c#

multithreading

winforms

thread-safety

invokerequired

I have become painfully aware of just how often one needs to write the following code pattern in event-driven GUI code, where

private void DoGUISwitch() {
    // cruisin for a bruisin' through exception city
    object1.Visible = true;
    object2.Visible = false;
}

becomes:

private void DoGUISwitch() {
    if (object1.InvokeRequired) {
        object1.Invoke(new MethodInvoker(() => { DoGUISwitch(); }));
    } else {
        object1.Visible = true;
        object2.Visible = false;
    }
}

This is an awkward pattern in C#, both to remember, and to type. Has anyone come up with some sort of shortcut or construct that automates this to a degree? It'd be cool if there was a way to attach a function to objects that does this check without having to go through all this extra work, like a object1.InvokeIfNecessary.visible = true type shortcut.

Previous answers have discussed the impracticality of just calling Invoke() every time, and even then the Invoke() syntax is both inefficient and still awkward to deal with.

So, has anyone figured out any shortcuts?

Solution 1

Lee's approach can be simplified further

public static void InvokeIfRequired(this Control control, MethodInvoker action)
{
    // See Update 2 for edits Mike de Klerk suggests to insert here.

    if (control.InvokeRequired) {
        control.Invoke(action);
    } else {
        action();
    }
}

And can be called like this

richEditControl1.InvokeIfRequired(() =>
{
    // Do anything you want with the control here
    richEditControl1.RtfText = value;
    RtfHelpers.AddMissingStyles(richEditControl1);
});

There is no need to pass the control as parameter to the delegate. C# automatically creates a closure.

If you must return a value, you can use this implementation:

private static T InvokeIfRequiredReturn<T>(this Control control, Func<T> function)
{
    if (control.InvokeRequired) {
        return (T)control.Invoke(function);
    } else {
        return function();
    }
}

UPDATE:

According to several other posters Control can be generalized as ISynchronizeInvoke:

public static void InvokeIfRequired(this ISynchronizeInvoke obj,
                                         MethodInvoker action)
{
    if (obj.InvokeRequired) {
        var args = new object[0];
        obj.Invoke(action, args);
    } else {
        action();
    }
}

DonBoitnott pointed out that unlike Control the ISynchronizeInvoke interface requires an object array for the Invoke method as parameter list for the action.


UPDATE 2

Edits suggested by Mike de Klerk (see comment in 1st code snippet for insert point):

// When the form, thus the control, isn't visible yet, InvokeRequired  returns false,
// resulting still in a cross-thread exception.
while (!control.Visible)
{
    System.Threading.Thread.Sleep(50);
}

See ToolmakerSteve's and nawfal's comments below for concerns about this suggestion.

Solution 2

You could write an extension method:

public static void InvokeIfRequired(this Control c, Action<Control> action)
{
    if(c.InvokeRequired)
    {
        c.Invoke(new Action(() => action(c)));
    }
    else
    {
        action(c);
    }
}

And use it like this:

object1.InvokeIfRequired(c => { c.Visible = true; });

EDIT: As Simpzon points out in the comments you could also change the signature to:

public static void InvokeIfRequired<T>(this T c, Action<T> action) 
    where T : Control

Solution 3

Here's the form I've been using in all my code.

private void DoGUISwitch()
{ 
    Invoke( ( MethodInvoker ) delegate {
        object1.Visible = true;
        object2.Visible = false;
    });
} 

I've based this on the blog entry here. I have not had this approach fail me, so I see no reason to complicate my code with a check of the InvokeRequired property.

Hope this helps.

Solution 4

Create a ThreadSafeInvoke.snippet file, and then you can just select the update statements, right click and select 'Surround With...' or Ctrl-K+S:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<CodeSnippet Format="1.0.0" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/2005/CodeSnippet">
  <Header>
    <Title>ThreadsafeInvoke</Title>
    <Shortcut></Shortcut>
    <Description>Wraps code in an anonymous method passed to Invoke for Thread safety.</Description>
    <SnippetTypes>
      <SnippetType>SurroundsWith</SnippetType>
    </SnippetTypes>
  </Header>
  <Snippet>
    <Code Language="CSharp">
      <![CDATA[
      Invoke( (MethodInvoker) delegate
      {
          $selected$
      });      
      ]]>
    </Code>
  </Snippet>
</CodeSnippet>

