TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacApp Low Priority
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:2
Column Tag:Improving The Framework

Using Low Priority Events in MacApp

Fixing a minor bug gets your priorities straight

By Harry Haddon, Franklin & Marshall College

Note: Source code files accompanying article are located on MacTech CD-ROM or source code disks.

Just like most standard Macintosh programs, MacApp has a main event loop, but as with many things, MacApp handles the gory details of the event loop for you while still giving you the flexibility to expand or improve upon it as needed. The focus of MacApp’s event loop is MacApp’s event list which usually contains commands but can also contain more generalized events. Commands and events posted to this list can have different priorities to change the order in which they are processed. The only problem is that MacApp 3.0 and 3.1 never actually process your low priority events.

This article gives a quick overview of the MacApp event list, explains why you might want to use an event with a low priority, and tells you how to fix MacApp-without modifying the MacApp source-so low priority events are properly processed.

Inside the Event List

The MacApp event list is of type TEventList and is a data member, named fEventList, of TApplication. TEventList contains objects of type TEvent and objects descended from TEvent including objects of type TCommand. Since TCommand is a descendent of TEvent, I will use the word “events” in this article to refer to both events and commands.

When you call PostAnEvent() or PostCommand(), the TEventHandler implementations of these two methods pass the event to the next event handler in the event handler chain until TApplication::PostAnEvent() gets the event and inserts it in fEventList sorted by priority. TApplication’s main event loop method retrieves events from fEventList and handles the events by calling their Process() method. The highest priority events, those with their fPriority field set to kPriorityHighest, are retrieved before the lower priority ones. The priorities defined by MacApp are:

// Low priority commands are considered last
const short kPriorityLowest = 127;
const short kPriorityLow = kPriorityLowest - 32;
// Normal priority: command default priority
const short kPriorityNormal = 64;
const short kPriorityHigh = kPriorityNormal - 32;
//High priority commands take precedence
const short kPriorityHighest = 0;

If you wish you can use priority values which are between these constants. The default priority for events is kPriorityNormal.

Events of equal priority in fEventList are not necessarily processed on a First-In, First-Out basis. MacApp uses a binary search when inserting events in fEventList and inserts the event at the first event it finds of equal priority. If you post an event and there are already two or more events of equal priority in the list, their order in the list is indeterminate and hence their order of processing is indeterminate. This is not normally a problem since the typical MacApp application does not have that many equal priority events in the list at one time, but it is something to consider if you’re posting multiple commands to the list at the same time and the order of processing is important.

One command you’ll always find in fEventList is the TEventRetrieverCommand that MacApp uses to fetch toolbox events from the toolbox’s Event Manager. The initialization method IApplication() creates this command with a priority of kPriorityLow and posts it to fEventList. The command stays in the list as long as the application is running, and its sole job is to check for toolbox events. Since TEventRetrieverCommand has a lower priority than normal, MacApp does not process it until after it processes the events in the list that have a normal priority. Thus MacApp won’t fetch any more events from the toolbox queue until after it has processed all of the normal priority events and commands in fEventList.

TEventRetrieverCommand::DoIt() checks for toolbox events by calling gApplication->PollToolboxEvent() which calls the toolbox trap WaitNextEvent(). If a toolbox event is available, it is encapsulated in a TToolboxEvent and processed by MacApp. If no toolbox event is available and TApplication.fAllowApplicationToSleep is true, MacApp figures out the various sleep parameters such as the sleep time and calls WaitNextEvent() to wait for the next toolbox event.

This all works great unless you try to post an event with a priority of kPriorityLow or lower. Then you will find that the TEventRetrieverCommand in fEventList acts as a road block for low priority events. Because it was posted first, it is processed before all events of the same priority (kPriorityLow). If no toolbox events are available from the Macintosh event queue, the TEventRetrieverCommand puts the application to sleep, preventing the processing of any low priority events remaining in fEventList. If a toolbox event is available, MacApp processes it, as it should, leaving no opportunity for the processing of low priority events.

