xAP applications

elcano

Active Member
Is anybody in this community using xAP? I have seen a lot of xAP in UK forums, but even there, everything seems to be developed inside the PCs (1 hub plus several applets).

I have read that xAP is primarily used in RS-232 and Ethernet. Please correct me, but as I understand it, xAP is a peer-to-peer type of protocol (broadcast). In this context, I dont see any value of using it in a point-to-point physical layer like RS-232 because only the receiving device would get the message. You can have the PC as a bridge to Ethernet connected devices but anyway, Ethernet is the typical medium that allows xAP messages to be broadcasted to several devices at the same time (using UDP broadcast datagrams).

The picture of the possibilities is nice:
  • xAP enabled ELK-M1XEP - as the wizard of the house, and bridge to lower level devices (I/O, insteon, serially connected devices like weather, etc.). You can just have a PC here, but I prefer my trusty old M1. :lol:
  • xAP enabled whole house sound system - controlled directly
  • Ocelot with xAP enabled Serial to Ethernet adapter - to control legacy IR only devices
  • xAP Media Players - to play media stored in a huge NAS appliance
What have you seen? Is there a future for xAP? I'm sure that if a few hardware device leaders add support for it others will follow (I understand Homseer already does). Also, is there a competing protocol with potential to be wide adopted offering similar possibilities?
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
Replace xAP with Elk M1 in most of those examples, and you have my setup :lol: xAP can be very useful for sure, but many people have problems implementing (or understanding for that matter) it.
 

damage

Senior Member
i use some xap apps, but i'm mainly an xpl ( http://www.xplproject.org.uk http://wiki.xplproject.org.uk/index.php/Main_Page ) user. here's what i use xpl for:

whole house audio control of my 5 rio receivers using medianet ( http://www.myhap.org.uk ). i can issue any command to the medianet server via xpl to control playback, music selection, etc. medianet issues xpl messages for events (powered on, song playing, etc) so everything knows what's going

xpl plugin for slimserver to send messages for display on my 2 slimp3s. ie, displaying caller id info on the slimp3 display. i also use my slimp3s as a universal IR receiver (received IR generates xpl messages for each button press - on which i can script actions). also issues xpl messages for events - for example - i can start my slimp3 from slimserver, which issues a playing message, which i can use to trigger turning on my amp & selecting the aux input automatically.


xpl tts to direct tts to specific pcs (or to all pcs for a broadcast announcement) similarly, xpl riotts is used to send tts messages to any/all of my 5 rio receivers. (SAPI based)

xpl phone for getting caller id info to distribute to tts and osd (on screen display) devices

xpl voice for zoned VR, every PC running this can do its own independent VR and issue xpl commands in response (also SAPI based)

xpl pcosd to display announcements, caller id info, song info on pc screen. ie sitting in the backyard w/ my wifi laptop, call comes in, display shows up on my pc w/ caller's info

xpl exec to launch apps on a pc in response to an xpl message

i use a few xap apps:
xap watcher to monitor cpu utilization, disk & memory usage

xap mailmonitor to monitor email & display new messages on osd devices

xap weather to grab some weather info

all of the xap apps are bridged to the xpl world where i play using xplhal.
 

elcano

Active Member
electron said:
Replace xAP with Elk M1 in most of those examples, and you have my setup ;) xAP can be very useful for sure, but many people have problems implementing (or understanding for that matter) it.

That's very good - I want to get theer someday if my wife does not suspend my allowance. :unsure:

But you have a star configuration with the M1 as the 'server' and several serial expanders(you have limit on the number M1 serial expanders, too :( ). The idea was creating a peer-to-peer network using ethernet as the backbone.
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
The limit is 8, and I believe it's about to be bumped up :unsure:

I understand what you are saying tho, and xAP/xPL definitely has its use (just look at the examples damage has posted. I definitely wouldn't mind seeing the XEP supporting xAP/xPL messages.
 

Michael McSharry

Active Member
My system is primarily xAP and includes the Ocelot on an IP/xAP connection for IR, IO, and Variables. I'm aware of two hardware xAP devices. One is commercial general purpose IO in the low $100 range from Phaedrus called NETIOM. The xAP app's I've elected to publish are at http://board.homeseer.com/forumdisplay.php?f=747 and includes the Ocelot.

I've done a little with xAP/xPL bridging to make available some xPL nodes. I think either xAP or xPL have equal chance of wider acceptance or lack of acceptance. In my case the specific protocol is not that significant as my development work is focused on improving availability through use of functional redundancy. It is the managmenent of the redundancy that is of interest and xAP-LAN is simply a lower layer to accomplish the information interchange.

You should consider RS232 as a bridge rather than a backbone for xAP. The Ethernet LAN is where the action is with today's technology.
 

elcano

Active Member
damage said:
Either I dont get it or my expectation are too high. The Netiom-xAP is an xAP enable device. It can be connected in the Ethernet network without a PC and can communicate in a two way xAP network.

This XPL Enabled Device page linked above talks about 30 devices/applications and none of them (with probably the exception of Asterisk) is xPL enabled. This page only shows bridge applications that enable you to connect these non-xPL devices to a xPL network.

