ecl_threads Documentation


This package provides the c++ extensions for a variety of threaded programming tools. These are usually different on different platforms, so the architecture for a cross-platform framework is also implemented.


    Threads are not defined in standard C++ and as a result are operating system
    and platform dependant. Linux generally uses POSIX threads, which are also
    available on windows, but the WIN32 API is usually preferred. Because of this, some
    standard cross-platform interfaces are developed here.


    - Mutex - multi-thread variable protection.
    - Threads - raii style one-shot thread class.
    - Threadable - an inheritable thread interface.

Compiling & Linking

    Include the following at the top of any translation unit that uses
    these container classes.
#include <ecl/threads.hpp>
// The thread classes
using ecl::Mutex;
using ecl::Thread;
using ecl::Threadable;
// Priorities
using ecl::set_priority;
using ecl::get_priority;
using ecl::print_priority_diagnostics;

You will also need to link to -lecl_threads.



            The mutex is fairly standard, and on some systems can be more complex, but here the wrapper
            simply acts as a closed door with the usual lock, trylock and unlock features.
            The behaviour is also somewhat different depending on the platform.

            On posix, the class is set up to run in two modes. When NDEBUG is not defined, it will
            do exception handling (via ecl's StandardException)
            for posix errors as well as configuring the mutexes for deadlock
            checking (see below for example code). Exception handling and deadlock checking are disabled
            when NDEBUG is defined.
Mutex mutex;
mutex.lock(); // Locks
// do work here
mutex.trylock(); // Locks
mutex.trylock(); // Fails to lock and returns immediately.
// mutex.lock(); // The DEADLOCK! Like this, the program will usually halt forever.
// If NDEBUG is not defined, then on posix systems, you can catch deadlocks like this.
try {
} catch ( StandardException &e ) {
std::cout << e.what() << std::endl;
// Typical output from a caught deadlock:
// Location : /mnt/froody/work/code/cpp/projects/ecl/modules/core/src/lib/threads/mutex_pos.cpp:57
// Flag : The object was used incorrectly.
// Detail : DEADLOCK! The mutex has already been locked by this thread, it now has to wait on itself.


            These can be configured via the ecl::set_priority() function using the ecl::Priority 
            enum values as an abstraction to a platform's implementation (which varies
            quite significantly from platform to platform). Check the documentation's 
            api for further details on its usage, particularly for posix which complicates
            things with both userland priorities and real time priorities. 


            The @ref ecl::Thread "Thread" class is a raii style object which initialises and automatically
            starts a thread when constructed and manages the thread cleanly when the thread object goes out of scope.


            Construction can be done directly through free and member function handles or via function objects. Refer
            to the documentation on 'Function Objects' and 'Reference Wrappers' in ecl_utilities
            for more details about creating and using function objects/reference
            wrappers (note, use a reference wrapper if you want to pass a 'heavy' function object!).
using ecl::utilities::generateFunctionObject;
int f() {}
int g(int i) {}
class A {
void f() {}
void g(int i) {}
class FunctionObject {
typedef void result_type;
void operator()() { //
// ...
A a;
FunctionObject function_object;
Thread thread1(f)); // Thread a nullary global function.
Thread thread2(generateFunctionObject(g, 3)); // Thread a bound unary global function.
Thread thread3(&A::f, a); // Thread a nullary member function.
Thread thread4(generateFunctionObject(&A::g, a, 2)); // Thread a bound unary member function.
Thread thread5(function_object); // Thread a nullary function object.
Thread thread6(ref(function_object)); // Thread a reference to a nullary function object.


Also, this object is permitted to go out of scope without affecting the thread that it started (it may very well still be running!). When it goes out of scope, it simply detaches it and lets it clean itself up. At this point you only lose control of administration of the thread (joining, checking if it is running, cancelling etc).

void g() {
for (int i = 0; i < 10; ++i ) {
cout << i << endl;
void create_out_of_scope_thread() {
Thread thread(g);
} // thread will go out of scope here.
// ...
// Cannot manage the thread from here, but it will continue running.
sleep(10); // Note that we have no way of joining with it.

Thread Priority:

Thread priorities can be specified at construction (ecl::Thread) or at the call to execute a Threadable (Threadable::start()). This will impose the specified priority for scheduling for the lifetime of the thread.

If you wish to configure the thread's priority dynamically, you'll have to fall back to using the ecl::set_priority() function directly from inside the worker function.

Stack Size:

On embedded systems with no swap its important to watch how much stack memory you supply to the thread. This can be manually specified in the thread constructor.

Thread thread(g,1024*1024); // allocates 1M to the thread instead of the system default which is usually 8M.


Other member functions include

Error handling is done in debug mode (i.e. -DNDEBUG is not set) via exceptions. These will throw and report any information on the resulting posix errors should they occur.


            The threadable class implements a concept is for worker threads that want to retain state
            information (possibly for use by other parts of the program) in a class. Think of it as
            a threaded function object rather than a regular c-style threaded function.

            Implementation wise, it provides an inheritable interface for your
            threading class. All the class needs to do is:

            - inherit the Threadable class.
            - implement the runnable() method.
            - call the start() method to begin running in a sepearate thread.

            Note that it will not spawn multiple threads - it has a check that ensures it will
            only execute one thread at any point in time. It is designed to be something
            more akin to a thread function object rather than a thread factory.
class A : Threadable {
void runnable() {
// thread work here
int main() {
A a;
return 0;

Unit Tests

    - src/test/mutex.cpp
    - src/test/threads.cpp
    - src/test/threadable.cpp


    - <b>May 11</b> : Updated exception handling (now optional).
    - <b>May 10</b> : Mutex win32 implementation.
    - <b>May 10</b> : Cmake win32 framework.
    - <b>Jan 10</b> : @ref ecl::Threadable "Threadable" implements the thread by inheritance concept.
    - <b>Jan 10</b> : Adds a constructor for @ref ecl::Thread "threads" that allows configuration of the stack size allocation.
    - <b>Jul 09</b> : Incorporates the use of function object loading (refer to ecl_utilities).
    - <b>Jul 09</b> : Converted @ref ecl::Thread "threads" to raii style.
    - <b>Jun 09</b> : A locking class, the @ref ecl::Mutex "mutex", for threads.

Author(s): Daniel Stonier
autogenerated on Mon Feb 28 2022 22:18:53