Guided Tutorial Programming Topics

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Tags, Messages and PMTs.


  • Learn about PMTs
  • Understand what tags are / what they do / when to use them
  • Understand difference between streaming and message passing
  • Point to the manual for more advanced block manipulation


So far, we have only discussed data streaming from one block to another. The data often consists of samples, and a streaming architecture makes a lot of sense for those. For example, a sound card driver block will constantly produce audio samples once active.

In some cases, we don't want to pipe a stream of samples, though, but rather pass individual messages to another block, such as "this is the first sample of a burst", or "change the transmit frequency to 144 MHz". Or consider a MAC layer on top of a PHY: At higher communication levels, data is usually passed around in PDUs (protocol data units) instead of streams of items.

In GNU Radio we have two mechanisms to pass these messages:

Before we discuss these, let's consider what such a message is from a programming perspective. It could be a string, a vector of items, a dictionary... anything, really, that can be represented as a data type. In Python, this would not be a problem, since it is weakly typed, and a message variable could simply be assigned whatever we need. C++ on the other hand is strongly typed, and it is not possible to create a variable without knowing its type. What makes things harder is that we need to be able to share the same data objects between Python and C++. To circumvent this problem, we introduce polymorphic types (PMTs).

Polymorphic Types (PMT)[edit]

<content merged with PMT page in usage manual>

OK, so now we know all about creating messages - but how do we send them from block to block?

Stream Tags[edit]

<merged with Stream Tags usage manual page>

Message Passing[edit]

<moved to message passing page of the usage manual>