However, why would I want to do that? If every device is already connected to my PC via serial port, and no other stand alone xPL device is in the ethernet network, why would I want the xPL software bridge to the network? It will be like screaming in the Sahara.

Again, probably I dont understand the concept. Instead of those 30 applications, I would expect to see a similar number of Rabbit or PIC adapters for enabling these devices to be joined to the network. Or better yet, xPL versions of the same devices.

When I said that Asterisk is an exception (in the list of xPL devices that are not xPL ready), is because you can assume that the Asterisk server is a PBX device separate from your controlling PC. You install it stand alone to the network and it can communicate to the controllig PC via xPL. According the the protocol it would be able to talk to other devices in the same network (in addition to the PC), but from the list above there's not any other device in the market supporting this protocol.
 

elcano

Active Member
damage,

Do the Rio players have stand-alone support for xPL (without tranaslator)? What other devices do you know that can do that? I mean, without a PC bridge application.
 

damage

Senior Member
my take on xpl is that it's a common protocol allowing some non-networked and networked devices to interact. the devices can then be tied together through an application that provides a configurator, a scripting engine, etc., in this case, xplhal. this approach is the most cost effective AND the most flexible, allowing the user to create custom VBscripts to handle and create complex interactions with and between xpl devices.

Again, probably I dont understand the concept. Instead of those 30 applications, I would expect to see a similar number of Rabbit or PIC adapters for enabling these devices to be joined to the network. Or better yet, xPL versions of the same devices.

xap/xpl was created by a bunch of hobbyists wanting to network enable devices cheaply and easily. these guys are doing this for devices that they own or have access to. adding pics/etc to devices is too much work & too much support, especially given the number of different types of hardware out there. plus not everybody has the skill to hack hardware.

because of the wide array of schema and the potential for it to change (enhancements/modifications to them), i don't see why anybody would build in actual hardware support (pic/etc) into a device - other than to actually transmit their xpl status. to make it useful, you'd need to build in the ability to customize how the device reacts to xpl messages - that means letting the user program the devices actions. if we do get 30 native xpl devices (from different manufacturers) - are they really going to have the same programming interface/language/etc? it'll just be a mess like it is today. xpl provides a common layer on top of the hardware.

also, not everything is connected to the serial port of one pc. xpl allows devices to be distributed across the network, on different pcs, etc. for example, the barcode scanner on the pantry PC can transmit its info across the network to the HA server, which records what is being scanned in.
 

damage

Senior Member
elcano said:
damage,

Do the Rio players have stand-alone support for xPL (without tranaslator)? What other devices do you know that can do that? I mean, without a PC bridge application.
the support is built into the medianet server. without medianet, the rio receivers would be dead orphaned products since they were manufactured and obsoleted years before they were xpl enabled. medianet xpl enables rios, exstreamers, mediamvps, and slimp3s.

the slimserver software for the slimp3/squeezebox also has xpl support built into the server software.

i don't know of any device with built in xpl support other than some homebrew devices:
http://skybax.rapidhoster.co.uk/~armagh/page74.html
http://skybax.rapidhoster.co.uk/~armagh/page87.html
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
CQC is latently xAP compliant, but it's not been actually 'turned on' yet. The CQC event system uses the xAP message format (and we have an xAP vendor name and so forth.) But we are using it internally now, on our own port and encrypted, to broadcast our events. As soon as we get the time, we will provide an 'xAP Gateway' that will provide a gateway between CQC's event world and the xAP world, so that they can flow both ways (or one way if the user just wants that.)

We aren't much interested in it to control other devices per se, though if that's the actual protocol that a device implements then of course that's what we'd use. But if the device has a lower level protocol, we already have a driver architcture and we'd talk to it directly.

Mainly it'll be for us to do three things:

1. To interact with those devices for whom xAP/xPL are the native tongue
2. To allow CQC to react to external xAP messages as though they were CQC events, i.e. to control CQC from the outside via xAP.
3. To allow user automation logic to send xAP/xPL events to the outside world (i.e. in a non-driver sort of way, just to send some arbitrary event for whatever reason that they might have.)

I'd hope we could get into that in Q1, because we'd like to, if nothing else, start interacting with things like the SqueezeBox.
 

Skibum

Senior Member
Is there a xpl to xap connverter available?

I'd like to be able to get information froim asterisk to HS.

Any ideas?
 

Squintz

Senior Member
Just my $.2

I have been beta testing the ControlThink SDK for some time now and have been spoiled by the power of being able to write my own Z-Wave application in C# .net. I am currently writing an application that will take advantage of CQC's xAP abilities when they become available. The reason I am using xAP is because CQC is written in C++ whereas the ControlThink SDK is written in .net.

My program is a windows service which will accept xAP messages and will send xAP messages. One of the great things I see about using this standard protocol is while I am sending messages to CQC I could at the same time be sending the messages to HomeSeer or any other xAP enabled HA application. So I am taking a z-wave device which allows only one connection to the same usb hub at a time and turning it into a distributed application.

Keep in mind that xAP is nothing but a well thought out protocol which is basically nothing but ascii which follows a standard format. Keeping to this format is what allows other applications to understand what is being sent and received.
 
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