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Posted 22 Aug 2008

"C# Hooks For RRDtool"

, 26 May 2010 GPL3
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C# (.NET and Mono) library provider for RRDtool


NHawk is an initiative to provide a thin, complete RRDtool provider for the .NET and Mono framework. The project goal is targeted at providing a C# interface to native RRDtool facilities through appropriate .NET / Mono object model semantics with the intent of retaining an intuitive syntax that fits naturally into the .NET / Mono paradigm and closely resembles that of native RRDtool. In doing so, NHawk seeks to provide a powerful time series analysis toolkit library that fills a big void in the .NET and Mono framework. It is our hope to provide a toolkit that promotes high productively, robustness, and expressiveness; enabling proficient C# developers to build code interchangeably (and intuitively) with native RRDtool script. It is a NHawk goal to promote productive use by allowing clients to refer solely to native RRDtool documentation resources, and thereby carry a very short learning curve (in most cases, if the developer is familiar with both RRDtool and C#). The example code snippets that follow will hopefully illustrate the basic concepts. Please make particular note of syntactic similarities, and pay special attention to the section highlighting serialization, deserialization, and deepcloning, as these comprise powerful architectural utility which include support for web service oriented applications as well as for generation of, and interoperation with existing (native) RRDtool scripts.


The examples that follow are taken from an expanded tutorial which has been included along with the version 1.0 release of the source code and binaries.

Please note that the example material that follows is derived from a tutorial created initially by: Alex van den Bogaerdt which can be viewed at

RRDtool is written by Tobias Oetiker and can be found at

*** See the end of this document for contact details and information pertaining to development and status of the current code revision. ***

Using the Code

RRDtool Syntax for Defining and Creating RRDs

rrdtool create test.rrd --start 920804400

NHawk (C#) Syntax for Defining and Creating RRDs

RRD rrd1 = new RRD("test.rrd", 920804400);
rrd1.addDS(new DS("speed",  DS.TYPE.COUNTER, 600, DS.U, DS.U));
rrd1.addRRA(new RRA(RRA.CF.AVERAGE, 0.5, 1, 24));
rrd1.addRRA(new RRA(RRA.CF.AVERAGE, 0.5, 6, 10));

RRDtool Update Syntax

rrdtool update test.rrd 920804700:12345

NHawk (C#) Update Syntax

NHawk provides a means to update an RRD by packing expected DS (data source) arguments into an array of type object or string. One of the following C# method overloads should be used.

Note: The version with type object is explicitly casted (internally) to string as the update command is serialized and sent to rrdtool for processing. The intent is to save you from having to explicitly cast (whenever possible). When not possible, you'll have use the string version. Aside from that, both methods are equivalent.

rrd1.update(920804700, new object[] { 12345 });
rrd1.update(920804700, new string[] { "12345" });
string[] args = new string[1];
args[0] = "12345";
rrd1.update(920804700, args);

The (current) serialized update string can be retrieved by calling: “rrd1.CurrentUpdateStr” as in the example below:

Console.WriteLine("{0}", rrd1.CurrentUpdateStr); 

Resulting in the following console output…

rrdtool update test.rrd 920804700:12345 

Note: “CurrentUpdateStr” should be called after each call to “rrd1.update(…)” because serialization is done there.

RRDtool Graph Syntax

 rrdtool graph speed4.png                           
--start 920804400 --end 920808000               
--vertical-label km/h                           
HRULE:100#0000FF:"Maximum allowed"              
AREA:good#00FF00:"Good speed"                   
AREA:fast#550000:"Too fast"                     
STACK:over#FF0000:"Over speed"

NHawk(C#) Syntax Graph Syntax

GRAPH gr4 = new GRAPH("speed4.png", "920804400", "920808000");
gr4.yaxislabel = "km/h";
gr4.addDEF(new DEF("myspeed", rrd1, "speed", RRA.CF.AVERAGE));
gr4.addCDEF(new CDEF("kmh", "myspeed,3600,*"));
gr4.addCDEF(new CDEF("fast", "kmh,100,GT,kmh,0,IF"));
gr4.addCDEF(new CDEF("over", "kmh,100,GT,kmh,100,-,0,IF"));
gr4.addCDEF(new CDEF("good", "kmh,100,GT,0,kmh,IF"));
gr4.addGELEM(new HRULE("100", Color.Blue, "Maximum allowed"));
gr4.addGELEM(new AREA("good", Color.Green, "Good speed"));
gr4.addGELEM(new AREA("fast", Color.Brown, "Too fast"));
gr4.addGELEM(new AREA("over", Color.Red, "Over speed",true));


Note: The NHAWK code line:

gr4.addGELEM(new AREA("over", Color.Red, "Over speed",true));

is semantically equivalent to:

STACK:over#FF0000:"Over speed" 

NHAWK is using the newer syntactic constructs, as the STACK construct as a direct graphing element is deprecated as of RRDTool 1.3.

