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Signals2 API Changes

Porting from Boost.Signals to Boost.Signals2
Signals2 API Development

Porting from Boost.Signals to Boost.Signals2

The changes made to the Boost.Signals2 API compared to the original Boost.Signals library are summarized below. We also provide some notes on dealing with each change while porting existing Boost.Signals code to Boost.Signals2.

  • The namespace boost::signals has been replaced by boost::signals2 to avoid conflict with the original Boost.Signals implementation, as well as the Qt "signals" macro. All the Boost.Signals2 classes are inside the boost::signals2 namespace, unlike the original Boost.Signals which has some classes in the boost namespace in addition to its own boost::signals namespace.

    The Boost.Signals2 header files are contained in the boost/signals2/ subdirectory instead of the boost/signals subdirectory used by the original Boost.Signals. Furthermore, all the headers except for the convenience header boost/signals2.hpp are inside the boost/signals2/ subdirectory, unlike the original Boost.Signals which keeps a few headers in the parent boost/ directory in addition to its own boost/signals/ subdirectory.

    For example, the signal class is now in the boost::signals2 namespace instead of the boost namespace, and it's header file is now at boost/signals2/signal.hpp instead of boost/signal.hpp.

    While porting, only trivial changes to #include directives and namespace qualifications should be required to deal with these changes. Furthermore, the new namespace and header locations for Boost.Signals2 allow it to coexist in the same program with the original Boost.Signals library, and porting can be performed piecemeal.

  • Automatic connection management is now achieved through the use of shared_ptr/weak_ptr and signals2::slot::track(), as described in the tutorial. However, the old (thread-unsafe) Boost.Signals scheme of automatic connection management is still supported via the boost::signals2::trackable class.

    If you do not intend to make your program multi-threaded, the easiest porting path is to simply replace your uses of boost::signals::trackable as a base class with boost::signals2::trackable. Boost.Signals2 uses the same boost::visit_each mechanism to discover trackable objects as used by the original Boost.Signals library.

  • Support for postconstructors (and predestructors) on objects managed by shared_ptr has been added with the deconstruct factory function. This was motivated by the importance of shared_ptr for the new connection tracking scheme, and the inability to obtain a shared_ptr to an object in its constructor. The use of deconstruct is described in the tutorial.

    The use of deconstruct is in no way required, it is only provided in the hope it may be useful. You may wish to use it if you are porting code where a class creates connections to its own member functions in its constructor, and you also wish to use the new automatic connection management scheme. You could then move the connection creation from the constructor to to the an adl_postconstruct function, where a reference to the owning shared_ptr is available for passing to signals2::slot::track. The deconstruct function would be used create objects of the class and run their associated adl_postconstruct function. You can enforce use of deconstruct by making the class' constructors private and declaring deconstruct_access a friend.

  • The signals2::slot class takes a new Signature template parameter, is useable as a function object, and has some additional features to support the new Boost.Signals2 automatic connection management scheme.

    The changes to the slot class should generally not cause any porting difficulties, especially if you are using the boost::signals2::trackable compatibility class mentioned above. If you are converting your code over to use the new automatic connection management scheme, you will need to employ some of the new slot features, as described in the tutorial.

  • The optional_last_value class has replaced last_value as the default combiner for signals.

    The signals2::last_value combiner is still provided, although its behavior is slightly changed in that it throws an exception when no slots are connected on signal invocation, instead of always requiring at least one slot to be connected (except for its void specialization which never required any slots to be connected).

    If you are porting signals which have a void return type in their signature and they use the default combiner, there are no changes required. If you are using the default combiner with a non-void return type and care about the value returned from signal invocation, you will have to take into account that optional_last_value returns a boost::optional instead of a plain value. One simple way to deal with this is to use boost::optional::operator*() to access the value wrapped inside the returned boost::optional.

    Alternatively, you could do a port by specifying the Combiner template parameter for your signals2::signal to be signals2::last_value.

  • The signals2::signal class has an additional typedef signals2::signal::extended_slot_type and new signals2::signal::connect_extended() methods. These allow connection of slots which take an additional signals2::connection argument, giving them thread-safe access to their signal/slot connection when they are invoked. There is also a new ExtendedSlotFunction template parameter for specifying the underlying slot function type for the new extended slots.

    These additions should have no effect on porting unless you are also converting your program from a single threaded program into a multi-threaded one. In that case, if you have slots which need access to their signals2::connection to the signal invoking them (for example to block or disconnect their connection) you may wish to connect the slots with signals2::signal::connect_extended(). This also requires adding an additional connection argument to the slot. More information on how and why to use extended slots is available in the tutorial.

  • The signals2::signal class has a new Mutex template parameter for specifying the mutex type used internally by the signal and its connections.

    The Mutex template parameter can be left to its default value of boost::signals2::mutex and should have little effect on porting. However, if you have a single-threaded program and are concerned about incuring a performance overhead from unneeded mutex locking, you may wish to use a different mutex for your signals such as dummy_mutex. See the tutorial for more information on the Mutex parameter.

  • The signal::combiner() method, which formerly returned a reference to the signal's combiner has been replaced by signals2::signal::combiner (which now returns the combiner by value) and signals2::signal::set_combiner.

    During porting it should be straightforward to replace uses of the old reference-returning signal::combiner() function with the new "by-value" signals2::signal::combiner and signals2::signal::set_combiner functions. However, you will need to inspect each call of the combiner method in your code to determine if your program logic has been broken by the changed return type.

  • Connections no longer have block() and unblock() methods. Blocking of connections is now accomplished by creating shared_connection_block objects, which provide RAII-style blocking.

    If you have existing Boost.Signals code that blocks, for example:

      namespace bs = boost::signals;
      bs::connection my_connection;

    then the version ported to Boost.Signals2 would look like:

      namespace bs2 = boost::signals2;
      bs2::connection my_connection;
        bs2::shared_connection_block blocker(my_connection);
      } // blocker goes out of scope here and releases its block on my_connection

Signals2 API Development

Version 1.4x

Version 1.45 added slot::track_foreign(). This method allows tracking of objects owned by shared_ptr classes other than boost::shared_ptr, for example std::shared_ptr.

Version 1.40

Version 1.40 adds a few new features to the shared_connection_block class to make it more flexible:

Version 1.40 also introduces a variadic templates implementation of Signals2, which is used when Boost detects compiler support for variadic templates (variadic templates are a new feature of C++0x). This change is mostly transparent to the user, however it does introduce a few visible tweaks to the interface as described in the following.

The following library features are deprecated, and are only available if your compiler is NOT using variadic templates (i.e. BOOST_NO_VARIADIC_TEMPLATES is defined by Boost.Config).

Version 1.39

Version 1.39 is the first release of Boost to include the Signals2 library.

Last revised: June 12, 2007 at 14:01:23 -0400