Saturday, July 10, 2004

Getting Started With P2P

I finally have a reason to try to implement P2P in a development project. I have used TCP sockets on several occasions and I have played around with UDP broadcasts as well. What I am trying to do with P2P needs to be more reliable than the UDP broadcasts.

The first thing I did was Google for "P2P framework library". Unfortunately, not many relevant hits came back. The most popular was the Java-based JXTA toolkit. I work in C++, so it does not help me. Microsoft has a Peer-to-Peer toolkit, but it requires WinXP SP1 with Advanced Networking. I need to support OS's older than that.

However, both toolkits appear to have exactly what I would in a P2P toolkit:

  • Discovery
  • Peer Groups
  • Messaging (including multicast)
Working in C++ on Win32 (Win9x/WinNT/Win2K/WinXP) keeps me from using these toolkits.

I would really like to use an existing toolkit to abstract the P2P implementation details. It's going to be hard enough to get my own data sharing protocol working on top of P2P.

Other toolkits I have looked at include HOWL (an implementation of Zeroconf/Rendezvous) and BEEP. HOWL seems to only enable discovery. BEEP seems to only provide the messaging. I might look into merging the two together. I am also looking into wrappers for Multicast over Winsock.

Update: I have decided to work with Multicast for now. In the end, I'll need to create some kind of message protocol at which point I'll look at the RFC for BEEP.

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