RouteMaster: Websocket Protocol for Router Control

Most control protocols for Broadcast routers come from the era of RS422 serial comms. Even those routers which support control via IP tend to use proprietary protocols that are not easily compatible with web-based control applications.

The Routemaster Websocket protocol was designed to use web standards to enable router control from web applications running on any modern browser. This allows web pages to easily control routers and receive status from any router controlled via the RouteMaster system.

Routemaster Web Panels use this protocol to control routers connected to the RouteMaster system. Routemaster can also use the same protocol to control routers that support it, or downstream Routemaster systems.

Client vs Server

The ‘client’ is typically any application that wants to make routes or receive router status, and the ‘server’ is typically the RouteMaster system (or any other router using this protocol).

The ‘server’ typically listens for connections on TCP/IP port 81, although other ports can be configured. Servers support multiple simultaneous client connections. RouteMaster limits the number of simultaneous clients according to the number of installed licenses.

WebSocket protocol

Messages are exchanged between client and server using the WebSocket protocol, described in overview here. Basically, unlike HTTP it offers a persistent full-duplex connection. RouteMaster currently does not use encrypted Websocket (‘wss:’)


WebSockets give a way of sending ‘messages’ between endpoints, but does not define the content and structure of those messages. Messages could be binary, XML or any proprietary format. RouteMaster uses JSON for the message structure, which fits well with JavaScript used in browser-side applications.

Message Flow

The protocol does not impose any restrictions on message flow. Messages can normally be sent by both client and server at any time, and in any order. However, when a new client connects to a server, it should be sent the entire router state including source and destination names, protect and crosspoint status.

The final message after the initial state has been sent will be the connectComplete message.

No Ack/Nak

Messages do not implicitly cause Ack or Nak replies to be sent. but the success of messages forcing a change of state can be determined by the tally messages returning when an operation completes.

Input/Output numbering

All sources, destinations and levels are numbered starting from ZERO

JSON Message fields

Every JSON message has a mandatory string field “event” which is describes the message type. A structure ‘data’ then contains parameters and data regarding the event. Unknown incoming  events will be ignored, and unknown fields in the JSON data are also ignored.

Messages from server to client

event Function data` example
tallyCrosspoint Notifies client of crosspoint change destination: integer
sources : array of integers, one per level
sourceName Notifies client of source name change source:  integer
names : array of strings for names starting at specified source.
“names”:[“XXX A”,
“SRC 1”,
“SRC 2”,
“SRC 3”],
destName Notifies client of destination name change destination:  integer
names : array of strings for names starting at specified destination.
”DST 1″,
”DST 2″,
”DST 3″],
levelName Notifies client of level name change level:  integer
names : array of strings for names starting at specified level.
routerData Basic information about the router size, etc sources: integer
dests: integer
levels: integer
name: string
inputGroups Information about input (source) groups TBC
outputGroups Information about output (destination) groups TBC
protectState Notifies client of destination protect change dest: integer
state : array of ..
  prot: “Unlocked”,”Locked” or “Protected”
  user: string
{“prot”:”Locked”,  “user”:”Joe”}],
connectComplete Indicates that the initial status transfer to client has finished. none {“event”:”connectComplete”}

Messages from client to server

event Function data` example
makeCrosspoint Request a crosspoint change destination: integer
source: integer
lockOutput Lock/unlock an output destination: integer
state: “Locked”/”Unlocked”

Javascript implementation of WebSocket clients

For a good overview of how to handle JSON-based WebSockets from Javascript, see this page: