NetworkTables is a communications protocol used in FIRST Robotics. It provides a simple to use mechanism for communicating information between several computers. There is a single server (typically your robot) and zero or more clients. These clients can be on the driver station, a coprocessor, or anything else on the robot’s local control network.
These notes apply to all languages that use NetworkTables, not just Python
FIRST introduced the mDNS based addressing for the RoboRIO in 2015, and generally teams that use additional devices have found that while it works at home and sometimes in the pits, it tends to not work correctly on the field at events. For this reason, if you use pynetworktables on the field, we strongly encourage teams to ensure every device has a static IP address.
- Static IPs are
- mDNS Hostnames are
roborio-XXXX-frc.local(don’t use these!)
For example, if your team number was 1234, then the static IP to connect to
For information on configuring your RoboRIO and other devices to use static IPs, see the WPILib screensteps documentation.
WPILib automatically starts NetworkTables for you, and no additional configuration should need to be done.
For install instructions, see pynetworktables installation instructions
As of 2017, this is very easy to do. Here’s the code:
from networktables import NetworkTables NetworkTables.initialize(server='10.xx.xx.2')
The key is specifying the correct server hostname. See the above section on robot configuration for this.
In its most abstract form, NetworkTables can be thought of as a dictionary that is shared across multiple computers across the network. As you change the value of a table on one computer, the value is transmitted to the other side and can be retrieved there.
The keys of this dictionary must be strings, but the values can be numbers,
strings, booleans, various array types, or raw binary. Strictly speaking, the
keys can be any string value, but they are typically path-like values such as
table = NetworkTables.getTable('SmartDashboard') # This retrieves a boolean at /SmartDashboard/foo foo = table.getBoolean('foo', True)
There is also an concept of subtables:
subtable = table.getSubTable('bar') # This retrieves /SmartDashboard/bar/baz baz = table.getNumber('baz', 1)
As you may have guessed from the above example, once you obtain a NetworkTable instance, there are very simple functions you can call to send and receive NetworkTables data.
- To retrieve values, call
- To send values, call
NetworkTables can also be told to call a function when a particular key in the table is updated.
There are many code samples showing various aspects of NetworkTables operation. See the pynetworktables examples page.
WPILib’s OutlineViewer (requires Java) is a great tool for connecting to networktables and seeing what’s being transmitted.
WPILib’s SmartDashboard (requires Java) is often used by teams to connect to NetworkTables and used as a dashboard.