These are sections that do not fit into the rest of the document.



CLIgen supports wrapper functions that can take the output of a callback and transform it to something else.

The CLI can perform variable translation. This is useful if you want to process the input, such as hashing, encrypting or in other way translate the input.

Yang example:

list translate{
   leaf value{
      type string;

CLI specification:

translate value (<value:string translate:incstr()>),cli_set("/translate/value");

If you run this example using the incstr() function which increments the characters in the input, you get this result:

cli> translate value HAL
cli> show configuration
translate {
    value IBM;

You can perform translation on any type, not only strings.

Differences to CLIgen

Clixon adds some features and structure to CLIgen which include:

  • A plugin framework for both textual CLI specifications(.cli) and object files (.so)
  • Object files contains compiled C functions referenced by callbacks in the CLI specification. For example, in the cli spec command: a,fn(), fn must exist in the object file as a C function.
  • The CLIgen treename syntax does not work.
  • A CLI specification file is enhanced with the CLIgen variables CLICON_MODE, CLICON_PROMPT, CLICON_PLUGIN.
  • Clixon generates a command syntax from the Yang specification that can be referenced as @datamodel. This is useful if you do not want to hand-craft CLI syntax for configuration syntax.

Example of @datamodel syntax:

set    @datamodel, cli_set();
merge  @datamodel, cli_merge();
create @datamodel, cli_create();
show   @datamodel, cli_show_auto("running", "xml");

The commands (eg cli_set) will be called with the first argument an api-path to the referenced object.

How to deal with large specs

CLIgen is designed to handle large specifications in runtime, but it may be difficult to handle large specifications from a design perspective.

Here are some techniques and hints on how to reduce the complexity of large CLI specs:


The CLICON_MODE is used to specify in which modes the syntax in a specific file should be added. For example, if you have major modes configure and operation you can have a file with commands for only that mode, or files with commands in both, (or in all).

First, lets add a basic set in each:

show configure;

First, lets add a basic set in each:

show configure;

Note that CLI command trees are merged so that show commands in other files are shown together. Thus, for example:

show("Show") files("files");

will result in both commands in the operation mode:

> clixon_cli -m operation
cli> show <TAB>
  routing      files


> clixon_cli -m operation
cli> show <TAB>
  routing      files


You can also use sub-trees and the the tree operator @. Every mode gets assigned a tree which can be referenced as @name. This tree can be either on the top-level or as a sub-tree. For example, create a specific sub-tree that is used as sub-trees in other modes:

  a, a();
  b, b();

then access that subtree from other modes:

main @subtree;
other @subtree,c();

The configure mode will now use the same subtree in two different commands. Additionally, in the other command, the callbacks will be overwritten by c. That is, if other a, or other b is called, callback function c will be invoked.


You can also add the C preprocessor as a first step. You can then define macros, include files, etc. Here is an example of a Makefile using cpp:

C_CPP    = clispec_example1.cpp clispec_example2.cpp
C_CLI    = $(C_CPP:.cpp=.cli
CLIS     = $(C_CLI)
all:     $(CLIS)
%.cli : %.cpp
     $(CPP) -P -x assembler-with-cpp $(INCLUDES) -o $@ $<

Automatic upgrades

There is an EXPERIMENTAL xml changelog feature based on “draft-wang-netmod-module-revision-management-01” (Zitao Wang et al) where changes to the Yang model are documented and loaded into Clixon. The implementation is not complete.

When upgrading, the system parses the changelog and tries to upgrade the datastore automatically. This feature is experimental and has several limitations.

You enable the automatic upgrading by registering the changelog upgrade method in clixon_plugin_init() using wildcards:

upgrade_callback_register(h, xml_changelog_upgrade, NULL, 0, 0, NULL);

The transformation is defined by a list of changelogs. Each changelog defined how a module (defined by a namespace) is transformed from an old revision to a nnew. Example from auto upgrade test script:

<changelogs xmlns="http://clicon.org/xml-changelog">

Each changelog consists of set of (orderered) steps:


Each step has an (atomic) operation:

  • rename - Rename an XML tag
  • replace - Replace the content of an XML node
  • insert - Insert a new XML node
  • delete - Delete and existing node
  • move - Move a node to a new place

A step has the following arguments:

  • where - An XPath node-vector pointing at a set of target nodes. In most operations, the vector denotes the target node themselves, but for some operations (such as insert) the vector points to parent nodes.
  • when - A boolean XPath determining if the step should be evaluated for that (target) node.

Extended arguments:

  • tag - XPath string argument (rename)
  • new - XML expression for a new or transformed node (replace, insert)
  • dst - XPath node expression (move)

Step summary:

  • rename(where:targets, when:bool, tag:string)
  • replace(where:targets, when:bool, new:xml)
  • insert(where:parents, when:bool, new:xml)
  • delete(where:parents, when:bool)
  • move(where:parents, when:bool, dst:node)

Internal NETCONF

Clixon uses NETCONF as the protocol between its clients (cli/netconf/restconf) and the backend. This _internal_ Netconf protocol have a couple of extensions to the Netconf protocol as follows:

  • content - for get command with values “config”, “nonconfig” or “all”, to indicate which parts of state and config are requested. This option is taken from RESTCONF. Example:

    <rpc><get content="nonconfig"/></rpc>
  • depth - for get and get-config how deep a tree is requested. ALso from RESTCONF. Example:

    <rpc><get depth="2"/></rpc>
  • username - for top-level rpc command. Indicates which user the client represents (“pseudo-user”). This is either the actual user logged in as the client (eg “peer-user”) or can represent another user. The credentials mode determines the trust-level of the pseudo-username. Example:

    <rpc username="root"><close-session/></rpc>
  • autocommit - for edit-config. If true, perform a commit operation immediately after an edit. If this fails, make a discard operation. Example:

    <rpc><edit-config autocommit="true"><target><candidate/></target><config>...</config></edit-config></rpc>
  • copystartup - for edit-config combined with autocommit. If true, copy the running db to the startup db after a commit. The combination with autocommit is the default for RESTCONF operations. Example:

    <rpc><edit-config autocommit="true" copystartup="true"><target><candidate/></target><config>...</config></edit-config></rpc>
  • objectcreate and objectexisted - in the data field of edit-config XML data tree. In the request set objectcreate to false/true whether an object should be created if it does not exist or not. If such a request exists, then the ok reply should contain “objectexists” to indicate whether the object existed or not (eg prior to the operation). The reason for this protocol is to implement some RESTCONF PATCH and PUT functionalities. Example:

    <rpc><edit-config objectcreate="false"><target><candidate/></target>
          <protocol objectcreate="true">tcp</protocol>
    <rpc-reply><ok objectexisted="true"/></rpc-reply>]]>]]>
The reason for introducing the objectcreate/objectexisted attributes are as follows:
  • RFC 8040 4.5 PUT: if the PUT request creates a new resource, a “201 Created” status-line is returned. If an existing resource is modified, a “204 No Content” status-line is returned.
  • RFC 8040 4.6 PATCH: If the target resource instance does not exist, the server MUST NOT create it.