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Using UDP sockets to connect a Windows 8 Metro style app to a .NET Micro Framework device: Part 1

Pete Brown - 21 June 2012

One of my pet projects requires using UDP sockets from a Windows 8 Metro style app to talk to a microcontroller. UDP sockets are a pretty efficient way of communicating across wired and wireless connections.

In this first part, we'll focus on prototyping the Metro style XAML/C# app. The NETMF piece will be in the next post.

Test Setup

The first step is to figure out how we'll test this app. We're using UDP networking, unlike the more TCP networking (or HTTP) networking we do, you can't simply hit port 80 on a website.

That said, when dealing with something like UDP networking, it's good to keep the initial test as simple as possible. In this case, I wanted to test that UDP packets could indeed be sent from the Metro style app to another machine. Rather than create a throwaway listener app, I simply installed Wireshark on the destination PC and had it listen. I remote into my Windows 8 laptop from my main machine (which will run Windows 8 at release, but not just yet). For grins, my test setup looks like this:


That's just for grins. And yes, that's this blog post, in-progress. Sort of meta :)

Why Not Just Use NETMF from the start?

Creating the NETMF client at this point introduces another variable. It's best to build (or prototype) in discrete pieces, so we can sort out any firewall or other issues right up front. Don't worry, we'll complicate things later. :)

Build the app

Create a new Metro style C#/XAML app. I named mine MetroSocketsDemo.

Before doing any development, double-click the Package.appxmanifest and check off the "Home or Work Networking". You'll need this capability to access local network resources. If you forget to do this, you'll get an exception when you try to open the socket in this example.

Home and work networks capability

The privateNetworkClientServer capability provides inbound and outbound access to home and work networks through the firewall. This capability is typically used for games that communicate across the local area network (LAN), and for apps that share data across a variety of local devices. If your app specifies musicLibrary, picturesLibrary, or videosLibrary, you don't need to use this capability to access the corresponding library in a Home Group.

The capability is shown checked on this image of the appxmanifest designer.


If you're actually testing on a single machine instead of two separate machines, you'll need to also set the "Allow Local Network Loopback" property under the Debug tab of the project properties. It's set by default, but it's important to understand why that's there. Calls to are not allowed in store apps, so this is something you'd do in debugging only.

NetworkInterface Class

Next, add a class named "NetworkInterface". This will encapsulate all the network access for the app.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Threading.Tasks;
using Windows.Networking;
using Windows.Networking.Sockets;
using Windows.Storage.Streams;

namespace MetroSocketsDemo.Services
class NetworkInterface
private DatagramSocket _socket;

public NetworkInterface()
_socket = new DatagramSocket();

public async void Connect(HostName remoteHostName, string remoteServiceNameOrPort)
await _socket.ConnectAsync(remoteHostName, remoteServiceNameOrPort);

public async void SendMessage(string message)
var stream = _socket.OutputStream;

var writer = new DataWriter(stream);


await writer.StoreAsync();

The code is easy enough to follow. In fact, if you've ever done socket programming before, this code is probably even more simple and compact than that. The DatagramSocket class from Windows.Networking.Sockets (a WinRT component) makes it easy, especially when combined with the async and await keywords. The expected use is to call the Connect function giving it the host name (or IP address)  and the port number or service name. Once connected, call SendMessage with a string to send across the wire.

User Interface

Next up, the XAML for the user interface. Simply add a button  and its handler, as shown here


<Grid Background="{StaticResource ApplicationPageBackgroundThemeBrush}">
<Button x:Name="ConnectButton" Content="Connect and Send"

The result user interface is pretty bare - just a lonely button on the page:


Then, in the code behind, wire up the handler

NetworkInterface ni = new NetworkInterface();

private void ConnectButton_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
ni.Connect(new HostName(""), "5321");
string cmd = "Hello!\r";


The actual IP address to use is the one for your destination PC/card. Use ipconfig from a command prompt to find the address if you don't know it. Don't try this using just the IP address I show here.

Test the app

Fire up Wireshark on the destination machine and set it to capture. You can filter to just UDP if you want.

Once you have the capture started, run the application and click the "Send Data" button. Give it a second, then stop the capture. You should see an entry from your source PC, like the middle line here:


If you double-click that line, you'll be able to inspect the data directly:


The total data sent is 7 bytes: "Hello!\n". The other characters shown are part of the rest of the frame. In case there's any question, the seven characters are shown in this table.

Character H E L L O ! \n
Value 0x48 0x65 0x6c 0x6c 0x6f 0x21 0x0d

Next Steps

Now that we've verified that the message can make it across the wire, we're ready to do something useful with it. The next post will focus on building the .NET Gadgeteer Project and connecting to it.

posted by Pete Brown on Thursday, June 21, 2012
filed under:        

1 comment for “Using UDP sockets to connect a Windows 8 Metro style app to a .NET Micro Framework device: Part 1”

  1. Aaronsays:
    Hi, I'm in the process of building a C#/XAML Metro style game.

    I'm fairly new to programming have been working on my game for about 8 months now and I was thinking about adding LAN multiplayer capability. Would you recommend implementing UDP into the game? Instead of sending strings can you serialize instantiated classes and send them using this? Thanks

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