How to build OpenDDS for Android and incorporate OpenDDS into Android apps.


The following table describes some of the variables of paths that are referenced in this guide.


You don’t have to actually set and use these, they are mostly for shorthand.




OpenDDS being built for Android


OpenDDS host to help build OpenDDS for Android


ACE being built for Android


The Android NDK


The generated toolchain


The Android SDK (By default $HOME/Android/Sdk)


Android Studio


The Java SDK


Install prefix for cross-compiled OpenSSL




A Target architecture name used by Android NDK


android_api, the minimum Android API version number


android_target_api, the target Android API version number


To build the core OpenDDS native libraries for Android you will need:

  • A development system supported by both OpenDDS and the Android NDK.

    • Windows and Linux were tested, but macOS should work as well.

  • Android Native Development Kit (NDK) r18 or higher. Building with the NDK directly requires NDK r19 or higher. You can download it separately from or using the SDK Manager that comes with Android Studio. If you downloaded the NDK using the SDK Manager, then it is located at $SDK/ndk-bundle.

  • Some knowledge about OpenDDS and Android development will be assumed, but more OpenDDS knowledge will be assumed than Android knowledge.

  • Windows users should see Building on Windows for additional requirements they might need.

In addition to those, building OpenDDS with optional dependencies also have additional requirements listed in their own sections.

The Using OpenDDS in a Android App assumes the use of Android Studio, but it will also work when just using the Android SDK if tweaked.

Building on Windows#

If using you’re using Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), Docker, or anything like that, follow the Linux and macOS instructions. You can copy the resulting libraries from the virtual environment to Windows and where they can be used in Android Studio as they would be used on Linux.

If you want to build OpenDDS for Android on Windows without WSL or Docker, follow the Windows instructions.

In addition to OpenDDS and the Android NDK you will also need the following software:

  • MSYS2

    • Building OpenDDS and its dependencies for Android requires various utilities that would normally come on a Unix system. This guide will use MSYS2, which supplies many of those utilities. Install MSYS2 from the official website at and set it up.

    • Follow all the install/update steps from the website.

  • Strawberry Perl

  • OpenDDS Host tools build using Visual Studio

    • In a separate copy of OpenDDS, build OpenDDS as described in Building and Installing using Visual Studio, except use the --host-tools-only configure script option. This OpenDDS (and the ACE+TAO it uses) must be the same version as the one used to build for Android.

    • If you want to use Java in the Android build, also pass the --java configure script option here as described in Java. You will also need to pass it to the configure script build for Android when that comes.

Finally, all paths being passed to GNU Make must not contain spaces because ACE’s gnuace make scripts don’t handle those paths correctly on Windows. This means the NDK, toolchain, MSYS2, JDK, OpenDDS source, OpenDDS host tools, etc. must not contain any spaces in their paths.

Building OpenDDS for Android#

As Android targets multiple architectures and has many versions, an architecture and minimum API version to use will have to be decided. As of writing this page lists Android version numbers and their corresponding API versions. You will have to do a separate build for each architecture if you want to build OpenDDS for multiple architectures.

OpenDDS for Android can be built in two ways: Using the NDK Directly or Using a Standalone Toolchain.

Using the NDK directly is recommended by Google and means that toolchains don’t have to be generated for each target architecture.

Using the NDK Directly#


Building with the NDK directly requires NDK r19 or later.


If you need to configure OpenDDS with any optional dependencies then read the relevant sections before configuring and building OpenDDS.

OpenDDS can be configured and built with the Android NDK using the following commands:

./configure --doc-group3 --target=android --macros=android_abi=$ABI --macros=android_api=$MIN_API --macros=android_ndk=$NDK
make # Pass -j/--jobs with an appropriate value or this'll take a while...

Using a Standalone Toolchain#

To build OpenDDS with with a Android standalone toolchain, a standalone toolchain must first be generated by using:

$NDK/build/tools/ --arch $ARCH_ARG --api $MIN_API --install-dir $TOOLCHAIN

Android NDK includes Python in prebuilt\windows-x86_64\bin for 64-bit Windows NDKs. For the example above, assuming %NDK% is the location of the NDK and %TOOLCHAIN% is the desired location of the toolchain, run this command instead:

%NDK%\prebuilt\windows-x86_64\bin\python %NDK%\build\tools\ --arch %ARCH_ARG% --api %MIN_API% --install-dir %TOOLCHAIN%

The --arch argument for and --macros=android_abi=<ARCH> argument for the configure script must match according to this table.