Why Use Low Priority Events?

I ran into the bug with low priority events when I was developing a client application that fetches data from a server application. I used a descendent of TClientCommand, MacApp’s class for sending an Apple event and processing its reply, to fetch the data from the server. The server collects new data at the rate of 10 samples per second and the client needs to be updated at least several times a second so as soon as a reply is received, the client posts another TClientCommand to fetch the next chunk of data.

My TClientCommand needed to be a lower priority than toolbox events so that the view that was changed by the TClientCommand would be updated via an update event before the next TClientCommand was processed. I also wanted the application to process toolbox events before it did the TClientCommand so that the application would be responsive to user actions such as mouse clicks. Experimentation with the TClientCommand’s priority set to kPriorityNormal on a slower Macintosh confirmed that being able to set its priority lower was a worthy goal.

You may have a similar situation where a low priority command would fit the bill. Remember that low priority commands really aren’t background or idle commands: they do not execute until after higher priority events have executed, but once they begin execution they can hog CPU cycles as much as any other event. If they take too much time to execute they can slow down the processing of user actions and create a less than enjoyable experience for your user. Design your commands accordingly.

Fixing the Low Priority Event Bug

I came up with a fairly simple fix that I have used with MacApp 3.0.1. This fix will probably also work with 3.1, since it appears that the relevant sections of code have not changed from 3.0 to 3.1. It is not a perfect fix in that events with the very lowest priority, kPriorityLowest, are still not processed, but this is not really a problem since you can use a priority of kPriorityLowest-1 for your lowest priority, and it will work fine.

The original TEventRetrieverCommand, which is installed by IApplication, is left in fEventList but its priority is changed to kPriorityLowest. This still allows the application to sleep-a Good Thing in the Macintosh world of cooperative multi-tasking-but it does not go to sleep until after all other commands are given a chance to execute. I changed the priority of TEventRetrieverCommand in IMyApplication() after calling IApplication():

TEventRetrieverCommand *originalEventRetriever;
originalEventRetriever = 
              (TEventRetrieverCommand *) fEventList->At(1);
originalEventRetriever->fPriority = kPriorityLowest;

if (qDebug && !originalEventRetriever->IsMemberClass(
             GetClassIDFromName("TEventRetrieverCommand")))
      ProgramBreak("First command in fEventList is not \
a TEventRetrieverCommand!");

This code doesn’t look for the TEventRetrieverCommand on the event list but just assumes that it's the first command on the list. The debug check will warn me if this isn’t true in future versions of MacApp. (Hopefully Apple will fix this in MacApp 3.5 and we won’t need this fix at all anymore.)

To keep processing toolbox events at kPriorityLow, I declared a new command that is a descendant of TEventRetrieverCommand. This command checks for toolbox events but never sleeps. It is posted at kPriorityLow to replace the original TEventRetrieverCommand that was demoted to kPriorityLowest.

class TNoSleepEventRetrieverCommand : 
 public TEventRetrieverCommand {
public:
  TNoSleepEventRetrieverCommand();
    // Empty constructor to satisfy compiler.  

  virtual pascal void INoSleepEventRetrieverCommand(
                      CommandNumber itsCommandNumber); 
    // Initialize the EventCommand procedurally.  
  virtual pascal Boolean IsReadyToExecute();                   
 // override 
    // Return true when event available

 virtual pascal void DoIt();
    // Retrieve and process an event without sleeping 
};

I put the declaration for TNoSleepEventRetrieverCommand in the header file that contains the declaration for TMyApplication.

