InedoAgent Documentation

Client/Server Architecture

  • Last Modified: 2021-02-18

Reference Documentation. This documentation is intended to describe the inner workings of the Inedo Agent, and does not provide any guidance on configuration or troubleshooting.

An Inedo Agent server has, at a minimum, the InedoAgent.exe process. This typically runs as a Windows service, although may be run interactively for diagnostic purposes.

This process is only responsible for listening for requests from agent clients (BuildMaster or Otter); as such, it consumes minimal system resources and should have a quick startup time.

The Inedo Agent listens for and receives individual messages from the network stack (protocol described separately); there two types of messages:

  • Meta - the message should be processed by the InedoAgent.exe process directly
  • Product - the message is passed along to the appropriate product host process

Product Host Processes

All orchestration happens in the context of a product host process. For Otter, this process is named Otter.Agent.exe. For BuildMaster, this process is named BuildMaster.Agent.exe.

These processes are only ever intended to be started from a running InedoAgent.exe process, and will terminate immediately if executed any other way. Once started, a product host process communicates with InedoAgent.exe using a shared-memory buffer; this is functionally similar to a pipe.

Once started, a product host process will load all of the appropriate product's extensions and wait for messages from the starting process (InedoAgent.exe).


A session is essentially an identifier for a product host process instance, and all communication with a product
host process happens in the context of this session. Sessions have the following behaviors/properties:

  • Fully isolated from InedoAgent.exe and from each other - no handles are inherited and the only communication channel is the shared memory buffer
  • Maintains a list of remotely-opened files and remotely-launched processes
  • When terminated gracefully, all file handles are closed
  • When no clients have connected for 30 minutes, the session's product host process will be terminated
  • In the event of an unexpected disconnect, the session will remain open for 30 minutes so a connection can be reestablished


A session operates on bi-directional, length-prefixed messages.

Messages sent to the server (i.e. a product to an agent) are either instructions to perform some sort of task, or a request for some kind of data. Messages sent to the client (i.e. an agent to a product) are generally data only.

Message Targets

Server messages specify a target (either Meta, BuildMaster, or Otter), which is used by InedoAgent.exe to determine which component will process the message. Its either processed by InedoAgent.exe directly (Meta), or forwarded to a product host process for processing.

Client messages do not need to specify a target, as the target will already be part of an open session.

Message Types

While all messages specify a message code that identifies the type of message (i.e. how it should be processed), each target can only process its own message types. As such, Meta-targeted messages are part of the Inedo Agent specification, but product-targeted messages are not.

Any references to BuildMaster or Otter messages types are for example purposes only; they are not part of the agent specification, and are subject to change in any version of the product.

Message Responses

Unlike HTTP/1.1 and similar unidirectional protocols, when all of the bytes representing a message are transmitted the server, the client does not wait for the server to send back a bunch of bytes as a response. As such, there is no concept of a response in the Inedo Agent protocol. When we use that term, it is simply the plain-English word that describes the taken when a message is received.

If a response to a message is required, the server will simply send a message to the client with a specific message type indicating that it is a response to a specific type of message. Generally, the message data payload will contain some kind of token, along with serialized data or a serialized unhandled exception.

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This documentation is licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0 and stored in GitHub.

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