Architectural Features: Serialization and Deserialization and Deepcloning

All NHAWK constructs are built as composite structures, in which a contract states that each construct must be able to serialize, deserialize, and deepclone itself (see the UML architecture diagram available with the source download). In other words, a higher level construct (such as the GRAPH class) would serialize itself by asking all of its composed constructs to serialize themselves. This is a powerful feature in that it opens up a whole new level of functionality. This includes the generation and interoperation with (native) RRDTool script, as well as ease of use with service orientated architectures such as web service applications. Below we illustrate with an example for the GRAPH class.

GRAPH gr5 = new GRAPH(gr4.ToString(), ".\\"); 
Console.WriteLine("{0}", gr5.ToString());

The above code snippet performs the following operations:

  1. graph object g4 is serialized and passed to the GRAPH class deserialization (promotion) constructor.
  2. graph object g5 is instantiated by deserialing the serialized (string) form of object g4.
  3. object g5 is serialized and written to the console as shown below…
    graph speed4.png --start 920804400 --end 920808000 
    --vertical-label "km/h"
    HRULE:100#0000FF:"Maximum allowed" 
    AREA:good#008000:"Good speed" 
    AREA:fast#A52A2A:"Too fast" 
    AREA:over#FF0000:"Over speed" 

DeepCloning and Why NHawk Has It

GRAPH gr6 = GRAPH.DeepClone(gr5);
Console.WriteLine("\n{0}", gr6.ToString());

Above object gr6 is a (new memory) copy of gr5. Essentially, NHawk is really just a whole load of parsing, and therefore every aggregated class member is either a string or a value type. Value types are deep copied by default, and although string is a reference type, NHawk uses temporary StringBuilders to return newly constructed (new memory) string objects. This could prove useful in many circumstances as it provides for limited preservation of object identity in a object model (shallow reference) which works on premise of not having object identity. Finally, just for completeness, the below code snippet illustrates the usual shallow copy.

GRAPH gr7 = gr6;

Current Code Base Progress: Revision: 1.0

DEF (Graph Definitions) == 100%
CDEF (Graph Calc Definitions) == 100%

RRD (Defining, creating, and loading existing Round Robin Database files).
DS (data source) == 100%
RRA (round robin archives) == 100%

LINE == 100%
AREA == 100%
VRULE == 100%
HRULE == 100%
SHIFT == 100%

GRAPH == 90% (approx. needs VDEF, PRINT Elements)

Current TODO List (for features I plan to implement next).
Timeline: 2-4 weeks. Note: Once the list below is completed, tested and added what’s already be done, then the vast majority of the major rrdtool features will be complete. This is a very do-able project.

  • VDEF
  • PRINT Elements
  • RRDFetch

Compilation Instructions and Library Usage

See the user manual included with the source download.

Getting Started

For a quick start, see the tutorial (included with the source) located in: "NHawk\tutorials\rrdtutorial.en.html".
The source code can be compiled and executed from folder: "NHawk\tutorials\rrdtutorial1_code".

RRDtool can be downloaded from
A good site for Windows and Netware Binaries is
(latest ==

Author Contact Details

Michael Corley


  • 22 August 08 -- Posted revision 1.0
  • 26 May 2010 -- No new features yet... fixed CLS compliancy issue


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The GNU General Public License (GPLv3)


About the Author

Mike Corley
Software Developer (Senior)
United States United States
No Biography provided

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralRe: C# Failed To Parse DataSource.... Pin
motz198829-May-10 23:04
membermotz198829-May-10 23:04 
GeneralVB.NET Pin
Nicohutse26-May-10 2:27
memberNicohutse26-May-10 2:27 
GeneralRe: VB.NET Pin
Mike Corley26-May-10 4:09
memberMike Corley26-May-10 4:09 
GeneralRe: VB.NET Pin
Nicohutse26-May-10 20:43
memberNicohutse26-May-10 20:43 
QuestionColor & WPF Pin
heimdm21-Apr-10 8:52
memberheimdm21-Apr-10 8:52 
QuestionWhy not use librrd? Pin
DaveKolb10-Feb-10 11:46
memberDaveKolb10-Feb-10 11:46 
AnswerRe: Why not use librrd? Pin
Mike Corley11-Feb-10 8:05
memberMike Corley11-Feb-10 8:05 
GeneralRe: Why not use librrd? Pin
DaveKolb14-Feb-10 4:00
memberDaveKolb14-Feb-10 4:00 
That is really great to look forward to Mike and would be a tremendous performance improvement. I think it would be more efficient to do a platform invoke to the C routines in librrd yourself rather than calling some Managed C++ code as that would have to also do platform invoke for calling CRT based code I should think and would add another level of complexity to the process. In any event, platform invoke in-process is still ballparks better than spawning a process for each call and personally I don't think ugly. I found a no longer working reference to something Mark Easton had done to bind to librrd using C++ (probably not managed) and wrote to him but never heard back. I could not find any wrapper Herb Sutter wrote so if you have a link for his stuff I'd love to look at that code to confirm it would also have the same P/Invoke issues as C# would. Since going from the CLR to native code I think this would have to be the case but though have used P/Invoke a lot have actually never used managed C++ much less with native CRT code.

