NSDefaultRunLoopMode vs NSRunLoopCommonModes

Whenever I try to download a big file behind UIScrollView, MPMapView or something, the downloading process gets halted as soon as I touch iPhone screen. Thankfully, an awesome blog post by Jörn suggests an alternative option, using NSRunLoopCommonModes for connection.

That gets me look into detail of the two modes, NSDefaultRunLoopMode and NSRunLoopCommonModes, but the apple document does not kindly explain, other than saying

NSDefaultRunLoopMode

The mode to deal with input sources other than NSConnection objects.
This is the most commonly used run-loop mode.

NSRunLoopCommonModes

Objects added to a run loop using this value as the mode are monitored by all run loop modes that have been declared as a member of the set of “common” modes; see the description of CFRunLoopAddCommonMode for details.

CFRunLoopAddCommonMode

Sources, timers, and observers get registered to one or more run loop modes and only run when the run loop is running in one of those modes. Common modes are a set of run loop modes for which you can define a set of sources, timers, and observers that are shared by these modes. Instead of registering a source, for example, to each specific run loop mode, you can register it once to the run loop’s common pseudo-mode and it will be automatically registered in each run loop mode in the common mode set. Likewise, when a mode is added to the set of common modes, any sources, timers, or observers already registered to the common pseudo-mode are added to the newly added common mode.

Can anyone please explain the two in human language?

Answer

A run loop is a mechanism that allows the system to wake up sleeping threads so that they may manage asynchronous events. Normally when you run a thread (with the exception of the main thread) there is an option to start the thread in a run loop or not. If the thread runs some sort or long-running operation without interaction with external events and without timers, you do not need a run loop, but if your thread needs to respond to incoming events, it should be attached to a run loop in order to wake up the thread when new events arrive. This is the case of NSURLConnection generated threads, as they only wake on incoming events (from the network).

Each thread can be associated to multiple run loops, or can be associated to a specific run loop that can be set to work in different modes. A “run loop mode” is a convention used by the OS to establish some rules for when to deliver certain events or collect them to be delivered later.

Usually all run loops are set to the “default mode” which establishes a default way to manage input events. For example: as soon as a mouse-dragging (Mac OS) or touch (on iOS) event happens then the mode for this run loop is set to event tracking; this means that the thread will not be woken up on new network events but these events will be delivered later when the user input event terminates and the run loop set to default mode again; obviously this is a choice made by the OS architects to give priority to user events instead of background events.

If you decide to change the run loop mode for your NSURLConnection thread, by using scheduleInRunLoop:forModes:, then you can assign the thread to a special run loop mode, rather than the specific default run loop. The special pseudo-mode called NSRunLoopCommonModes is used by many input sources including event tracking. For example assigning NSURLConnection‘s instance to the common mode means associates its events to “tracking mode” in addition to the “default mode”. One advantage/disadvantage of associating threads with NSRunLoopCommonModes is that the thread will not be blocked by touch events.

New modes can be added to the common modes, but this is quite a low-level operation.

I would like to close by adding a few notes:

  • Typically we need to use a set of images or
    thumbnails downloaded from the network with a table view. We may think that
    downloading these images from the network while the table view is
    scrolling could improve the user experience (since we could see the images while
    scrolling), but this is not advantageous since the fluidity of
    scrolling can suffer greatly. In this example with NSURLConnection a run loop should not be used; it would be better to use the UIScrollView delegate methods to detect when scrolling is terminated and then update the table and download new items
    from the network;

  • You may consider using GCD which will help you to “shield” your code
    from run loop management issues. In the example above, you may
    consider adding your network requests to a custom serial queue.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Stkim1 , Answer Author : Warpling

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