Saturday, December 1, 2012

Apache Thrift in Windows

Apache Thrift, originally developed by Facebook, is an immensely useful general-purpose inter-process communication (IPC) code generation tool and library. Although it supports a variety of IPC mechanisms, sockets are its primary conduit, and as such, is naturally language agnostic and actually its tool can generate code for a dozen different languages.

I use it to provide PHP web interfaces to monitor and control C++ scientific/industrial semi-embedded systems (desktop PCs loaded with data acquisition and control hardware).

Sometimes, those PCs are running Windows. With the recent 0.90 release, Apache Thrift support for Windows is leaps and bounds beyond what it used to be, but it's still "only" 98%. Here are the missing steps:

  1. First of all the good news: Use on Windows no longer requires Cygwin or MinGW, despite what the outdated documentation states.
  2. You can download a pre-built Thrift compiler directly from
  3. You will, however, still need to compile the Thrift libraries yourself, if you plan to use Thrift with a compiled language such as C++. Thankfully, the Thrift distribution comes with a Microsoft Visual C++ .sln solution file. The thing to know, however, is that it is a Visual C++ 2010 .sln file, and will not work work with Visual C++ 2008. You can use Visual Studio 2012, but recall Visual Studio 2012 does not work with XP, which I still use for development because of both data acquisition hardware drivers and some legacy software development tools (for some legacy codebases). Thankfully, you can use the freely available Visual C++ 2010 Express, which is still available for download even though Visual Studio 2012 has been released. To download an ISO (to preserve your ability to reinstall in the future) instead of a stub/Internet download, select the option for the "All-in-One ISO".
  4. The \thrift-0.9.0\lib\cpp\thrift.sln contains two projects: libthrift and libthriftnb. The libthriftnb is for the non-blocking server, and if you want to use it from a server, you must link in both libthrift and libthriftnb, as well as utilize TNonblockingServer instead of TSimpleServer. Note that "non-blocking" means non-blocking from the client perspective. On the server side, the call server->serve() actually blocks. To make either TNonblockingServer or TSimpleServer non-blocking from the server code perspective, just wrap it inside a new boost::thread().
  5. Compiling libthriftnb is trickier. First it requires libevent. To compile libevent, Start->All Programs->Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express->Visual Studio Command Prompt (2010), navigate to the libevent directory, and nmake -f Makefile.nmake. Second, libthriftnb pulls in Thrift library code that does #include <tr1/functional>, but since Visual C++ 2010 doesn't support TR1, you can just replace it with <boost/functional.hpp>.
  6. To compile the libthrift project (and this applies to libthriftnb as well), from the Microsoft Visual C++ drop-down menu, Project->Properties and Configuration Properties->C++->General->Additional Include Directories: C:\Program Files\boost\boost_1_51 (of course download Boost first).
  7. Then, to compile your Visual C++ server code that links to libthrift, from the Microsoft Visual C++ drop-down menu, Project->Properties:
    • Configuration Properties->C/C++->General->Additional Include Directories: C:\Program Files\boost\boost_1_41;C:\thrift-0.9.0\lib\cpp\src (for libthriftnb, also include C:\libevent-2.0.21-stable\include;C:\libevent-2.0.21-stable\WIN32-Code;C:\libevent-2.0.21-stable)
    • Configuration Properties->Linker->General->Additional Library Directories: C:\thrift-0.9.0\lib\cpp\Release;C:\Program Files\boost\boost_1_51\lib
    • Configuration Properties->Linker->Input->Additional Dependencies: libboost_thread-vc100-mt-1_51.lib;libboost_chrono-vc100-mt-1_51.lib;libthrift.lib. (For the Debug version, substitute mt-gd for mt.)
  8. In your server code, include the following code prior to invocation of any of the Thrift code:
    WSADATA wsaData = {};
    WORD wVersionRequested = MAKEWORD(2, 2);
    int err = WSAStartup(wVersionRequested, &wsaData);


dogsoldier said...

Thank you for great tutorial, but I'm struggling with Configuration Properties->Linker-> because I don't have Linker in project properties menu. I've opened \thrift-0.9.0\lib\cpp\thrift.sln file and nothing like that there. I'm doing something wrong.

I have another question, this is to build dll or lib library?

And that built library must I add to my project where I want to use Thrift?

I want to use c++ application as socket server and php application as client and everybody tells me that thrift is best way but I don't see ANY functional example or code provided anywhere and you are my last chance then I give it...

Thank you.

Unknown said...

It's been a while since you posted your question I'm assuming you figured it out? The instructions to modify the linker directories and dependencies are for the application you are writing that includes Thrift; not for the libthrift and libthriftnb projects.

I currently have Thrift building and working from within Visual Studio 2012 (with the latest version of Boost). I have a C++ client talking to a C# server (and vice-versa). It works like a champ (thanks to this article)!

Unknown said...

I am trying to compile the thrift project but its giving me a lot of errors in each file. i followed your tutorial but there is something missing.Its not able to detect any of the event based functions. e.g event_base_set(eventBase_, &notificationEvent_); any ideas