Registering Callback Handler Objects

In examples thus far, C has been running and calling Python code from a standard main program flow of control. Thats not always the way programs work, though; in some cases, programs are modeled on an event-driven architecture where code is executed only in response to some sort of event. The event might be an end user clicking a button in a GUI, the operating system delivering a signal, or simply software running an action associated with an entry in a table.

In any event (pun accidental), program code in such an architecture is typically structured as callback handlers -- chunks of code dispatched by event-processing logic. Its easy to use embedded Python code to implement callback handlers in such a system; in fact, the event-processing layer can simply use the embedded-call API tools we saw earlier in this chapter to run Python handlers.

The only new trick in this model is how to make the C layer know what code should be run for each event. Handlers must somehow be registered to C to associate them with future events. In general, there is a wide variety of ways to achieve this code/event association; for instance, C programs can:

  • Fetch and call functions by event name from one or more module files
  • Fetch and run code strings associated with event names in a database
  • Extract and run code associated with event tags in HTML or XML[6]

    [6] And if C chooses to do so, it might even run embedded Python code that uses Pythons standard HTML and XML processing tools to parse out the embedded code associated with an event tag. See the Python library manual for details on these parsers.

  • Run Python code that calls back to C to tell it what should be run

And so on. Really, any place you can associate objects or strings with identifiers is a potential callback registration mechanism. Some of these techniques have advantages all their own. For instance, callbacks fetched from module files support dynamic reloading (as we learned in Chapter 9, reload works on modules and does not update objects held directly). And none of the first three schemes requires users to code special Python programs that do nothing but register handlers to be run later.

It is perhaps more common, though, to register callback handlers with the last approach: letting Python code register handlers with C by calling back to C through extensions interfaces. Although this scheme is not without trade-offs, it can provide a natural and direct model in scenarios where callbacks are associated with a large number of objects.

For instance, consider a GUI constructed by building a tree of widget objects in Python scripts. If each widget object in the tree can have an associated event handler, it may be easier to register handlers by simply calling methods of widgets in the tree. Associating handlers with widget objects in a separate structure such as a module file or HTML file requires extra cross-reference work to keep the handlers in sync with the tree.[7]

[7] If you e looking for a more realistic example of Python callback handlers, see the TkinterGUI system used extensively in this book. Tkinter uses both extending and embedding. Its extending interface (widget objects) is used to register Python callback handlers, which are later run with embedding interfaces in response to GUI events. You can study Tkinters implementation in the Python source distribution for more details, though its Tk library interface logic makes it a somewhat challenging read.

The following C and Python files demonstrate the basic coding techniques used to implement explicitly registered callback handlers. The C file in Example 20-9 implements interfaces for registering Python handlers, as well as code to run those handlers in response to events:

Event router

The Route_Event function responds to an event by calling a Python function object previously passed from Python to C.

Callback registration

The Register_Handler function saves a passed-in Python function object pointer in a C global variable. Python calls Register_Handler through a simple cregister C extension module created by this file.

Event trigger

To simulate real-world events, the Trigger_Event function can be called from Python through the generated C module to trigger an event.

In other words, this example uses both the embedding and extending interfaces weve already met to register and invoke Python event handler code.

Example 20-9. PP2EIntegrateMixedRegistcregister.c
#include 
#include 

/***********************************************/
/* 1) code to route events to Python object */
/* note that we could run strings here instead */
/***********************************************/

static PyObject *Handler = NULL; /* keep Python object in C */

void Route_Event(char *label, int count) 
{
 char *cres;
 PyObject *args, *pres;

 /* call Python handler */
 args = Py_BuildValue("(si)", label, count); /* make arg-list */
 pres = PyEval_CallObject(Handler, args); /* apply: run a call */
 Py_DECREF(args); /* add error checks */

 if (pres != NULL) {
 /* use and decref handler result */
 PyArg_Parse(pres, "s", &cres);
 printf("%s
", cres);
 Py_DECREF(pres);
 }
}

