Implement a chat server
This page describes how to implement a simple chat server. The server should support multiple connected users. Messages sent to the server are broadcast to all currently connected users. For this tutorial we'll use Network.Socket, which provides low-level bindings to the C-socket API.
Ultimately, our cabal file will hinge on an
executable section which might look like the following:
executable chat-server-exe hs-source-dirs: app main-is: Main.hs ghc-options: -threaded -rtsopts -with-rtsopts=-N build-depends: base, network default-language: Haskell2010
Simple socket server
We start with a simple server. The structure of this server begins with a
main method which will create a reusable socket, open up a TCP connection on port 4242 which will allow a maximum of two queued connections.
-- in Main.hs module Main where import Network.Socket main :: IO () main = do sock <- socket AF_INET Stream 0 -- create socket setSocketOption sock ReuseAddr 1 -- make socket immediately reusable - eases debugging. bind sock (SockAddrInet 4242 iNADDR_ANY) -- listen on TCP port 4242. listen sock 2 -- set a max of 2 queued connections mainLoop sock -- unimplemented
In our main loop we'll build out the socket-server equivalent of a "Hello World!" example. For a given socket we'll: accept a connection, relay a simple "Hello World!", close the connection, and recurse on the original socket.
-- in Main.hs mainLoop :: Socket -> IO () mainLoop sock = do conn <- accept sock -- accept a connection and handle it runConn conn -- run our server's logic mainLoop sock -- repeat runConn :: (Socket, SockAddr) -> IO () runConn (sock, _) = do send sock "Hello!\n" close sock
Notice that accepting a socket has a return type of
(Socket, SockAddr) — this corresponds to a new socket object which can be used to send and receive data for a given connection. This socket object is then closed at the end of our
SockAddr, as you can see from the
runConn method, is largely uninteresting for this use-case and will simply be the initial socket address of 4242.
Using System.IO for sockets
Network.Socket incorrectly represent binary data in
recv and, as a result, use of these functions is not advised and may lead to bugs.
Network.Socket actually recommends using these same methods defined in the ByteString module. However, to keep things simple, we'll stick to
System.IO for input and output.
Importing our new module and turning our
Socket into a
Handle now looks like the following:
-- in the imports our Main.hs add: import System.IO -- and we'll change our `runConn` function to look like: runConn :: (Socket, SockAddr) -> IO () runConn (sock, _) = do hdl <- socketToHandle sock ReadWriteMode hSetBuffering hdl NoBuffering hPutStrLn hdl "Hello!" hClose hdl
So far the server can only handle one connection at a time. This is enough if all we want to do is have a read stream of messages, but it won't be enough if we want to have our server handle chat.
Control.Concurrent is a library in Prelude which does an excellent job of lightweight thread creation and context switching. You are encouraged to check out the hackage page. To handle each user in our chat client, we'll use
forkIO to create a new thread for each connection. Notice that the signature of
forkIO :: IO () -> IO ThreadId
However, as we don't need the thread's id, we'll ignore the result.
-- add to our imports: import Control.Concurrent -- and in our mainLoop function... mainLoop sock = do conn <- accept sock forkIO (runConn conn) -- split off each connection into its own thread mainLoop sock
Adding communication between threads
This seems to be a hard problem. Luckily, the
Control.Concurrent.Chan module provides exactly what we need: channels with a single write and multiple read ends. First we decide on a message type. Let's use a string for now:
type Msg = String
main will have to create a channel, and pass it to
import Control.Concurrent.Chan [...] main = do [...] chan <- newChan mainLoop sock chan
mainLoop in turn will pass it to
mainLoop :: Socket -> Chan Msg -> IO () mainLoop sock chan = do conn <- accept sock forkIO (runConn conn chan) mainLoop sock chan
runConn will duplicate the channel and read from it.
import Control.Monad import Control.Monad.Fix (fix) [...] runConn :: (Socket, SockAddr) -> Chan Msg -> IO () runConn (sock, _) chan = do let broadcast msg = writeChan chan msg hdl <- socketToHandle sock ReadWriteMode hSetBuffering hdl NoBuffering chan' <- dupChan chan -- fork off thread for reading from the duplicated channel forkIO $ fix $ \loop -> do line <- readChan chan' hPutStrLn hdl line loop -- read lines from socket and echo them back to the user fix $ \loop -> do line <- liftM init (hGetLine hdl) broadcast line loop
runConn now actually forks another worker thread for sending messages to the connected user.
Cleanups and final code
There are two major problems left in the code. First, the code has a memory leak, because the original channel is never read by anyone. This can be fixed by adding another thread just for that purpose.
Secondly, closing connections is not handled gracefully at all. This requires exception handling.
The code below fixes the first issue and mostly fixes the second one, and adds a few cosmetic improvements:
- messages are not echoed back to the user they came from.
- every connection is associated with a name.
-- with apologies for the lack of comments :) import Network.Socket import System.IO import Control.Exception import Control.Concurrent import Control.Concurrent.Chan import Control.Monad import Control.Monad.Fix (fix) type Msg = (Int, String) main :: IO () main = do chan <- newChan sock <- socket AF_INET Stream 0 setSocketOption sock ReuseAddr 1 bind sock (SockAddrInet 4242 iNADDR_ANY) listen sock 2 forkIO $ fix $ \loop -> do (_, msg) <- readChan chan loop mainLoop sock chan 0 mainLoop :: Socket -> Chan Msg -> Int -> IO () mainLoop sock chan nr = do conn <- accept sock forkIO (runConn conn chan nr) mainLoop sock chan $! nr+1 runConn :: (Socket, SockAddr) -> Chan Msg -> Int -> IO () runConn (sock, _) chan nr = do let broadcast msg = writeChan chan (nr, msg) hdl <- socketToHandle sock ReadWriteMode hSetBuffering hdl NoBuffering hPutStrLn hdl "Hi, what's your name?" name <- liftM init (hGetLine hdl) broadcast ("--> " ++ name ++ " entered.") hPutStrLn hdl ("Welcome, " ++ name ++ "!") chan' <- dupChan chan reader <- forkIO $ fix $ \loop -> do (nr', line) <- readChan chan' when (nr /= nr') $ hPutStrLn hdl line loop handle (\(SomeException _) -> return ()) $ fix $ \loop -> do line <- liftM init (hGetLine hdl) case line of "quit" -> hPutStrLn hdl "Bye!" _ -> do broadcast (name ++ ": " ++ line) loop killThread reader broadcast ("<-- " ++ name ++ " left.") hClose hdl
Have fun chatting!