APSIM Server


An APSIM Server holds an .apsimx file open in memory and runs it on demand, potentially with modified parameter values. Communication with the server occurs via sockets, which results in far less overhead than repeatedly invoking Models.exe. There is currently no windows implementation of a client capable of communicating with the server.

Two protocols are implemented in the apsim source tree, and others exist in the wild. The first protocol (“V1”) implements a command and data exchange capability over native and managed sockets. A second (“zmqserver”) implements both a one-shot protocol to run simulations from beginning to end, and an interactive protocol that can exchange data (encoded via the msgpack library) and receive commands during the course of a simulation.

V1 Behaviour

When the server starts, it will read the .apsimx file, prepare the file to be run, and will then wait for client connections. If a client application is already running, the server will establish a connection with this client. Once a connection is established with a client, the server will wait for instructions from the client. Currently two commands are implemented:

  • RUN (run the .apsimx file, possibly with modified parameters)
  • READ (read results from the most recent run)

The recommended way to send these commands to the server is to use a client API. A sample C API is provided here.

Zmqserver Behaviour

Likewise the server will initially prepare a simulation to run, and then wait for a client connection. In the oneshot mode, the commands (run, get) are similar to the V1 server. In interactive mode, the server will pass the simulation the address of a controlling port that a manager component within the simulation will connect to. The protocol (get/set/do/resume) for this connection is implemented within the manager component. Samples of clients in R and Python are in the Test Directory.

Notes on running/invoking the server

The server is not included in an APSIM binary installation, and must be built from source. There are two ways to invoke the server (these should be run from the ApsimX directory):

dotnet run -p APSIM.Server -- <arguments>

dotnet <path/to/apsim-server.dll> <arguments>

dotnet run -p ApsimZMQServer -- <arguments>

dotnet <path/to/ApsimZMQServer.dll> <arguments>

When using the first option, the -- is necessary - it separates the arguments passed to the dotnet command from the arguments passed to the server.

When using the second syntax, it’s important to use the correct path to the apsim-server.dll file, as this path can be variable depending on how it was built. Typically, it will be located at ApsimX/bin/Debug/net6.0/apsim-server.dll, but this will be different if the server was built in release mode (path will contain Release instead of Debug), and will be different again if the project was published.

Command Line Arguments

When the server is started, several command-line arguments may be passed. These may be viewed by running the server with the -h or --help command-line arguments. The only mandatory argument is the --file <file.apsimx> argument, where should be the path to an .apsimx file on disk. This is the file which will be read when the server starts, and run whenever the server receives a RUN command.

The --comunication-mode flag tells the server which communications protocol to use for communication to a client application. Normally this should be set to Native, which will allow for communications with a native application (e.g. a C program). If the client program is written in C# using C# named pipes, this option may be set to Managed, and will allow for much simpler comms code.

The --keep-alive argument tells the server to continue running when a client disconnects. If this argument is not passed, then the server will exit immediately after a client disconnects.