Introduction

open62541 (http://open62541.org) is an open source and free implementation of OPC UA (OPC Unified Architecture) written in the common subset of the C99 and C++98 languages. The library is usable with all major compilers and provides the necessary tools to implement dedicated OPC UA clients and servers, or to integrate OPC UA-based communication into existing applications. open62541 library is platform independent. All platform-specific functionality is implemented via exchangeable plugins. Plugin implementations are provided for the major operating systems.

open62541 is licensed under the Mozilla Public License v2.0. So the open62541 library can be used in projects that are not open source. Only changes to the open62541 library itself need to published under the same license. The plugins, as well as the server and client examples are in the public domain (CC0 license). They can be reused under any license and changes do not have to be published.

OPC Unified Architecture

OPC UA is a protocol for industrial communication and has been standardized in the IEC 62541 series. At its core, OPC UA defines

  • an asynchronous protocol (built upon TCP, HTTP or SOAP) that defines the exchange of messages via sessions, (on top of) secure communication channels, (on top of) raw connections,
  • a type system for protocol messages with a binary and XML-based encoding scheme,
  • a meta-model for information modeling, that combines object-orientation with semantic triple-relations, and
  • a set of 37 standard services to interact with server-side information models. The signature of each service is defined as a request and response message in the protocol type system.

The standard itself can be purchased from IEC or downloaded for free on the website of the OPC Foundation at https://opcfoundation.org/ (you only need to register with a valid email).

The OPC Foundation drives the continuous improvement of the standard and the development of companion specifications. Companion specifications translate established concepts and reusable components from an application domain into OPC UA. They are created jointly with an established industry council or standardization body from the application domain. Furthermore, the OPC Foundation organizes events for the dissemination of the standard and provides the infrastructure and tools for compliance certification.

open62541 Features

open62541 implements the OPC UA binary protocol stack as well as a client and server SDK. It currently supports the Micro Embedded Device Server Profile plus some additional features. Server binaries can be well under 100kb in size, depending on the contained information model.

open62541 adheres to the OPC UA specification as closely as possible and the released features pass the official Conformance Testing Tools (CTT). However, the library comes without any warranty. If you intend to use OPC UA in a mission-critical product, please consider talking to a commercial vendor of OPC UA SDKs and services.

  • Communication Stack
    • OPC UA binary protocol
    • Chunking (splitting of large messages)
    • Exchangeable network layer (plugin) for using custom networking APIs (e.g. on embedded targets)
  • Information model
    • Support for all OPC UA node types (including method nodes)
    • Support for adding and removing nodes and references also at runtime.
    • Support for inheritance and instantiation of object- and variable-types (custom constructor/destructor, instantiation of child nodes)
  • Subscriptions
    • Support for subscriptions/monitoreditems for data change notifications
    • Very low resource consumption for each monitored value (event-based server architecture)
  • Code-Generation
    • Support for generating data types from standard XML definitions
    • Support for generating server-side information models (nodesets) from standard XML definitions

Features still missing in the 0.2 release are:

  • Encryption
  • Access control for individual nodes
  • Events (notifications emitted by objects, data change notifications are implemented)
  • Event-loop (background tasks) and asynchronous service requests in the client

Getting Help

For discussion and help besides this documentation, you can reach the open62541 community via

Contributing

As an open source project, we invite new contributors to help improve open62541. Issue reports, bugfixes and new features are very welcome. Note that there are ways to begin contributing without deep knowledge of the OPC UA standard: