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20:09

How do they do it? Asynchronous undo and redo editors

Imagine we want an editor that has undo and redo capability. But the operations on the editor are all asynchronous. This implies that also undo and redo are asynchronous operations.

We want all this to be available in QML, we want to use QFuture for the asynchronous stuff and we want to use QUndoCommand for the undo and redo capability.

But how do they do it?

First of all we will make a status object, to put the status of the asynchronous operations in (asyncundoable.h).

class AbstractAsyncStatus: public QObject
{
    Q_OBJECT

    Q_PROPERTY(bool success READ success CONSTANT)
    Q_PROPERTY(int extra READ extra CONSTANT)
public:
    AbstractAsyncStatus(QObject *parent):QObject (parent) {}
    virtual bool success() = 0;
    virtual int extra() = 0;
};

We will be passing it around as a QSharedPointer, so that lifetime management becomes easy. But typing that out is going to give us long APIs. So let’s make a typedef for that (asyncundoable.h).

typedef QSharedPointer<AbstractAsyncStatus> AsyncStatusInstance;

Now let’s make ourselves a undo command that allows us to wait for asynchronous undo and asynchronous redo. We’re combining QUndoCommand and QFutureInterface here (asyncundoable.h).

class AbstractAsyncUndoable: public QUndoCommand
{
public:
    AbstractAsyncUndoable( QUndoCommand *parent = nullptr )
        : QUndoCommand ( parent )
        , m_undoFuture ( new QFutureInterface<AsyncStatusInstance>() )
        , m_redoFuture ( new QFutureInterface<AsyncStatusInstance>() ) {}
    QFuture<AsyncStatusInstance> undoFuture()
        { return m_undoFuture->future(); }
    QFuture<AsyncStatusInstance> redoFuture()
        { return m_redoFuture->future(); }

protected:
    QScopedPointer<QFutureInterface<AsyncStatusInstance> > m_undoFuture;
    QScopedPointer<QFutureInterface<AsyncStatusInstance> > m_redoFuture;

};

Okay, let’s implement these with an example operation. First the concrete status object (asyncexample1command.h).

class AsyncExample1Status: public AbstractAsyncStatus
{
    Q_OBJECT
    Q_PROPERTY(bool example1 READ example1 CONSTANT)
public:
    AsyncExample1Status ( bool success, int extra, bool example1,
                          QObject *parent = nullptr )
        : AbstractAsyncStatus(parent)
        , m_example1 ( example1 )
        , m_success ( success )
        , m_extra ( extra ) {}
    bool example1() { return m_example1; }
    bool success() Q_DECL_OVERRIDE { return m_success; }
    int extra() Q_DECL_OVERRIDE { return m_extra; }
private:
    bool m_example1 = false;
    bool m_success = false;
    int m_extra = -1;
};

Let’s make a QUndoCommand that uses a timer to simulate asynchronous behavior. We could also use QtConcurrent’s run function to use a QThreadPool and QRunnable instances that also implement QFutureInterface, of course. Seasoned Qt developers know what I mean. For the sake of example, I wanted to illustrate that QFuture can also be used for asynchronous things that aren’t threads. We’ll use the lambda because QUndoCommand isn’t a QObject, so no easy slots. That’s the only reason (asyncexample1command.h).

class AsyncExample1Command: public AbstractAsyncUndoable
{
public:
    AsyncExample1Command(bool example1, QUndoCommand *parent = nullptr)
        : AbstractAsyncUndoable ( parent ), m_example1(example1) {}
    void undo() Q_DECL_OVERRIDE {
        m_undoFuture->reportStarted();
        QTimer *timer = new QTimer();
        timer->setSingleShot(true);
        QObject::connect(timer, &QTimer::timeout, [=]() {
            QSharedPointer<AbstractAsyncStatus> result;
            result.reset(new AsyncExample1Status ( true, 1, m_example1 ));
            m_undoFuture->reportFinished(&result);
            timer->deleteLater();
        } );
        timer->start(1000);
    }
    void redo() Q_DECL_OVERRIDE {
        m_redoFuture->reportStarted();
        QTimer *timer = new QTimer();
        timer->setSingleShot(true);
        QObject::connect(timer, &QTimer::timeout, [=]() {
            QSharedPointer<AbstractAsyncStatus> result;
            result.reset(new AsyncExample1Status ( true, 2, m_example1 ));
            m_redoFuture->reportFinished(&result);
            timer->deleteLater();
        } );
        timer->start(1000);
    }
private:
    QTimer m_timer;
    bool m_example1;
};

Let’s now define something we get from the strategy design pattern; a editor behavior. Implementations provide an editor all its editing behaviors (abtracteditorbehavior.h).

class AbstractEditorBehavior : public QObject
{
    Q_OBJECT
public:
    AbstractEditorBehavior( QObject *parent) : QObject (parent) {}

    virtual QFuture<AsyncStatusInstance> performExample1( bool example1 ) = 0;
    virtual QFuture<AsyncStatusInstance> performUndo() = 0;
    virtual QFuture<AsyncStatusInstance> performRedo() = 0;
    virtual bool canRedo() = 0;
    virtual bool canUndo() = 0;
};

So far so good, so let’s make an implementation that has a QUndoStack and that therefor is undoable (undoableeditorbehavior.h).

