Contributing an AT Commands Dissector to Wireshark

Whilst working on enhancing the Wireshark ISI dissector to add support for the USB encapsulation thereof, and a number of new resource dissectors, I felt that it would be useful to cleave off a generic dissector framework based upon the main packet-isi.c source file.

Whilst I never actually committed and released that generic code, I decided to hack up an AT commands dissector plug-in based upon it (plus some quick-and-dirty hacks to the main Makefile), and left it alongside the ISI dissection code in my BitBucket repository for a while…

That code was mostly written “in anger”, as a means of identifying and filtering out the uninteresting AT commands traffic from other, more interesting stuff; and it generally served its purpose well – although it was extremely rudimentary (due to unfamiliarity with certain APIs and uncertainty over the best way to handle strings of an unknown length).

For example:

  • The initial version didn’t support displaying commands text in Wireshark’s “Info” column.
  • Because I only had access to trace files containing AT commands packets where the text was wrapped in CRLF bytes, the initial heuristics used to detect these packets were rather weak.

Still, despite those limitations, I signalled my intentions on the 26th of April to contribute the aforementioned dissector on the Wireshark developers’ mailing list; and two days later, I decided to file Bug #5868.

Shortly afterwards, Chris Maynard chimed in with some suggestions on ways of improving the code – which I implemented over the course of a few hours; and I ended up submitting copies of my modified versions of various source files that the new dissector relied upon.

On the 5th of May, I managed to stumble upon a trace file containing an AT commands packet sans the CRLF encapsulation – and before I could even finish addressing the suggestions that were made earlier, Chris stormed ahead and delivered an enhanced version of the dissector, a few hours later.

As a prerequisite, an updated version of the the patch from Bug #4814 (which implements support for dissection of USB-encapsulated MPEG-2 Transport Stream packets, and generic infrastructure for USB Bulk URB heuristics support) was finally committed.

Not too long afterwards, Chris checked in his modified version of the dissector (in SVN revision 37045, and slightly updated in 37046) – which meant that my first ever upstream submission to Wireshark was complete. 🙂

(As an aside, some additional fixes have been performed; and the old Ethernet CDC dissector was finally committed last night).

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