I put the definitions for its methods in the .cp file that contains the methods of TMyApplication. The initialization method INoSleepEventRetrieverCommand() just calls IEventRetrieverCommand() and then sets the command's priority:

#pragma segment ASelCommand
pascal void TNoSleepEventRetrieverCommand::INoSleepEventRetrieverCommand(
 CommandNumber itsCommandNumber) 
{
  this->IEventRetrieverCommand(itsCommandNumber); 

    // Let more important stuff happen first
  fPriority = kPriorityLow;
}

Its IsReadyToExecute method returns true whenever a toolbox event is available:

#pragma segment ARes
pascal Boolean TNoSleepEventRetrieverCommand::IsReadyToExecute() 
{
 EventRecord theEvent;
 
 return EventAvail(gApplication->fMainEventMask, theEvent); 
}

When IsReadyToExecute() returns true, MacApp calls the command’s DoIt() method. The DoIt() for TNoSleepEventRetrieverCommand is just like DoIt() for TEventRetrieverCommand except it calls PollToolboxEvent() with the parameter allowApplicationToSleep set to false so the application doesn’t go to sleep on us:

#pragma segment ASelCommand
pascal void TNoSleepEventRetrieverCommand::DoIt() 
{
 gApplication->PollToolboxEvent(FALSE);
    // FALSE = never sleep
}

The TNoSleepEventRetrieverCommand is created and posted in TMyApplication after the priority of the original TEventRetrieverCommand is changed:

TNoSleepEventRetrieverCommand *aEventCommand = 
                         new TNoSleepEventRetrieverCommand;
aEventCommand->INoSleepEventRetrieverCommand(cNoCommand); 
this->PostAnEvent(aEventCommand);

That’s it. With these fixes in place you can post a command with a priority of kPriorityLow or lower, and MacApp will process it as it should.

 
AAPL
$99.76
Apple Inc.
+2.09
MSFT
$44.08
Microsoft Corpora
+0.45
GOOG
$520.84
Google Inc.
+9.67

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

RestoreMeNot 2.0.3 - Disable window rest...
RestoreMeNot provides a simple way to disable the window restoration for individual applications so that you can fine-tune this behavior to suit your needs. Please note that RestoreMeNot is designed... Read more
Macgo Blu-ray Player 2.10.9.1750 - Blu-r...
Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can bring you the most unforgettable Blu-ray experience on your Mac. Overview Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can satisfy just about every need you could possibly have in a Blu-ray... Read more
Apple iOS 8.1 - The latest version of Ap...
The latest version of iOS can be downloaded through iTunes. Apple iOS 8 comes with big updates to apps you use every day, like Messages and Photos. A whole new way to share content with your family.... Read more
TechTool Pro 7.0.5 - Hard drive and syst...
TechTool Pro is now 7, and this is the most advanced version of the acclaimed Macintosh troubleshooting utility created in its 20-year history. Micromat has redeveloped TechTool Pro 7 to be fully 64... Read more
PDFKey Pro 4.0.2 - Edit and print passwo...
PDFKey Pro can unlock PDF documents protected for printing and copying when you've forgotten your password. It can now also protect your PDF files with a password to prevent unauthorized access and/... Read more
Yasu 2.9.1 - System maintenance app; per...
Yasu was originally created with System Administrators who service large groups of workstations in mind, Yasu (Yet Another System Utility) was made to do a specific group of maintenance tasks... Read more
Hazel 3.3 - Create rules for organizing...
Hazel is your personal housekeeper, organizing and cleaning folders based on rules you define. Hazel can also manage your trash and uninstall your applications. Organize your files using a... Read more
Autopano Giga 3.7 - Stitch multiple imag...
Autopano Giga allows you to stitch 2, 20, or 2,000 images. Version 3.0 integrates impressive new features that will definitely make you adopt Autopano Pro or Autopano Giga: Choose between 9... Read more
MenuMeters 1.8 - CPU, memory, disk, and...
MenuMeters is a set of CPU, memory, disk, and network monitoring tools for Mac OS X. Although there are numerous other programs which do the same thing, none had quite the feature set I was looking... Read more
Coda 2.5 - One-window Web development su...
Coda is a powerful Web editor that puts everything in one place. An editor. Terminal. CSS. Files. With Coda 2, we went beyond expectations. With loads of new, much-requested features, a few... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

