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extending_the_effects_engine_report_w6

Hello,

As you know from the last report, the implementation for button type effect parameters was in need of a refactoring, because of code duplication inside EffectParameterSlot and EffectButtonParameterSlot. I introduced a base class for those two (EffectParameterSlotBase) which packs the common code.

The final step was displaying labels for button parameters too. legacyskinparser.cpp is in charge of parsing and creating the necessary QLabels. It has a special method for parsing EffectParameterName nodes which was instantiating a WEffectParameter. I had to create another method for parsing EffectButtonParameterName nodes which had to instantiate a WEffectButtonParameter. Because the code for these was similar I created a base class for both of them which stores a pointer to an EffectParameterSlotBase which had been introduced earlier and it provides access to the name and description of the parameter, regardless its nature (button or knob). This base class has a pure virtual setup() method which allowed me to use it inside the parsing methods. I did a pull request[1] for this feature and I am now waiting for review.

I stated in the last report that the best way of controlling the EQ Effect Rack and maintaining compatibility with skins and controllers was adding support for control aliasing. It was a misunderstanding about this feature and it made me lose precious time. I thought the aliases must be registered at the beginning of Mixxx, before the original controls were created. The only way of doing this was not optimal, because two hash look ups were necessary each time a control was requested. The correct way of using aliases is to create them after the controls to which they are pointing have been instantiated. This leads to two possible ways of registering aliases. Either you create an alias right after the original control has been created or you put the desired aliases inside MixxxMainWindow::createCOAliases method which I have introduced. It gets called just before loading the skin and before initializing the controllers.

After control aliasing, it was time for configuring the newly added EffectRack from preferences. These are the steps taken towards the final implementation:

  • Static implementation: I hard coded 4 check boxes which were responsible of selecting between 2 effects for each deck.
  • Add a new slot (slodLoadEffectOnChainSlot) which is responsible for loading a certain effect on a given EffectChainSlot and EffectSlot.
  • Use combo boxes instead of check boxes to allow selecting between multiple effects
  • Dynamically create the desired number of drop down lists based on how many decks are available
    • I achieved this by connecting the “[Master],num_decks” control to a slot inside dlgprefeq.cpp which adds the correct number of combo boxes.
    • Avoid duplicate code for slots by using sender() method provided by Qt to check which combo box was modified and emit the correct signal for effect change.
  • Add labels next to each drop down list which display the deck affected by that combo box.
  • Make the user's preferences persistent
    • Use m_pConfig to store the current configuration of the EffectRack. Upon the first effect instantiations look up if the user has a configuration for the rack. If not, use the default equalizer.

I also spotted two bugs this week. One of them is about the parameter knobs which are not properly updating when an effect is loaded onto an effect slot. Fortunately, Daniel opened a pull request[2] which fixes this bug.

The other bug is IMHO critical and it should be fixed as soon as possible. Mixxx is crashing due to a 'bad_alloc' error if we cycle through a lot of effects (on my laptop I roughly counted about 140 effect changes until I got the error). I stumbled upon this bug in my first implementation of the EQ Rack preferences. I got around it by storing the instantiated effects inside the class which used them. When an effect is loaded onto a slot, a new effect instantiation is occurring and the previous effect is not freed (or at least I have not found the code for freeing the previously loaded effect upon loading the new one). My intuition tells me that we might run out of heap memory.

I had a fun week because I learned a couple of interesting things and I got the chance to experiment with GUI elements and how they communicate through signal and slots with the back end. A nice Qt thing is QComboBox::addItems() which is taking a list of QStrings and adds those strings as separate options of the drop down list. Before finding this method I added each entry manually inside a foreach loop.

Playing with initialization lists in C++ I got a -Wreorder warning at compile time. It is informing you that you are initializing members in another order than their order of declaration. At first I thought this is an useless warning, but after doing a quick research I found out that serious and hardly detectable bugs can emerge by overlooking this warning. For example I have inside DlgPrefEq class two members: one (lets call it A) which is initialized with a value got as an argument, and the other one (lets call it B) is initialized by calling a method on the previous member. Naturally, inside the initialization list I'll initialize A and then B. But, if inside my class B is declared before A, it is initialized first (this is the way C++ is doing: initializing members in their order of declaration). Because it is depending on A (which is not initialized for the moment), our program will crash.

Another interesting thing I learned this week is the -p command line argument passed to git commit. I tend to make a lot of modifications to the code before deciding to make a commit. By committing with -p argument I can cycle through modifications and select which ones I want to stage for the next commit. It is better for code review and for debugging if I break my work into smaller commits.

Stay tuned for next week's report!

Cheers,
Nicu Badescu

[1] - https://github.com/mixxxdj/mixxx/pull/281/
[2] - https://github.com/mixxxdj/mixxx/pull/279/

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extending_the_effects_engine_report_w6.txt · Last modified: 2014/06/29 18:06 by badescunicu