FASSWG msg actions

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msg_actions PROPOSAL[edit]

Problem[edit]

Millions of setters in GNU Radio. Some safe to call from another thread whilst general_work is running, others not. No unified scheme of communicating settings.

Approach[edit]

Harnessing the power of message passing, and using a bit of old school boost magic to put functions into STL containers, so that they can be automagically called.

Theory of operation:[edit]

  • Registering a "normal" class methods or functions as action to be executed on message won't work, because "normal" methods don't take pmt_t.
  • Define a combined converter + "normal" method: Input is pmt_t, output is void, but in between, pmt_t gets converted to the native argument type of the method
  • Define a converter function; in most case, the PMT standard converters do, e.g. pmt::to_long
  • Find a way to do something like a lambda without breaking with old Boost / C++-pre-0x
  • Registry can then be of function(al)s that are void action(pmt_t)
  • Registry has std::vector of actions to be taken upon a specific key

Implementation so far[edit]

basic_block::register_msg_action(key,conv,action) method (or rather four methods, including three convenience wrappers):

  • register_msg_action (pmt_t key , function<ArbitraryType(pmt_t)> converter , function<void(ArbitraryType)> action )

registers an action by generating a function chain functor, and putting that in a std::vector in a std::map.

  • basic_block::trigger_actions(key, value)

triggers all actions registered for a single key

  • basic_block::process_action_msg(pmt::pair)

takes in pairs like pmt::cons(pmt::mp("interpolation"), pmt::from_long(100))

  • the boost::bind magic that GR already uses when doing register_msg_handler gets used, so (hopefully) no new dependencies or boost strangenesses.
  • the basic_block constructor now sets up a message port to which one can send such pairs, and registers process_action_msg as handler

Use Cases[edit]

  • Intrinsic: gr::blocks::repeat_impl has a non-thread-safe set_interpolation(int) method. It wants to keep that private and expose a message action. It does
boost::function action = boost::bind(&repeat_impl::set_interpolation, this, _1);@
register_msg_action(pmt::mp("interpolation"), pmt::to_long, action);
  • Extrinsic: User/GRC knows there's a multiply_const_x::set_k(float) method, but multiply_const doesn't offer a message passing interface. Instead of despairing, we now can do
boost::function action = boost::bind(&repeat_impl::set_interpolation, this, _1);
multiply_const_0->register_msg_action(pmt::mp("factor"), pmt::to_float, action);
and send pairs (key, value) to the pmt::mp("actions") msg port of the respective block

Discussion[edit]

  • How to do getters?
  • Should GR have one central settings "bus", to which blocks' setters automatically are subscribed?

Yet to do[edit]

  • drawing pretty pictures and expanding docs beyond the doxygen method docs
  • block_gateway to enable python methods to be registered. Should be relatively simple, if it weren't for swig.
  • replacing GRC's callback mechanism by something that registers a python function as action handler
  • Will require that "Variable" GRC blocks are aware of this
  • All blocks "observing" variable get their "actions" port subscribed to the variable's message_publisher

As you can see, not nearly complete, but already useful. I'm not quite sure the naming and architecture take things in the right direction, so I RFC before I PR.