June 2010 Archives
June 16, 2010

Arduino Tiny Web Server - part 2

Arduino | Hardware | Open Source

Update (December 30, 2010): Latest version of Arduino TinyWebServer: arduino-tinywebserver-20101230.zip.

Update (December 8, 2010): The below picture of the required Arduino hardware is obsolete. Look at this newer post for updated information on the new hardware.

In part 1 of the Arduino Tiny Web Server I presented some hardware modifications and changes to the Arduino Ethernet shield and the Adafruit Data Logging shield.

In this part I present the Arduino TinyWebServer library or TWS.

TinyWebServer allows you to provide a Web interface to your Arduino-based project. You can get very creative with this, and add a full Ajax web interface to your project. This is possible because it's the Web browser doing all the UI work, while your Arduino board interacts with the hardware connected to it.

I'm using TWS in a remotely controlled projection screen that I'm currently building to replace an existing system. The end goal is to be able to control the projection screen from an Android phone, and let my kids choose to watch movies either on TV or on the big screen. More on this is a later post, until then read below to see this works.

The library has been developed on MacOS X and should most likely work fine on Linux. No guarantees about Windows, but I'd love to hear if it works for you.

As I mentioned in part 1, there are several hardware modifications, as well as software modifications that need to be made. Make sure you have those modifications done to your hardware before proceeding further.

To make things easy, I've decided to bundle the TWS library with the modifications to those libraries, as well as with two additional libraries that TWS depends on: Georg Kaindl's EthernetDHCP and Mikal Hart's Flash library.

After you download and unzip the package, copy the contents of the directory in the directory where you store your Arduino libraries.

The library comes with few examples, look in TinyWebServer/examples. The simplest one is SimpleWebServer, which shows how to write a basic HTTP server with a GET handlers. The more complex one, FileUpload shows how to implement a PUT handler to implement file uploads and write them on the SD card, and how to serve the files in GET requests.

Basic web server

To make use of the TWS library, you need to include the following your sketch:

#include <Ethernet.h>
#include <EthernetDHCP.h>
#include <Flash.h>
#include <Fat16.h>
#include <Fat16util.h>
#include <TinyWebServer.h>

EthernetDHCP is optional, but it makes acquiring an IP address a lot easier if you have a DHCP server in your network.

TWS is implemented by the TinyWebServer class. The constructor method takes two arguments. The first one is a list of handlers, functions to be invoked when a particular URL is requested by an HTTP client. The second one is a list of HTTP header names that are needed by the implementation of your handlers. More on these later.

An HTTP handler is a simple function that takes as argument a reference to the TinyWebServer object. When you create the TinyWebServer class, you need to pass in the handlers for the various URLs. Here is a simple example of a web server with a single handler.

static uint8_t mac[] = { 0xDE, 0xAD, 0xBE, 0xEF, 0xFE, 0xED };

boolean index_handler(TinyWebServer& web_server) {
  web_server << F("<html><body><h1>Hello World!</h1></body></html>\n");
  return true;

TinyWebServer::PathHandler handlers[] = {
  // Register the index_handler for GET requests on /
  {"/", TinyWebServer::GET, &index_handler },
  {NULL}, // The array has to be NULL terminated this way

// Create an instance of the web server. No HTTP headers are requested
// by the HTTP request handlers.
TinyWebServer web = TinyWebServer(handlers, NULL);

void setup() {

void loop() {

In the loop() function we need the call to the process() to make sure HTTP requests are serviced. If there is no new request, the method returns immediately. Otherwise the process() method blocks until the request is handled.

For a complete working example look in TinyWebServer/example/SimpleWebServer.

Serving files from the SD card

Now that we've seen the basics, let's see how we can extend this web server to serve files stored on the SD card. The idea is to register a handler that serves any URLs. Once the handler is invoked, it interprets the URL path as a file name on the SD card and returns that.

boolean file_handler(TinyWebServer& web_server) {
  char* filename = TinyWebServer::get_file_from_path(web_server.get_path());
  if (!filename) {
    web_server << "Could not parse URL";
  } else {
    TinyWebServer::MimeType mime_type
      = TinyWebServer::get_mime_type_from_filename(filename);
    web_server.send_error_code(mime_type, 200);
    if (file.open(filename, O_READ)) {
    } else {
      web_server << "Could not find file: " << filename << "\n";
  return true;

We can now register this in the handlers array:

TinyWebServer::PathHandler handlers[] = {
  {"/" "*", TinyWebServer::GET, &file_handler },

Note how the URL for the HTTP request is specified. We want it to be /*, very much like a regular expression. However Arduino's IDE preprocessor has a bug in how it handles /* inside strings. By specifying the string as "/" "*" we avoid the bug, while letting the compiler optimize and concatenate the two strings into a single one.

