POE::Loop - documentation for POE's event loop bridge interface


POE::Loop - documentation for POE's event loop bridge interface


  $kernel->loop_watch_filehandle($handle, $mode);
  $kernel->loop_ignore_filehandle($handle, $mode);
  $kernel->loop_pause_filehandle($handle, $mode);
  $kernel->loop_resume_filehandle($handle, $mode);


POE's runtime kernel abstraction uses the ``bridge'' pattern to encapsulate services provided by different event loops. This abstraction allows POE to cooperate with several event loops and support new ones with a minimum amount of work.

POE relies on a relatively small number of event loop services: signal callbacks, time or alarm callbacks, and filehandle activity callbacks.

The rest of the bridge interface is administrative trivia such as initializing, executing, and finalizing event loop.

POE::Kernel uses POE::Loop classes internally as a result of detecting which event loop is loaded before POE is. You should almost never need to use a POE::Loop class directly, although there is some early support for doing so in cases where it's absolutely necessary.

See Using POE with Other Event Loops in the POE::Kernel manpage for details about actually using POE with other event loops.


An event loop bridge is not a proper object in itself. Rather, it is a suite of functions that are defined within the POE::Kernel namespace. A bridge is a plugged-in part of POE::Kernel itself. Its functions are proper POE::Kernel methods.

Each bridge first defines its own namespace and version within it. This way CPAN and other things can track its version.

  # $Id: Loop.pm 2116 2006-09-08 04:45:45Z rcaputo $
  use strict;
  # YourToolkit bridge for POE::Kernel;
  package POE::Loop::YourToolkit;
  use vars qw($VERSION);
  $VERSION = do {my@r=(q$Revision: 2116 $=~/\d+/g);sprintf"%d."."%04d"x$#r,@r};
  package POE::Kernel;
  ... private lexical data and functions defined here ...
  =head1 NAME
  ... documentation goes here ...

The public interface for loop bridges is broken into four parts: administrative functions, signal functions, time functions, and filehandle functions. They will be described in detail shortly.

Bridges use lexical variables to keep track of things. The types and number of variables depends on the needs of each event loop. For example, POE::Loop::Select keeps bit vectors for its select() call. POE::Loop::Gtk tracks a single time watcher and multiple file watchers for each file descriptor.

Bridges often employ private functions as callbacks from their event loops. The Event, Gtk, and Tk bridges do this.

Developers should look at existing bridges to get a feel for things. The -m flag for perldoc will show a module in its entirety.

  perldoc -m POE::Loop::Select
  perldoc -m POE::Loop::Gtk


These functions initialize and finalize an event loop, run the loop to process events, and halt it.

Initialize the event loop. Graphical toolkits especially need some sort of init() call or sequence to set up. For example, POE::Loop::Gtk implements loop_initialize() like this.
  sub loop_initialize {

POE::Loop::Select does a little more work.

  sub loop_initialize {
    @loop_vectors = ( '', '', '' );
    vec($loop_vectors[MODE_RD], 0, 1) = 0;
    vec($loop_vectors[MODE_WR], 0, 1) = 0;
    vec($loop_vectors[MODE_EX], 0, 1) = 0;

Finalize the event loop. Most event loops do not require anything here since they have already stopped by the time loop_finalize() is called. However, this is a good place to check that a bridge has not leaked memory or data. This example comes from POE::Loop::Event.
  sub loop_finalize {
    foreach my $fd (0..$#fileno_watcher) {
      next unless defined $fileno_watcher[$fd];
      foreach my $mode (MODE_RD, MODE_WR, MODE_EX) {
        warn "Fileno $fd / mode $mode has a watcher at loop_finalize"
          if defined $fileno_watcher[$fd]->[$mode];

Wait for time to pass or new events to occur, and dispatch events which are due. If the underlying event loop does these things, then loop_do_timeslice() either provide- minimal glue for them or does nothing.

For example, the loop_do_timeslice() function for the Select bridge sets up and calls select(). If any files or other resources become active, it enqueues events for them. Finally, it triggers dispatch for any events are due.

On the other hand, the Gtk event loop handles all this, so loop_do_timeslice() is empty for the Gtk bridge.

A sample loop_do_timeslice() is not presented here because it would either be quite large or empty. See the bridges for Poll and Select for large ones. The Event, Gtk, and Tk bridges are good examples of empty ones.