If you need to configure OpenDDS with any optional dependencies then read the relevant sections before configuring and building OpenDDS.

To configure and build OpenDDS after this, run:

./configure --target=android --macros=android_abi=$ABI
PATH=$PATH:$TOOLCHAIN/bin make # Pass -j/--jobs with an appropriate value or this'll take a while...
configure --target=android --macros=android_abi=%ABI% --host-tools=%HOST_DDS%
set PATH=%PATH%;%TOOLCHAIN%\bin;C:\msys64\usr\bin
REM Pass -j/--jobs with an appropriate value or this'll take a while...


  • Pass --host-tools with the location of the OpenDDS host tools that were built using Visual Studio must be passed to configure.

  • You will need MSYS2 utilities in your %PATH%.

  • Run these commands in a new Visual Studio command prompt that is different from where you configured the host tools.

Configure Script Macros#

These are GNU make variables that can be passed using the --macros configure script option. They are mostly used by platform_android.GNU.


Location of Android NDK, same as $NDK. This is required when building with the NDK directly, but not when building with a standalone toolchain.


Location of Android SDK, same as $SDK. This is only required if enabling OpenDDS to use Android Java APIs.


The architecture to cross-target. When using ACE6/TAO2 it is optional as it defaults to armeabi-v7a. When using ACE7/ACE3 it is required.

The valid options are:








32-bit ARM




32-bit ARM with NEON




64-bit ARM




32-bit x86




64-bit x86


The minimum Android API to target. This is the same as $MIN_API. This is required when building with the NDK, but not when building with a standalone toolchain.


The Android API being targeted by an application. This is the same as $TARGET_API. This is only required if enabling OpenDDS to use Android Java APIs.

Host Tools#

To cross-compile OpenDDS, host tools are required to process IDL. These are programs that include tao_idl and opendds_idl that have to be built to run on the host system, not Android. The example above generates two copies of OpenDDS, one in OpenDDS/build/host and another in OpenDDS/build/target. If this is the case, then $HOST_DDS will be the absolute path to build/host and $DDS_ROOT will be the absolute path to build/target.

If building for more than one architecture, which will be necessary to cover the largest number of Android devices possible, it might make sense to build the OpenDDS host tools separately to cut down on compile time and disk space.

If this is the case, then $HOST_DDS will be the location of the static host tools built for the host platform and $DDS_ROOT will just be the location of the OpenDDS source code.

This should be done with the same version of OpenDDS and ACE/TAO as what you want to build for Android. Pass --host-tools-only to the configure script to generate static host tools. Also pass --java $JDK if you plan on using Java.

If you want to just the minimum needed for host OpenDDS tools and get rid of the rest of the source files, you can. These are the binaries that make up the OpenDDS host tools:

  • $HOST_DDS/bin/opendds_idl

  • $HOST_DDS/bin/idl2jni (if using the OpenDDS Java API)

  • $HOST_DDS/ACE_TAO/bin/ace_gperf

  • $HOST_DDS/ACE_TAO/bin/tao_idl

These files can be separated from the rest of the OpenDDS and ACE/TAO source trees, but the directory structure must be kept. To use these to build OpenDDS for Android, pass --host-tools $HOST_DDS to the configure script.

Optional Dependencies#


To use OpenDDS in the traditional Android development language, Java, you will need to build the Java bindings when building OpenDDS. See java/README for details. For Android you can use the JDK provided with Android Studio, JDK=$STUDIO/jre. Pass --java=$JDK to the OpenDDS configure script.

Android SDK#

OpenDDS can make use of Android’s Java SDK. Right now this is just used for allowing OpenDDS to always be notified of network availability when targeting API 30 and later.


OpenSSL is required for OpenDDS Security.

Android preloads the system SSL library (either OpenSSL or BoringSSL) for the Java Android API, so OpenSSL MUST be statically linked to the OpenDDS security library. The static libraries will used if the shared libraries are not found. This can be accomplished by either disabling the generation of the shared libraries by passing no-shared to OpenSSL’s Configure script or just deleting the so files after building OpenSSL.

To build OpenSSL for Android, read the NOTES.ANDROID file that comes with OpenSSL’s source code.

