Monday, August 01, 2016

cheq: central_handler and event_queue

No matter how you look at it, even if it's hidden, every good browser-based JavaScript application must have a "central handler", and an "event queue". I call this necessity "cheq", as a mnemonic.

Why is this? Because a JavaScript program cannot hold onto (monopolize or block) the execution thread (the control flow of the browser's computational actions) and still make use of the essential services provided by the browser: rendering, user event handling, etc. We must pass control back to the browser, all the time, or nothing apparently happens.

But how do you do this, if you need your program to do "many things that are tied together", while passing control to the browser between each of these things? The answer, as I've said, is your own "event queue": a control channel under your control, which will persist while the browser is busy, say, rendering something for you. Every JavaScript programmer runs into this problem all the time: why isn't "X" appearing on the screen? Oh -- I didn't pass control back to the browser. This is especially obvious when you build animations.

If you have an event queue of your own, independent of the browser's event system, then you need a central_handler that manages that event_queue. Hence "cheq":

/* ----------------- 
 "cheq" means "central_handler event_queue".

 This needs to be at the heart of any browser-based 
 javascript application. It allows you to control your 
 program flow while cooperatively passing control to the 
 browser in order to render, handle events ... 

 The initial call from index.html looks like this:

 Subsequent calls from inside the event look like:

 OUR EVENT QUEUE (so the browser regularly gets control):
  uses .push(x) to add to queue
  and .shift() to get the next event
var event_queue = [];
var the_event = null;

//  called by onload and setTimeout
function central_handler() {

    if (!(event_queue.length > 0)) {
    the_event = event_queue.shift();

    // call event

    // only loop until the stack is empty
    if (event_queue.length > 0) {
       setTimeout(function () {central_handler();},

// end of
// -----------------

"Cheq" may be considered "the heart" of any JavaScript application, from one perspective. It's not necessarily the most useful idea for a program "heart", for comprehensibility. But ... maybe it is a useful central organizing principle. You never know until you try. So, I'm going to try. I'll evaluate this with my "smoothly unfolding sequence" approach, described at core memory, making good use of the Life Perception Faculty in the human brain as a means of judgment, and see if I can maintain "explanatory" reasonableness as well. My explorations in maintaining a good development structure, from this starting point, will be here:


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