LLRP stands for "low-level reader protocol" and specifies a protocol for the control of RFID readers (see http://www.epcglobalinc.org/standards/llrp for the standards documents as well as a more detailed introduction). LLRP is called "low-level" because it enables the client to finetune many parameters of an RFID reader, such as the radio power, the antennas present, and even its modes of operation.
Communication between two LLRP endpoints is handled by a binary protocol, which is efficient and fast. The LLRP Commander project uses the LTKJava library (to convert binary LLRP messages, to Java objects and XML instances (and vice versa).
The motivation for the LLRP Commander arises from four issues:
There are many dependencies within LLRP messages a user has to take care of. (E.g., some parameters require to lie within a specific interval, others require the presence / absence of certain parameters, ...) Already a single missing parameter results in an invalid binary that cannot be read or parsed by the RFID reader. The reader will answer with an error message in binary format. For the user, this implies tedious try-and-error cycles until the message has the correct format. The LLRP Commander makes this process much easier. It allows users to assemble different LLRP messages, using either a graphical editor or a textual XML editor. All messages are checked dynamically at runtime for missing parameters or for invalid entries, giving the user immediate feedback. Errors can be easily corrected before the message is sent.
When an LLRP message does not perform the task intended (e.g., user wants to enable an RO_SPEC, but accidentally chooses the wrong RO_SPEC id), it is very hard to find out what caused the unexpected behavior. Debugging is only possible by manually inspecting and validating all message parameters. This means to split a possibly very long bitstring of zeros and ones into the numerous message parts. The LLRP Commander has the ability to transform the binary string automatically into a more user-friendly form (such as an XML message or a tree displaying all the parameters as leaves). It is even possible to correct erroneous parameters on the fly.
As there are many different RFID readers from different vendors available, it is not feasible to configure these readers through the client applications delivered by the vendor. Consider the example where a client has 10 readers from 10 different vendors with a completely incompatible configuration application for each of the readers. With LLRP as a standardized protocol for communication, the LLRP Commander allows users to configure and maintain all of the 10 readers with a single tool, simplifying life a great deal.
LLRP is a low-level protocol. It is therefore not surprising that there are many messages exchanged between the reader and the client. User need assistance in receiving and storing those messages. The LLRP Commander receives the messages for users and stores them separately for each of the registered readers. The messages are clearly flagged by their message type, allowing users to easily distinguish between useful messages and messages that are not relevant.
The LLRP Commander is a part of the Fosstrak project. It has been developed in such a way that it can interact with other Fosstrak modules. It has been a goal of the project to enrich the existing Filtering and Collection module (ALE middleware) with the ability to communicate with LLRP-enabled RFID readers. Most parts of the communication layer of the LLRP Commander can be used without modification directly by Fosstrak's Filtering and Collection module.
For a more detailed introduction, please refer to the respective sections in the developer guide:
Filtering and Collection: