u0b34a0f6ae u0b34a0f6ae - 4 years ago 209
Python Question

How to connect to a GObject signal in python, without it keeping a reference to the connecter?

The problem is basically this, in python's gobject and gtk bindings. Assume we have a class that binds to a signal when constructed:

class ClipboardMonitor (object):
def __init__(self):
clip = gtk.clipboard_get(gtk.gdk.SELECTION_CLIPBOARD)
clip.connect("owner-change", self._clipboard_changed)

The problem is now that, no instance of ClipboardMonitor will ever die. The gtk clipboard is an application-wide object, and connecting to it keeps a reference to the object, since we use the callback

I'm debating how to work around this using weak references (weakref module), but I have yet to come up with a plan. Anyone have an idea how to pass a callback to the signal registration, and have it behave like a weak reference (if the signal callback is called when the ClipboardMonitor instance is out of scope, it should be a no-op).

Addition: Phrased independently of GObject or GTK+:

How do you provide a callback method to an opaque object, with weakref semantics? If the connecting object goes out of scope, it should be deleted and the callback should act as a no-op; the connectee should not hold a reference to the connector.

To clarify: I explicitly want to avoid having to call a "destructor/finalizer" method

Answer Source

The standard way is to disconnect the signal. This however needs to have a destructor-like method in your class, called explicitly by code which maintains your object. This is necessary, because otherwise you'll get circular dependency.

class ClipboardMonitor(object):

    def __init__(self):
        self.clip = gtk.clipboard_get(gtk.gdk.SELECTION_CLIPBOARD)
        self.signal_id = self.clip.connect("owner-change", self._clipboard_changed)

    def close(self):

As you pointed out, you need weakrefs if you want to avoid explicite destroying. I would write a weak callback factory, like:

import weakref

class CallbackWrapper(object):
    def __init__(self, sender, callback):
        self.weak_obj = weakref.ref(callback.im_self)
        self.weak_fun = weakref.ref(callback.im_func)
        self.sender = sender
        self.handle = None

    def __call__(self, *things):
        obj = self.weak_obj()
        fun = self.weak_fun()
        if obj is not None and fun is not None:
            return fun(obj, *things)
        elif self.handle is not None:
            self.handle = None
            self.sender = None

def weak_connect(sender, signal, callback):
    wrapper = CallbackWrapper(sender, callback)
    wrapper.handle = sender.connect(signal, wrapper)
    return wrapper

(this is a proof of concept code, works for me -- you should probably adapt this piece to your needs). Few notes:

  • I am storing callback object and function separatelly. You cannot simply make a weakref of a bound method, because bound methods are very temporary objects. Actually weakref.ref(obj.method) will destroy the bound method object instantly after creating a weakref. I didn't check whether it is needed to store a weakref to the function too... I guess if your code is static, you probably can avoid that.
  • The object wrapper will remove itself from the signal sender when it notices that the weak reference ceased to exist. This is also necessary to destroy the circular dependence between the CallbackWrapper and the signal sender object.
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