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This page gives a brief introduction to the architecture and design of pyatv.

NB: This page is far from complete and under development. Please let me know if you want any part of pyatv explained further, so I can add it here.

General Topics

This section contains a few topics covering general design concepts, not going into any protocol specific details.


A configuration is a general description of a device and is represented by an instance of conf.AppleTV. The easiest and best way of obtaining a configuration is pyatv.scan, as a list of configurations are returned. Both when pairing and connecting, a configuration is needed.

The configuration instance stores general information about the device, like IP address, name and various other properties used by the device info interface. It also stores a list of services associated with the device, i.e. the protocols it supports. A simple overview:

classDiagram class AppleTV AppleTV : str address AppleTV : int port AppleTV : ... class AirPlayService AirPlayService : str identifier AirPlayService : int port AirPlayService : ... class CompanionService CompanionService : int port CompanionService : ... class DmapService DmapService : str identifier DmapService : int port DmapService : ... class MrpService MrpService : str identifier MrpService : int port MrpService : ... class RaopService RaopService : str identifier RaopService : int port RaopService : ... AppleTV --* AirPlayService AppleTV --* CompanionService AppleTV --* DmapService AppleTV --* MrpService AppleTV --* RaopService


Scanning can be performed in one of two ways: unicast or multicast. The different methods are implemented as separate scanners in support/

graph TD A[User] -->|hosts=X| B(pyatv.scan) B -->|X=None| C[MulticastMdnsScanner] B -->|X=,| D[UnicastMdnsScanner]

UnicastMdnsScanner: Sends zeroconf requests directly to one or more hosts as specified via the hosts argument.

MulticastMdnsScanner: Uses multicast and sends requests to all hosts on the network.

Each request contains a list of all the services that pyatv are interested in, i.e. services used by the implemented protocols. Each protocol must implement a scan method returning which Zeroconf services it needs as well as handlers that are called when a service is found. An example from Companion looks like this:

def companion_service_handler(
    mdns_service: mdns.Service, response: mdns.Response
) -> ScanHandlerReturn:
    """Parse and return a new Companion service."""
    service = conf.CompanionService(
    return, service

def scan() -> Mapping[str, ScanHandler]:
    """Return handlers used for scanning."""
    return {"_companion-link._tcp.local": companion_service_handler}

Whenever a service with type _companion-link._tcp.local is found, the function/handler companion_service_handler is called. Device name and a interface.BaseService representing the service is returned and added to the final device configuration.

Both unicast (which is a pyatv specific term) and multicast scanning uses a homegrown implementation of Zeroconf instead of relying on a third party. One exception however is when publishing new services on the network. In that case python-zeroconf is used. Prior to version 0.7.0 of pyatv, python-zerconf would also be used for scanning but some limitations in the library drove a new implementation. Namely these:

The Zeroconf implementation is in support/ and some helper routines for DNS in support/


When connecting to a device, an instance of interface.AppleTV is created. This section describes the basics of how that is done.

Set up of a protocol instance

When connecting to a device, each service is used to set up a new protocol. This will create instances of all interface implementations, register them with it’s corresponding relayer (see next section) and connect (if needed by the protocol). Each protocol must implement a setup method and add that to the list in for this to work.

A simple example of a setup method looks like this:

def setup(
    loop: asyncio.AbstractEventLoop,
    config: conf.AppleTV,
    interfaces: Dict[Any, Relayer],
    device_listener: StateProducer,
    session_manager: ClientSessionManager,
) -> Generator[SetupData, None, None]:
    # Service information for current protocol
    service = config.get_service(Protocol.XXX)

    # Create any protocol specific things here
    protocol = DummyProtocol()

    # Register interfaces with corresponding relayers
    interfaces = {
        RemoteControl: DummyRemoteControl(protocol)

    # Called for all protocols _after_ setup has been called for all protocols
    async def _connect() -> bool:
        await protocol.start()
        return True  # Connect succeeded

    # Called when closing the device connection
    def _close() -> Set[asyncio.Task]:
        return set()  # Tasks thas has not yet finished

    # Yield connect handler, close handler and a set with _all_ features supported
    # by the protocol.
    yield SetupData(Protocol.XXX, _connect, _close, interfaces, set([FeatureName.Play]))

The _connect and close methods will be called by the facade object when connecting or disconnecting. For the feature interface to work properly, each protocol must yield which features they support. This is used internally in the features implementation in the facade to know if a protocol implements a certain feature or not.

