Vconnection Implementor’s View

A VConnection implementor writes only transformations. All other VConnections (net VConnections and cache VConnections) are implemented in iocore. As mentioned earlier, a given vconnection can have a maximum of one read operation and one write operation being performed on it. The vconnection user gets information about the operation being performed by examining the VIO returned by a call to TSVConnRead() or TSVConnWrite(). The implementor, in turn, gets a handle on the VIO operation by examining the VIO returned by TSVConnReadVIOGet() or TSVConnWriteVIOGet() (recall that every vconnection created through the Traffic Server API has an associated read VIO and write VIO, even if it only supports reading or writing).

For example, the null transform plugin’s transformation examines the input VIO by calling:

input_vio = TSVConnWriteVIOGet (contp);

where contp is the transformation.

A vconnection is a continuation. This means it has a handler function that is run when an event is sent to it, or more accurately, when an event that was sent to it is received. It is the handler function’s job to examine the event, the current state of its read VIO and write VIO, and any other internal state the vconnection might have and potentially make some progress on the IO operations.

It is common for the handler function for all vconnections to look similar. Their basic form looks something like the code fragment below:

vconnection_handler (TSCont contp, TSEvent event, void *edata)
if (TSVConnClosedGet (contp)) {
        /* Destroy any vconnection specific data here. */
        TSContDestroy (contp);
        return 0;
   } else {
        /* Handle the incoming event */

This code fragment basically shows that many vconnections simply want to destroy themselves when they are closed. However, the situation might also require the vconnection to do some cleanup processing - which is why TSVConnClose() does not simply just destroy the vconnection.

Vconnections are state machines that are animated by the events they receive. An event is sent to the vconnection whenever an TSVConnRead(), TSVConnWrite(), TSVConnClose(), TSVConnShutdown(), or TSVIOReenable() call is performed. TSVIOReenable() indirectly references the vconnection through a back-pointer in the VIO structure to the vconnection. The vconnection itself only knows which call was performed by examining its state and the state of its VIOs. For example, when TSVConnClose() is called, the vconnection is sent an immediate event (TS_EVENT_IMMEDIATE). For every event the vconnection receives, it needs to check its closed flag to see if it has been closed. Similarly, when TSVIOReenable() is called, the vconnection is sent an immediate event. For every event the vconnection receives, it must check its VIOs to see if the buffers have been modified to a state in which it can continue processing one of its operations.

Finally, a vconnection is likely the user of other vconnections. It also receives events as the user of these other vconnections. When it receives such an event, like TS_EVENT_VCONN_WRITE_READY, it might just enable another vconnection that’s writing into the buffer used by the vconnection reading from it. The above description is merely intended to give the overall idea for what a vconnection needs to do.

Transformation VConnection

A transformation is a specific type of vconnection. It supports a subset of the vconnection functionality that enables one or more transformations to be chained together. A transformation sits as a bottleneck between an input data source and an output data sink, which enables it to view and modify all the data passing through it. Alternatively, some transformations simply scan the data and pass it on. A common transformation is one that compresses data in some manner.

A transformation can modify either the data stream being sent to an HTTP client (e.g. the document) or the data stream being sent from an HTTP client (e.g. post data). To do this, the transformation should hook on to one of the following hooks:


Note that because a transformation is intimately associated with a given transaction, it is only possible to add the hook to the transaction hooks - not to the global or session hooks. Transformations reside in a chain, so their ordering is quite easily determined: transformations that add themselves to the chain are simply appended to it.

Data is passed in to the transformation by initiating a vconnection write operation on the transformation. As a consequence of this design, a transformation must support the vconnection write operation. In other words, your transformation must expect an upstream vconnection to write data to it. The transformation has to read the data, consume it, and tell the upstream vconnection it is finished by sending it an TS_EVENT_WRITE_COMPLETE event. Transformations cannot send the TS_EVENT_VCONN_WRITE_COMPLETE event to the upstream vconnection unless they are finished consuming all incoming data. If TS_EVENT_VCONN_WRITE_COMPLETE is sent prematurely, then certain internal Traffic Server data structures will not be deallocated, thereby causing a memory leak.

Here’s how to make sure that all incoming data is consumed:

  • After reading or copying data, make sure that you consume the data and increase the value of ndone for the input VIO, as in the following example taken from null_transform.c:

    TSIOBufferCopy (TSVIOBufferGet (data->output_vio),
    TSVIOReaderGet (input_vio), towrite, 0);
    /* Tell the read buffer that we have read the data and are no longer interested in it. */
    TSIOBufferReaderConsume (TSVIOReaderGet (input_vio), towrite);
    /* Modify the input VIO to reflect how much has been read.*/
    TSVIONDoneSet (input_vio, TSVIONDoneGet (input_vio) + towrite);
  • Before sending TS_EVENT_VCONN_WRITE_COMPLETE, your transformation should check the number of bytes remaining in the upstream vconnection’s write VIO (input VIO) using the function TSVIONTodoGet (input_vio). This value should go to zero when all of the upstream data is consumed (TSVIONTodoGet = nbytes - ndone). Do not send TS_EVENT_VCONN_WRITE_COMPLETE events if TSVIONTodoGet() is greater than zero.

  • The transformation passes data out of itself by using the output vconnection retrieved by TSTransformOutputVConnGet(). Immediately before Traffic Server initiates the write operation (which inputs data into the transformation), it sets the output vconnection either to the next transformation in the chain of transformations or to a special terminating transformation (if it’s the last transformation in the chain). Since the transformation is handed ownership of the output vconnection, it must close it at some point in order for it to be deallocated.

  • All of the transformations in a transformation chain share the transaction’s mutex. This small restriction (enforced by TSTransformCreate()) removes many of the locking complications of implementing general vconnections. For example, a transformation does not have to grab its write VIO mutex before accessing its write VIO because it knows it already holds the mutex.

The transformation functions are: