Andy Armstrong > Class-Std-Slots-0.31 > Class::Std::Slots

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Module Version: 0.31   Source  

NAME ^

Class::Std::Slots - Provide signals and slots for standard classes.

VERSION ^

This document describes Class::Std::Slots version 0.31

SYNOPSIS ^

    package My::Class::One;
    use Class::Std;
    use Class::Std::Slots;
    {
        signals qw(
            my_signal
        );

        sub my_slot {
            my $self = shift;
            print "my_slot triggered\n";
        }

        sub do_stuff {
            my $self = shift;
            print "Doing stuff...\n";
            $self->my_signal;        # send signal
            print "Done stuff.\n";
        }
    }

    package My::Class::Two;
    use Class::Std;
    use Class::Std::Slots;
    {
        signals qw(
            another_signal
        );

        sub another_slot {
            my $self = shift;
            print "another_slot triggered\n";
            $self->another_signal;
        }
    }

    package main;

    my $ob1 = My::Class::One->new();
    my $ob2 = My::Class::Two->new();

    # No signal yet
    $ob1->do_stuff;

    # Connect to a slot in another class
    $ob1->connect('my_signal', $ob2, 'another_slot');

    # Emits signal
    $ob1->do_stuff;

    # Connect an anon sub as well
    $ob1->connect('my_signal', sub { print "I'm anon...\n"; });

    # Emits signal invoking two slots
    $ob1->do_stuff;

DESCRIPTION ^

Conventionally the ways in which objects of different classes can interact with each other is designed into those classes; changes to that behaviour require either changes to the classes in question or the creation of subclasses.

Signals and slots allow objects to be wired together dynamically at run time in ways that weren't necessarily anticipated by the designers of the classes. For example consider a class that manages time consuming downloads:

    package My::Downloader;
    use Class::Std;
    {
        sub do_download {
            my $self = shift;
            # ... do something time consuming ...
        }
    }

For a particular application it might be desirable to be able to display a progress report as the download progresses. Unfortunately My::Downloader isn't wired to allow that. We could improve My::Downloader by providing a stub function that's called periodically during a download:

    package My::Downloader::Better;
    use Class::Std;
    {
        sub progress {
            # do nothing
        }

        sub do_download {
            my $self = shift;
            # ... do something time consuming periodically calling progress() ...
        }
    }

Then we could subclass My::Downloader::Better to update a display:

    package My::Downloader::Verbose;
    use base qw(My::Downloader::Better);
    use Class::Std;
    {
        sub progress {
            my $self = shift;
            my $done = shift;
            print "$done % done\n";
        }
    }

That's not bad - but we had to create a subclass - and we'd have to arrange for it to be created instead of a My::Downloader::Better anytime we want to use it. If displaying the progress involved updating a progress bar in a GUI we'd need to embed a reference to the progress bar in each instance of My::Downloader::Verbose.

Instead we could extend My::Downloader::Better to call an arbitrary callback via a supplied code reference each time progress() was called ... but then we have to implement the interface that allows the callback to be defined. If we also want notifications of retries and server failures we'll need still more callbacks. Tedious.

Or we could write My::Downloader::Lovely like this:

    package My::Downloader::Lovely;
    use Class::Std;
    use Class::Std::Slots;
    {
        signals qw(
            progress_update
            server_failure
        );

        sub do_download {
            my $self = shift;
            # ... do something time consuming periodically emitting
            # a progress_update signal like this:
            for (@ages) {
                $self->do_chunk();
                $self->progress_update($done++);
            }
        }
    }

and use it like this:

    use My::Downloader::Lovely;

    my $lovely = My::Downloader::Lovely->new();
    $lovely->do_download();

That behaves just like the original My::Downloader example. Now let's hook up the progress display - we're using an imaginary GUI toolkit:

    use My::Downloader::Lovely;
    use Pretty::ProgressBar;

    my $lovely = My::Downloader::Lovely->new();
    my $pretty = Pretty::ProgressBar->new();

    # Now the clever bit - hook them together. Whenever the
    # progress_update signal is emitted it'll call
    # $pretty->update_bar($done);
    $lovely->connect('progress_update', $pretty, 'update_bar');

    # Do the download with style
    $lovely->do_download();

We didn't have to subclass or modify My::Downloader::Lovely and we didn't have to clutter its interface with methods to allow callbacks to be installed.

