Relay event pattern

Intent

Take an event triggered by an object in one of any number of processes, and pass it to objects in any number of other processes using DBus, without requiring those objects to make explicit use of any other class.

Motivation

Consider two or more processes, each one having a CValueCache which must be kept in sync with the CValueCache in the other processes. An change in one of the values in a CValueCache is an event which must be passed to all the other processes. All processes must observe the events occurring in the same order, to ensure that each CValueCache remains consistent with the others.

Interprocess communication via QtDBus is achieved using concrete Facade ("context") classes and associated Proxy classes. Slots in the concrete class can be remotely invoked by calling the corresponding slot of the proxy class, and signals emitted by the concrete class will be sympathetically emitted by the proxy class. Within this framework, events must be able to flow in any direction, from any process to any other process or set of processes.

The concrete class acts as central router. Using CSettingsCache as an example, an event enters the system when the slot IContextApplication::changeSettings is called. The slot arguments describe the content of the event. If the slot is called in a proxy class, the call will be forwarded to the concrete class as usual. The slot in the concrete class will emit the signal IContextApplication::settingsChanged with the same arguments that were passed to the slot. The corresponding signal will, as usual, be emitted by all proxy classes in all connected processes. Successive emissions of the signal will be always be observed in the same order by all processes, ensuring consistency. A CIdentifier parameter can be used to identify the process which triggered an event, and to detect round trips.

The class which ultimately sends and receives the events in this example is CValueCache. The facade classes are responsible for establishing the signal/slot connections, so CValueCache has no knowledge of the facades.

Applicability

Use the Relay Event pattern when a message must be sent between two or more distributed processes in arbitrary directions. If the signal/slot connections are established by the facades, then the classes which ultimately send and receive the events can be completely independent of the mechanism of interprocess communication.

Structure

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Participants

  • Abstract Facade (IContextApplication)

    • Declares a pure virtual slot (changeSettings) and a signal (settingsChanged). Responsible for connecting its slot to the Endpoint's signal (CValueCache::valueChangedByLocal), and for connecting its signal to the Endpoint's slot (CValueCache::changeValueFromRemote).
  • Concrete Facade (CContextApplication)

    • Provides an implementation of the virtual slot, which emits the signal.
  • Proxy Facade (CContextApplicationProxy)

    • Following the usual pattern of a facade proxy class, provides an implementation of the virtual slot which forwards the call to the slot of the Concrete Facade via DBus.
  • Endpoint (CValueCache)

    • A class which calls the slot and/or receives the signal of the Abstract Facade.

Collaborations

Endpoint classes (like CValueCache) in different processes can share events with each other when they are connected via this pattern.

Consequences

Endpoint classes need no knowledge of the mechanism by which their events are passed around. They are not coupled to the Facade classes, nor to DBus.

The pattern results in the facades exposing a signal and a slot which are not intended to be called directly, and should be thought of as protected.

A large number of events could lead to an undesirable DBus performance issue. This could be mitigated by more intelligently controlling which events should be relayed.

Implementation

Be aware that processes may join or leave the distributed process environment at any time. A new process joining may need special handling to synchronize it with the processes already connected.

Use a CIdentifier parameter to identify the process which triggered an event. CIdentifier::isFromSameProcess() will return true in the case of a round trip. There is a choice to be made, whether round trip detection should be the responsibility of the Facade or of the Endpoint. If the Endpoint requires confirmation that its event was received by the Concrete Facade, then it can obtain this by doing its own round trip detection, in which case the Facade should not do the detection.

If events should be received only by Proxy Facades and not by the Concrete Facade (e.g. log messages) then the Facade signal should only be connected to the Endpoints served by the Proxy Facades. The the signal of the Concrete Facade should be left unconnected.

Known Uses

  • cache{.interpreted-text role=“ref”}
  • logging{.interpreted-text role=“ref”}
  • Hotkey events

Related Patterns

Relay Event may be seen as a variation on the Mediator pattern. It could also be thought of as a multidirectional Observer pattern in which each Endpoint is an observer of every other Endpoint.

Endpoint classes are often Singletons. Facade classes of course use the Facade pattern, and Facade Proxies use the Proxy pattern.

The Command pattern suggests encapsulating event properties into a single value class, to avoid signals and slots with large numbers of parameters.

Last modified 28.06.2020: Add content (0e00ae5)