UDP Networking

  1. Overview
  2. DatagramProtocol
  3. Connected UDP
  4. Multicast UDP
  5. Acknowledgments


Unlike TCP, UDP has no notion of connections. A UDP socket can receive datagrams from any server on the network and send datagrams to any host on the network. In addition, datagrams may arrive in any order, never arrive at all, or be duplicated in transit.

Since there are no connections, we only use a single object, a protocol, for each UDP socket. We then use the reactor to connect this protocol to a UDP transport, using the twisted.internet.interfaces.IReactorUDP reactor API.


The class where you actually implement the protocol parsing and handling will usually be descended from twisted.internet.protocol.DatagramProtocol or from one of its convenience children. The DatagramProtocol class receives datagrams and can send them out over the network. Received datagrams include the address they were sent from. When sending datagrams the destination address must be specified.

Here is a simple example:

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from twisted.internet.protocol import DatagramProtocol from twisted.internet import reactor class Echo(DatagramProtocol): def datagramReceived(self, data, (host, port)): print "received %r from %s:%d" % (data, host, port) self.transport.write(data, (host, port)) reactor.listenUDP(9999, Echo()) reactor.run()

As you can see, the protocol is registered with the reactor. This means it may be persisted if it's added to an application, and thus it has startProtocol and stopProtocol methods that will get called when the protocol is connected and disconnected from a UDP socket.

The protocol's transport attribute will implement the twisted.internet.interfaces.IUDPTransport interface. Notice that the host argument should be an IP address, not a hostname. If you only have the hostname use reactor.resolve() to resolve the address (see twisted.internet.interfaces.IReactorCore.resolve).

Connected UDP

A connected UDP socket is slightly different from a standard one - it can only send and receive datagrams to/from a single address, but this does not in any way imply a connection. Datagrams may still arrive in any order, and the port on the other side may have no one listening. The benefit of the connected UDP socket is that it it may provide notification of undelivered packages. This depends on many factors, almost all of which are out of the control of the application, but it still presents certain benefits which occasionally make it useful.

Unlike a regular UDP protocol, we do not need to specify where to send datagrams and are not told where they came from since they can only come from the address to which the socket is 'connected'.

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from twisted.internet.protocol import DatagramProtocol from twisted.internet import reactor class Helloer(DatagramProtocol): def startProtocol(self): self.transport.connect("", 1234) print "we can only send to %s now" % str((host, port)) self.transport.write("hello") # no need for address def datagramReceived(self, data, (host, port)): print "received %r from %s:%d" % (data, host, port) # Possibly invoked if there is no server listening on the # address to which we are sending. def connectionRefused(self): print "No one listening" # 0 means any port, we don't care in this case reactor.listenUDP(0, Helloer()) reactor.run()

Note that connect(), like write() will only accept IP addresses, not unresolved hostnames. To obtain the IP of a hostname use reactor.resolve(), e.g.:

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from twisted.internet import reactor def gotIP(ip): print "IP of 'example.com' is", ip reactor.resolve('example.com').addCallback(gotIP)

Connecting to a new address after a previous connection or making a connected port unconnected are not currently supported, but likely will be in the future.

Multicast UDP

A multicast UDP socket can send and receive datagrams from multiple clients. The interesting and useful feature of multicast is that a client can contact multiple servers with a single packet, without knowing the specific IP address of any of the hosts.

The server protocol is very simple and closely resembles a normal listenUDP implementation. The main difference is that instead of listenUDP, listenMulticast is called with a specified port number. The server must also call joinGroup to specify on which multicast IP address it will service requests. Another item of interest is the contents of the datagram. Many different applications use multicast as a way of device discovery, which leads to an abundance of packets flying around. Checking the payload can ensure that we only service requests from our specific clients.

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from twisted.internet.protocol import DatagramProtocol from twisted.internet import reactor from twisted.application.internet import MulticastServer class MulticastClientUDP(DatagramProtocol): def datagramReceived(self, datagram, address): print "Received:" + repr(datagram) # Send multicast on, on our dynamically allocated port reactor.listenUDP(0, MulticastClientUDP()).write('UniqueID', ('', 8005)) reactor.run()

This is a mirror implementation of a standard UDP client. The only difference is that the destination IP is the multicast address. This datagram will be distributed to every server listening on and port 8005. Note that the client port is specified as 0, as we have no need to keep track of what port the client is listening on.


Thank you to all contributors to this document, including:

  • Kyle Robertson, author of the explanation and examples of multicast


Version: 10.1.0