class UndoableEditorBehavior: public AbstractEditorBehavior
{
public:
    UndoableEditorBehavior(QObject *parent = nullptr)
        : AbstractEditorBehavior (parent)
        , m_undoStack ( new QUndoStack ){}

    QFuture<AsyncStatusInstance> performExample1( bool example1 ) Q_DECL_OVERRIDE {
        AsyncExample1Command *command = new AsyncExample1Command ( example1 );
        m_undoStack->push(command);
        return command->redoFuture();
    }
    QFuture<AsyncStatusInstance> performUndo() {
        const AbstractAsyncUndoable *undoable =
            dynamic_cast<const AbstractAsyncUndoable *>(
                    m_undoStack->command( m_undoStack->index() - 1));
        m_undoStack->undo();
        return const_cast<AbstractAsyncUndoable*>(undoable)->undoFuture();
    }
    QFuture<AsyncStatusInstance> performRedo() {
        const AbstractAsyncUndoable *undoable =
            dynamic_cast<const AbstractAsyncUndoable *>(
                    m_undoStack->command( m_undoStack->index() ));
        m_undoStack->redo();
        return const_cast<AbstractAsyncUndoable*>(undoable)->redoFuture();
    }
    bool canRedo() Q_DECL_OVERRIDE { return m_undoStack->canRedo(); }
    bool canUndo() Q_DECL_OVERRIDE { return m_undoStack->canUndo(); }
private:
    QScopedPointer<QUndoStack> m_undoStack;
};

Now we only need an editor, right (editor.h)?

class Editor: public QObject
{
    Q_OBJECT
    Q_PROPERTY(AbstractEditorBehavior* editorBehavior READ editorBehavior CONSTANT)
public:
    Editor(QObject *parent=nullptr) : QObject(parent)
        , m_editorBehavior ( new UndoableEditorBehavior ) { }
    AbstractEditorBehavior* editorBehavior() { return m_editorBehavior.data(); }
    Q_INVOKABLE void example1Async(bool example1) {
        QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance> *watcher = new QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance>(this);
        connect(watcher, &QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance>::finished,
                this, &Editor::onExample1Finished);
        watcher->setFuture ( m_editorBehavior->performExample1(example1) );
    }
    Q_INVOKABLE void undoAsync() {
        if (m_editorBehavior->canUndo()) {
            QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance> *watcher = new QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance>(this);
            connect(watcher, &QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance>::finished,
                    this, &Editor::onUndoFinished);
            watcher->setFuture ( m_editorBehavior->performUndo() );
        }
    }
    Q_INVOKABLE void redoAsync() {
        if (m_editorBehavior->canRedo()) {
            QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance> *watcher = new QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance>(this);
            connect(watcher, &QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance>::finished,
                    this, &Editor::onRedoFinished);
            watcher->setFuture ( m_editorBehavior->performRedo() );
        }
    }
signals:
    void example1Finished( AsyncExample1Status *status );
    void undoFinished( AbstractAsyncStatus *status );
    void redoFinished( AbstractAsyncStatus *status );
private slots:
    void onExample1Finished() {
        QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance> *watcher =
                dynamic_cast<QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance>*> (sender());
        emit example1Finished( watcher->result().objectCast<AsyncExample1Status>().data() );
        watcher->deleteLater();
    }
    void onUndoFinished() {
        QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance> *watcher =
                dynamic_cast<QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance>*> (sender());
        emit undoFinished( watcher->result().objectCast<AbstractAsyncStatus>().data() );
        watcher->deleteLater();
    }
    void onRedoFinished() {
        QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance> *watcher =
                dynamic_cast<QFutureWatcher<AsyncStatusInstance>*> (sender());
        emit redoFinished( watcher->result().objectCast<AbstractAsyncStatus>().data() );
        watcher->deleteLater();
    }
private:
    QScopedPointer<AbstractEditorBehavior> m_editorBehavior;
};

Okay, let’s register this up to make it known in QML and make ourselves a main function (main.cpp).

#include <QtQml>
#include <QGuiApplication>
#include <QQmlApplicationEngine>
#include <editor.h>
int main(int argc, char *argv[])
{
    QGuiApplication app(argc, argv);
    QQmlApplicationEngine engine;
    qmlRegisterType<Editor>("be.codeminded.asyncundo", 1, 0, "Editor");
    engine.load(QUrl(QStringLiteral("qrc:/main.qml")));
    return app.exec();
}

Now, let’s make ourselves a simple QML UI to use this with (main.qml).

import QtQuick 2.3
import QtQuick.Window 2.2
import QtQuick.Controls 1.2
import be.codeminded.asyncundo 1.0
Window {
    visible: true
    width: 360
    height: 360
    Editor {
        id: editor
        onUndoFinished: text.text = "undo"
        onRedoFinished: text.text = "redo"
        onExample1Finished: text.text = "whoohoo " + status.example1
    }
    Text {
        id: text
        text: qsTr("Hello World")
        anchors.centerIn: parent
    }
    Action {
        shortcut: "Ctrl+z"
        onTriggered: editor.undoAsync()
    }
    Action {
        shortcut: "Ctrl+y"
        onTriggered: editor.redoAsync()
    }
    Button  {
        onClicked: editor.example1Async(99);
    }
}

You can find the sources of this complete example at github. Enjoy!

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