to use SSP by right clicking and choosing System Services from the context menu, or from the editor's menu bar, the data-type (referred to as dataID) is SSP_TEXT. If for example an image file or MP3 is to be handled via SSP, the data-type should be SSP_FILENAME.

For the Status Display Service, the data-type has to be SSP_STATUSICON. This service should be initialized automatically, without user interaction, after the Server has been started, at program startup. See also 'Data identification' for SSP_SRASR for short explanations of the data-types and the corresponding data in the shared memory block.

2.2 Requesting a service

2.2.1 Creating shared memory file

Data is sent in a shared memory file. Whether one has to be created or not depends on the dataID (thus on the service type). There is a unique ID for every shm-file used for each service request, and the name of the file is built by the following conventions: u:/shm/[appl_id]_data[shmID].ssp For example if Smurf with appl_id 25 is sending a file and chose ID 0: u:/shm/25_data0.ssp

The shared memory ID is vital to the Server, because it is used to distinguish between different service requests and SRA communication sessions that are 'alive' at the same time. A session is 'alive' between the sending of SSP_SRASR and receiving SSP_SSA. For example, the user could make your application request Send File Service, while you haven't gotten the SSP_SSA response for the SSP_STATUSICON request. This would make you open a second session, and a second shared memory file, while the session for the status display is still alive.

There are two different ways to handle this: 1. Wait until the SSP_SSA response for one request has come in before sending the second request

2. Keep track of sent requests and received responses. Make an array, the index being the number of the request sent (which can be the shmID as well), and set the array value to 1 if a request has been sent. If SSP_SSA comes in, set the referring array value to 0. Use only indices (shmIDs) if the array value is 0.

The second way is recommended.

After you have built the name for the shared memory file, use Fcreate to create the file. Read/Write access rights have to be set correctly, depending on the request type!

Then, bind the memory block that contains the data (text, filename, icon data, etc., depending on dataID) to the file using Fcntl. Close the file with Fclose. The following code calls the above routine detemineSessionID, uses the returned ID to build the filename and creates the file. The function openSession takes two parameters: access describes the access rights to the memory block, and *memPtr is a pointer to the memory block to share. buildFilename takes a determined session ID as parameter, builds a filename from it and returns a pointer to the static string containing the filename. buildFileName assumes appl_id being the SRA's (your) application ID available as a global variable!

int openSession(int access, void *memPtr)
{
  int fHandle;
  int sessionID = determineSessionID();
  char *filename = buildFileName(sessionID);

  fHandle = Fcreate(filename, access);
  Fcntl(fHandle, memPtr, SHMSETBLK);

  return(sessionID);
}

char *buildFilename(int sessionID)
{
  static char filename[256] = "u:/shm/";
  char tmpstring[4];

  strcat(&filename, itoa(appl_id, tmpstring, 10));
  strcat(&filename, "_data");
  strcat(&filename, itoa(sessionID, tmpstring, 10));
  strcat(&filename, ".ssp");

  return(&filename);
}

The return value of openSession is the new sessionID which can be used to pass to the Server in the service request. The filename could also be stored, but that's not really necessary because the Server passes the shmID that it received from the SRA back to it, in the SSP_SSA acknowledge message, so the filename can be built again to delete the file.

2.2.2 Sending a Service Request

Send an SSP_SRASR message to the Server, filling the AES message- buffer with the following values:

    [0] = SSP_SRASR
    [1] = appl_id
    [2][3] = (long)dataLen
    [4] = dataID
    [5] = shmID

appl_id (messagebuf[1])
This is your appl_id. Make sure to fill this correctly, because the Server will distinguish different SRA-communication sessions by the application IDs of the SRAs.

dataLen (messagebuf[2]/[3])
The length of the data to transfer (32 bit!). For example the length of the string to send if dataID is SSP_TEXT or SSP_FILENAME, or the length of the icon data in the SSP_STATUSICON case.
messagebuf[2] holds the upper 16 bits, [3] the lower 16 bits:
messagebuf[2] = (int)(dataLen>>16);
messagebuf[3] = (int)(dataLen&0xFFFF);

dataID (messagebuf[3])
The identification value of the data you determined, for the Server to find out which services can be possibly used.

shmID (messagebuf[4])
The identification number for the shared memory block (your session ID). This is absolutely necessary for the Server to distinguish different sessions with one SRA.