Each signal can be connected to many slots simultaneously; perhaps we want some debug to show up on the console too:

    use My::Downloader::Lovely;
    use Pretty::ProgressBar;

    my $lovely = My::Downloader::Lovely->new();
    my $pretty = Pretty::ProgressBar->new();

    # Now the clever bit - hook them together. Whenever the
    # progress_update signal is emitted it'll call
    # $pretty->update_bar($done);
    $lovely->connect('progress_update', $pretty, 'update_bar');

    # Add an anon slot to display progress on the console too
    $lovely->connect('progress_update', sub { print 'Done: ', $_[0], "\n"; });

    # Do the download with style
    $lovely->do_download();

Each slot can either be a subroutine reference or an object reference and method name. Anonymous slots are particularly useful for debugging but they also provide a lightweight way to extend the behaviour of an existing class.

Only classes that emit signals need use Class::Std::Slots - any method in any class can be used as a slot.

Signals?

The signals we refer to here are unrelated to operating system signals. That's why the class is called Class::Std::Slots instead of Class::Std::Signals.

Further reading

Sarah Thompson has produced a generic signals and slots library for C++:

http://sigslot.sourceforge.net/

The accompanying documentation includes an excellent exploration of the benefits of signals and slots.

Qt (C++ again) uses signals and slots extensively. Consult the Qt documentation and in particular the section on signals and slots for more information:

http://doc.trolltech.com/3.3/signalsandslots.html

Other UI toolkits including NextStep / Cocoa / GNUStep use mechanisms similar to signals and slots in all but name.

INTERFACE ^

Class::Std::Slots is designed to be used in conjunction with Class::Std. It may work with classes not based on Class::Std but this is untested. To use it add use Class::Std::Slots just after use Class::Std

    package My::Class;
    use Class::Std
    use Class::Std::Slots           # <-- add this
    {
        signals qw(                 # <-- add this
            started
            progress
            finished
            retry
        );

        sub my_method {
            my $self = shift;
            # etc
        }
    }

and add a call to signals to declare any signals your class will emit.

Class::Std::Slots will add five public methods to your class: signals, connect, disconnect, has_slots and emit_signal.

Methods created automatically

The following subroutines are installed in any class that uses the Class::Std::Slots module.

signals( signals )

Declare the list of signals that a class can emit. Multiple calls to signals are allowed but each signal should be declared only once. It is an error to redeclare a signal even in a subclass or to declare a signal with the same name as a method.

Once declared signals may be called as members of the declaring class and any subclasses. To emit a signal simply call it:

    $my_obj->started('Starting download');

Any arguments passed to the signal will be passed to any slots registered with it. Signals never have a return value - any return values from slots are silently discarded.

connect($sig_name, ...)

Create a connection between a signal and a slot. Connections are made between objects (i.e. class instances) rather than between classes. To connect the signal started to a slot called show_status do something like this:

    $my_thing->connect('started', $uitools, 'show_status');

Whenever $my_thing emits started show_status will be called with any arguments that were passed to started.

To call a non-member subroutine (which may be an anonymous subroutine or closure) do this:

    $my_thing->connect('debug_out', sub {
        print "@_\n";
    });

Anonymous subroutines are also useful to patch up impedence mismatches between the slot method and the signal. For example if the signal progress is called with two arguments (the current progress and the expected total) but the desired slot show_progress expects to be passed a percentage use something like this:

    $my_thing->connect('progress', sub {
        my ($pos, $all) = @_;
        my $percent = int($pos * 100 / $all);
        $uitools->show_progress($percent);
    });

A slot may be connected to multiple signals at the same time by passing an array reference in place of the signal name:

    $my_thing->connect(['debug_out', 'warning_out'], $logger, 'trace');

Normally a slot is passed exactly the arguments that were passed to the signal - so when $this_obj->some_signal has been connected to $that_obj->some_slot emitting the signal like this:

    $this_obj->some_signal(1, 2, 'Here we go');

will cause some_slot to be called like this:

    $that_obj->some_slot(1, 2, 'Here we go');

Sometimes it is useful to be able to write generic slot functions that can be connected to many different signals and that are capable of interacting with the object that emitted the signal. The reveal_source option modifies the argument list of the slot function so that the first argument is a reference to a hash that describes the source of the signal:

