SoftBank Robotics documentation What's new in NAOqi 2.5?


Detailed Description

This is an implementation of the signal/event paradigm, with some specificities:

  • Thread-safe.
  • Synchronous or asynchronous subscriber invocation.
  • Subscriber disconnection guarantees that subscriber is not/will not be called anymore when it returns.
  • Automatic subscriber disconnection when weak_ptr or qi::Trackable is used.

qi::Signal is non-copyable.

Template arguments

Signal is templated by the argument types that must be passed when triggering, and that will be transmitted to subscribers. For instance, Signal<int, int> is the type of a Signal with two ints as payload type: Signal::operator() will expect two ints, and subscribers will be expected to have signature void(int, int).


The types used as template arguments to signal must be registered to the type system. If you fail to do that, you will get errors like:

Cannot do 'clone' on YourType

Connection to a signal

Use Signal::connect to register a subscriber that will be called each time the signal is triggered.

Arguments to connect can take multiple forms:

  • A function or callable object (like boost::function).
  • A function or callable, followed by arguments and placeholders that will be bound to the function (more about that below).
  • Another compatible Signal.

The variadic form of connect works in a similar manner to boost::bind(): values passed to connect will be passed to the function, in order, and placeholders _1, _2... will be replaced by the signal payloads.

This form will also recognize if the first argument is a boost::weak_ptr, or if it as pointer to a class inheriting from qi::Trackable. In both cases, the subscriber will be automatically disconnected if the pointer cannot be locked. See this example for a demonstration of that very same mechanism in qi::Future.

Signal::connect returns a SignalSubscriber&, that you can use to:

qi::SignalLink l = someSignal.connect(callback1);

You can bind arguments directly at the connection:

class MyClass
  void myCallback(const std::string& str, int value);
  // ...

qi::Signal<int> someSignal;

qi::SignalLink l = someSignal.connect(&MyClass::myCallback, this,
    "this connection", _1);

Unregistering a subscriber is done by invoking Signal::disconnect with a SignalLink as its sole argument. The call will block until all currently running invocations of the subscriber have finished. This gives you the strong guarantee than once disconnect has returned, your callback function is not being called, and will never be called again.


disconnect is a blocking method which will wait for the callback to finish (except if it’s called from withing the callback). The signal destruction is also blocking. These two cases may cause deadlocks in your code, be careful.

Triggering the signal

Triggering the signal is achieved by using the Signal::operator(), with arguments matching the Signal type:

qi::Signal<int, int> sig;
// QI_EMIT is here for readability
QI_EMIT sig(51, 42);

This will invoke all subscribers with given arguments.

Signal callback type

It is possible to control how subscribers are invoked:

  • MetaCallType_Auto is the default and means asynchronous.
  • MetaCallType_Direct forces a synchronous call.
  • MetaCallType_Queued forces an asynchronous call.

Note that if any subscriber is invoked asynchronously, the arguments passed to Signal::operator() will be copied.

You can set the call type of a signal globally with setCallType, but you can also set it per-callback. You can do that by calling setCallType on the SignalSubscriber returned by connect.

qi::SignalLink l = someSignal


It is very dangerous to set the call type to Direct as your function may block the code that triggers the signal. This type of call is only useful for optimization purposes, only for very small and fast fuctions that do not lock.

Signal lazy enabling

Sometimes, mainly for performance reasons, it is useful to only enable some code if a Signal has at least one subscriber. For example, if you have a signal humanDetected, you may want to enable the image processing code only if there is at least one subscriber to the signal to save CPU cycles.

This can be achieved by passing a callback to the Signal constructor, of signature void(bool). This function will be called synchronously each time the number of subscribers switches between 0 and 1.

void onConnect(bool c)
  if (c)
    std::cout << "First connection";
    std::cout << "No more connections";

qi::Signal<int> sig(onConnect);
qi::SignalLink l1 = sig.connect(mycallback); // calls onConnect(true)
qi::SignalLink l2 = sig.connect(mycallback); // nothing happens
sig.disconnect(l1); // nothing happens
sig.disconnect(l2); // calls onConnect(false);

Overriding signal triggering behavior (advanced)

Sometimes, mainly when bridging Signal with another signal implementation, one needs to override the action performed when the signal is triggered (which is by default to invoke all subscribers).