If the Server is in debug mode (environment variable SSP_SERVERDEBUG is defined), it will print out all information received from the SRA in an understandable form into a window, and write it to a logfile sspdebug.log in the same directory the Server application is in. It will post error-messages and possible suggestions on how to fix the error in both the window and the log file.

3. Closing a session on SSP_SSA

When your application receives SSP_SSA, this means that a service has been performed (DRS), or has been started to be performed (IRS).

messagebuf[1] will contain the shmID you passed to the Server in SSP_SRASR. This makes it possible for you to find out which session the response is for. Build a filename like in 2.2.1 (or store the filename when sending SSP_SRASR) and delete the shared memory file, free all temporary memory you have possibly allocated for the service request, and you're done. The following code uses the above function buildFilename and the sessionID from messagebuf[1] as a parameter to build a filename, delete the shm-file, and clear the bit of the session in the global sessionVector variable:

int closeSession(int sessionID){

  char *fileName = buildFilename(sessionID);
  return Fdelete(fileName);
  sessionVector &= ~(1-sessionID);

}

Don't forget to free temporary memory that you might have allocated to compose the data. You could also store the memory pointer for each session in an array of pointers and implement the Mfree/free into the closeSession function. NULL pointers in the array could indicate that no temporary buffer was allocated (e.g. when you share your internal buffers for filenames, text or other data, directly). This could be done by adding a parameter tmpFlag to the openSession function that indicates if memPtr is a temporary buffer. openSession could then automatically insert memPtr or NULL at the appropriate position in a global array, one entry for every session, with sessionID as the index. closeSession could then get the pointer from the array at the index of its parameter sessionID and perform @{"Mfree" ignore} on the pointer, if it's not NULL. This would automate and connect the processes of opening and closing sessions internally, creating and deleting shared memory files, and freeing possible temporary buffers.

4. The different dataIDs and their impact on sessions

4.1 SSP_STATUSICON request and the Status Display Service

The dataIDs have an influence on how a session and service is handled internally. For SSP_TEXT and SSP_FILENAME, you don't have to worry about it, just go by the above scheme. For SSP_STATUSICON however, there is a twist. The status icon will be displayed by all applications that are switched on for Status Display Service. The service is invisible, meaning it won't be triggered by a user action rather than automatically, on program startup and anytime the status of your program changes. When that happens, and you want to display a different status icon, you have to send another request with SSP_STATUSICON as dataID. All 'on' applications for Status Display Service will then update the icon they display for your application's status.

When you exit your application and have sent a service request with SSP_STATUSICON, you have to inform the Server that your status icon is to be removed from all displaying applications! Implement a service request with the dataID SSP_ENDSDS into the exit code of your application. The Server will then inform all applications that display your status icon that the icon has to be removed.

A nice idea would be to display the download status of internet applications in the status icon, by making the icon a 16 pixel high or wide progress bar. Update the status icon every time enough data has been downloaded to fill another pixel line of the progress bar, and there you go. Memory could be saved, if necessary, by updating the icon data dynamically instead of including a separate icon for every progress bar phase.

4.2 Requesting SSP_STATUSICON will make your SRA an SPA

Applications that provide Status Display Service will usually be able to request the SSP_DISPLAYINFO and SSP_CONTEXTPOPUP services. This means that if you request service with SSP_STATUSICON as dataID, you will probably receive a request for SSP_DISPLAYINFO or SSP_CONTEXTPOPUP at some point! Look at How to implement an SPA on how to provide the Display Information and Context Popup services.

4.3 The icon data

The icon data has to be put into the shm-block as follows:

  mono_icon1 monomask1
  [16col_icon1 16colmask1]
  [256col_icon1 256colmask1]
  [CRLF]
  [mono_icon2 monomask2]
  [16col_icon2 16colmask2]
  [256col_icon2 256colmask2]
  NULL

Entries in [] are optional. That means the SRA has to send at least one monochrome status icon and its mask. The application providing the status display will pick the icon best for the current screen colour depth. The mask data directly follows the icon data without any separation! The spaces above are just for readability. All mask data is 1 bit, as provided by the GEM ICNBLK and CICNBLK structures. The xx_icon2 data blocks are optional second icons for animation. The SPA will read, if provided, both icon data blocks for the current screen mode and switch in 1 second intervals between the 2 icon blocks. This is useful to make status changes noticeable. To make the 'blinking' animation stop, send another service request with SSP_STATUSICON and only the xx_icon1 icon data. Blinking should be done for no longer than 8 seconds, after that the second status display request should be performed by your application to switch to a static icon. The data should be in the regular screen format, meaning you should incorporate possible status icons in your application's resource file, and copy the raw graphics data from the icon objects into the memory block that will be shared, one after another, and terminate with a NULL byte. The icons must have 16x16 pixel dimensions. A good approach would be to have the status icons in every available colour depth in the above format ready in each a memory block, to be able to request the service without having to copy around icon data. That makes the interactions between SRA and SPA quicker and saves the hassle of building memory blocks before every request. Memory saving is not really an issue here, as one icon in all 3 colour depths uses just 512 bytes, so even keeping 20 different icons in all 3 colour depths, and their 2-phase animated pendants, in memory, would only cost 30 kBytes. This can be reduced to 20 kBytes by just keeping the 2-phase versions in memory and inserting NULL or CRLF at the middle position to switch between animated and static versions. Usually it will be less, because 256-colour icons will rarely be needed at 16x16 pixels size. And, which application really has 20 different statii?

5. Guidelines for implementing SPAs

15.10.11 How to implement an SPA

Here's a step-by-step instruction on how to implement SSP as a Service providing application. All code provided here is also available as sample code in the archive in the file SPAtools.c (SPAtools.gfa for GFABasic, SPAtools.s for assembler). Use and modify as necessary :)

Communication Session

Make sure you understand the concept of SSP SPA-sessions. A session between an SPA and the Server is started with the SSP_SSIR message, and ended when the SPA sends SSP_SPASA. For every SPA there will only be one session at a time. Multiple service requests by SRAs will be queued, and sent one after another. This might be changed in future implementations because of not being able to perform another service while a session is active, which is a drawback in case of Delayed Response services.

1. Receiving Service Initialization Request and determining the information type

The SPA (your application) will receive the SSP_SSIR message to indicate use of a service your application provides. The Server knows the services provided by your application from the Server registration, so you will only receive requests for services you actually provide. The message-buffer with SSP_SSIR:

  [0] = SSP_SSIR
  [1] = serviceID
  [1] = requestID
  [2] = sessionID

serviceID (messagebuf[1]) is the requested service. This in conjunction with requestID will give your application an idea as of which information to provide.

requestID (messagebuf[2]) is an identification that tells you which information to provide to the Server. For example, if Send File Service has been requested by the user, you will receive SSP_RECIPIENTS as requestID. Build a list of possible recipients (depending on the type of your application) separated by CRLF, terminated by NULL. If your application is an IRC Client for example, provide a list of online users that can currently be seen in open channels. For an email Client, provide a list of email addresses from your favorites. Provide only users that can be actually reached at the time; in IRC or ICQ, for example, provide only online users. For a SSP_DISPLAYMESSAGE service as serviceID, if your application is an IRC Client, say, provide a list of open channels and open chats.

sessionID is used to distinguish between multiple sessions. For now, this will always be 0.

2. Initializing the service and providing information

2.1 Creating a shared memory file

The information the Server has requested is sent by your application in a shared memory file. Whether one has to be created or not depends on the serviceID. There is a unique name for every shm-file used for each service request, the name of the file is built by the following conventions:
u:/shm/[applID]_init[sessionID].ssp
For example, if your application has appl_id 25 and sessionID is 0:
u:/shm/25_init0.ssp

After you have built the name for the shared memory file, use @{"Fcreate" ignore} to create the file. Read/Write access rights have to be set correctly, depending on the request type!
Then, bind the memory block that contains the requested information (list of recipients, etc., depending on requestID and serviceID) to the file using Fcntl. The following code will build the filename and open an initialization data shared memory file when calling createShmFile:

    int createShmFile(int access, void *memPtr, int sessionID){

      int fHandle;
      char *filename = buildInitFilename(sessionID);

      fHandle = Fcreate(filename, access);
      Fcntl(fHandle, memPtr, SHMSETBLK);

      return(fHandle);

    }

    char *buildInitFilename(int sessionID){

      static char filename[256] = "u:/shm/";
      char tmpstring[4];

      strcat(&filename, itoa(appl_id, tmpstring, 10));
      strcat(&filename, "_init");
      strcat(&filename, itoa(sessionID, tmpstring, 10));
      strcat(&filename, ".ssp");

      return(&filename);

    }

2.2.2 Sending Service Initialization

Send an SSP_SPASI message to the Server, filling the AES message- buffer with the following values:

    [0] = SSP_SPASI
    [1] = sessionID

sessionID(messagebuf[1])
The session ID sent to you with SSP_SSIR.

