This recipe shows the easiest way of handling access to sockets, serial ports and other asynchronous I/O ports while running a Tkinter based GUI. It allows for a worker thread to block in a select(). Whenever something arrives it will received and inserted in a queue. The main (GUI) thread then polls the queue 10 times per second (often enough so the user will not notice any significant delay), and processes all messages that have arrived.
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""" This recipe describes how to handle asynchronous I/O in an environment where you are running Tkinter as the graphical user interface. Tkinter is safe to use as long as all the graphics commands are handled in a single thread. Since it is more efficient to make I/O channels to block and wait for something to happen rather than poll at regular intervals, we want I/O to be handled in separate threads. These can communicate in a threasafe way with the main, GUI-oriented process through one or several queues. In this solution the GUI still has to make a poll at a reasonable interval, to check if there is something in the queue that needs processing. Other solutions are possible, but they add a lot of complexity to the application. Created by Jacob Hallén, AB Strakt, Sweden. 2001-10-17 """ import Tkinter import time import threading import random import Queue class GuiPart: def __init__(self, master, queue, endCommand): self.queue = queue # Set up the GUI console = Tkinter.Button(master, text='Done', command=endCommand) console.pack() # Add more GUI stuff here def processIncoming(self): """ Handle all the messages currently in the queue (if any). """ while self.queue.qsize(): try: msg = self.queue.get(0) # Check contents of message and do what it says # As a test, we simply print it print msg except Queue.Empty: pass class ThreadedClient: """ Launch the main part of the GUI and the worker thread. periodicCall and endApplication could reside in the GUI part, but putting them here means that you have all the thread controls in a single place. """ def __init__(self, master): """ Start the GUI and the asynchronous threads. We are in the main (original) thread of the application, which will later be used by the GUI. We spawn a new thread for the worker. """ self.master = master # Create the queue self.queue = Queue.Queue() # Set up the GUI part self.gui = GuiPart(master, self.queue, self.endApplication) # Set up the thread to do asynchronous I/O # More can be made if necessary self.running = 1 self.thread1 = threading.Thread(target=self.workerThread1) self.thread1.start() # Start the periodic call in the GUI to check if the queue contains # anything self.periodicCall() def periodicCall(self): """ Check every 100 ms if there is something new in the queue. """ self.gui.processIncoming() if not self.running: # This is the brutal stop of the system. You may want to do # some cleanup before actually shutting it down. import sys sys.exit(1) self.master.after(100, self.periodicCall) def workerThread1(self): """ This is where we handle the asynchronous I/O. For example, it may be a 'select()'. One important thing to remember is that the thread has to yield control. """ while self.running: # To simulate asynchronous I/O, we create a random number at # random intervals. Replace the following 2 lines with the real # thing. time.sleep(rand.random() * 0.3) msg = rand.random() self.queue.put(msg) def endApplication(self): self.running = 0 rand = random.Random() root = Tkinter.Tk() client = ThreadedClient(root) root.mainloop()
This seems to be a common problem, since there is a question about how to do it a few times a month in comp.lang.pyhton. There are other solutions, involving synchronisation between threads that will allow you to handle the problem without the polling (the root.after()), but this is rather un-neat, since you tend to get raising and waiting for semaphores all over your code. In any case, a GUI already has a bunch of polling mechanisms built into it (the main event loop), so adding one won't make much difference - especially since it runs fairly seldom. The code has only been tested under Linux, but it should work on any platform with working threads.