# Client and Server
This section is for those looking to implement their own ABCI Server, perhaps in a new programming language.
# Message Protocol
The message protocol consists of pairs of requests and responses defined in the protobuf file.
Some messages have no fields, while others may include byte-arrays, strings, integers, or custom protobuf types.
For more details on protobuf, see the documentation (opens new window).
For each request, a server should respond with the corresponding response, where the order of requests is preserved in the order of responses.
# Server Implementations
To use ABCI in your programming language of choice, there must be a ABCI server in that language. Tendermint supports three implementations of the ABCI, written in Go:
The latter two can be tested using the
abci-cli by setting the
appropriately (ie. to
# In Process
The simplest implementation uses function calls within Golang. This means ABCI applications written in Golang can be compiled with Tendermint Core and run as a single binary.
If GRPC is available in your language, this is the easiest approach, though it will have significant performance overhead.
To get started with GRPC, copy in the protobuf
file and compile it using the GRPC
plugin for your language. For instance, for golang, the command is
protoc --go_out=plugins=grpc:. types.proto. See the grpc documentation for more
details (opens new window).
protoc will autogenerate all the
necessary code for ABCI client and server in your language, including whatever
interface your application must satisfy to be used by the ABCI server for
Note the length-prefixing used in the socket implementation (TSP) does not apply for GRPC.
Tendermint Socket Protocol is an asynchronous, raw socket server which provides ordered message passing over unix or tcp. Messages are serialized using Protobuf3 and length-prefixed with a signed Varint (opens new window)
If GRPC is not available in your language, or you require higher
performance, or otherwise enjoy programming, you may implement your own
ABCI server using the Tendermint Socket Protocol. The first step is still to auto-generate the relevant data
types and codec in your language using
protoc. In addition to being proto3 encoded, messages coming over
the socket are length-prefixed to facilitate use as a streaming protocol. proto3 doesn't have an
official length-prefix standard, so we use our own. The first byte in
the prefix represents the length of the Big Endian encoded length. The
remaining bytes in the prefix are the Big Endian encoded length.
For example, if the proto3 encoded ABCI message is 0xDEADBEEF (4 bytes), the length-prefixed message is 0x0104DEADBEEF. If the proto3 encoded ABCI message is 65535 bytes long, the length-prefixed message would be like 0x02FFFF....
The benefit of using this
varint encoding over the old version (where integers were encoded as
<len of len><big endian len> is that
it is the standard way to encode integers in Protobuf. It is also generally shorter.
As noted above, this prefixing does not apply for GRPC.
An ABCI server must also be able to support multiple connections, as Tendermint uses four connections.
# Async vs Sync
The main ABCI server (ie. non-GRPC) provides ordered asynchronous messages. This is useful for DeliverTx and CheckTx, since it allows Tendermint to forward transactions to the app before it's finished processing previous ones.
Thus, DeliverTx and CheckTx messages are sent asynchronously, while all other messages are sent synchronously.
There are currently two use-cases for an ABCI client. One is a testing
tool, as in the
abci-cli, which allows ABCI requests to be sent via
command line. The other is a consensus engine, such as Tendermint Core,
which makes requests to the application every time a new transaction is
received or a block is committed.
It is unlikely that you will need to implement a client. For details of our client, see here (opens new window).