Forwarded attribute

Intended audience: developers, Programming language: c++


Let’s take an example to explain what is a forwarded attribute. We assume we have to write a Tango class for a ski lift in a ski resort somewhere in the Alps. Obviously, the ski lift has a motor for which we already have a Tango class. This motor Tango class has one attribute speed. But for the ski lift, the motor speed is not the only thing which has to be controlled. For instance, you also want to give access to the wind sensor data installed on the top of the ski lift. Therefore, you write a ski-lift Tango class representing the whole ski-lift system. This ski-lift class will have at least two attributes which are:

  1. The wind speed at the top of the ski-lift

  2. The motor speed

The ski-lift Tango class motor speed attribute is nothing more than the motor Tango class speed attribute. All the ski-lift class has to do for this attribute is to forward the request (read/write) to the speed attribute of the motor Tango class. The speed attribute of the ski-lift Tango class is a forwarded attribute while the speed attribute of the motor Tango class is its root attribute.

A forwarded attribute get its configuration from its root attribute and it forwards to its root attribute

  • Its read / write / write_read requests

  • Its configuration change

  • Its event subscription

  • Its locking behavior

As stated above, a forwarded attribute has the same configuration than its root attribute except its name and label which stays local. All other attribute configuration parameters are forwarded to the root attribute. If a root attribute configuration parameter is changed, the forwarded attribute is informed (via event) and its local configuration is also modified.

The association between the forwarded attribute and its root attribute is done using a property named


belonging to the forwarded attribute. This property value is simply the name of the root attribute. Muti-control system is supported and this __root_att attribute property value can be something like tango://my_tango_host:10000/my/favorite/dev/the_root_attribute. The name of the root attribute is included in attribute configuration.

It is forbidden to poll a forwarded attribute and one exception is thrown if such a case happens. Polling has to be done on the root attribute. Nevertheless, if the root attribute is polled, a request to read the forwarded attribute with the DeviceProxy object source parameter set to CACHE_DEVICE or CACHE will get its data from the root attribute polling buffer.

If you subscribe to event(s) on a forwarded attribute, the subscription is forwarded to the root attribute. When the event is received by the forwarded attribute, the attribute name in the event data is modified to reflect the forwarded attribute name and the event is pushed to the original client(s).

When a device with forwarded attribute is locked, the device to which the root attribute belongs is also locked.


As explained in the chapter Writing a Tango device server, each Tango class attribute is implemented via a C++ class which has to inherit from either Attr, SpectrumAttr or ImageAttr according to the attribute data format. For forwarded attribute, the related class has to inherit from the FwdAttr class whatever its data format is. For classical attribute, the programmer can define in the Tango class code default value for the attribute properties using one instance of the UserDefaultAttrProp class. For forwarded attribute, the programmer has to create one instance of the UserDefaultFwdAttrProp class but only the attribute label can be defined. One example of how to program a forwarded attribute is given below

 1  class MyFwdAttr: public Tango::FwdAttr
 2  {
 3  public:
 4      MyFwdAttr(const string &_n):FwdAttr(_n) {};
 5      ~MyFwdAttr() {};
 6  };
 8  void DevTestClass::attribute_factory(vector<Tango::Attr *> &att_list)
 9  {
10     ...
11     MyFwdAttr *att1 = new MyFwdAttr("fwd_att_name");
12     Tango::UserDefaultFwdAttrProp att1_prop;
13     att1_prop.set_label("Gasp a fwd attribute");
14     att1->set_default_properties(att1_prop);
15     att_list.push_back(att1);
16     ...
17  }

Line 1 : The forwarded attribute class inherits from FwdAttr class.

Line 4-5 : Only constructor and destructor methods are required

Line 11 : The attribute object is created

Line 12-14 : A default value for the forwarded attribute label is defined.

Line 15: The forwarded attribute is added to the list of attribute

In case of error in the forwarded attribute configuration (for instance missing __root_att property), the attribute is not created by the Tango kernel and is therefore not visible for the external world. The state of the device to which the forwarded attribute belongs to is set to ALARM (if not already FAULT) and a detailed error report is available in the device status. In case a device with forwarded attribute(s) is started before the device(s) with the root attribute(s), the same principle is used: forwarded attribute(s) are not created, device state is set to ALARM and device status is reporting the error. When the device(s) with the root attribute will start, the forwarded attributes will automatically be created.