In my previous post I explained the basics of TANGO and why you probably want to use TANGO for development of a distributed system. Now I would like to explain how to build and design a TANGO device server. There are several best practices and even a comprehensive and ever evolving guide you should definately have a look at.
I like to think about TANGO as a thin wrapper around some software object. That means almost all logic and hardware/platform dependent stuff is implemented in the software object which should provide all services the TANGO wrapper needs. Usually you will design an opinionated library supporting your use cases and encapsulating platform, hardware and driver issues and leaves out the stuff you do not need.
The opinionated library has no dependencies on TANGO and can be use in different clients independently of TANGO. The TANGO device classes mostly delegate to the library and manage just the TANGO specific things like device state, synchronisation, allowed methods and so on.
TANGO Server Architecture
As said before the TANGO device that makes use of the software component developed with TANGO in mind contains only short methods doing parameter conversion and some TANGO book keeping and life-cycle-management. The design of the server itself is an interesting part in itself though. Often it pays off to implement several devices in one (or more) TANGO servers that perform different tasks and provide special interfaces to their clients.
For example, a multi-axis motor controller could export one device per axis, so clients can move the axes independently in a natural fashion by denoting the respective axis by its device name. Alongside there may be some controller device that provides access to controller functionality not specific to a single axis like a
stop all axes command. Sometimes it is helpful to let the axis devices talk to the controller and not directly to the component you are trying to expose via TANGO. That way you can for example synchronise access to the component with TANGO framework functionality on the controller device.
For imaging systems like CCD cameras or other detectors additional devices for image transformations, persisting the images or additional buffering may be a good decision. Such devices can be made largely independent of the actual hardware or imaging system which makes for nice reuse and plug-able functionality.
So it is good to think about the different tasks and aspects your TANGO server should perform and separate them into specialised devices. That should make each device itself clearer and enables specialised service interfaces for different clients. Your devices become easier to use and many parts may be even reusable. We try to standardise on device interfaces every time we identify general abstractions. That makes it much easier for the clients to work with your exposed TANGO devices.