A protocol can yield as many protocol implementations as they want, even protocols of a different kind. This is to support the use case where one protocol is tunneled over another protocol, for instance how MRP is carried over a stream in AirPlay 2.


The general idea of the support/ module is to allow protocols to only implement parts of an interface as well as allowing multiple protocols to implement the same interfaces, but still provide meaningful output to the user. This is accomplished in two ways:

One relayer is responsible for one interface only. This means that several realyers must be used to support all the interfaces in pyatv. The facade implementation described below keeps track of all those relayers.

A typical example of a relayer instance might look like this:

classDiagram class Relayer Relayer : relay(target, priority) class MrpPower MrpPower : PowerState power_state MrpPower : turn_on(await_new_state) MrpPower : turn_off(await_new_state) class CompanionPower CompanionPower : turn_on(await_new_state) CompanionPower : turn_off(await_new_state) Relayer --> MrpPower Relayer --> CompanionPower

Here, only MrpPower implements interface.Power.power_state, making the relayer always return the value from the MRP implementation. The remaining methods are implemented by both instances, leaving the choice to priority. A relayer always has a pre-defined priority list from when it was created (general priority list mentioned above), but it’s also possible to override the internal priority list when calling the relay method. This makes it possible to deal with special cases, where one protocol with lower priority provides a better implementation than one with higher priority. The power interface is one such example, where the Companion implementation is better than MRP (even though MRP has higher general priority than Companion).


The “facade” implements interface.AppleTV as well as all interfaces belonging to it. One relayer is allocated per interface and protocols register instances of interfaces they implement during the setup phase (when connecting). An example with some of the interfaces looks like this:

graph TD AppleTV -->|interface.AppleTV| FacadeAppleTV FacadeAppleTV -->|interface.Power|PowerRelayer[Relayer] FacadeAppleTV -->|interface.Audio|AudioRelayer[Relayer] FacadeAppleTV -->|interface.Apps|AppsRelayer[Relayer] FacadeAppleTV -->|interface.Remotecontrol|RCRelayer[Relayer] PowerRelayer --> CompanionPower PowerRelayer --> MrpPower AudioRelayer --> RaopAudio AppsRelayer --> CompanionApps RCRelayer --> DmapRemoteControl RCRelayer --> MrpRemoteControl RCRelayer --> RaopRemoteControl

From a user point of view, all interaction occurs with the facade object which relays calls to the most appropriate protocol instance. A typical interface implementation looks like this:

class FacadeApps(Relayer, interface.Apps):

    def __init__(self):
        super().__init__(interface.Apps, DEFAULT_PRIORITIES)

    async def app_list(self) -> List[interface.App]:
        return await self.relay("app_list")()

    async def launch_app(self, bundle_id: str) -> None:
        await self.relay("launch_app")(bundle_id)

Calls are relayed and potentially returning a value. As described in the relayer section above, the priority rule is generally used to determine which instance is called. But the facade can side-step this rule and implement it’s own logic when deemed necessary. One example is the power implementation (short version):

class FacadePower(Relayer, interface.Power, interface.PowerListener):


    async def turn_on(self, await_new_state: bool = False) -> None:
        await self.relay("turn_on", priority=self.OVERRIDE_PRIORITIES)(

Here, the priority list is overridden for interface.Power.turn_on (and interface.Power.turn_off). Another example is the audio interface:

class FacadeAudio(Relayer, interface.Audio):
    def __init__(self):
        super().__init__(interface.Audio, DEFAULT_PRIORITIES)

    def volume(self) -> float:
        volume = self.relay("volume")
        if 0.0 <= volume <= 100.0:
            return volume
        raise exceptions.ProtocolError(f"volume {volume} is out of range")

    async def set_volume(self, level: float) -> None:
        if 0.0 <= level <= 100.0:
            await self.relay("set_volume")(level)
            raise exceptions.ProtocolError(f"volume {level} is out of range")

In this case, the facade will guard that an invalid audio level is passed over to the protocol implementation (i.e. must not be checked there) as well as the value returned from the protocol.

General sequence of connecting

Here’s a very rough diagram of what happens during a connect call:

sequenceDiagram autonumber participant User participant pyatv participant Protocol participant Facade User ->> pyatv: connect(config) loop For each service in config pyatv ->> Protocol: setup Protocol ->> pyatv: protocol, connect, close, interfaces, feature list pyatv ->> Facade: register interfaces end pyatv ->> Facade: connect loop For each protocol Facade ->> Protocol: connect end pyatv ->> User: facade instance note over User: Use returned instance User ->> Facade: close loop For each protocol Facade ->> Protocol: close end

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