/*****************************************************/
/* 2) python extension module to register handlers */
/* python imports this module to set handler objects */
/*****************************************************/

static PyObject *
Register_Handler(PyObject *self, PyObject *args)
{
 /* save Python callable object */
 Py_XDECREF(Handler); /* called before? */
 PyArg_Parse(args, "O", &Handler); /* one argument? */
 Py_XINCREF(Handler); /* add a reference */
 Py_INCREF(Py_None); /* return None: success */
 return Py_None;
}

static PyObject *
Trigger_Event(PyObject *self, PyObject *args)
{
 /* let Python simulate event caught by C */
 static count = 0;
 Route_Event("spam", count++);
 Py_INCREF(Py_None); 
 return Py_None;
}

static struct PyMethodDef cregister_methods[] = {
 {"setHandler", Register_Handler}, /* name, address */
 {"triggerEvent", Trigger_Event}, 
 {NULL, NULL}
};

void initcregister( ) /* this is called by Python */
{ /* on first "import cregister" */
 (void) Py_InitModule("cregister", cregister_methods);
}

Ultimately, this C file is an extension module for Python, not a standalone C program that embeds Python (though C could just as well be on top). To compile it into a dynamically loaded module file, run the makefile in Example 20-10 on Linux (and use something similar on other platforms). As we learned in the last chapter, the resulting cregister.so file will be loaded when first imported by a Python script if it is placed in a directory on Pythons module search path (e.g., ".").

Example 20-10. PP2EIntegrateMixedRegistmakefile.regist
######################################################################
# Builds cregister.so, a dynamically-loaded C extension 
# module (shareable), which is imported by register.py
######################################################################

PY = $(MYPY)
PYINC = -I$(PY)/Include -I$(PY)

CMODS = cregister.so 

all: $(CMODS)

cregister.so: cregister.c
	gcc cregister.c -g $(PYINC) -fpic -shared -o cregister.so

clean: 
	rm -f *.pyc $(CMODS)

Now that we have a C extension module set to register and dispatch Python handlers, all we need are some Python handlers. The Python module shown in Example 20-11 defines two callback handler functions and imports the C extension module to register handlers and trigger events.

Example 20-11. PP2EIntegrateMixedRegist egister.py
####################################################### 
# register for and handle event callbacks from C;
# compile C code, and run with python register.py
####################################################### 

#
# C calls these Python functions; 
# handle an event, return a result
#

def callback1(label, count):
 return callback1 => %s number %i % (label, count)

def callback2(label, count):
 return callback2 =>  + label * count

#
# Python calls a C extension module 
# to register handlers, trigger events 
#

import cregister

print \nTest1:
cregister.setHandler(callback1)
for i in range(3):
 cregister.triggerEvent( ) # simulate events caught by C layer

print \nTest2:
cregister.setHandler(callback2)
for i in range(3):
 cregister.triggerEvent( ) # routes these events to callback2 

Thats it -- the Python/C callback integration is set to go. To kick off the system, run the Python script; it registers one handler function, forces three events to be triggered, and then changes the event handler and does it again:

[mark@toy ~/.../PP2E/Integration/Mixed/Regist]$ python register.py

Test1:
callback1 => spam number 0
callback1 => spam number 1
callback1 => spam number 2

Test2:
callback2 => spamspamspam
callback2 => spamspamspamspam
callback2 => spamspamspamspamspam

This output is printed by the C event router function, but its content is the return values of the handler functions in the Python module. Actually, there is something pretty wild going on here under the hood. When Python forces an event to trigger, control flows between languages like this:

  1. From Python to the C event router function

  2. From the C event router function to the Python handler function

  3. Back to the C event router function (where the output is printed)

  4. And finally back to the Python script

That is, we jump from Python to C to Python and back again. Along the way, control passes through both extending and embedding interfaces. When the Python callback handler is running, there are two Python levels active, and one C level in the middle. Luckily, this works; Pythons API is reentrant, so you don need to be concerned about having multiple Python interpreter levels active at the same time. Each level runs different code and operates independently.


Introducing Python

Part I: System Interfaces

System Tools

Parallel System Tools

Larger System Examples I

Larger System Examples II

Part II: GUI Programming

Graphical User Interfaces

A Tkinter Tour, Part 1

A Tkinter Tour, Part 2

Larger GUI Examples

Part III: Internet Scripting

Network Scripting

Client-Side Scripting

Server-Side Scripting

Larger Web Site Examples I

Larger Web Site Examples II

Advanced Internet Topics

Part IV: Assorted Topics

Databases and Persistence

Data Structures

Text and Language

Part V: Integration

Extending Python

Embedding Python

VI: The End

Conclusion Python and the Development Cycle

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Programming Python
Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner, 3rd Edition
ISBN: 1435455002
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2000
Pages: 245
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