Developer Topics

This chapter discusses some common problems and advanced developer topics.

Black Screen

If you see a black screen when you run your application, make sure you call egt::v1::Window::show() at least once somewhere in your application.

Multiple Threads and Thread Safety

The EGT API is not thread safe, but there are well-defined ways provided and supported to use the EGT API in a multi-threaded application by following a couple simple rules. The thread the main egt::v1::EventLoop is started on, usually through egt::v1::Application::run(), must not be directly accessed by a separate thread. This means any widgets or windows that are managed by that main thread should not be directly accessed by another thread.

Instead, EGT defines a solution to easily use multiple threads and interact with the API in a thread safe manner through the event loop and Asio. To call a function in the EGT API from another thread, you must egt::asio::post() or egt::asio::dispatch() a call to the EventLoop. This should not be confused with messaging. Calling egt::asio::post() or egt::asio::dispatch() is like calling a function. However, based on which variation you use, it will either directly or indirectly happen in a thread safe manner.

For example, to change the position of a button from another thread, the following can be done.

egt::asio::post(egt::Application::instance().event().io(), [&button](){ button.x(5); });

To run any code you want from another thread on the EventLoop thread, post() a lamba or function.

egt::asio::post(egt::Application::instance().event().io(), []() {

Widget Lifetime

There are various different forms of managing widget lifetime. They can be managed explicitly on the stack, and they can also be managed on the heap, usually through C++ smart pointers.

Everything is on the stack.

int main(int argc, const char** argv)
egt::Application app(argc, argv);
egt::Button button(window, "Press Me");
return app.run();

Have EGT manage the lifetime of widgets.

void add_buttons_to_window(egt::Window& win)
win.add(make_shared<egt::Button>("button 1", egt::Rect(egt::Point(), egt::Size(100, 40))));
win.add(make_shared<egt::Button>("button 2"));
int main(int argc, const char** argv)
return app.run()

Keep widgets around based on the scope of its owning object.

class MyWindow : public egt::TopWindow
explicit MyWindow(const Size& size)
: egt::TopWindow(size),
m_grid(Tuple(2, 2))

Networking and Serial Communications

See also
Event Loop

The underlying EventLoop implementation in EGT uses Asio, which you can directly access and is part of the full EGT API. Asio provides an excellent asynchronous networking implementation that you get for free with EGT. It can provide efficient non-blocking I/O to service thousands of connections at once. The Asio transport handles all aspects of networking (DNS lookups, creating TCP sockets, connecting and listening, etc). It supports IPv4 and IPv6. It supports both plain and TLS secured sockets when the appropriate libraries are available.

The same is true for reading and writing to several other interfaces, including serial ports using the asio::serial_port object.

A benefit of using Asio for networking is it is automatically built into the EGT event loop automatically.

Outside of that, EGT provides some utility classes like egt::v1::experimental::HttpClientRequest that use libcurl underneath for full HTTP/HTTPS support, and handles the integration of libcurl with Asio.

Compiler Setup and Options

The primary compiler used is gcc. Other compilers like clang and mingw are a work in progress and considered experimental. It is worth going over some common compiler flags used when compiling EGT and EGT applications.

  • -std=c++14 - EGT requires C++14.
  • -fvisibility=hidden - EGT uses explicit public visibility so everything else should be hidden by default. gcc is particularly chatty about exporting symbols ina shared library.
  • -fvisibility-inlines-hidden - Same as -fvisibility=hidden
  • -fno-rtti - EGT does not use runtime type information, like dynamic casting.
  • -fno-math-errno - EGT does not check errno after calling math functions. That can result int standard math functions being inlined.
  • -fmerge-all-constants - EGT doesn't compare pointers of constants so it's perfectly fine to merge constants with the same values.
  • -ftree-vectorize - In some cases you may want to explicitly list this, but it's usually automatic.
  • -Ofast - In most cases, this gives the best performance compiler optimization wise. -O2 and -O3 are not far off in most cases. Just be aware that -Ofast uses some non-standard optimizations related to math.

Finding Optimal Performance

EGT provides several configure options that can be used to help improve performance based on your needs. These options will automatically setup the appropriate compiler and linker flags.

  • --disable-debug
  • --enable-lto
  • --disable-shared

See Configure Options for more information on available configure options.

Using Third Party Libraries with the EGT Event Loop

EGT has its own event loop, but sometimes when integrating third party libraries those libraries also have their own idea of an event loop. There are at least 4 different ways to integrate third party libraries and software with the EGT event loop:

  1. Attach a file descriptor to the EGT event loop.
  2. Using an egt::PeriodicTimer to run the third party library.
  3. Instead of using egt::v1::Application::run(), implement your own loop.
  4. Spawn separate threads and use egt::asio::post() and egt::asio::dispatch().

Attach a file descriptor to the EGT event loop

Some third party libraries open a resource that is identified with a file descriptor. In most cases, you can get this file descriptor and provide it to the EGT event loop to have it monitor for when some action needs to be taken on the file descriptor - either directly or still using the third party library. As long as the third party library does not block, this is usually the best option even though it can require a little more setup.

The gpio example does this by attaching a gpioevent_request file descriptor into the event loop so that any read events that happen on the file descriptor can be seamlessly handled.

class GpioEventMonitor
using Callback = std::function<void(gpioevent_data& event)>;
GpioEventMonitor() = delete;
GpioEventMonitor(int fd, Callback callback)
: input(egt::Application::instance().event().io()),
// assign fd to input stream
// register first async read
egt::asio::async_read(input, egt::asio::buffer(buffer),
void handle_read(const egt::asio::error_code& error)
if (error)
std::cout << "handle_read: " << error.message() << std::endl;
// register any additional async read
egt::asio::async_read(input, egt::asio::buffer(buffer),
// input wrapper around the fd
egt::asio::posix::stream_descriptor input;
// registered callback
Callback callback;
// buffer to hold the gpioevent_data
std::vector<gpioevent_data> buffer;

EGT uses this method internally for several input backends like tslib and libinput. You can view the source code of the associated egt::v1::detail::InputTsLib and egt::v1::detail::InputLibInput classes for examples of how to do this. Both of those classes use the egt::asio::posix::stream_descriptor class for wrapping the descriptor.

Using an egt::PeriodicTimer to run the third party library

If the third party library provides the ability to poll or step to do processing at regular intervals, it can make sense to simply create an egt::PeriodicTimer and have it routinely call the third party library.

int main()
egt::PeriodicTimer timer(std::chrono::seconds(1));
// call third party library
return app.run();

Instead of using egt::v1::Application::run(), implement your own loop

Normally, you call egt::v1::Application::run() and that blocks forever until told to exit. However, you may wish to implement your own loop in order to run the EGT event loop and any other third party processing.

int main()
while (true)
// call third party library
// run one iteration of the EGT event loop
return 0;

Spawn separate threads

Spawn separate threads and use egt::asio::post() and egt::asio::dispatch() to communicate between the threads safely. Remember, EGT is not thread safe. It is never safe to assume it is ok to access any EGT object from multiple threads.

Application definition.
Definition: app.h:48
virtual int run()
Run the application.
egt::v1::PointType< DefaultDim, detail::Compatible::normal >
Periodic timer.
Definition: timer.h:280
constexpr std::size_t size(const T(&)[N]) noexcept
Return the size of an array (c++17's std::size()).
Definition: utils.h:65
SizeType< DefaultDim, detail::Compatible::normal > Size
Helper type alias.
Definition: geometry.h:566
@ center
Center horizontal and vertical alignment.
virtual void add(const std::shared_ptr< Widget > &widget)
Add a child widget.
void show() override
Show the Widget.
EventLoop & event()
Get a reference to the application event loop instance.
Definition: app.h:95
egt::v1::SizeType< DefaultDim, detail::Compatible::normal >
Basic button control.
Definition: button.h:63
EGT framework namespace.
Definition: animation.h:23
egt::v1::RectType< DefaultDim, detail::Compatible::normal >
A Window is a Widget that handles drawing to a Screen.
Definition: window.h:46
Top level Window.
Definition: window.h:264
constexpr OutputIt move(InputIt b, InputIt e, OutputIt to)
Definition: fixedvector.h:46
int step()
Single step on the event loop.
Static grid organization for widgets.
Definition: grid.h:42