Saturday, February 28, 2015

Setting up a Bonjour (Zeroconf) service name for your Raspberry Pi and accessing it from an Android App

I have written an Android app that communicates to my Raspberry Pi over SSH (using JSch) but the issue is that in the App the IP address of my Raspberry Pi has been hardcoded at - ideally it would be good to be able to give it a local name, something like garagedoor.local - something that won't change when the DHCP assigns a different IP address.

It turns out that the way to do this isn't difficult on the Raspberry Pi and most of work is in changes to the Android App needed to make it happen. I've numbered the steps 1-4.

1. Configuration of your Raspberry Pi.

# Get superuser privileges
sudo su

# Change the host name of your Raspberry Pi from "raspberrypi" to "garagedoor"
# Reference:

sudo nano /etc/hosts            # <== Replace raspberrypi with garagedoor
sudo nano /etc/hostname         # <== Replace raspberrypi with garagedoor

sudo /etc/init.d/    # Commit the changes.
sudo reboot                     # Reboot

# Install the mDNS implementation - avahi
# Reference:
# Get superuser privileges
sudo su

# Update the package sources
apt-get update

# Ugrade the packages
apt-get upgrade

# Install the mDNS implementation - avahi
sudo apt-get install avahi-daemon

That's the end of the changes needed on your Raspberry Pi.

2. Test on either Windows, Linux or Mac OSX that the Raspberry Pi is visible on the network with its new name of "garagedoor.local".

On Windows, you will need to have Bonjour Networking Services installed, which comes bundled with iTunes.
Run a cmd.exe prompt and type the command ping garagedoor.local -- you should get a response from your Raspberry Pi.

On Mac OSX, Bonjour Networking Services are installed by default.
In a bash terminal window, type the command ping garagedoor.local -- you should get a response from your Raspberry Pi.

On Linux, first ensure you have installed the avahi-daemon package.
In a bash terminal window, type the command ping garagedoor.local -- you should get a response from your Raspberry Pi.

3. Using NSD (Network Service Discovery) on Android to resolve the Raspberry Pi's service name.

Browsers and terminal programs on Android won't be able to resolve the garagedoor.local since to do this requires use of either the official Network Service Discovery library (supported by API Level 16 up) or the open source Java Zeroconf library named jMDNS.

In my case, I am using a custom app I wrote to communicate to the Raspberry Pi, so I have decided just to use the Network Service Discovery library.

4. Source code changes needed in the Android App to support NSD (Network Service Discovery)

 (1) Below is just how I decided to implement it, you may want to separate the NSD related code out of the Activity into its own class, but for me that wasn't a problem.
 (2) I probably need to do something related to NSD in the Application lifecycle events of onPause(), onResume(), onDestroy() and onTeardown(). I haven't done that here yet.

4.A. Add some members to the Activity

I added this to my MainActivity but my app is small and so that's all I needed to do.

// Network Service Discovery related members
// This allows the app to discover the garagedoor.local
// "service" on the local network.
// Reference:
private NsdManager mNsdManager;
private NsdManager.DiscoveryListener mDiscoveryListener;
private NsdManager.ResolveListener mResolveListener;
private NsdServiceInfo mServiceInfo;
public String mRPiAddress;

// The NSD service type that the RPi exposes.
private static final String SERVICE_TYPE = "_workstation._tcp.";

4.B. Add some init code to the bottom of the Activity's onCreate() method.

mRPiAddress = "";
mNsdManager = (NsdManager)(getApplicationContext().getSystemService(Context.NSD_SERVICE));

mNsdManager.discoverServices(SERVICE_TYPE, NsdManager.PROTOCOL_DNS_SD, mDiscoveryListener);

4.C. Add the following two new methods to your Activity.

 private void initializeDiscoveryListener() {

     // Instantiate a new DiscoveryListener
     mDiscoveryListener = new NsdManager.DiscoveryListener() {

         //  Called as soon as service discovery begins.
         public void onDiscoveryStarted(String regType) {

         public void onServiceFound(NsdServiceInfo service) {
             // A service was found!  Do something with it.
             String name = service.getServiceName();
             String type = service.getServiceType();
             Log.d("NSD", "Service Name=" + name);
             Log.d("NSD", "Service Type=" + type);
             if (type.equals(SERVICE_TYPE) && name.contains("garagedoor")) {
                 Log.d("NSD", "Service Found @ '" + name + "'");
                 mNsdManager.resolveService(service, mResolveListener);

         public void onServiceLost(NsdServiceInfo service) {
             // When the network service is no longer available.
             // Internal bookkeeping code goes here.

         public void onDiscoveryStopped(String serviceType) {

         public void onStartDiscoveryFailed(String serviceType, int errorCode) {

         public void onStopDiscoveryFailed(String serviceType, int errorCode) {

 private void initializeResolveListener() {
     mResolveListener = new NsdManager.ResolveListener() {

         public void onResolveFailed(NsdServiceInfo serviceInfo, int errorCode) {
             // Called when the resolve fails.  Use the error code to debug.
             Log.e("NSD", "Resolve failed" + errorCode);

         public void onServiceResolved(NsdServiceInfo serviceInfo) {
             mServiceInfo = serviceInfo;

             // Port is being returned as 9. Not needed.
             //int port = mServiceInfo.getPort();

             InetAddress host = mServiceInfo.getHost();
             String address = host.getHostAddress();
             Log.d("NSD", "Resolved address = " + address);
             mRPiAddress = address;

4.D. Make use of the mRPiAddress member where previously you used a hardcoded IP address.

Check that its not empty before using it. If its empty, it means the RPi's name couldn't be resolved.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Anders Hejlsberg: C# stands for C++++

Just came across this today. Previously had heard the association with the musical sharp symbol (#) to mean a pitch higher in tone, but this was the first time I'd heard that the # symbol can also be seen as a matrix of four small + symbols, hence C# stands for C++++, i.e. an increment to C++.


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