The * works only at the end of a URL, anywhere else it would be interpreted as part of the URL. If the * is at the end of the URL, the code in TinyWebServer assumes the handler can process requests that match the URL prefix. For example, if the URL string was /html/* then any URL starting with /html/ would be handled by the specified handler. In our case, since we specified /*, any URL starting with / (except for the top level / URL) will invoke the specified handler.

Uploading files to the web server and store them on SD card's file system

Now wouldn't it be nice to update Arduino's Web server files using HTTP? This way we can focus on building the actual interface with the hardware, and provide just enough HTTP handlers to interact with it. After we implement a minimal user interface, we can iterate it without having to remove the SD card from the embedded project, copy the HTML, JavaScript and/or image files on a computer, and plug it back in. We could do this remotely from the computer, using a simple script.

TinyWebServer provides a simple file upload HTTP handler that uses the HTTP 1.0 PUT method. This allows you to implement an Ajax interface using XMLHttpRequest or simply use a tool like curl to implement file uploads.

Here's how you add file uploads to your Arduino web server:

TinyWebServer::PathHandler handlers[] = {
  // `put_handler' is defined in TinyWebServer
  {"/upload/" "*", TinyWebServer::PUT, &TinyWebPutHandler::put_handler },
  {"/" "*", TinyWebServer::GET, &file_handler },

Note that the order in which you declare the handlers is important. The URLs are matched in the order in which they are declared.

This is where the headers array mentioned before comes into picture. The put_handler makes use of the Content-Length. To avoid unnecessary work and minimize precious memory usage, TinyWebServer does not do any header processing unless it's instructed. To do so, you need to declare an array of header names your handlers are interested in. In this case, we need to add Content-Length.

const char* headers[] = {

And we now initialize the instance of TinyWebServer like this:

TinyWebServer web = TinyWebServer(handlers, headers);

The put_handler method is really generic, it doesn't actually implement the code to write the file to disk. Instead the method relies on a user provided function that implements the actual logic. This allows you to use a different file system implementation than Fat16 or do something totally different than write the file to disk.

The user provided function take 4 parameters. The first is a reference to the TinyWebServer instance. The second is a PutAction enum which could be either START, WRITE or END. START and END are called exactly once during a PUT handler's execution, while WRITE is called multiple times. Each time the function is called with the WRITE param, the third and fourth parameters are set to a buffer and a number of bytes in this buffer that should be used.

Here is a small example of a user provided function that writes the PUT request's content to a file:

void file_uploader_handler(TinyWebServer& web_server,
			   TinyWebPutHandler::PutAction action,
			   char* buffer, int size) {
  static uint32_t start_time;

  switch (action) {
  case TinyWebPutHandler::START:
    start_time = millis();
    if (!file.isOpen()) {
      // File is not opened, create it. First obtain the desired name
      // from the request path.
      char* fname = web_server.get_file_from_path(web_server.get_path());
      if (fname) {
	Serial << "Creating " << fname << "\n";
	file.open(fname, O_CREAT | O_WRITE | O_TRUNC);

  case TinyWebPutHandler::WRITE:
    if (file.isOpen()) {
      file.write(buffer, size);

  case TinyWebPutHandler::END:
    Serial << "Wrote " << file.fileSize() << " bytes in "
	   << millis() - start_time << " millis\n";

To activate this user provided function, assign its address to put_handler_fn, like this:

void setup() {
  // ...

  // Assign our function to `upload_handler_fn'.
  TinyWebPutHandler::put_handler_fn = file_uploader_handler;

  // ...

You can now test uploading a file using curl:

curl -0 -T index.htm http://my-arduino-ip-address/upload

For a complete working example of the file upload and serving web server, look in TinyWebServer/examples/FileUpload.

Advanced topic: persistent HTTP connections

Sometimes it's useful to have an HTTP client start a request. For example, I need to be able to enter an IR learning process. This means that I cannot afford TinyWebServer's process() to block while serving my /learn request that initiated the IR learning process. Instead I want the handler of the /learn request to set a variable in the code that indicates that IR learning is active, and then return immediately.

If you noticed the HTTP handlers return a boolean. If the returned value is true, as it was the case in our examples above, the connection to the HTTP client is closed immediately. If the returned value is false the connection is left open. Your handler should save the Client object handling the HTTP connection with the original request. Your code becomes responsible with closing it when it's no longer needed.

To obtain the Client object, use the get_client() method while in the HTTP handler. You can write asynchronously to the client, to update it with the state of the web server.

