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1 Managing Connections

Because OPeNDAP uses a communication protocol (http) that does not maintain state information about the link between two processes, these connections are virtual, and all the information about them is maintained by the client. Libdap contains two classes to help clients manage connections to one or more OPeNDAP servers. One class, Connect, stores information used when a connection is established. It also allows a program to provide local access to data (without a OPeNDAP data server).

The second class, Connections, manages instances of the Connect class. It provides a mechanism for the client libraries to pass back to user programs the type of object (such as int, opaque pointer, dots) they expect and then to use one of those objects to access the correct instance of Connect . Connections is a template class. That is, a client library uses the Connections class to make an array of some sub-class of Connect.

1.1 Connect

The Connect class manages a connection to either a remote data set, via an OPeNDAP data server, or a local access. For each data set or file that the user program opens, there must be exactly one instance of Connect. Because information needed for local access is stored in an instance of Connect, this class may also be used (sub-classed) for each client API that needs to maintain additional information about the connection.

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The Connect Class

The Connect class is illustrated in above. These objects contain the following information:

The URL with which the client library opens the connection with the OPeNDAP server.
The DDS of the opened dataset. This must be retrieved from the dataset.
The DAS of the opened dataset. This must be retrieved from the dataset.
The Gui object indicates a graphical widget on the client platform that displays information about the data transfer in progress.
The Error object contains information used to help the client process an error message from the server.

The Connect class provides member functions to get the dataset's DAS , DDS and data. The instance of Connect (or a subclass of Connect) stores the URL as the user provides it.

When the client library receives a URL via its "open" call, it passes that URL to the Connect member functions like request_das and request_dds. These member functions append an appropriate extension (.das and .dds, for example) onto the URL and retrieve the resulting information from the server, the DAS or DDS for the dataset.

If you are re-implementing an API and must support function calls that modify how data is accessed (e.g., by creating array slices or by choosing one of a set of variables), then you will need to translate those requests into a OPeNDAP constraint expression. You would then pass these synthesized constraint expressions to the Connect::request_data member function.

The specialized version of Connect is the place to put state information needed by a recoded API or other client. This can be used, for example, to emulate an API that maintains a list of open files.

1.2 Connections

The class Connections is used to manage a set of instances of the class Connect by providing a means to map an index or opaque pointer to an instance of Connect.

When a new instance of Connect (or a descendent) is created, it is added to the Connections object using the add_connect member function. add_connect returns an integer that can be used to access that instance of Connect at any time. Similarly, when an instance of Connect is to be deleted, the object can be referred to via the Connections object and this index.