Run an event loop until POE has no more sessions to handle events. This function tends to be quite small. For example, the Poll bridge uses:
  sub loop_run {
    my $self = shift;
    while ($self->_data_ses_count()) {

This function is even more trivial when an event loop handles it. This is from the Gtk bridge:

  sub loop_run {

Halt an event loop, especially one which does not know about POE. This tends to be an empty function for loops written in the bridges themselves (Poll, Select) and a trivial function for ones that have their own main loops.

For example, the loop_run() function in the Poll bridge exits when sessions have run out, so its loop_halt() function is empty:

  sub loop_halt {
    # does nothing

Gtk, however, needs to be stopped because it does not know when POE is done.

  sub loop_halt {


These functions enable and disable signal watchers.

loop_watch_signal SIGNAL_NAME
Watch for a given SIGNAL_NAME, most likely by registering a signal handler. Signal names are the ones included in %SIG. That is, they are the UNIX signal names with the leading ``SIG'' removed.

Most event loops do not have native signal watchers, so it is up to their bridges to register %SIG handlers. Some bridges, such as POE::Loop::Event, register callbacks for various signals.

There are three types of signal handlers:

CHLD/CLD handlers, when managed by the bridges themselves, poll for exited children. POE::Kernel does most of this, but loop_watch_signal() still needs to start the process.

PIPE handlers. The PIPE signal event must be sent to the session that is active when the signal occurred.

Everything else. Signal events for everything else are sent to POE::Kernel, where they are distributed to every session.

The loop_watch_signal() function tends to be very long, so an example is not presented here. The Event and Select bridges have good examples, though.

loop_ignore_signal SIGNAL_NAME
Stop watching SIGNAL_NAME. This usually resets the %SIG entry for SIGNAL_NAME to DEFAULT. In the Event bridge, however, it stops and removes a watcher for the signal.

The Select bridge:

  sub loop_ignore_signal {
    my ($self, $signal) = @_;
    $SIG{$signal} = "DEFAULT";

The Event bridge:

  sub loop_ignore_signal {
    my ($self, $signal) = @_;
    if (defined $signal_watcher{$signal}) {
      delete $signal_watcher{$signal};

loop_attach_uidestroy WINDOW
Send a UIDESTROY signal when WINDOW is closed. The UIDESTROY signal is used to shut down a POE program when its user interface is destroyed.

This function is only meaningful in bridges that interface with graphical toolkits. All other bridges leave loop_attach_uidestroy() empty. See POE::Loop::Gtk and POE::Loop::Tk for examples.


These functions enable and disable a time watcher or alarm in the substrate. POE only requires one, which is reused or re-created as necessary.

Most event loops trigger callbacks when time has passed. Bridges for this kind of loop will need to register and unregister a callback as necessary. The callback, in turn, will dispatch due events and do some other maintenance.

The bridge time functions accept NEXT_EVENT_TIME in the form of a UNIX epoch time. Event times may contain fractional seconds. Time functions may be required to translate times from the UNIX epoch into whatever representation an underlying event loop requires.

loop_resume_time_watcher NEXT_EVENT_TIME
Resume an already active time watcher. Used with loop_pause_time_watcher() to provide lightweight timer toggling. NEXT_EVENT_TIME is the UNIX epoch time of the next event in the queue. This function is used by bridges that set time watchers in other event loop libraries. For example, Gtk uses this:
  sub loop_resume_time_watcher {
    my ($self, $next_time) = @_;
    $next_time -= time();
    $next_time *= 1000;
    $next_time = 0 if $next_time < 0;
    $_watcher_timer = Gtk->timeout_add( $next_time,

It is often empty in bridges that implement their own event loops.

loop_reset_time_watcher NEXT_EVENT_TIME
Reset a time watcher, often by stopping or destroying an existing one and creating a new one in its place. This function has the same semantics as (and is often implemented in terms of) loop_resume_time_watcher(). It is usually more expensive than that function, however. Again, from Gtk:
  sub loop_reset_time_watcher {
    my ($self, $next_time) = @_;
    undef $_watcher_timer;

Pause a time watcher. This should be done without destroying the timer, if the underlying event loop supports that.

POE::Loop::Event supports pausing a timer:

  sub loop_pause_time_watcher {


These functions enable and disable file activity watchers. The pause and resume functions are lightweight versions of ignore and watch. They are used to quickly toggle the state of a file activity watcher without incurring the overhead of destroying and creating them entirely.

All the functions take the same two parameters: a file HANDLE and a file access MODE.