Solution 5

Here's an improved/combined version of Lee's, Oliver's and Stephan's answers.

public delegate void InvokeIfRequiredDelegate<T>(T obj)
    where T : ISynchronizeInvoke;

public static void InvokeIfRequired<T>(this T obj, InvokeIfRequiredDelegate<T> action)
    where T : ISynchronizeInvoke
{
    if (obj.InvokeRequired)
    {
        obj.Invoke(action, new object[] { obj });
    }
    else
    {
        action(obj);
    }
} 

The template allows for flexible and cast-less code which is much more readable while the dedicated delegate provides efficiency.

progressBar1.InvokeIfRequired(o => 
{
    o.Style = ProgressBarStyle.Marquee;
    o.MarqueeAnimationSpeed = 40;
});

Solution 6

I'd rather use a single instance of a method Delegate instead of creating a new instance every time. In my case i used to show progress and (info/error) messages from a Backroundworker copying and casting large data from a sql instance. Everywhile after about 70000 progress and message calls my form stopped working and showing new messages. This didn't occure when i started using a single global instance delegate.

delegate void ShowMessageCallback(string message);

private void Form1_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
    ShowMessageCallback showMessageDelegate = new ShowMessageCallback(ShowMessage);
}

private void ShowMessage(string message)
{
    if (this.InvokeRequired)
        this.Invoke(showMessageDelegate, message);
    else
        labelMessage.Text = message;           
}

void Message_OnMessage(object sender, Utilities.Message.MessageEventArgs e)
{
    ShowMessage(e.Message);
}

Solution 7

Usage:

control.InvokeIfRequired(c => c.Visible = false);

return control.InvokeIfRequired(c => {
    c.Visible = value

    return c.Visible;
});

Code:

using System;
using System.ComponentModel;

namespace Extensions
{
    public static class SynchronizeInvokeExtensions
    {
        public static void InvokeIfRequired<T>(this T obj, Action<T> action)
            where T : ISynchronizeInvoke
        {
            if (obj.InvokeRequired)
            {
                obj.Invoke(action, new object[] { obj });
            }
            else
            {
                action(obj);
            }
        }

        public static TOut InvokeIfRequired<TIn, TOut>(this TIn obj, Func<TIn, TOut> func) 
            where TIn : ISynchronizeInvoke
        {
            return obj.InvokeRequired
                ? (TOut)obj.Invoke(func, new object[] { obj })
                : func(obj);
        }
    }
}

Solution 8

I Kind of like to do it a bit different, i like to call "myself" if needed with an Action,

    private void AddRowToListView(ScannerRow row, bool suspend)
    {
        if (IsFormClosing)
            return;

        if (this.InvokeRequired)
        {
            var A = new Action(() => AddRowToListView(row, suspend));
            this.Invoke(A);
            return;
        }
         //as of here the Code is thread-safe

this is a handy pattern, the IsFormClosing is a field that i set to True when I am closing my form as there might be some background threads that are still running...

Solution 9

You should never be writing code that looks like this:

private void DoGUISwitch() {
    if (object1.InvokeRequired) {
        object1.Invoke(new MethodInvoker(() => { DoGUISwitch(); }));
    } else {
        object1.Visible = true;
        object2.Visible = false;
    }
}

If you do have code that looks like this then your application is not thread-safe. It means that you have code which is already calling DoGUISwitch() from a different thread. It's too late to be checking to see if it's in a different thread. InvokeRequire must be called BEFORE you make a call to DoGUISwitch. You should not access any method or property from a different thread.

Reference: Control.InvokeRequired Property where you can read the following:

In addition to the InvokeRequired property, there are four methods on a control that are thread safe to call: Invoke, BeginInvoke, EndInvoke and CreateGraphics if the handle for the control has already been created.

In a single CPU architecture there's no problem, but in a multi-CPU architecture you can cause part of the UI thread to be assigned to the processor where the calling code was running...and if that processor is different from where the UI thread was running then when the calling thread ends Windows will think that the UI thread has ended and will kill the application process i.e. your application will exit without error.