This can be achieved by inheriting from Signal, and then either overriding the trigger virtual function, or by calling setTriggerOverride with a functor that will replace the original trigger. You can then call callSubscribers to invoke the subscribers, which trigger would do by default.


qi::Signal Class Reference



#include <qi/signal.hpp>
  • Inherits: qi::SignalF< void(P...)>

Public Members

const SignalLink invalidSignalLink
boost::shared_ptr<SignalBasePrivate> _p

Public Functions

Signal(OnSubscribers onSubscribers)

SignalF(OnSubscribers onSubscribers)
qi::Signature signature() const
SignalSubscriber& connect(...)

SignalBase(const Signature& signature, OnSubscribers onSubscribers)
SignalBase(OnSubscribers onSubscribers)
qi::Signature signature() const
template<typename F>
SignalSubscriber& connect(boost::function<F> func)
SignalSubscriber& connect(const SignalSubscriber& s)
SignalSubscriber& connect(AnyObject object, unsigned int slot)
SignalSubscriber& connect(AnyObject object, const std::string& slot)
bool disconnectAll()
bool asyncDisconnectAll()
bool disconnect(const SignalLink& link)
bool asyncDisconnect(const SignalLink& link)
void trigger(const GenericFunctionParameters& params, MetaCallType callType)
void setCallType(MetaCallType callType)
void operator()(qi::AutoAnyReference p1)
std::vector<SignalSubscriber> subscribers()
bool hasSubscribers()
void _setSignature(const Signature& s)


typedef void(FunctionType)(P...)
typedef SignalF< FunctionType > ParentType
typedef typename ParentType::OnSubscribers OnSubscribers

typedef T FunctionType

typedef boost::function< void(bool)> OnSubscribers
typedef boost::function< void(const GenericFunctionParameters &params, MetaCallType callType)> Trigger

Detailed Description

Class that represent an event to which function can subscribe.

Members Documentation

boost::shared_ptr<SignalBasePrivate> qi::SignalBase::_p

Functions Documentation

qi::Signal<P>::Signal(OnSubscribers onSubscribers = OnSubscribers()

qi::SignalF<T>::SignalF(OnSubscribers onSubscribers = OnSubscribers()


  • onSubscribers – invoked each time number of subscribers switch between 0 and 1, with argument ‘!subscribers.empty()’ Will not be called when destructor is invoked and all subscribers are removed

Signal constructor

qi::Signature qi::SignalF<T>::signature() const
SignalSubscriber& qi::SignalF<T>::connect(...)


Returns:a SignalSubscriber object. This object can be implicitly converted to a SignalLink.

Connect a subscriber to this signal.

Multiple forms can be used: connect(function, argOrPlaceholder1, argOrPlaceholder2, ...) Where function is a function or callable object (such as a boost::function). If the first argument is a weak ptr or inherits qi::Trackable, the slot will automatically disconnect if object is no longuer available.connect(AnyObject target, unsigned int slot)connect(AnyObject target, const std::string& slotName)connect(AnyFunction func)connect(const SignalSubscriber&)connect(qi::Signal<U>& otherSignal)

qi::SignalBase::SignalBase(const Signature& signature, OnSubscribers onSubscribers = OnSubscribers()
qi::SignalBase::SignalBase(OnSubscribers onSubscribers = OnSubscribers()
qi::Signature qi::SignalBase::signature() const
template<typename F>
SignalSubscriber& qi::SignalBase::connect(boost::function<F> func)
SignalSubscriber& qi::SignalBase::connect(const SignalSubscriber& s)
SignalSubscriber& qi::SignalBase::connect(AnyObject object, unsigned int slot)
SignalSubscriber& qi::SignalBase::connect(AnyObject object, const std::string& slot)
bool qi::SignalBase::disconnectAll()

Disconnect all callbacks from signal.

This function will block until all callbacks are finished.

bool qi::SignalBase::asyncDisconnectAll()

Disconnect all callbacks from signal without waiting for them.

This function does not block.

bool qi::SignalBase::disconnect(const SignalLink& link)

Disconnect a SignalHandler.

The associated callback will not be called anymore as soon as this function returns.