In my remotely controlled projection screen application, I have another handler on /cancel that closes the /learn client forcibly. Otherwise the /learn's Client connection is closed at the end of the IR learning procedure. Since the Ethernet shield only allows for 4 maximum HTTP clients open at the same time (because of 4 maximum client sockets), in my application I allow only one /learn handler to be active at any given time.

Posted by ovidiu at 01:56 PM | Comments (15) |
June 15, 2010

Arduino Tiny Web Server - part 1

Arduino | Hardware | Open Source

Update (December 8, 2010): The below information of the required Arduino hardware is obsolete and left here for informational purposes. Look at this newer post for updated information on the new hardware.

Arduino TinyWebServer is a small and extensible HTTP server implementation designed to run in a limited amount of space on an Arduino Duemilanove. It uses the Ethernet Shield for network connectivity (from Sparkfun or from Adafruit), and the Adafruit Data Logging shield for storage purposes.

Web pages, images and other content can be copied manually on the SD card or uploaded through the HTTP server. The latter allows you to push new versions of the web server's content without the need to remove the card, which can be a pain in embedded applications.

In the first part I present some changes that have to be made to the hardware used and its accompanying software. Part two presents a small open source software library that implements the Arduino TinyWebServer.

Hardware modifications: Data Logging shield

The hardware shields need few modifications in order to work together. The cards were designed to work independently and use the default pins allocated on the hardware SPI bus (the CS, MOSI, MISO and SCK lines on the 10, 11, 12, 13 pins on an Arduino Duemilanove). When stacking the boards together they'd end up in a bus conflict and they won't work.

The conflict is solved by having the two boards use different CS pins. They can still share the MOSI, MISO and SCK lines, and if it wasn't for a buggy chip on the Ethernet shield, we'd have ended up using only 5 total digital I/O pins for the whole setup. See below for more info.

To make things easy, I chose to use a different CS pin for the Adafruit Data Logging shield: I use pin 9 as the CS pin. For this to work, first make sure you cut out the original trace that goes to pin 10, as in the picture below.

The Data Logging shield board comes unassembled. After you solder all the components on it, run a wire from the CS pin to pin 9, as shown in the picture below.

Hardware modifications: Ethernet shield

The Ethernet shield uses a Wiznet W5100 chip, which has a buggy hardware SPI implementation. In a post on Adafruit's forum, jaredforshey pointed me to this Arduino playground page which points to an easy way to fix this.

The proposed solution disables the chip' SPI part when not in use. This is done by connecting pin 8 to the lower PAD on the board, as shown below. At the same time, make sure you cut the trace leading from pin 8. This bug ends up costing us another pin, for a total of 6 I/O pins for the whole setup.

Software modifications: Fat16 library

To read and write files on an SD card, we need to be able to access a file system on the SD card. There are two main file systems used on SD cards: FAT16 and FAT32. The main differences between them are the maximum card sizes supported and more importantly, file naming conventions. FAT16 allows only the old 8.3 DOS file format and cards up to 2GB.

Arduino supports both file systems on SD cards using either of these libraries: Fat16 or SdFat. For all its limitations, FAT16' library is smaller that FAT32, so I decided to go with it.

Our Data Logging shield uses pin 9 as the CS pin. The FAT16 library assumes the CS pin used in pin 10, so we need to modify that in the code. For Arduino Duemilanove, the definition of SPI_SS_PIN in SdCard.h needs to change from 10 to 9.

Software modifications: Arduino's Ethernet library

The Ethernet library shipped with the Arduino 018 package has a bug. In the Client class in Client.h, the read() method does not differentiate between an 0xFF byte and the Ethernet hardware not having data available. This is not usually a problem if all you serve through the Web server are text files, including HTML. However for any binary file, including images, zip files etc. this however is a problem.

To fix this problem, I've added two more methods to the Client class:

  int read(uint8_t* ch);
  int read(uint8_t *buf, size_t size);

The first reads a character and puts its value at the address pointed to by ch. The method returns 1 if it succeeded reading a character, 0 otherwise (as when there is no data available). The second method fills in the value of buf with as many characters as it can, up to size. It returns the number of characters it was able to read, or 0 if none were read. Here is how they're implemented:

int16_t Client::read(uint8_t *ch) {
  if (!connected() || !available()) {
    return 0;
  return recv(_sock, ch, 1);

int16_t Client::read(uint8_t *buf, uint16_t size) {
  uint16_t i;
  for (i = 0; i < size; i++) {
    if (!read(buf + i)) {
  return i;

The second change to the Ethernet library is in utility/spi.h, to fix the hardware bug with the Wiznet chip. This change is described on the Arduino playground page.

Posted by ovidiu at 03:31 PM | Comments (2) |
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