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Webio - An embedded web server

By , 20 Jul 2008
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Introduction

Webio is a small-footprint web server, designed to be embedded in an application or an embedded system. It's useful when you want to implement a complex browser based GUI (which can be accessed by everything from PCs to cell phones) in a very efficient manner. Webio compiles and runs equally well under Linux and Windows, and should be easy to port to most other platforms. It comes with a programmer's manual (progman.html) which explains how to use it and how to port it.

Background

In 1996, I wrote one of the first web servers designed for embedded devices. In those days, most embedded devices had no file systems, so I created the "HTML compiler" to embed the files into the code image. Similarly, the lack of a file system led to C-language CGI functions.

Creating basic GUIs with this system was so easy that I started using it in Windows applications in preference to the Windows GUI. Back then, before JavaScript and CSS, it was somewhat limited - for example, it wouldn't make a very good "photo shop" type program - but for basic GUIs, it was great.

As my company started using Linux and Browser-enabled hand-held devices, a really huge advantage became obvious - my new applications worked everywhere, not just on Windows. The user was not tied on one OS or one type of device. They didn't even have to be near the machine running the application.

In 2007, I needed a similar server for an open-source project. I had left the previous company, which still retained the rights to the my old server. They wouldn't open source it, and nothing suitable was available in the public domain. I decided to create a second generation version of the server and release it under the BSD license so I would never have to write it again.

The result is Webio - my second (and hopefully last) embedded web server.

Using the code

The Windows version is probably of most interest to CodeProject readers, and so the .zip file is made available here. Follow these steps:

  1. Unzip it (preserving the directory structure).
  2. Type buildfs to compile the embedded file system.
  3. Open the project file with Visual C++ 6.0 or newer, and click Build.

You should get a little application which, when run, allows your PC to act as a web server - point a browser at it. You can do this in loopback by typing "http://127.1" in your browser's location bar.

Points of interest

Webio has a few improvements over my first embedded web server:

  • The "HTML compiler" is now a full-fledged file system builder, designed from the group up to generate not only file images in your C code, but also generate code for C-language CGI.
  • The server buffers all code-generated output, allowing accurate Content-Length fields on files with variable sized SSIs.
  • A fast path for binary files improves performance.
  • Portability across Windows/Linux/Embedded systems is enhanced.

History

  • July 2008 - First public release.
  • July 27th - Updated, call this release 1.1. Changes:
    • Added command line option to set the HTTP port (default is still 80).
    • Error message is more helpful if another web server already has port 80.
    • Fixed some typos and omissions in the manual.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The BSD License

About the Author

jbartas
Chief Technology Officer praemio.com
United States United States
See my bio here:
 
http://www.bartas.net/resume.htm

Comments and Discussions

 
Questionfsbuild sources PinmemberMember 103219549-Oct-13 20:39 
QuestionWebIO Upgrade? PinmemberCleveland Mark Blakemore12-Sep-13 16:35 
QuestionLinks are dead again...No Makefile in the current download? PinmemberCraig L Soucie20-Nov-12 10:12 
Questionpush Pinmembersteve vreeland9-Apr-12 4:43 
QuestionJBartas In Supermax Doing Chinups PinmemberCleveland Mark Blakemore8-Mar-12 19:31 
AnswerRe: JBartas In Supermax Doing Chinups Pinmemberjbartas9-Mar-12 7:34 
AnswerRe: JBartas In Supermax Doing Chinups Pinmembersteve vreeland9-Apr-12 4:40 
QuestionSo awesome PinmemberCleveland Mark Blakemore24-Jan-12 20:05 
QuestionUpdate and new site for official sources Pinmemberjbartas31-Dec-11 15:58 
SuggestionCache flag -c support in fsbuilder.exe [modified] PinmemberMember 156850622-Nov-11 1:10 
QuestionBuilding webio for Linux PinmemberPeter Dickinson8-Sep-11 3:12 
GeneralA couple of allocation/free bugs Pinmemberjbartas17-Sep-10 13:44 
Questionmultiple user/password request Pinmemberpbisiac15-Apr-10 9:40 
AnswerRe: multiple user/password request Pinmemberjbartas18-Apr-10 16:34 
GeneralRe: multiple user/password request Pinmemberrcl18-Feb-11 9:09 
SuggestionRe: multiple user/password request PinmemberMember 15685064-Nov-11 0:37 
GeneralSegmentation fault Pinmemberbiana26-Nov-09 21:02 
GeneralRe: Segmentation fault [modified] Pinmemberlxlxlx15-Jun-10 2:14 
GeneralHeap failure after some time Pinmemberpbisiac4-Nov-09 5:22 
GeneralRe: Heap failure after some time Pinmemberjbartas5-Nov-09 6:47 
AnswerRe: Heap failure after some time Pinmemberpbisiac9-Nov-09 7:04 
GeneralRe: Heap failure after some time Pinmemberjbartas15-Nov-09 16:40 
Yup, looks like a leak. Sorry about that.
I'm pretty sure the form is a linked list, so I'll have to come with some code that traverses the list, free()ing memory as it goes. What you've posted should be OK for pages with only one form.
I finally have the code on a public SVN server - I'll check in these fixes and publish the link in a note here as soon permissions are set up.
 