This method blocks until all the already running callbacks are finished.

bool qi::SignalBase::asyncDisconnect(const SignalLink& link)

Disconnect a SignalHandler without waiting for it.

Same as disconnect, but this method does not block.

void qi::SignalBase::trigger(const GenericFunctionParameters& params, MetaCallType callType = MetaCallType_Auto)


  • params – the signal arguments
  • callType – specify how to invoke subscribers. Used in combination with each subscriber’s MetaCallType to chose between synchronous and asynchronous call. The combination rule is to honor subscriber’s override, then callType, then signal’s callType and default to asynchronous

Trigger the signal with given type-erased parameters.

void qi::SignalBase::setCallType(MetaCallType callType)

Set the MetaCallType used by operator()().

void qi::SignalBase::operator(qi::AutoAnyReference p1 = qi::AutoAnyReference()

Trigger the signal with given arguments, and call type set by setCallType()

std::vector<SignalSubscriber> qi::SignalBase::subscribers()
bool qi::SignalBase::hasSubscribers()
void qi::SignalBase::_setSignature(const Signature& s)

qi::SignalSubscriber Class Reference



#include <qi/signal.hpp>
  • Inherits: boost::enable_shared_from_this< SignalSubscriber >

Public Members

AnyFunction handler
MetaCallType threadingModel
boost::scoped_ptr<AnyWeakObject> target
unsigned int method
boost::mutex mutex
bool enabled
std::vector<boost::thread::id> activeThreads
boost::condition inactiveThread
ExecutionContext* executionContext

Public Signals

SignalBase* source
SignalLink linkId

Public Functions

SignalSubscriber(AnyFunction func, MetaCallType callType)
SignalSubscriber(AnyFunction func, ExecutionContext* ec)
SignalSubscriber(const AnyObject& target, unsigned int method)
SignalSubscriber(const SignalSubscriber& b)
void operator=(const SignalSubscriber& b)
void call(const GenericFunctionParameters& args, MetaCallType callType)
SignalSubscriber& setCallType(MetaCallType ct)
void waitForInactive()
void addActive(bool acquireLock, boost::thread::id tid)
void removeActive(bool acquireLock, boost::thread::id tid)
operator SignalLink() const
Signature signature() const

Detailed Description

Event subscriber info.

Only one of handler or target must be set.

Members Documentation

AnyFunction qi::SignalSubscriber::handler
MetaCallType qi::SignalSubscriber::threadingModel
boost::scoped_ptr<AnyWeakObject> qi::SignalSubscriber::target
unsigned int qi::SignalSubscriber::method
boost::mutex qi::SignalSubscriber::mutex
bool qi::SignalSubscriber::enabled
std::vector<boost::thread::id> qi::SignalSubscriber::activeThreads
boost::condition qi::SignalSubscriber::inactiveThread
ExecutionContext* qi::SignalSubscriber::executionContext

Signals Documentation

SignalBase* qi::SignalSubscriber::source

Uid that can be passed to GenericObject::disconnect()

Function Documentation

qi::SignalSubscriber::SignalSubscriber(AnyFunction func, MetaCallType callType = MetaCallType_Auto)
qi::SignalSubscriber::SignalSubscriber(AnyFunction func, ExecutionContext* ec)
qi::SignalSubscriber::SignalSubscriber(const AnyObject& target, unsigned int method)
qi::SignalSubscriber::SignalSubscriber(const SignalSubscriber& b)
void qi::SignalSubscriber::operator=(const SignalSubscriber& b)
void qi::SignalSubscriber::call(const GenericFunctionParameters& args, MetaCallType callType)

Perform the call.

Threading rules in order: Honor threadingModel if set (not auto)Honor callTypoe if set (not auto)Be asynchronous

SignalSubscriber& qi::SignalSubscriber::setCallType(MetaCallType ct)
void qi::SignalSubscriber::waitForInactive()

Wait until all threads are inactive except the current thread.

void qi::SignalSubscriber::addActive(bool acquireLock, boost::thread::id tid = boost::this_thread::get_id()
void qi::SignalSubscriber::removeActive(bool acquireLock, boost::thread::id tid = boost::this_thread::get_id()
Signature qi::SignalSubscriber::signature() const


Returns:the signature, or an invalid signature if extraction is impossible

Try to extract exact signature of this subscriber.