Remote Procedure Calls

Remote procedure calls (RPC) is a new feature added with VOLTTRON 3.0. The new VOLTTRON Interconnect Protocol VIP introduced the ability to create new point-to-point protocols, called subsystems, enabling the implementation of JSON-RPC 2.0. This provides a simple method for agent authors to write methods and expose or export them to other agents, making request-reply or notify communications patterns as simple as writing and calling methods.

Exporting Methods

The export() method, defined on the RPC subsystem class, is used to mark a method as remotely accessible. This export() method has a dual use. The class method can be used as a decorator to statically mark methods when the agent class is defined. The instance method dynamically exports methods, and can be used with methods not defined on the agent class. Each take an optional export name argument, which defaults to the method name. Here are the two export method signatures:

Instance method:

RPC.export(method, name=None)

Class method:


And here is an example agent definition using both methods:

from import Agent, Core, RPC

def add(a, b):
    '''Add two numbers and return the result'''
    return a + b

class ExampleAgent(Agent):
    def say_hello(self, name):
        '''Build and return a hello string'''
        return 'Hello, %s!' % (name,)

    def bye(self, name):
        '''Build and return a goodbye string'''
        return 'Goodbye, %s.' % (name,)

    def onsetup(self, sender, **kwargs):'add')

Calling exported methods

The RPC subsystem provides three methods for calling exported RPC methods., method, *args, **kwargs)

Call the remote method exported by peer with the given arguments. Returns a gevent AsyncResult object.

RPC.batch(peer, requests)

Batch call remote methods exported by peer. requests must be an iterable of 4-tuples (notify, method, args, kwargs), where notify is a boolean indicating whether this is a notification or standard call, method is the method name, args is a list and kwargs is a dictionary. Returns a list of AsyncResult objects for any standard calls. Returns None if all requests were notifications.

RPC.notify(peer, method, *args, **kwargs)

Send a one-way notification message to peer by calling method without returning a result.

Here are some examples:, 'say_hello', 'Bob').get()
results =, [(False, 'say_bye', 'Alice', {}), (True, 'later', [], {})]), 'ready')


A list of methods is available by calling the inspect method. Additional information can be returned for any method by appending ‘.inspect’ to the method name. Here are a couple examples:, 'inspect')   # Returns a list of exported methods, 'say_hello.inspect')   # Return metadata on say_hello method


See the RPC module for implementation details.

Also see Multi-Platform RPC Communication and RPC in RabbitMQ for additional resources.