Thanks for the fix,
 
-JB-
GeneralRe: Heap failure after some time PinmemberPanuO19-Apr-10 1:34 
Generalwi_putfile Pinmemberpbisiac8-Jul-09 21:20 
GeneralFile buffering and embedded system Pinmemberpbisiac7-Jul-09 6:03 
GeneralRe: File buffering and embedded system Pinmemberjbartas7-Jul-09 18:32 
GeneralRe: File buffering and embedded system Pinmemberpbisiac7-Jul-09 21:06 
GeneralRe: File buffering and embedded system Pinmemberpbisiac8-Jul-09 20:28 
GeneralRe: File buffering and embedded system Pinmemberjbartas9-Jul-09 8:21 
GeneralADDR_ABORT ARM exception on multiple GET Pinmemberpbisiac3-Jul-09 5:22 
GeneralRe: ADDR_ABORT ARM exception on multiple GET Pinmemberpbisiac3-Jul-09 6:06 
GeneralRe: ADDR_ABORT ARM exception on multiple GET Pinmemberjbartas6-Jul-09 7:25 
Generalwi_putfile Pinmemberpbisiac2-Jul-09 6:27 
QuestionWhat about AJAX ? Pinmemberpbisiac26-Jun-09 2:37 
AnswerRe: What about AJAX ? Pinmemberjbartas1-Jul-09 7:11 
GeneralRe: What about AJAX ? Pinmemberpbisiac2-Jul-09 20:58 
GeneralThanks PinmemberZaqro26-Jun-09 0:25 
GeneralMakefile for Linux Pinmemberjbartas11-May-09 8:36 
GeneralCompiling with Linux Pinmemberel06b15027-Apr-09 22:29 
GeneralRe: Compiling with Linux Pinmemberjbartas11-May-09 8:21 
GeneralRe: Compiling with Linux PinmemberMember 14030153-Sep-09 1:10 
GeneralRe: Compiling with Linux PinmemberMember 362026328-Nov-09 5:57 
QuestionWhy don't you add webio to wiki? Pinmembersoltan1-Dec-08 21:45 
GeneralReturning file with a dynamically generated URL Pinmemberasamama14-Nov-08 2:59 
QuestionCould we please have this wonderfule cWebio ? PinmemberMicroImaging24-Oct-08 12:29 
AnswerRe: Could we please have this wonderfule cWebio ? Pinmemberravenspoint24-Nov-08 16:57 
GeneralA new release is ready. Pinmemberjbartas5-Oct-08 13:43 
GeneralWt -> webtoolkit.eu Pinmemberpgquiles13-Sep-08 1:23 
GeneralLink error PinmemberNagrom28-Jul-08 3:02 
GeneralRe: Link error Pinmemberjbartas29-Jul-08 5:31 

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