This page is a general overview of libmaple proper. It provides a general perspective of the library’s goals and design. Examples are given from libmaple’s sources.

Design Goals

The central goal of the libmaple project is to provide a pleasant, consistent set of interfaces for dealing with the various peripherals on the STM32 line.

Let’s start with the basics. If you’re interested in low-level details on the STM32, then you’re going to spend a lot of quality time wading through ST RM0008. That document is the single most important tool in your toolbox. It is the authoritative documentation for the capabilities and register interfaces of the STM32 line.

Perhaps you haven’t read it in detail, but maybe you’ve at least thumbed through a few of the sections, trying to gain some understanding of what’s going on. If you’ve done that (and if you haven’t, just take our word for it), then you know that underneath the covers, everything is controlled by messing with bits in the seemingly endless collections of registers specific to every peripheral. The USARTs have data registers; (some of the) the timers have capture/compare registers, the GPIOs have output data registers, etc.

For the most part, Wirish does everything it can to hide this truth from you. That’s because when you really just want to get your robot to fly, your LEDs to blink, or your FM synthesizer to, well, synthesize, you probably couldn’t care less about messing with registers.

That’s fine! In fact, it’s our explicit goal for Wirish to be good enough that most people never need to know libmaple proper even exists. We want to make programming our boards as easy as possible, after all. But the day may come when you want to add a library for an as-yet unsupported peripheral, or you want to do something we didn’t anticipate, or you’d like to squeeze a little more speed out of a critical section in your program. Or maybe you’re just curious!

If anything in the above paragraph describes you, then you’ll find that you need a way to translate your knowledge of RM0008 into software. We imagine (if you’re anything like us) you want to spend the least amount of time you possibly can doing that translation. Ideally, once you’ve finished your design, you want some way to start reading and writing code right away, without having to bushwhack your way through a thicket of clunky APIs.

The central abstractions we’ve chosen to accomplish the above goals are register maps and devices. Register maps are just structs which encapsulate the layout of the IO-mapped memory regions corresponding to a peripheral’s registers. Devices encapsulate a peripheral’s register map as well as any other necessary information needed to operate on it. Peripheral support routines generally operate on devices rather than register maps.


At the highest level, you’ll be dealing with devices, where a “device” is a general term for any particular piece of hardware you might encounter. So, for example, an analog to digital converter is a device. So is a USART. So is a GPIO port. In this section, we’ll consider some hypothetical “xxx” device.

The first thing you need to know is that the header file for dealing with xxx devices is, naturally enough, called xxx.h. So if you want to interface with the ADCs, just #include "adc.h".

Inside of xxx.h, there will be a declaration for a struct xxx_dev type. This type encapsulates all of the information we keep track of for that xxx. So, for example, in adc.h, there’s a struct adc_dev:

/** ADC device type. */
typedef struct adc_dev {
    adc_reg_map *regs; /**< Register map */
    rcc_clk_id clk_id; /**< RCC clock information */
} adc_dev;

The ADCs aren’t particularly complicated. All we keep track of for an ADC device is a pointer to its register map (which keeps track of all of its registers’ bits; see below for more details), and an identifying piece of information which tells the RCC (reset and clock control) interface how to turn the ADC on and reset its registers to their default values.

The timers on the STM32 line are more involved than the ADCs, so a timer_dev has to keep track of a bit more information:

/** Timer device type */
typedef struct timer_dev {
    timer_reg_map regs;         /**< Register map */
    rcc_clk_id clk_id;          /**< RCC clock information */
    timer_type type;            /**< Timer's type */
    voidFuncPtr handlers[];     /**< User IRQ handlers */
} timer_dev;

However, as you can see, both ADC and timer devices are named according to a single scheme, and store similar information.

