MyCSharpCorner MyCSharpCorner - 2 months ago 14x
Objective-C Question

Best time to invalidate NSTimer inside UIViewController to avoid retain cycle

Does any one know when is the best time to stop an NSTimer that is held reference inside of a UIViewController to avoid retain cycle between the timer and the controller?

Here is the question in more details: I have an NSTimer inside of a UIViewController.

During ViewDidLoad of the view controller, I start the timer:

statusTimer = [NSTimer scheduledTimerWithTimeInterval: 1 target: self selector: @selector(updateStatus) userInfo: nil repeats: YES];

The above causes the timer to hold a reference to the view controller.

Now I want to release my controller (parent controller releases it for example)

the question is: where can I put the call to [statusTimer invalidate] to force the timer to release the reference to the controller?

I tried putting it in ViewDidUnload, but that does not get fired until the view receives a memory warning, so not a good place. I tried dealloc, but dealloc will never get called as long as the timer is alive (chicken & egg problem).

Any good suggestions?

  1. You could avoid the retain cycle to begin with by, e.g., aiming the timer at a StatusUpdate object that holds a non-retained (weak) reference to your controller, or by having a StatusUpdater that is initialized with a pointer your controller, holds a weak reference to that, and sets up the timer for you.

    • You could have the view stop the timer in -willMoveToWindow: when the target window is nil (which should handle the counterexample to -viewDidDisappear: that you provided) as well as in -viewDidDisappear:. This does mean your view is reaching back into your controller; you could avoid reaching in to grab the timer by just send the controller a -view:willMoveToWindow: message or by posting a notification, if you care.

    • Presumably, you're the one causing the view to be removed from the window, so you could add a line to stop the timer alongside the line that evicts the view.

    • You could use a non-repeating timer. It will invalidate as soon as it fires. You can then test in the callback whether a new non-repeating timer should be created, and, if so, create it. The unwanted retain cycle will then only keep the timer and controller pair around till the next fire date. With a 1 second fire date, you wouldn't have much to worry about.

Every suggestion but the first is a way to live with the retain cycle and break it at the appropriate time. The first suggestion actually avoids the retain cycle.