Seva Alekseyev Seva Alekseyev -4 years ago 79
Android Question

When the worker thread works, UI becomes choppy

I have a handwriting recognition app - the user draws with their finger, the app recognizes characters. The recognition engine runs in a worker thread that has the the minimal possible priority -

Thread.MIN_PRIORITY
. It's a purely CPU/memory algorithm, no I/O whatsoever. Still, when the thread is actively working, the UI becomes rather choppy. The finger strokes take a noticeable delay to appear. I also notice touch events getting lost.

Isn't that exactly what threading was supposed to help avoid? Why is the UI thread starved for CPU? How do convince the system to treat the worker thread as, well, a low-priority background thread?

It looks like the system is introducing (willingly or because of CPU starvation) a delay between
invalidate()
and
onDraw()
. Can I somehow lower that delay?

Testing on relatively old hardware - HTC Magic with Android 2.1.

Answer Source

Had same problem, so I made my thread:

  1. Thread.yield() after processing a chunk of work.

  2. Limited updates posted to UI thread with a min 500 ms interval (causing much less re-draw).

  3. Made the worker work on prioritized buckets of data, this focuses on updating the views, user is currently interacting with.

Now the whole UI is really lazy, but free of lag.

Here's what my worker's scheduling method looks like (actual work is done by Process method):

//--low priority
Thread.currentThread().setPriority(Thread.MIN_PRIORITY);

//--as long as there's more work to do, and not cancelled--
while (mPriorityBuffer.hasNext() && !isCancelled()) {

    //--get the work with highest priority--
    Work next = mPriorityBuffer.getNext();

    //--do work--
    Update u = mProcessor.process(next);

    // collect updates for main thread
    mUpdates.push(u);

    long timeNow = Calendar.getInstance().getTimeInMillis();
    if(timeNow - timeLast > 500){
        //--its been quite a while now, update ui--
        postUpdatesToMainThread();
        timeLast = timeNow;
    }

    //--let UI thread work on updates--
    Thread.yield();
}
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