xxx.h will also declare pointers to the actual devices you need to deal with, called XXX1, XXX2, etc. (or just XXX, if there’s only one) [1]. For instance, on the Maple’s microcontroller (the STM32F103RBT6), there are two ADCs. Consequently, in adc.h, there are declarations for dealing with ADC devices one and two:

extern const adc_dev *ADC1;
extern const adc_dev *ADC2;

In general, each device needs to be initialized before it can be used. libmaple provides this initialization routine for each peripheral xxx; its name is xxx_init(). These initialization routines turn on the clock to a device, and restore its register values to their default settings. Here are a few examples:

/* From dma.h */
void dma_init(dma_dev *dev);

/* From gpio.h */
void gpio_init(gpio_dev *dev);
void gpio_init_all(void);

Note that, sometimes, there will be an additional initialization routine for all available peripherals of a certain kind.

Many peripherals also need additional configuration before they can be used. These functions are usually called something along the lines of xxx_enable(), and often take additional arguments which specify a particular configuration for the peripheral. Some examples:

/* From usart.h */
void usart_enable(usart_dev *dev);

/* From i2c.h */
void i2c_master_enable(i2c_dev *dev, uint32 flags);

After you’ve initialized, and potentially enabled, your peripheral, it is now time to begin using it. The file xxx.h contains other convenience functions for dealing with xxx devices. For instance, here are a few from adc.h:

void adc_set_sample_rate(const adc_dev *dev, adc_smp_rate smp_rate);
uint32 adc_read(const adc_dev *dev, uint8 channel);

We aim to enable libmaple’s users to interact with peripherals through devices as much as possible, rather than having to break the abstraction and consider individual registers. However, there will always be a need for low-level access. To allow for that, libmaple provides register maps as a consistent set of names and abstractions for dealing with registers and their bits.

Register Maps

A register map is just a C struct which names and provides access to a peripheral’s registers. These registers are usually mapped to contiguous regions of memory (though at times unusable or reserved regions exist between a peripheral’s registers). Here’s an example register map, from dac.h (__io is just libmaple’s way of saying volatile when referring to register values):

/** DAC register map. */
typedef struct dac_reg_map {
    __io uint32 CR;      /**< Control register */
    __io uint32 SWTRIGR; /**< Software trigger register */
    __io uint32 DHR12R1; /**< Channel 1 12-bit right-aligned data
                              holding register */
    __io uint32 DHR12L1; /**< Channel 1 12-bit left-aligned data
                              holding register */
    __io uint32 DHR8R1;  /**< Channel 1 8-bit left-aligned data
                              holding register */
    __io uint32 DHR12R2; /**< Channel 2 12-bit right-aligned data
                              holding register */
    __io uint32 DHR12L2; /**< Channel 2 12-bit left-aligned data
                              holding register */
    __io uint32 DHR8R2;  /**< Channel 2 8-bit left-aligned data
                              holding register */
    __io uint32 DHR12RD; /**< Dual DAC 12-bit right-aligned data
                              holding register */
    __io uint32 DHR12LD; /**< Dual DAC 12-bit left-aligned data
                              holding register */
    __io uint32 DHR8RD;  /**< Dual DAC 8-bit right-aligned data holding
                              register */
    __io uint32 DOR1;    /**< Channel 1 data output register */
    __io uint32 DOR2;    /**< Channel 2 data output register */
} dac_reg_map;

There are two things to notice here. First, if RM0008 names a register DAC_FOO, then dac_reg_map has a field named FOO. So, the Channel 1 12-bit right-aligned data register (RM0008: DAC_DHR12R1) is the DHR12R1 field in a dac_reg_map. Second, if RM0008 describes a register as “Foo bar register”, the documentation for the corresponding field has the same description. This consistency makes it easy to search for a particular register, and, if you see one used in a source file, to feel sure about what’s going on just based on its name.

