Boost ASIO synchronous exchange on TCP/IP

Let's build a simple synchronous client-server application based on the TCP/IP protocol using the Boost ASIO ip tcp socket. The server waits a connection on a port, as it comes, it writes a message and then terminate. The client connects to the server, reads its message from the socket, outputs it, and then it terminates too.


I have put both client and server in a single app, if no parameter is passed to the main, the process acts as server, otherwise as a client.
namespace ba = boost::asio;
// ...
const std::string HOSTNAME{ "localhost" };  // 1
// ...

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
 ba::io_context io;  // 1

 if (argc > 1)
  client(io, HOSTNAME);
1. Used by the client, when connecting to the server. In this simple example both server and client live on the same machine.
2. An io_context (also known as io_service, but that name is now deprecated) is the first requirement for almost anything in ASIO, so I create it as first thing, then is passed by reference to the client or server function, accordingly to the number of parameters passed to the program.


The following code in the server function throws exceptions deriving from std::exception to signal problems. Being this just an example, we just wrap it in a try-catch and output the relative message.
using ba::ip::tcp;
// ...
const int HELLO_PORT = 50013;
// ...

tcp::acceptor acceptor{ io, tcp::endpoint(tcp::v6(), HELLO_PORT) };  // 1

{   // 2
 tcp::socket socket{ io };  // 3
 std::cout << "Server ready" << std::endl;
 acceptor.accept(socket);  // 4

 std::string message{ "Hello from ASIO" };  // 5
 bs::error_code ec; // 6
 ba::write(socket, ba::buffer(message), ec);  // 7
1. Instantiate an object of the ASIO TCP/IP acceptor, so that we can listen for connections. We pass to it the ASIO io_context and a TCP endpoint, created specifying the version of the TCP/IP protocol to use (4 or 6) and the port to be used.
2. Here this block is executed just once. Convert it to a for loop for a more common behavior.
3. Each client connection requires a dedicated ASIO TCP/IP socket to be managed. Here it is created and, at the end of the block, exiting the scope, the socket dtor would clean it up.
4. The server sits down, waiting for a client to be served.
5. When the acceptor has accepted a client on the socket, the server wakes up and builds a message.
6. The ASIO write call in the next line requires an error code, to be set in case something goes wrong. We won't even check it here, usually this is not a good idea.
7. The message is converted to an ASIO buffer, so that it could be consumed by the ASIO write() to be written to the socket.


It mirrors the server, with the part of the acceptor taken by a resolver.
tcp::resolver resolver{ io };
tcp::resolver::results_type endpoints = resolver.resolve(host, HELLO_PORT_STR);  // 1

tcp::socket socket{ io };
ba::connect(socket, endpoints);  // 2

for (;;)  // 3
 std::array<char, 4> buf;  // 4
 bs::error_code error;
 size_t len = socket.read_some(ba::buffer(buf), error);  // 5

 if (error == ba::error::eof)  // 6
  break; // Connection closed cleanly by peer
 else if (error)
  throw bs::system_error(error);  // 7

 std::cout.write(, len);  // 8
 std::cout << '|';  // 9
std::cout << std::endl;
1. The resolver is resolved on the required host and port, returning a list of valid endpoints on them.
2. We call the ASIO connect() on the socket created in the line above, specifying the endpoints resolved in (1).
3. Let's loop until the full message is received from the server.
4. I have set the buffer size to a ridiculously low size, just for see it better at work.
5. read_some() data from the socket in the buffer.
6. If we reach end of file, the connection has been correctly completed.
7. Otherwise we interrupt the operation throwing the Boost system error we got.
8. Use the partial data received from the server.
9. This pipe character is put at the end of each chunk of data read only for seeing the effect on the read message.

Full C++ code is on GitHub. It is based on the Daytime.1 and Daytime.2 example from the official Boost ASIO tutorial.

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