    $this_obj->connect('first_signal',  $generic, 'smart_slot', { reveal_source => 1 });
    $this_obj->connect('second_signal', $generic, 'smart_slot', { reveal_source => 1 });
    $that_obj->connect('first_signal',  $generic, 'smart_slot', { reveal_source => 1 });

When $this_obj->first_signal is emitted $generic->smart_slot will be called with this hash ref as its first argument:

    {
        source  => $this_obj,
        signal  => 'first_signal',
        options => { reveal_source => 1 }
    }

When $this_obj->second_signal is emitted the hash will look like this:

    {
        source  => $this_obj,
        signal  => 'second_signal',
        options => { reveal_source => 1 }
    }

Note that the options hash passed to connect is passed to the slot. This is so that additional user defined options can be used to influence the behaviour of the slot function.

The options recognised by connect itself are:

reveal_source

Modify slot arg list to include a hash that describes the source of the signal.

strong

Normally the reference to the object containing the slot method is weakened (by calling Scalar::Util::weaken on it). Set this option to make the reference strong - which means that once an object has been connected to no other references to it need be kept.

Anonymous subroutine slots are always strongly referred to - so there is no need to specify the strong option for them.

undeclared

Allow a connection to be made to an undefined signal. It is possible for an object to emit arbitrary signals by calling emit_signal. Normally connect checks that a signal has been declared before connecting to it (bugs caused by slightly misnamed signals are particularly frustrating). This flag overrides that check and makes it your responsibility to get the signal name right.

disconnect($sig_name, ...)

Break signal / slot connections. All connections are broken when the signalling object is destroyed. To break a connection at any other time use:

    $obj->disconnect('a_signal', $other_obj, 'method');

To break all connections from a signal to slots in a particular object use:

    $obj->disconnect('a_signal', $other_obj);

To break all connections for a particular signal use:

    $obj->disconnect('a_signal');

And finally to break all connections from a signalling object:

    $obj->disconnect();

In other words each additional argument increases the specificity of the connections that are targetted.

As with connect a reference to an array of signal names may be passed:

    $obj->disconnect(['sig1', 'sig2', 'sig3'], $my_slotz);

Note that it is not possible to disconnect an anonymous slot subroutine without disconnecting all other slots connected to the same signal:

    $obj->connect('a_signal', sub { });
    $obj->connect('a_signal', $other_obj, 'a_slot');

    # Can't target the anon slot individually
    $obj->disconnect('a_signal');

If this proves to be an enbearable limitation I'll do something about it.

emit_signal($sig_name, ...)

It's not always possible to pre-declare all the signals an object may emit. For example an XML processor may emit signals corresponding to the names of tags in the parsed XML; in that case it would be overly restrictive to require pre-declaration of the signals.

To emit an arbitrary signal - which may or may not have been declared - call emit() directly like this:

    $self->emit_signal('made_up_signal', @sig_args);

Pass connect the undeclared option to connect to an undeclared signal.

Multiple signals may be emitted at the same time (or rather one after another) by passing a reference to an array of signal names:

    $self->emit_signal(['sig1', 'sig2'], @sig_args);
has_slots($sig_name)

In cases where emitting a signal involves costly computation has_slots can be called to check whether a signal has any connected slots and if not skip both the expensive computation and the signal call.

    if ($self->has_slots('expensive_signal') {
        my @sig_args = $self->do_expensive_sums();
        $self->expensive_signal(@sig_args);
    }

Note that there is no benefit in guarding simple signal calls with a call to has_slots:

    # Don't do this
    $self->cheap_signal() if $self->has_slots('cheap_signal');

    # Instead just do
    $self->cheap_signal();

As usual a reference to an array of signal names may be passed in which case has_slots will return a true value if any of the named signals has connected slots.

DIAGNOSTICS ^

Invalid signal name '%s'

Signal names have the same syntax as identifier names - you've tried to use a name that contains a character that isn't legal in an identifier.

Signal name must be a scalar or an array reference

Either pass a single signal name like this:

    $obj->has_slots('sig1');

Or pass a reference to an array of signal names like this:

    $obj->has_slots(['sig1', 'sig2', 'sig3']);

This applies to all methods that accept a signal name.

Signal '%s' undefined

Signals are declared by calling the signals subroutine. You're attempting to connect to an undefined signal.