So let’s say you’ve included xxx.h, and you want to mess with some particular register. What’s the name of the xxx_reg_map variable you want? That depends on if there’s more than one xxx or not. If there’s only one xxx, then libmaple guarantees there will be a #define that looks like like this:

#define XXX_BASE                    ((struct xxx_reg_map*)0xDEADBEEF)

That is, you’re guaranteed there will be a pointer to the (only) xxx_reg_map you want, and it will be called XXX_BASE. (0xDEADBEEF is the register map’s base address, or the fixed location in memory where the register map begins). Here’s a concrete example from dac.h:

#define DAC_BASE                        ((struct dac_reg_map*)0x40007400)

How can you use these? This is perhaps best explained by example.

  • In order to write 2048 to the channel 1 12-bit left-aligned data holding register (RM0008: DAC_DHR12L1), you could write:

    DAC_BASE->DHR12L1 = 2048;
  • In order to read the DAC control register, you could write:

    uint32 cr = DAC_BASE->CR;

The microcontroller takes care of converting reads and writes from a register’s IO-mapped memory regions into reads and writes to the corresponding hardware registers.

That covers the case where there’s a single xxx peripheral. If there’s more than one (say, if there are n), then xxx.h provides the following:

#define XXX1_BASE                       ((struct xxx_reg_map*)0xDEADBEEF)
#define XXX2_BASE                       ((struct xxx_reg_map*)0xF00DF00D)
#define XXXn_BASE                       ((struct xxx_reg_map*)0x13AF1AB5)

Here are some examples from adc.h:

#define ADC1_BASE                       ((struct adc_reg_map*)0x40012400)
#define ADC2_BASE                       ((struct adc_reg_map*)0x40012800)

In order to read from the ADC1’s regular data register (where the results of ADC conversion are stored), you might write:

uint32 converted_result = ADC1_BASE->DR;

Register Bit Definitions

In xxx.h, there will also be a variety of #defines for dealing with interesting bits in the xxx registers, called register bit definitions. These are named according to the scheme XXX_REG_FIELD, where “REG” refers to the register, and “FIELD” refers to the bit or bits in REG that are special.

Again, this is probably best explained by example. Each Direct Memory Access (DMA) controller’s register map has a certain number of channel configuration registers (RM0008: DMA_CCRx). In each of these channel configuration registers, bit 14 is called the MEM2MEM bit, and bits 13 and 12 are the priority level (PL) bits. Here are the register bit definitions for those fields:

/* From dma.h */

#define DMA_CCR_MEM2MEM_BIT             14
#define DMA_CCR_MEM2MEM                 BIT(DMA_CCR_MEM2MEM_BIT)
#define DMA_CCR_PL                      (0x3 << 12)
#define DMA_CCR_PL_LOW                  (0x0 << 12)
#define DMA_CCR_PL_MEDIUM               (0x1 << 12)
#define DMA_CCR_PL_HIGH                 (0x2 << 12)
#define DMA_CCR_PL_VERY_HIGH            (0x3 << 12)

Thus, to check if the MEM2MEM bit is set in DMA controller 1’s channel configuration register 2 (RM0008: DMA_CCR2), you can write:

    /* MEM2MEM is set */

Certain register values occupy multiple bits. For example, the priority level (PL) of a DMA channel is determined by bits 13 and 12 of the corresponding channel configuration register. As shown above, libmaple provides several register bit definitions for masking out the individual PL bits and determining their meaning. For example, to check the priority level of a DMA transfer, you can write:

switch (DMA1_BASE->CCR2 & DMA_CCR_PL) {
    /* handle low priority case */
    /* handle medium priority case */
    /* handle high priority case */
    /* handle very high priority case */

Of course, before doing that, you should check to make sure there’s not already a device-level function for performing the same task!

What Next?

After you’ve read this page, you can proceed to the libmaple API listing. From there, you can read documentation and follow links to the current source code for those files on libmaple’s GitHub page.


[1]For consistency with RM0008, GPIO ports are given letters instead of numbers (GPIOA and GPIOB instead of GPIO1 and GPIO2, etc.).