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Drivers & DAs in Need of (a Good) Time


This Technical Note describes a few complications which rear their rather ugly little heads when a desk accessory or driver needs periodic time. It also presents a few solutions to work around these problems and make life easier, at least periodically.

Updated: [Aug 01 1989]

See Jane's Heap, See accRun...

MultiFinder is our friend. Our friend, that is, until a driver or desk accessory is called when in an unknown heap. Then things get complicated. When a driver is called at accRun time under MultiFinder, one can never be exactly sure of the heap in which it will find itself. When a DA receives an open call, or any other messages besides accRun, under MultiFinder, the system heap is switched in as the current heap.* (*NOTE: This is true unless a user "force" switched the DA into an application heap by holding down the Option key when opening the DA. In this particular case, the application's heap will be switched in.)

During the accRun cycle, whatever heap is currently switched in will be the driver's heap as well, and surprise, surprise, that heap may not be the system heap.

This situation could be a real problem if your DA allocates memory or creates a window during that accRun period. Why? What if the application whose heap the DA is in suddenly slips a bit and decides to call it quits before the DA? You'd be stuck with allocated blocks in a zone that suddenly doesn't exist. Eventually, your DA would go belly up, and whoever bought your DA or driver would be on the phone to a local dealer demanding retribution.

So what's the solution? The easiest way out of this situation is to simply not do any memory allocation or display any newly created windows or dialog boxes during accRun. So what if it's a cop out, it's easy to implement.

Being the good souls that we are in DTS, we're not going to leave you hanging there with nowhere to go. We prefer you heed the previous solution, but we realize that there may be rare times when you might need a window during accRun. We've devised a solution, albeit a bit strange, but one that's easy enough to use.

The basic problem is that the DA needs to know in which heap it should be allocating it's new storage. It would be nice if the DA knew in which heap it was opened and could allocate the new stuff there, and it's easy enough to do, so here is what you need to know to do it.

Switching from the current heap to the "preferred" heap is fairly simple. When you feel the need to allocate memory or create a window during accRun, first save the current heap zone with _GetZone. Now, get the handle to the actual driver for the DA. You can do this by looking at the dCtlDriver offset of the DAs device control entry (DCE). The DCE is always in register A1 when a control call to the DA is made. Use _HandleZone on the handle to the DAs driver to give you a pointer to the heap in which the driver resides. Pass that value to _SetZone. Once you have switched in the correct heap, do whatever memory allocation or window creation you need, and then make sure to set the current zone back to the saved zone with _SetZone.

The following short routine, borrowed, in part, from an MPW sample DA, shows one way to set up the correct zone.

pascal short DRVRControl(CntrlParam *ctlPB, DCtlPtr dCtl)
    extern    void    doCtlEvent();
    extern    void    doPeriodic();

    THz     driverZone;
    THz    savedZone;

     * The current grafPort is saved & restored by the Desk Manager
    switch (ctlPB->csCode) {
        case ACCEVENT:            /* accEvent */
            HLock(dCtl->dCtlStorage);    /* Lock handle since it will
                               be dereferenced */
            doCtlEvent( *((EventRecord **) &ctlPB->csParam[0]),
                    (Globals *)(*dCtl->dCtlStorage));

         * Hey!  Look here!
        case ACCRUN:                /* periodicEvent */
            savedZone = GetZone();    /* save a pointer to current heap     */
            driverZone = HandleZone(dCtl->dCtlDriver); /* get the heap our
                                       driver resides in */
            SetZone(driverZone);        /* use that as the current heap */
            doPeriodic(dCtl);        /* go do your periodic stuff */
            SetZone(savedZone);        /* restore the old heap */

    return 0;

One note of caution: Watch out for changes in the resource chain when in accRun, as it may not be what you expect when MultiFinder is active.

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"Houston, We've Got a Re-Entry Problem"

Displaying an alert or other modal dialog box is a common occurrence in Macintosh programming, even in DAs. But since DAs are not applications, modal dialog boxes pose other problems when displayed under MultiFinder. This problem is reentrancy. If your DA or driver asks for periodic time, it continues to receive it when it display a modal dialog box. Bummer. Your modal dialog routine might even be called again, and again, and again, and again, and you get the idea. This problem occurs because _ModalDialog calls the _SystemTask trap, which in turn calls drivers which asked for time, including yours. There is no internal check by the System for this possible problem, so it's up to you and your driver to be prepared.

We realize that some DAs and drivers expect, and depend upon, this functionality. We're just taking this opportunity to inform the rest of you that this is a situation about which you should be aware.

An easy way to avoid this issue is to simply tell the Device Manager not to call your DA when you display an alert or other modal dialog box. Remember that dNeedTime bit you set when you opened your DA so you'd get time? Just clear it before your call to _Alert or _ModalDialog. As long as the bit is clear, your DA does not receive any periodic time. Remember to reset it once you are done with your _Alert or _ModalDialog trap call.

The _BitClr and _BitSet Toolbox utilities are a mite on the brain-damaged side, and the bits are the reverse of conventional 680x0 numbering (numbering starts from the high-order bit instead of the low-order bit). This difference necessitates a calculation for figuring out the correct bit as shown in the following example: (I think whoever wrote these Toolbox utilities did this just to see if anyone was paying attention.)


BitClr(@dce^.dCtlFlags, 2);        { clear bit 5/dNeedTime bit. IM I-471 }
BitSet(@dce^.dCtlFlags, 2);        { set bit 5/dNeedTime bit.  IM I-471 }

or the kind of more efficient, but less efficient than C:

dNeedTime = $2000;            { Bit 5 of high-order byte of word }

dce^.dCtlFlags := BAND(dce^.dCtlFlags, BNOT(dNeedTime));    { clear bit 5/dNeedTime bit. }
dce^.dCtlFlags := BOR(dce^.dCtlFlags, dNeedTime);        { set bit 5/dNeedTime bit. }


BitClr(&dce->dCtlFlags, 2);        /* clear bit 5/dNeedTime bit. IM I-471 */
BitSet(&dce->dCtlFlags, 2);        /* set bit 5/dNeedTime bit.  IM I-471 */

or the somewhat more efficient:

#define dNeedTime 0x2000        /* Bit 5 of high-order byte of word */

dce->dCtlFlags &= ~dNeedTime;    /* clear bit 5/dNeedTime bit. */
dce->dCtlFlags |= dNeedTime;    /* set bit 5/dNeedTime bit.  */

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One More Thing...

We cannot overemphasize our viewpoint that if you are writing a DA and the result looks and acts more like an application, then write an application instead and save us all a lot of headaches.

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Inside Macintosh, Volume II, The Memory Manager

Technical Note M.TB.MultifinderMisc -- MultiFinder Miscellanea

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Acrobat gif

Acrobat version of this Note (44K)


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