Re: Single instance module and multithreading

From: Vais Salikhov <>
Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2009 12:09:47 -0500

Could this perhaps be solved with an external application (let's call
it "ta") that accepts requests to open files and forwards them to a
single textadept instance that it "manages"? Just a thought. This
would still require some way to communicate with a textadept process,
but would externalize multi-threading to another application. What
other ways can be used to do interprocess communication that do not
involve luasocket? I assume you are on Linux, because this is already
how textadept works on OS X.


On Feb 21, 2009, at 11:43 AM, helgoboss <> wrote:

> Hello Mitchell, hello community,
> I often use an external file manager or the command line to locate
> text files and open them in Textadept (by invoking the Textadept
> executable with the path of the text file as argument), I almost never
> use the "Open file" command of Textadept. Unfortunately, after a while
> I've so many open Textadept instances that I loose track because
> there's one Textadept window for each open text file. I'd prefer to
> have only one Textadept window for all open text files to avoid chaos
> on my Desktop.
> The solution would be a "single instance" feature which ensures that
> there's never more than one instance of Textadept running. All further
> invocations of the Textadept executable would be "redirected" to an
> existing Textadept process. As a side effect, that would also shorten
> the time to open the text file and save system resources. Such a
> feature can be found for example in SciTE (""
> option). As you already have stated in a former thread (http://
> f71dd38eb7202781/525f8093b292508f?
> lnk=gst&q=instance#525f8093b292508f), this feature probably won't make
> its way into the core, understandibly. Nevertheless, I think the
> feature is indispensible for some people.
> In Textadept, everything is about extensibility, so I tried to add
> this feature as a Textadept module. This module uses LuaSocket to do
> the inter-process communication stuff in a platform-independent
> manner. Sockets are a popular approach to enable "single instance"
> support for applications. However, I ran into a serious issue,
> explained below, which makes it impossible to get the single instance
> module to work.
> It's planned to work like this: On startup, Textadept checks whether
> port x is free. If yes, it can be assumed that this is the first
> Textadept instance, so it starts listening for remote messages on this
> port. If not, it can be assumed that this is a second instance, so it
> connects to port x and sends a message containing the command line
> arguments to the first Textadept instance. After this, the second
> instance quits immediately. The first Textadept instance in turn
> interprets the message and loads a file into a new buffer.
> The showstopper is that Lua has no native support for multithreading.
> Listening on a socket means blocking the whole thread of execution -
> which would make Textadept unusable if there's only one thread. That's
> why it's absolutely necessary to do the listening stuff in a separate
> thread. There are some Lua modules out there that enable
> multithreading and don't need a modified lua.dll, for example
> LuaLanes, but they render unusable because they don't give the
> possibility to share global data among threads. However, the socket
> listener thread **needs** to access global data, in particular it
> needs to access the same "textadept" Lua table like the main thread in
> order to have control over Textadept.
> I think, the only possibility would be to add multithreading support
> in the Textadept core (could be helpful for other modules as well). On
> there's some information
> about how to do this. It could work roughly like this: The Textadept
> module code written in Lua invokes a function
> "textadept.start_in_new_thread(lua_code)" (implemented by the C core)
> which executes the specified Lua code in a new thread. In particular,
> the C core starts a new thread (pthread or winapi) and initializes a
> new Lua state in this thread. It binds all the global data like the
> textadept table to the new Lua state and then lets Lua interpret the
> specified code.
> Unfortunately, threads which share global data also introduce the
> problem of race conditions. I've no idea how much effort it would take
> to make the Textadept core thread safe.
> I would be happy to see some comments on this, thanks. Question to
> Mitchell: Do you plan to add multithreading support in future?
> Cheers
> Benjamin
> >
Received on Sat 21 Feb 2009 - 12:09:47 EST

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