FAQ

1) What is Eventuality?

     * Eventuality is general framework, designed to replace and supersede traditional crond-like type apps for running pre-scheduled jobs. It is however much more flexible and powerful, and can achieve whole sort of things that were hard or impossible to do with cron, as well as things that simply never were meant to be done with cron. It is a bit of desktop- and system-wide scripting framework, that allows defining arbitrary actions and activating them on various conditions, as well as flexible control of actual execution. There are many possibilities just waiting to be explored. NOTE: There seems to be slightly similar thing in prerelease of MacOS X 10.4 "Tiger", called Automator. Eventuality however isn't in any way  inspired, nor modelled after Automator, in fact it was first proposed  and thought out before anyone has heard about Tiger. 

2) How does Eventuality achieve all these cool things?

  * Eventuality is designed to fully leverage on latest-and-greatest technologies in F/LOSS world, particularly D-BUS, Evolution Data Server, and GNotify. We hope to be able to shift as much hard work as possible on others ;), thus avoiding reinventing the wheel and running into risk of creating yet-another-incompatible-framework. We want to do what wasn't done before, and once again show that F/LOSS world is truly innovative. 

3) Is Eventuality GNOME-specific? Desktop-specific? Linux-specific?

  * No. The only hard dependency of Eventuality is D-BUS. Any other dependency is specific to given implementation, be it GNOME, KDE or console-based one for sysadmin's pleasure. Eventuality is framework, and defines mostly set of conventions, much less the actual implementation 

Architecture Overview

0) D-BUS

  * All communication inside framework is done exclusively using D-BUS. It is primary way of all IPC, as well as mechanism that provides much of actual capabilities. Whenever there is appropriate D-BUS feature that can be exploited to achieve some goal, it will be preferred over any ad-hoc, proprietary way. Conceptually, D-BUS (usually in its bus  mode of operation) sits in the center of star-shaped structure, and all of following items connect to it. 

1) Registry

  * Registry is kind of DB-like storage, that stores all registered actions and provides access to them. It's possible to ask registry to store an action instance, and to activate it, given ID obtained on registration 

2) Triggers

  * Triggers are what actually cause events to happen. One possible trigger is time-driven scheduler, like original crond, or E-D-S in current GNOME. Another one is panel, which can embed number of action buttons causing some of predefined actions to happen. This way you can have button that fires up RB with given song and volume, as well as you can do that from Evo alert, all using the same code. Note however, that contrary to initial design, and to what could be expected from crond replacement, scheduler (ie. time-driven trigger) is NOT part of framework, just a "well known" instance of trigger, and as such you cannot rely on it being available in all installations. Similarly, protocol defined for communication with such scheduler is fully up to it to define, and is of no interest whatsoever to framework itself. That said, you can of course expect it to be present on most systems, and require any particular trigger for proper operation, it's a dependency as any other that needs to be fulfilled. Triggers don't actually do much wrt to activation of actions, just ask registry to do it and pass it ID registered before. This is similar to calling g_signal_emit(registry, ID). Much more interesting in any given trigger is logic that decides when to trigger. Note: triggering may be actually implemented using D-BUS signals, depending on their exact capabilities. To be investigated 

3) Event handlers

  * Or synonymously dispatchers, are analogous to GLib signal handlers (callbacks). Mechanism of dispatching is also similar, although not completely identical, due to slightly different nature of events and handlers registration. Basic idea is that handlers are called sequentially, from most specific ones to most generic ones, similarly to how exceptions are propagated in programming languages. Just as in GLib, event emission stops when one of handlers claims it's fully handled. One possible addition may be priority level, for example for logging facilities that want to be run for every event (and thus are very general), yet they need to make sure no other handler stops emission before they get to see it. Most of system flexibilty is achieved through use of different handlers, that can be plugged dynamically (so that for example, when watching fullscreen movie, all notifications are intercepted and held back until user is available, or depending on whether user is considered AFK (there is screensaver running) notification is either displayed onscreen or sent through SMS) 

4) Actions

  * Actions are (like classes) general types of things that can be launched which are then turned into specific instances upon registration. Example action may be "Action.Totem.<span class="createlink"><a href="https://secure.freedesktop.org/write/www/ikiwiki.cgi?page=PlayMovie&amp;from=Software%2FEventuality%2FFAQ.txt&amp;do=create" rel="nofollow">?</a>PlayMovie</span>", which has attributes such as "Movie name" (URI), "Volume" (Int<1,100>), "Fullscren" (Boolean). See UI discussion below. Also, if D-BUS services turn out to be suitable to do this, all actions may be actually purely D-BUS services, just gathered under common "Action" namespace. This would have advantage of using existing .service files mechanism for registration of available actions. 

Details

1) UI

  * One particularly tricky area is UI for definig new actions. As we want to be independent from any particular GUI toolkit, or even GUI altogether, it's important to provide way to specify needed parameters in UI-agnostic way. This is valuable for example for sysadmins, who may want to schedule actions using console-only environment, or even through headless setup,  like may be the case when initiating action based on received email. Past  experiences show however, that it is very hard to achieve while not using  least-common-denominator approach and providing decent UI in each case.  In particular, while autogenerating layout based on set of values to obtain is relatively straightforward task, it is much harder to ensure that proper constraints are executed and data integrity is preserved (for example,  percentage obviously cannot be more than 100, and it doesn't make much sense to ask if playlist should be shuffled on play, if only there's single file  selected). For that, one possible solution is that each action, in addition to simple listing of needed values, also has associated code snippet in  chosen language (like, say, Python), that is consulted on given input. This is however more advanced question, and won't be initially considered, for the time being, hard-coded, "client side" UI is good enough. 

2) OAF

  * In order to be able to perform robust service activation and matching, we need framework similar to OAF (later known as Bonobo-Activation) sported by Bonobo component framework for GNOME. Although Bonobo in general didn't meet its goals, and was rather complex and poorly documented, OAF was one cool part of it (second one was monikers, unfortunately they never caught up enough to  actually matter), providing very powerful query capabilities to service activation. OAF lets you do SQL-like queries, so you can for example ask for  things like: 
              * "(repo_ids.has_all (['IDL:Bonobo/Control:1.0', 
                                                        * 'IDL:Nautilus/ContentView:1.0']) OR 
                    * repo_ids.has_one (['IDL:Bonobo/Control:1.0', 
                                                        * 'IDL:Bonobo/Embeddable:1.0'])) AND 

repo_ids.has('IDL:Bonobo/PersistFile:1.0') AND foo:bar.defined()" This is extremely important for Eventuality, as main part of its working is matching and glueing various events together into working structure. Not to mention that query capabilities are useful to D-BUS in general.