Cross-compiling OpenSSL on Windows:

  1. Start the MSYS2 MSYS development shell using the start menu shortcut or C:\msys64\msys2_shell.cmd -msys

  2. cd /c/your/location/of/OpenSSL-source

  3. export ANDROID_NDK_HOME=/c/your/location/of/ndk-standalone-toolchain


  5. ./Configure --prefix=$SSL_ROOT android-arm no-tests no-shared (or replace -arm with a different platform like -arm64, see OpenSSL’s NOTES.ANDROID file)

  6. make install_sw


Xerces C++ is also required for OpenDDS Security. It does not support Android specifically, but it comes with a CMake build script that can be paired with the Android NDK’s CMake toolchain.

Xerces requires a supported “transcoder” library. For API levels greater than or equal to 28 one of these, GNU libiconv, is included with Android. Before 28 any of the transcoders supported by Xerces would work theoretically but GNU libiconv was the one tested. If GNU libiconv is used, build it as an archive library (--disable-shared) so that the users of Xerces (ACE and OpenDDS) don’t need to be aware of it as an additional runtime dependency.

Download GNU libiconv version 1.16 source code and extract the archive.

Cross-compiling on Windows#
GNU libiconv#
  1. Start the MSYS2 MSYS development shell using the start menu shortcut or C:\msys64\msys2_shell.cmd -msys

  2. cd /c/your/location/of/libiconv-source

  3. export ANDROID_NDK_HOME=/c/your/location/of/ndk-standalone-toolchain


  5. target=arm-linux-androideabi (or select a different NDK target)

  6. ./configure --disable-shared --prefix=/c/your/location/of/installed-libiconv --host=$target CC=$target-clang CXX=$target-clang++ LD=$target-ld CFLAGS="-fPIE -fPIC" LDFLAGS=-pie

  7. make && make install


The directory given by --prefix= will be created by make install and will have include and lib subdirectories that will be used by the Xerces build.


A modified version of Xerces C++ hosted on OpenDDS GitHub organization has support for an external GNU libiconv. Download this version using git (android branch) or the via ZIP archive.

Start the Microsoft Visual Studio command prompt for C++ development (for example “x64 Native Tools Command Prompt for VS 2019”).

cmake and ninja should be on the PATH. They can be installed as on option component in the Visual Studio installer (see “C++ CMake tools for Windows”), or downloaded separately.

Set environment variables based on the NDK location and Android configuration selected:

  1. set target=arm-linux-androideabi

  2. set abi=armeabi-v7a

  3. set api=16

  4. set NDK=C:\your\location\of\NDK

  5. set GNU_ICONV_ROOT=C:\your\location\of\installed-libiconv

Configure and build with CMake

  1. cd C:\your\location\of\Xerces-for-android

  2. mkdir build & cd build

  3. cmake -GNinja -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=C:\your\location\of\installed-xerces -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=%NDK%\build\cmake\android.toolchain.cmake -DANDROID_ABI=%abi% -DANDROID_PLATFORM=android-%api% "-DANDROID_CPP_FEATURES=rtti exceptions" ..

  4. cmake --build . --target install

Cross-Compiling IDL Libraries#

Like all OpenDDS applications, you will need to use type support libraries generated from IDL files to use most of OpenDDS’s functionality.

Assuming the library is already setup and works for a desktop platform, then you should be able to run:

(source $DDS_ROOT/; && PATH=$PATH:$TOOLCHAIN/bin make)

The resulting native IDL library file must be included with the rest of the native library files.

Java IDL Libraries#

Java support for your IDL, assuming OpenDDS was built with Java, will available by inheriting dcps_java in your IDL MPC project and will be built along with the native IDL libraries using the command above.

Java IDL libraries consist of two components: a Java jar library file and a supporting native library so file. This native library must be included with the other native library files, and is different than the regular native IDL type support library.

Using OpenDDS in a Android App#

After building OpenDDS and generating the IDL libraries, you will need to set up an app to be able to use OpenDDS.

There is a demo for using OpenDDS over the Internet that includes an Android app built using these instructions.

Adding the OpenDDS Native Libraries to the App#

In your app’s build.gradle (NOT THE ONE OF THE SAME NAME IN THE ROOT OF THE PROJECT) add this to the android section:

sourceSets {
    main {
        jniLibs.srcDirs 'native_libs'

native_libs is not a required name, but it needs to contain subdirectories named after the android_abi of the native libraries it contains ABI/architecture table.