Modes may be MODE_RD, MODE_WR, or MODE_EX. These constants are defined by POE::Kernel and correspond to read, write, or exceptions.

POE calls MODE_EX ``expedited'' because it often signals that a file is ready for out-of-band information. Not all event loops handle MODE_EX. For example, Tk:

  sub loop_watch_filehandle {
    my ($self, $handle, $mode) = @_;
    my $fileno = fileno($handle);
    # The Tk documentation implies by omission that expedited
    # filehandles aren't, uh, handled.  This is part 1 of 2.
    confess "Tk does not support expedited filehandles"
      if $mode == MODE_EX;
loop_watch_filehandle HANDLE, MODE
Watch a file HANDLE for activity in a given MODE. Registers the HANDLE (or, more often its file descriptor via fileno()) in the given MODE with the underlying event loop.

POE::Loop::Select sets a vec() bit so the next select() call will know about the handle. It also tracks which file descriptors it has active.

  sub loop_watch_filehandle {
    my ($self, $handle, $mode) = @_;
    my $fileno = fileno($handle);
    vec($loop_vectors[$mode], $fileno, 1) = 1;
    $loop_filenos{$fileno} |= (1<<$mode);

loop_ignore_filehandle HANDLE, MODE
Stop watching a file HANDLE in a given MODE. Stops (and possibly destroys) an event watcher corresponding to the HANDLE and MODE.

POE::Loop::IO_Poll manages the descriptor/mode bits out of its loop_ignore_filehandle() function. It also performs some cleanup if a descriptors has been totally ignored.

  sub loop_ignore_filehandle {
    my ($self, $handle, $mode) = @_;
    my $fileno = fileno($handle);
    my $type = mode_to_poll($mode);
    my $current = $poll_fd_masks{$fileno} || 0;
    my $new = $current & ~$type;
    if ($new) {
      $poll_fd_masks{$fileno} = $new;
    else {
      delete $poll_fd_masks{$fileno};

loop_pause_filehandle HANDLE, MODE
This is a lightweight form of loop_ignore_filehandle(). It is used along with loop_resume_filehandle() to temporarily toggle a watcher's state for a file HANDLE in a particular mode.

Some event loops, such as Event.pm, support their file watchers being disabled and re-enabled without the need to destroy and re-create entire objects.

  sub loop_pause_filehandle {
    my ($self, $handle, $mode) = @_;
    my $fileno = fileno($handle);

By comparison, the loop_ignore_filehandle() function for Event.pm involves canceling and destroying a watcher object. This can be quite expensive.

  sub loop_ignore_filehandle {
    my ($self, $handle, $mode) = @_;
    my $fileno = fileno($handle);
    # Don't bother removing a select if none was registered.
    if (defined $fileno_watcher[$fileno]->[$mode]) {
      undef $fileno_watcher[$fileno]->[$mode];

loop_resume_filehandle HANDLE, MODE
This is a lightweight form of loop_watch_filehandle(). It is used along with loop_pause_filehandle() to temporarily toggle a a watcher's state for a file HANDLE in a particular mode.


The first time POE::Kernel is used, it examines the modules currently loaded in memory and tries to load an appropriate POE::Loop subclass based on what it discovers.

Firstly, if a POE::Loop class is manually loaded before POE::Kernel, then that will be used. End of story.

If one isn't, POE::Kernel iterates through %INC to discover which modules are already loaded. For each of them, it tries to load a similarly-named POE::XS::Loop class, then it tries a corresponding POE::Loop class. For example, if IO::Poll is loaded, POE::Kernel tries

  use POE::XS::Loop::IO_Poll;
  use POE::Loop::IO_Poll;

POE::Loop::Select is the fallback event loop. It's loaded if none of the currently loaded modules has its own POE::Loop class.

It can't be repeated often enough that event loops must be loaded before POE::Kernel. Otherwise POE::Kernel will not detect the event loop you want to use, and the wrong POE::Loop class will be loaded.


POE, the POE::Loop::Event manpage, the POE::Loop::Gtk manpage, the POE::Loop::IO_Poll manpage, the POE::Loop::Select manpage, the POE::Loop::Tk manpage.


Signal handlers are often repeated between bridges: http://rt.cpan.org/NoAuth/Bug.html?id=1632


Please see POE for more information about authors, contributors, and POE's licensing.

 POE::Loop - documentation for POE's event loop bridge interface