3. Receiving Service Use Request

When your application receives SSP_SSUR, this means that a service should be performed now.

messagebuf[1] will contain the serviceID also received in SSP_SSIR. This makes it possible for you to keep initializing and performing services separate from one another. The serviceID will be the same throughout one session.

messagebuf[2] will contain the same sessionID as in SSP_SSIR.

messagebuf[3]/[4] will build a LONG that is the number of the information part of all the parts you provided in SSP_SPASI. For example, if you have sent 10 recipients for a Send File Service request, and this LONG is 0, the first recipient in the list is to receive the file.

messagebuf[5] and messagebuf[6] contain 2 different ID numbers for a shared memory file, shmID1 and shmID2. Build a filename like this:
u:/shm/[shmID1]_data[shmID2].ssp For example, if shmID1 is 25 and shmID2 is 0: u:/shm/25_data0.ssp(!nl) This is the file that contains the data necessary to perform the service. The contents of the shared memory block depend on serviceID:

SSP_SENDFILE, SSP_UPLOADFILE, SSP_COMPRESSFILE: the shm-block will contain a NULL-terminated file path and name.

SSP_SENDMSG, SSP_DISPLAYMSG: the shm-block will contain a NULL- terminated string to display or send.

SSP_DISPLAYINFO: the shm-block will be an empty buffer with space for information about your current status with read/write access rights. Copy NULL-terminated text information into the shm-block. The maximum length will be in shmPar1 (messagebuf[7])!

SSP_CONTEXT: no shared memory file will exist. Don't try to open it ;)

SSP_STATUSDISPLAY: the shm-block will contain icon data.

The following code will build the filename, open the data shared memory file and return a pointer to the shm-block when calling openDataShm. The parameter access should be either FO_READ or FO_WRITE, depending on what the serviceID is:

    void *openDataShm(int shmId1, int shmId2, int access){

      int fHandle;
      char *filename = buildDataFilename(shmId1, shmId2);

      fHandle = Fopen(filename, access);
      Fcntl(fHandle, memPtr, SHMGETBLK);

      return(fHandle);

    }

    char *buildDataFilename(int shmId1, int shmId2){

      static char filename[256] = "u:/shm/";
      char tmpstring[4];

      strcat(&filename, itoa(shmId1, tmpstring, 10));
      strcat(&filename, "_init");
      strcat(&filename, itoa(shmId2, tmpstring, 10));
      strcat(&filename, ".ssp");

      return(&filename);

    }

Remember to close the shared memory file as soon as you don't need to read from or write to it any more (before acknowledging the Server) with Fclose! Delete the initialization shm-file when receiving SSP_SSUR and free temporary memory, if any!

4. Performing the Service and acknowledging

4.1 Performing the Service

Depending on the parameters sent in SSP_SSUR you can determine what to do. Ultimately the way your application performs certain services is up to you, and also depends on the type of your application. See 'Guidelines for performing services' for a general direction to go to.

4.2 Acknowledging

Acknowledging a service is done by sending SSP_SPASA to the Server. When you do this depends on your application and on the type of service (IRS or DRS). With Immediate Response Services, you should start performing the service (e.g. open a connection to a user and start sending a file) and acknowledge before the service is actually finished.

With Delayed Response Services (e.g. the Compress File Service) acknowledging should not be done before the service is completely performed (e.g. the files are compressed).

5. Guidelines for performing services

5.1 Send File Service

For online Clients like IRC and ICQ:
When receiving SSP_SSIR with SSP_RECIPIENTS, only provide online users that a file can actually be sent to in the recipients list. After opening a connection and starting to send the file, acknowledge immediately.

For email and news Clients:
In the recipient information, provide recipients from your favorites. Encode the file into an attachment, and open an email editor window for typing in text. Make sure the received attachment and the typed email go out together.

5.2 Send Message Service

For online Clients like IRC and ICQ:
For SSP_RECIPIENTS, provide a list only of open chats or chat channels. Receive the message and post it to the user. Acknowledge immediately.

For email and news Clients:
Receive the message and put it into an email as text. Configurably, post an alert box to provide the possibility to edit the message and add attachments for the user. Only open the email editor window if the user answers this question with 'Yes'. Acknowledge as soon as the user has answered the question. If this security request is turned off, send immediately.

