Extensible Links

The extensible link mechanism allows new kinds of record links to be created, using JSON for the link address syntax. The IOC continues to support the older link types that do not use JSON to specify their link addresses.

The following additional link types are available in this release:

When setting a record link field to a JSON link address, the link specification must appear inside a pair of braces {} expressed as a JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) object, which allows link parameters to be defined as needed by the particular link type. When link fields are set from an IOC database file at initialization time, the field definitions may take advantage of a "relaxed JSON" syntax that reduces the number of double-quote characters required and maintains backwards compatibility with the older database file syntax.

Constant links are input links that provide literal values at link initalization time, but do not return any data when their getValue() routine is called. Most record types support the use of constant links on their input links by calling recGblInitConstantLink() at record initialization, which results in the constant value being loaded into the target field at that time.

Note that for most record types (the printf and calcout records are the main exceptions) it is pointless to set an input link to a constant link at runtime since the link initialization that loads the field value usually only happens when a record is initialized. A constant link that is embedded inside another input link type such as a calculation link should be OK though since the link initialization will take place when the record's field gets set.


A const link takes a parameter which may be an integer, double or string, or an array of those types. If an array contains both integers and double values the integers will be promoted to doubles. Mixing strings and numbers in an array results in an error.


 {const: 3.14159265358979}
 {const: "Pi"}
 {const: [1, 2.718281828459, 3.14159265358979]}
 {const: ["One", "e", "Pi"]}

The JSON syntax does not support Infinity or NaN values when parsing numbers, but (for scalars) it is possible to provide these in a string which will be converted to the desired double value at initialization, for example:

 field(INP, {const:"Inf"})

A calculation link is an input link that can evaluate mathematical expressions on scalar (double-precision floating-point) values obtained from up to 12 child input links, and returns a double-precision floating-point result. The expression is evaluated by the EPICS Calc engine, and the result is returned as the value of the link.

Two additional expressions may also be provided and are evaluated to determine whether the record owning the link should be placed in alarm state. In both cases the result of the main calculation is available to these expressions as VAL (attempts to assign to VAL inside either expression will have no lasting effect). If the major expression evaluates to a non-zero value the record will be placed in LINK/MAJOR alarm. If not and the minor expression evaluates to non-zero the record will be placed in LINK/MINOR alarm state.

A calculation link can also be an output link, with the scalar output value being converted to a double and provided to the expression as VAL. Up to 12 additional input links can also be read and provided to the expression as above. The result of the calculation is forwarded to a child output link specified in the link's out parameter.

For an output link the main expression is actually optional; if not provided the converted value will be forwarded to the output link unchanged. The two alarm expressions may still be used to put the output link into alarm state as described above.


The link address is a JSON map with the following keys:


The primary expression to be evaluated, given as a string. This is optional for output links, required for input links.


An optional expression that returns non-zero to raise a major alarm.


An optional expression that returns non-zero to raise a minor alarm.


A JSON list of up to 12 input arguments for the expression, which are assigned to the inputs A, B, C, ... L. Each input argument may be either a numeric literal or an embedded JSON link inside {} braces. The same input values are provided to the two alarm expressions as to the primary expression.


A JSON link inside {} braces which specifies the destination of putValue operations after any expressions have been evaluated. This key is required for output links, not used by input links.


An optional string specifying the engineering units for the result of the expression. Equivalent to the EGU field of a record.


An optional integer specifying the numeric precision with which the calculation result should be displayed. Equivalent to the PREC field of a record.


An optional string containing a single upper or lower-case letter A ... L which must correspond to an input provided in the c<args> parameter. When the record containing such a link has TSEL set to -2 (epicsTimeEventDeviceTime) the record's timestamp field TIME will be read from the indicated input link atomically with the value of the input argument.


 {calc: {expr:"A*B", args:[{db:"record.VAL"}, 1.5], prec:3}}

A dbState link is one that gets or puts a boolean value from/to a named global flag as implemented by the dbState facility in dbstate.h. The link type can invert the sense of the dbState flag during the get or put if desired.

The value of the named flag is read or written at the time of the link I/O operation. When reading a flag, the value returned by the link will be zero or one converted to the requested data type. When writing to a flag the boolean value of the data written is determined in the originating data type. All strings are regarded as true other than "" and "0" which are both false.

A link can be configured to invert the sense of the flag data by putting an exclamation mark ! before the first character of the flag's name in the link address.

These dbState flags can be accessed from the IOC Shell with various dbState commands, and are also used by the "sync" Channel-Access server-side filter mechanism.


The link takes a single parameter which must be a string, providing the name of the dbState object, with an optional leading ! character to indicate that the flag's value should be inverted. The dbState object will be created when the link is initialized if it doesn't already exist.



The debug link type exists to enable debugging of other link types; it provides no functionality itself other than to turn on the debug flag for the child link that is its only parameter and pass all link operations down to that link.



The trace link type is a relative of the debug link type that also traces the operation of its child link. At creation it turns on the debug flag of its child link, then it prints the method arguments and return values of all link operations before / after passing control down to the child link.