The exact list of libraries to include depend on what features you’re using but the basic list of library file for OpenDDS are as follows:

  • Core OpenDDS library and its dependencies:

    • If not already included because of a separate C++ NDK project, you must include the Clang C++ Standard Library. This is located at:

      • Standalone toolchain: $TOOLCHAIN/sysroot/usr/lib/$ABI_PREFIX/

      • NDK: $NDK/toolchains/llvm/prebuilt/$HOST_PLATFORM/sysroot/usr/lib/$ABI_PREFIX/

      • $ABI_PREFIX is an identifier for the architecture whose possible values can be found in the ABI/architecture table.

    • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

    • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

    • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

  • The following are the transport libraries, one for each transport type. You will need at least one of these, depending on the transport(s) you want to use:

    • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

      • Depends on $DDS_ROOT/lib/

    • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

    • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

    • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

    • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

  • The type support libraries for your IDL.

    • The following are the Discovery libraries. Static discovery is built into, but most likely you will want one of these:

    • Required to use RTPS Discovery:

      • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

    • Required to use the DCPSInfoRepo Discovery:

      • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

        • Depends on:

          • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

          • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

          • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

          • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

          • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

    • Required to use OpenDDS Security:

      • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

      • libxerces-c-3.*.so

      • if it is necessary to include it.

      • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

  • In addition to the jars listed below, the following native libraries are required for using the Java API:

    • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

    • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

    • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

      • Depends on:

        • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

        • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

        • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

        • $DDS_ROOT/lib/

        • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

        • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

        • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

        • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

        • $ACE_ROOT/lib/

    • The native part of the Java library for your IDL libraries.

This list might not be complete, especially if you’re using a major feature not listed here.

Adding OpenDDS Java Libraries to the App#

In your app’s build.gradle (NOT THE ONE OF THE SAME NAME IN THE ROOT OF THE PROJECT) add this to the dependencies section if not already there:

implementation fileTree(include: ['*.jar'], dir: 'libs')

Copy these jar files from $DDS_ROOT/lib to a directory called libs in your app’s subdirectory. Create libs if it doesn’t exist Like native_libs, the libs name isn’t required.

Also copy the jar files from your IDL Libraries and sync with Gradle if you’re using Android Studio. After this OpenDDS Java API should be able to be used the same as if using OpenDDS with the Hotspot JVM. The exceptions and particulars to how Android can effect OpenDDS are described in the following sections.

Network Permissions and Availability#

In AndroidManifest.xml you will need to add the network permissions if they are not already there:

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE" />

Failure to do so will result in ACE failing to access any sockets and OpenDDS will not be able to function.

Network Availability#

When not running in an application targeting API 30 or later on Android 10 or later, Android builds of OpenDDS use the LinuxNetworkConfigMonitor to reconfigure OpenDDS connections automatically when the device switches from one network (cellular or WiFi) to another.

When running in an application targeting API 30 or later on Android 10, LinuxNetworkConfigMonitor can no longer be used, as Netlink sockets are blocked by the OS for security reasons. In the logs this warning shows up as:

WARNING: LinuxNetworkConfigMonitor::open_i: could not open Netlink socket (this is expected for API>=30, see Android section in the Developer’s Guide)

Instead, NetworkConfigModifier is utilized. As a consequence of this, two variables are required from the user, android_sdk, and android_target_api. These correspond to the location of your Android SDK, likely $HOME/Android/Sdk on Linux, and the API number you are targeting. The NetworkConfigModifier is set up along with the necessary network callbacks when the user uses TheParticipantFactory.WithArgs.

Pass the following options to the configure script make this possible:

--macros=android_sdk=$SDK --macros=android_target_api=$TARGET_API --java

Configuration Files#

OpenDDS can use several types of configuration files: a main configuration file, security configuration files, and security certificate files, among others. On traditional platforms, distributing and reading these files is usually not an issue at all. On Android however, an app has no traditional files of its own out of the box, so you can’t give OpenDDS a path to a file you want to distribute with the app without preparing beforehand.

If you already have a preferred way to include files in your app, then that will work as long as you can give OpenDDS the path to the files.

Android can open a file stream for resource and asset files. Ideally OpenDDS would be able to accept these streams, but it doesn’t. One solution to this is reading the streams into memory and then writing them to files in the app’s private directory. This example is using assets, but resources will also work with some slight modifications.

// ...
    private String copyAsset(String asset_path) {
        File new_file = new File(getFilesDir(), asset_path);
        final String full_path = new_file.getAbsolutePath();
        try {
            InputStream in = getAssets().open(asset_path, AssetManager.ACCESS_BUFFER);
            byte[] buffer = new byte[in.available()];
            FileOutputStream out = new FileOutputStream(new_file);
        } catch (FileNotFoundException e) {
        } catch (IOException e) {
        return full_path;
// ...

    protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        // ...

        final String config_file = copyAsset("opendds_config.ini");
        String[] args = new String[] {"-DCPSConfigFile", config_file};
        StringSeqHolder argsHolder = new StringSeqHolder(args);
        dpf = TheParticipantFactory.WithArgs(argsHolder);
        // ...
// ...

This example works but in production code the error handling should be improved and integrated with the app’s initialization. Rewriting the file every time is not ideal, but OpenDDS’s files are small and this method ensures the files are up-to-date.


When using a DataReaderListener, the callbacks will be using a ACE reactor worker thread, which can’t make changes to the Android GUI directly because it’s not the main thread. To have these callbacks affect changes in the Android GUI, use something like android.os.Handler:

// ...

import android.os.Handler;

// ...

public class DataReaderListenerImpl extends DDS._DataReaderListenerLocalBase {

    private MainActivity context;

    public DataReaderListenerImpl(MainActivity context) {
        this.context = context;

    public synchronized void on_data_available(DDS.DataReader reader) {
        StatusDataReader mdr = StatusDataReaderHelper.narrow(reader);
        if (mdr == null) {
        StatusHolder mh = new StatusHolder(new Status());
        SampleInfoHolder sih = new SampleInfoHolder(new SampleInfo(0, 0, 0,
                new DDS.Time_t(), 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, false, 0));
        int status = mdr.take_next_sample(mh, sih);

        if (status == RETCODE_OK.value) {

            // ...

            Handler handler = new Handler(context.getMainLooper());
   Runnable() {
                public void run() {

Android Activity Lifecycle#

The Android Activity Lifecycle is something that affects all Android apps. In the case of OpenDDS, the interaction gets more complicated because of the intersection of the similar, but distinct process lifecycle. The process hosts the activity, but isn’t guaranteed to be kept alive after onStop() is called. What makes this worse for NDK applications is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to be warned of the killing of the process the way Java application can rely on onDestroyed(). For most OpenDDS applications, this isn’t a serious issue.

An easy way to make sure participants are cleaned up is to create participants in onStart() as might be expected, and always delete them in onStop(), so that they may be created again in onStart(). The DomainParticpantFactory can be retrieved either in onStart() or more perhaps appropriately in Application.onStart(), given the singleton nature of both.

This might not be ideal or efficient though, because deleting and recreating participants will happen every time the app loses focus, like during orientation changes. An alternative to this is to run OpenDDS within an Android Service separate from the main app with the service configured so that it does not stopped when the Application’s onStop() is called. The service should be specified in AndroidManifest.xml.


OpenDDS service classes should extend Service and provide an IBinder for an application to use when it creates the ServiceConnection. For example:

public class MainActivity extends AppCompatActivity {
    // ...
    private OpenDdsService svc = null;

    private ServiceConnection ddsServiceConnection = new ServiceConnection() {
        public void onServiceConnected(ComponentName name, IBinder service) {
            OpenDdsService.OpenDdsBinder binder = (OpenDdsService.OpenDdsBinder) service ;
            svc = binder.getService();
            // ...

        public void onServiceDisconnected(ComponentName name) {
            // ...
    // ...
public class OpenDdsService extends Service {
    // ...
    private final IBinder binder = new OpenDdsBinder();

    public class OpenDdsBinder extends Binder {
        OpenDdsService getService() {
            return OpenDdsService.this;

        public void onCreate() {
            // ...

        public int onStartCommand(Intent intent, int flags, int startId) {
            return START_NOT_STICKY;

        public IBinder onBind(Intent intent) {
            return binder;

        public void onRebind(Intent intent) {

        public void onDestroy() {

See Android’s Services overview for more information.