This Week at 148Apps: October 13-17, 201...
Expert App Reviewers   So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just... | Read more »
Angry Birds Transformers Review
Angry Birds Transformers Review By Jennifer Allen on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: TRANSFORMED BIRDSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Transformed in a way you wouldn’t expect, Angry Birds Transformers is a quite... | Read more »
GAMEVIL Announces the Upcoming Launch of...
GAMEVIL Announces the Upcoming Launch of Mark of the Dragon Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 20th, 2014 [ permalink ] Mark of the Dragon, by GAMEVIL, put | Read more »
Interview With the Angry Birds Transform...
Angry Birds Transformers recently transformed and rolled out worldwide. This run-and-gun title is a hit with young Transformers fans, but the ample references to classic Transformers fandom has also earned it a place in the hearts of long-time... | Read more »
Find Free Food on Campus with Ypay
Find Free Food on Campus with Ypay Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 20th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
Strung Along Review
Strung Along Review By Jordan Minor on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: GOT NO STRINGSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A cool gimmick and a great art style keep Strung Along from completely falling apart.   | Read more »
P2P file transferring app Send Anywhere...
File sharing services like Dropbox have security issues. Email attachments can be problematic when it comes to sharing large files. USB dongles don’t fit into your phone. Send Anywhere, a peer-to-peer file transferring application, solves all of... | Read more »
Zero Age Review
Zero Age Review By Jordan Minor on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MORE THAN ZEROiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad With its mind-bending puzzles and spellbinding visuals, Zero Age has it all.   | Read more »
Hay Ewe Review
Hay Ewe Review By Campbell Bird on October 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SAVE YOUR SHEEPLEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Pave the way for your flock in this line drawing puzzle game from the creators of Worms.   | Read more »
My Very Hungry Caterpillar (Education)
My Very Hungry Caterpillar 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Care for your very own Very Hungry Caterpillar! My Very Hungry Caterpillar will captivate you as he crawls... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Deals on 2011 13-inch MacBook Airs, from $649
Daily Steals has the Mid-2011 13″ 1.7GHz i5 MacBook Air (4GB/128GB) available for $699 with a 90 day warranty. The Mid-2011 13″ 1.7GHz i5 MacBook Air (4GB/128GB SSD) is available for $649 at Other... Read more
2013 15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro availa...
B&H Photo has leftover previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros now available for $1599 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $400 off original MSRP. B&H... Read more
Updated iPad Prices
We’ve updated our iPad Air Price Tracker and our iPad mini Price Tracker with the latest information on prices and availability from Apple and other resellers, including the new iPad Air 2 and the... Read more
Apple Pay Available to Millions of Visa Cardh...
Visa Inc. brings secure, convenient payments to iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3as well as iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Starting October 20th, eligible Visa cardholders in the U.S. will be able to use Apple Pay,... Read more
Textkraft Pocket – the missing TextEdit for i...
infovole GmbH has announced the release and immediate availability of Textkraft Pocket 1.0, a professional text editor and note taking app for Apple’s iPhone. In March 2014 rumors were all about... Read more
C Spire to offer iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3,...
C Spire on Friday announced that it will offer iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, both with Wi-Fi + Cellular, on its 4G+ LTE network in the coming weeks. C Spire will offer the new iPads with a range of... Read more
Belkin Announces Full Line of Keyboards and C...
Belkin International has unveiled a new lineup of keyboard cases and accessories for Apple’s newest iPads, featuring three QODE keyboards and a collection of thin, lightweight folios for both the... Read more
Verizon offers new iPad Air 2 preorders for $...
Verizon Wireless is accepting preorders for the new iPad Air 2, cellular models, for $100 off MSRP with a 2-year service agreement: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi + Cellular: $529.99 - 64GB iPad Air 2 WiFi... Read more
Price drops on refurbished Mac minis, now ava...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on Apple Certified Refurbished previous-generation Mac minis, with models now available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more

Jobs Board

Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** At the Apple Store, you connect business professionals and entrepreneurs with the tools they need in order to put Apple solutions to work in their Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other - uniquely focused on delivering amazing customer experiences. As an Expert, you introduce people Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.