Signal '%s' must be invoked as a method

Signals are fired using normal method call syntax. To fire a signal do something like

    $my_obj->some_signal('Args', 'go', 'here');
Attempt to re-enter signal '%s'

Signals are not allowed to fire themselves directly or indirectly. This is an intentional limitation. The ease with which signals can be connected to slots in complex patterns makes it easy to introduce unintended loops of mutually triggered signals.

Usage: $source->connect($sig_name, $dst_obj, $dst_method [, { options }])

connect can be called either like this:

    $my_obj->connect('some_signal', $other_obj, 'slot_to_fire');

or like this:

    $my_obj->connect('some_signal', sub { print "Slot fired" });

In either case an anonymous hash containing options may be passed as an additional argument.

Slot '%s' not handled by %s

You're attempting to connect to a slot that isn't implemented by the target object. Slots are normal member functions.

disconnect must be called as a member

Disconnect should be called like this:

    # Disconnect one slot
    $my_obj->disconnect('some_signal', $other_obj, 'slot_name');

or like this:

    # Disconnect all slots in the specified object
    $my_obj->disconnect('some_signal', $other_obj);

or like this:

    # Disconnect all slots for a signal
    $my_obj->disconnect('some_signal');

or like this:

    # Disconnect all slots for all signals
    $my_obj->disconnect();
Signal '%s' aready declared

You're attempting to declare a signal that already exists. This may be because it has been declared as a signal or because the signal name clashes with a method name.

Note that it is illegal to redeclare a signal in a subclass if a parent already declares the signal. Since signals can't be declared to do anything other than be a signal it makes no sense to redeclare a signal in a subclass.

CONFIGURATION AND ENVIRONMENT ^

Class::Std::Slots requires no configuration files or environment variables.

DEPENDENCIES ^

Class::Std

INCOMPATIBILITIES ^

Only known to work in conjuction with Class::Std. Only tested when used with Class::Std in the way shown in this document.

BUGS AND LIMITATIONS ^

No bugs have been reported.

Connecting the same slot to a signal multiple times actually makes multiple connections and therefore invokes the slot as many times as it was registered when the signal is emitted. Arguably only one connection to each slot should be allowed. Let me know.

There is currently no way to disconnect an anonymous sub slot without also disconnecting other slots from the same signal.

Class::Std::Slots replaces the DESTROY sub injected into the caller's namespace by Class::Std and arranges to call the original destructor after doing its own cleanup. This may interact badly with other modules that also replace the Class::Std destructor - although it is designed to ensure it always calls whatever destructor it finds. Suggestions for a neater way of chaining our destructor gratefully received.

I'm not sure that the code that prevents signals from re-entering (i.e. it's an error to emit a signal if that signal is already being handled) might not prevent some (fairly complex) techniques. If this proves to be a limitation in practice it would be possible to add an option to each connection that would allow that connection to be re-entrant.

Please report any bugs or feature requests to bug-class-std-slots@rt.cpan.org, or through the web interface at http://rt.cpan.org.

AUTHOR ^

Andy Armstrong <andy@hexten.net>

LICENCE AND COPYRIGHT ^

Copyright (c) 2006, Andy Armstrong <andy@hexten.net>. All rights reserved.

This module is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself. See perlartistic.

DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY ^

BECAUSE THIS SOFTWARE IS LICENSED FREE OF CHARGE, THERE IS NO WARRANTY FOR THE SOFTWARE, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW. EXCEPT WHEN OTHERWISE STATED IN WRITING THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND/OR OTHER PARTIES PROVIDE THE SOFTWARE "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE SOFTWARE IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE SOFTWARE PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR, OR CORRECTION.

IN NO EVENT UNLESS REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAW OR AGREED TO IN WRITING WILL ANY COPYRIGHT HOLDER, OR ANY OTHER PARTY WHO MAY MODIFY AND/OR REDISTRIBUTE THE SOFTWARE AS PERMITTED BY THE ABOVE LICENCE, BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR DAMAGES, INCLUDING ANY GENERAL, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE SOFTWARE (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO LOSS OF DATA OR DATA BEING RENDERED INACCURATE OR LOSSES SUSTAINED BY YOU OR THIRD PARTIES OR A FAILURE OF THE SOFTWARE TO OPERATE WITH ANY OTHER SOFTWARE), EVEN IF SUCH HOLDER OR OTHER PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

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