Here is a link to a Java bindings class that possibly may help give with ideas.

Also the RRDSharp project has some nice code in it to convert back and forth between DateTime and Epoch seconds which is nice so that you don't have to come up with Epoch Seconds externally with some sort of manual conversion.

Chris was great and sent me the RRDSharp source and I've played with RRDSharp some and it is well architected but out of date now and it would be better I feel to always have access to the latest RRDTool improvements using your C# bindings. Also missing was the actual RRDTool exe which I feel would be important for non programmers to be able to produce a graph from the RRD which cannot be used by the native RRDTool. I added a few signatures to some of the RRDSharp classes to help make it easier to pass in DateTime values and doubles and changed RRDSharp to allow longer variable names and all that worked but decided overall maybe that was not the best approach since RRDSharp was not being actively enhanced and no non programmer way to graph.

Do you have any timeframe for when you might support rrdlib bindings?

Thanks, Dave
Dave Kolb

GeneralRe: Why not use librrd? Pin
DaveKolb14-Feb-10 5:37
memberDaveKolb14-Feb-10 5:37 
GeneralRe: Why not use librrd? Pin
Mike Corley14-Feb-10 9:12
memberMike Corley14-Feb-10 9:12 
AnswerSmall bugfix - step parameter in RRD constructor Pin
red2paul23-Nov-09 23:52
memberred2paul23-Nov-09 23:52 
GeneralRe: Small bugfix - step parameter in RRD constructor Pin
Mike Corley24-Nov-09 9:59
memberMike Corley24-Nov-09 9:59 
GeneralExisting port of rrdtool to c#: rrdsharp (on SourceForge) Pin
I'm Chris18-Nov-09 0:21
memberI'm Chris18-Nov-09 0:21 
GeneralRe: Existing port of rrdtool to c#: rrdsharp (on SourceForge) Pin
Mike Corley24-Nov-09 10:32
memberMike Corley24-Nov-09 10:32 
GeneralRe: Existing port of rrdtool to c#: rrdsharp (on SourceForge) Pin
I'm Chris24-Nov-09 21:59
memberI'm Chris24-Nov-09 21:59 
GeneralRe: Existing port of rrdtool to c#: rrdsharp (on SourceForge) [modified] Pin
DaveKolb10-Feb-10 10:40
memberDaveKolb10-Feb-10 10:40 
GeneralRe: Existing port of rrdtool to c#: rrdsharp (on SourceForge) Pin
I'm Chris11-Feb-10 6:22
memberI'm Chris11-Feb-10 6:22 
GeneralIssues using NHawk under Ubuntu and OpenSuse Pin
ccdr10-Sep-09 4:44
memberccdr10-Sep-09 4:44 
GeneralRe: Issues using NHawk under Ubuntu and OpenSuse Pin
Mike Corley10-Sep-09 5:34
memberMike Corley10-Sep-09 5:34 
AnswerHiding the command prompts Pin
CylindricalMark8-Sep-09 0:10
memberCylindricalMark8-Sep-09 0:10 
GeneralRe: Hiding the command prompts Pin
Mike Corley8-Sep-09 3:02
memberMike Corley8-Sep-09 3:02 
GeneralRe: Hiding the command prompts Pin
CylindricalMark8-Sep-09 4:22
memberCylindricalMark8-Sep-09 4:22 
Generalcouple of newby questions Pin
tbhanson3-Jun-09 6:22
membertbhanson3-Jun-09 6:22 
GeneralRe: couple of newby questions Pin
Mike Corley3-Jun-09 7:28
memberMike Corley3-Jun-09 7:28 
GeneralRe: couple of newby questions Pin
tbhanson4-Jun-09 4:11
membertbhanson4-Jun-09 4:11 

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