ToolTalk User's Guide

Defining Object Types

When a message is addressed to a specific object or a type of object, the ToolTalk service must be able to determine to which application the message is to be delivered. Applications provide this information in an object type (otype). An otype names the ptype of the application that manages the object and describes message patterns that pertain to the object.

These message patterns also contain instructions that tell the ToolTalk service what to do if a message is available but the application is not running. In this case, ToolTalk performs one of the following instructions:

To make the information available to the ToolTalk service, the otype file is compiled with the ToolTalk type compiler tt_type_comp at application installation time. When an application that manages objects registers with the ToolTalk service, it declares its ptype. When a ptype is registered, the ToolTalk service checks for otypes that mention the ptype and registers the patterns found in these otypes.

The otype for your application provides addressing information that the ToolTalk service uses when delivering object-oriented messages. The number of otypes you have, and what they represent, depends on the nature of your application. For example, a word processing application might have otypes for characters, words, paragraphs, and documents; a diagram editing application might have otypes for nodes, arcs, annotation boxes, and diagrams.

An otype begins with an object-type identifier (otid). Following the otid are:

  1. An optional start string — ToolTalk will execute this command, if necessary, to start a process running the program.

  2. Signatures — Code that defines the messages that can be addressed to objects of the type (that is, the operations that can be invoked on objects of the type).


Signatures defines the messages that can be addressed to objects of the type. A signature is divided by an arrow (=>) into two parts. The first part of a signature define matching criteria for incoming messages. The second part of a signature defines receiver values which the ToolTalk service adds to each message that matches the first part of the signature. These values specify the ptid of the program that implements the operation and the message's scope and disposition.

Creating Otype Files

The following listing shows the syntax for an otype file.

otype	::=	obj_header	'{' objbody* '}' [';']
obj_header	::=	'otype' otid [':' otid+]
objbody	::=	`observe:' osignature*
	|	`handle:' osignature*
		`handle_push:' osignature*
		`handle_rotate:' osignature*
osignature	::=	op args [contextdcl] [rhs][inherit] `;'
rhs	::=	[`=>' ptid [scope]]
inherit	::=	`from' otid
args	::=	`(` argspec {, argspec}* `)'
	|	`(void)'
	|	`()'
contextdcl	::=	`context' `(` identifier {, identifier}* `)' `;'
argspec	::=	mode type name
mode	::=	`in' | `out' | `inout'
type	::=	identifier
name	::=	identifier
otid	::=	identifier
ptid	::=	identifier

Obj_Header Information

otid—object type identifier (otid). Identifies the object type. An otid must be unique for every installation. Because this identifier cannot be changed after installation time, each chosen name must be unique. For example, begin with the ptid of the tool that implements the otype. The otid is limited to 64 characters and should not be one of the reserved identifiers: ptype, otype, start, opnum, queue, file, session, observe, or handle.

Osignature Information

The object body portion of the otype definition is a list of osignatures for messages about the object that your application wants to observe and handle.

op—operation name. This name is matched against the op attribute in messages.

Note –

If you specify message signatures in both your ptype and otypes, use unique operation names in each. For example, do not specify a display operation in both your ptype and otype.

args—arguments for the operation. If the args list is void, the signature matches only messages with no arguments. If the args list is empty (just “()”), the signature matches messages without regard to the arguments.

contextdcl—context name. When a pattern with this named context is generated from the signature, it contains an empty value list.

ptid—process type identifier for the application that manages this type of object.

opnum—fill in the message's opnum attribute with the specified number to enable you to identify the signature that matched the message.

When the message matches the signature, the opnum from the signature is filled into the message. Your application can then retrieve the opnum with the tt_message_opnum call. By giving each signature a unique opnum, you can quickly determine which signature matched the message.

You can attach a callback routine to the opnum with the tt_otype_opnum_callback_add call. When the message is matched, the ToolTalk service will check for any callbacks attached to the opnum and, if any are found, run them.

inherit—Otypes form an inheritance hierarchy in which operations can be inherited from base types. The ToolTalk service requires the otype definer to explicitly name all inherited operations and the otype from which to inherit. This explicit naming prevents later changes (such as adding a new level to the hierarchy, or adding new operations to base types) from unexpectedly affecting the behavior of an otype.

scope—this pattern attribute is matched against the scope attribute in messages. It appears on the rightmost side of the arrow and is filled in by the ToolTalk service during message dispatch. This means the definer of the otype can specify the attributes instead of requiring the message sender to know how the message should be delivered.

Osignature Actions Information

start—if the osignature matches a message and no running process of this otype has a pattern that matches the message, start a process of this otype.

queue—if the osignature matches a message and no running process of this otype has a pattern that matches the message, queue the message until a process of this otype registers a pattern that matches it.

The following listing illustrates an otype file.

#include "Sun_EditDemo_opnums.h"

otype Sun_EditDemo_object {
	 /* hilite object given by objid, starts an editor if necessary */
	 hilite_obj(in string objid)
		=> Sun_EditDemo session start opnum=Sun_EditDemo_HILITE_OBJ;

The Sun_EditDemo_opnums.h file defines symbolic definitions for all the opnums used by edit.c, allowing both the edit.types file and edit.c file to share the same definitions.