SIGNAL- Modern signal package replacing hook
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README.md
signal.el

README.md

MELPA

SIGNAL

Signal is an advanced hook feature.

It provides elegant ways to connect functions.



Requirement

  • Emacs 24

Basic usage

I will demonstrate its basic features by comparing it with the native hook from emacs.

For programmers having experiences in using hook. There should be no difficulties using signal as they share very similar syntax and logic.


Creating new hook vs creating new signal
(defcustom my-new-hook nil
  "This is a testing hook."
  :type 'hook
  :group 'some-group)
(defsignal my-signal
   "This is my signal.")

As emacs hook is defined by defcustom, it is designed to be more friendly to end user.

Signal is designed for developer, it does not expect end users to come across it. It's define method looks easier too.


Function relating : add-hook vs signal-connect
(add-hook 'my-new-hook 'print-something)
(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'print-something)

If you want print-something being invoked when the hook runs, you use add-hook.

For signal, you connect a worker function to the signal. It is almost the same as add-hook.


Function unrelating : remove-hook vs signal-disconnect
(remove-hook 'my-new-hook 'print-something)
(signal-disconnect 'my-signal 'print-something)

Both of them have similar syntax.


Calling functions : run-hooks vs signal-emitb
(defun the-function-implementing-the hook ()
;; do jobs
    (run-hooks 'my-new-hook)
;; do jobs
)
(defun the-function-implementing-the hook ()
;; do jobs
    (signal-emitb 'my-signal)
;; do jobs
)

Again, both of them are using the same implementation.


Brief summary

defsignal - To define a new signal. signal-connect - To connect the signal with a worker function. signal-disconnect - To disconnect a worker function from the signal. signal-emitb - To emit a signal.

If you feel comfortable with these four functions, you almost learn 90% of how to use this package. Most of the new features play around with these four functions only.



Features Showcase


(defsignal signal-name &optional docstring)

defsign - To define a new signal.


(signal-connect &key signal arg worker)

signal-connect is to connect the signal with a worker function.

If you connect more than one functions to a signal, they will be called in the same order of making the connections.

(defsignal my-signal)

(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'function1)
(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'function2)

(signal-emitb 'my-signal)
;; ==> function1 invoked first
;; ==> function2 invoked after

If you connect the worker function twice to the same signal, the worker function will be invoked twice.

(defsignal my-signal)

(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'function1)
(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'function1)

(signal-emitb 'my-signal)
;; ==> function1 invoked the first time
;; ==> function1 invoked the second time

Sometimes, you may want to provide arguments to the worker function. You can use :arg to pass the argument. The arguments passed are evalusted at connection making time. Arguments are provided in list.

(defsignal my-signal)

(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'message
                :arg (list "Current-time is %s" (format-time-string "%H:%M:%S")))


(signal-emitb 'my-signal)
;; ==> Current-time is 17:01:16
(signal-emitb 'my-signal)
;; ==> Current-time is 17:01:16
;; Arguments are fixed at connection-making time
;; No matter how many times it called, you will get the same time

If the argument passed is incorrect, it just omits it without signalling any errors.

(defsignal my-signal)

(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'message
                :arg '(124567))

(signal-emitb 'my-signal)
;; ==> nothing happen

(signal-disconnect signal worker)

signal-disconnect - To disconnect a worker function from the signal.

If singals had been connected to worker function mutiple times, they will be all removed.

(defsignal my-signal)

(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'function1)
(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'function1)

(signal-disconnect 'my-signal 'function1)

(signal-emitb 'my-signal)
;; ==> nothing happen

(signal-emitb signal &key arg)

signal-emitb - To emit a signal.

You can provide arguments at emit-time.

(defsignal my-signal)

(signal-connect :signsl 'my-signal
                :worker 'message)

(signal-emitb 'my-signal :arg (list "Current-time is %s" (format-time-string "%H:%M:%S")))
;; ==> Current-time is 17:22:34
(signal-emitb 'my-signal :arg (list "Current-time is %s" (format-time-string "%H:%M:%S")))
;; ==> Current-time is 17:22:37
;; In this way, arguments are evaluated at emit-time

If you defined arguments at both connection time and and emit-time. The emit-time arguments will have higher priority.

(defsignal my-signal)

(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'message
                :arg (list "connect"))

(signal-emitb 'my-signal :arg (list "emit"))
;; ==> "emit" is printed

There would not be any errors signals even the worker function is undefined or arguments are incorrect.



Final boss

You may wonder if there is an signal-emitb, there should be a signal-emitA. Sorry, there is no such signal-emitA.

However, an signal-emit is indeed existed. The B stands for blocking. It means when the signal is emitted, it blocks the calling function, works through all functions stored in the signal first. And continue the original function afterward.

In contrast emit is non-blocking by letting the original function finished first.


(signal-emit signal &key delay arg)

signal-emit - To emit a non-blocking signal.

(defsignal my-signal)

(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'message
                :arg (list "I am emitted."))

(progn
  (message "1 2 3 4")
  (signal-emitb 'my-signal)
  (message "5 6 7 8"))
;; ==> 1 2 3 4
;; ==> I am emitted.
;; ==> 5 6 7 8

(progn
  (message "1 2 3 4")
  (signal-emit 'my-signal)
  (message "5 6 7 8"))
;; ==> 1 2 3 4
;; ==> 5 6 7 8
;; ==> I am emitted.

Can you notice that the sequence of program code changed?

By providing the :delay, the worker functions will be called with delayed time. delay can be a floating point number which specifies a fractional number of seconds to delay.

(defsignal my-signal)

(signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                :worker 'message
                :arg (list "I am emitted."))

(progn
  (message "1 2 3 4")
  (signal-emit 'my-signal :delay 3)
  (message "5 6 7 8"))
  
;; ==> "I am emitted." will print after 3 second.

Same as signal-emitb you can also provide arguments to signal-emit

With everything combined, you can also write something like this:

(defsignal my-signal)

(defun my-function (count &optional connected)

  (when (> count 0)
        ;; do job
        (message "signal is great")
    
        (unless connected
          (signal-connect :signal 'my-signal
                          :worker 'my-function))
        (signal-emit 'my-signal :arg (list (1- count) t)))
        
  (when (= count 0)
    (signal-disconnect 'my-signal 'my-function)))

(my-function 1000)
;; ==> signal is great [1000 times]


(defun my-function2 (count)
  (when (> count 0)
    (message "signal is great")
    (apply 'my-function2 (list (1- count)))))

(my-function2 1000)
;; ==> (error "Lisp nesting exceeds `max-lisp-eval-depth'")


Contacts

mola@molamola.xyz

If you find any bugs or have any suggestions, you can make a pull request, report an issue or send me an email.