Embedded Command Processor

pushedAt 1 year ago



A microcontroller friendly command processor.


A wide variety of embedded projects involve a command line interface. The idea is to create a light example of an easily manageable command lookup mechanism. This project was inspired by handling code similar to:

if(cmd == "led")
if(cmd == "servo")

This conditional tree approach becomes tedious to tweak when the number of executable commands grows. cmdproc offers an abstract, easily tweakable command lookup architecture.

How To

Let's look at the problem from abstract to specific. Consider the following code:

  // If there are commands in the usb queue -- execute them.  
  if(UsbComm::usb_queue.get_queue_size() != 0){

      const auto response = CommandParser::execute(UsbComm::usb_queue.get_next_cmd());

      // Respond to the command

      // Remove pending command from the queue

In the snippet above, received commands are handled by a separate process (possibly interrupt) and put into a queue of terminated strings. Leave the reception details to the mysterious UsbComm. In this particular example, I used a USB CDC driver; your commands can flow through any peripheral interface (uart, spi, i2c, etc..).

Suppose the UsbComm::usb_queue.get_next_cmd() returns "servo 180", which tells our microcontroller to set a servo to 180 degrees.

const auto response = CommandParser::execute("servo 180"); searches the command table for a matching token (in this example token is "servo"). In case a match is found, the corresponding command handler is called. Then space separated arguments are parsed into a vector and passed to the command handler (in this example "180"). Finally, a meaningful status is returned ("ok", "unknown command", "invalid args", etc..).

Command Table

Nothing fancy, just a table:

Token Help String Commnad Handler
led set led power [0-100]% HardwareDriver::led
servo set servo angle [0-180]deg HardwareDriver::servo

In practice, each row of the table above is an object of class CommandParser::Cmd packed in a static array. We invoke the HardwareDriver that contains all abstracted command handlers to deal with the microcontroller's peripherals.

std::array<Cmd, 2> command_table = {
  Cmd("led", "set led power [0-100]%", HardwareDriver::led),
  Cmd("servo", "set servo angle [0-180]deg", HardwareDriver::servo)

Adding a new command becomes one line of code added to the command table.

Cmd("new_command", "adding new command is easy", HardwareDriver::unicorn)

Known Issues

I am an aspiring developer and would be glad to hear your critique.

  • In case the command table is long returning help_str as the whole table appended to one string might cause an overflow.
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