5.2 Display Message Service

For online Clients like IRC and ICQ:
You will not receive SSP_RECIPIENTS. This service can be triggered with user interaction as well as automatically. Decide in which window of your application to display the message. Prefer topped, uniconified, unshaded, visible windows. Do not send the text message over network connections.

For email and news Clients, text editors and similar:
You will not receive SSP_RECIPIENTS. Insert the text message into the currently top open email editor window. If none is open, open one with no recipient and insert the message there.

5.3 Upload File Service

For FTP Clients:
Provide a list of recipients in shm as described here. Retrieve the Server and directory name from the shm-block provided with SSP_SSUR, and upload the file. Acknowledge after opening the connection and starting to upload.

5.4 Status Display Service

Retrieve the icon data, copy it into your own buffers. Display new icon. Acknowledge.

5.5 Display Information Service

Copy information text, NULL terminated, to the shm-block provided. Acknowledge.

5.6 Context Popup Service

Retrieve coordinates for the context popup from the message-buffer. Open context popup in context to the current status icon from the Status Display Service. Make frequently used and status dependend options available in the context popup. Make all information available in the context popup also available directly by your application! The context popup is never to supersede generally available options!

5.7 Compress File Service

Provide different archive types and compression levels after receiving SSP_FORMATS. Use the format number contained in sspPar1 at SSP_SSUR. If sspPar1 is -1, use default format and compression level. Retrieve file or folder names to compress. Archive files to provided archive name and -path. Acknowledge after compression and archiving is finished.

5.8 General

15.10.12 List of prospective SSP-implementing software to date

AtarICQ

SRA: Status Display, Display Message, Send Message
SPA: Context Popup, Display Information, Send File, Display Message, Send Message

AtarIRC

SRA: Status Display, Display Message, Send Message
SPA: Context Popup, Display Information, Send File, Display Message, Send Message

EditorLib

SRA: Display Message, Send Message, Send (text as) File, Upload (text as) File, Compress File
SPA: Display Message

GuiTar

SRA: Send File, Upload File
SPA: Compress File

Smurf

SRA: Send File, Upload File, Compress File

TaskBar

SRA: Context Popup, Display Information
SPA: Status Display

TextView

SRA: Display Message, Send Message, Send (text as) File, Upload (text as) File, Compress File, Send File
SPA: Display Message

ACSPro

SRA: Display Message, Send Message, Send (text as) File, Upload (text as) File,
SPA: Display Message
All applications built with ACSPro could provide SSP support generated by ACSPro.

FalcAmp

SRA: Display Message, Send File, Upload File, Compress File

15.10.13 Glossary

SRA Service Requesting Application. This means the application that sends SSP_SRASR to the Server to request use of a service.
SPA Service Providing Application. This means the application that receives SSP_SSIR from the Server to indicate that an SRA has requested a service. All SPAs have to register with the SSP-Server.
Service is a certain part of an applications functionality or capability that can be provided to, and used by, other applications using SSP. Generalized types of services are hardwired into the SSP-Server. See SSP services.
IRS Immediate Response Service. This means a service that requires virtually immediate response to SSP_SSUR from the Server, with SSP_SPASA.
DRS Delayed Response Service. This means a service that requires response to SSP_SSUR from the Server with SSP_SPASA not after performing the service has started, but after performing the service has been completed (e.g. compressing files).
Invisible Service This means a service that is usually triggered automatically by the SRA without requiring user interaction. See Status Display Service.
Interactive Service This means a service that is usually triggered by the SRA from a user action. See Send File Service.
Server Registration All SPAs have to register with the SSP-Server before they can provide and perform any services. Registration should be done once on program installation and every time the SPA starts up. See SSP Server registration.
Server or SSP-Server Application running in the background that receives and sends messages from and to SPAs and SRAs. All communication between SPAs and SRAs has the SSP-Server as mediator.
See What is the SSP-Server?
Message in these documents refers to an AES message received by evnt_mesag (or evnt_multi, respectively). The communication in SSP is based on AES messages.
See SSP messages.
Server debug mode If the environment variable SSP_SERVERDEBUG is defined (!) the Server will log all activity (service requests, message-buffers, shared memory addresses and -files, etc.) to sspdebug.log in the Server application directory, and output the same information in a window, including suggestions on how to fix possible bugs.

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