This article covers the basic use of events in Small Basic.

What is an Event

An event is something that happens independently of the normal flow of instructions in a program.

Often this is when something happens as a result of user interaction, such as when a key is pressed or the mouse is moved or clicked.

Within Small Basic an event method is shown in the intellisense with a lightning symbol shown below.

An event is initialised by defining which subroutine should be called when the event occurs. The assignment of an associated subroutine needs to be set only once. When the event occurs the associated subroutine will be called.

The following is a simple event that creates a pop-up when the mouse is clicked inside the GraphicsWindow.

GraphicsWindow.MouseDown = OnMouseDown
Sub OnMouseDown
  GraphicsWindow.ShowMessage("Mouse was clicked","Information")
EndSub

How Events Work

Because an event can occur at any time the main program will be doing something else. The event will call its associated subroutine at the same time as the main program is running.

Several points to note about events:

If an event is called again before it has finished working the last time, it will be queued until the previous event has finished. This can result in long delays before all of the events are processed if the event is fired often (like a mouse move) and the event subroutine is slow.

GraphicsWindow.MouseMove = OnMouseMove
Sub OnMouseMove
  Sound.PlayChimeAndWait()
EndSub

If the event subroutine and the main code both call a common subroutine, then this subroutine may be called by two pieces of code at the same time with unpredictable results.

Timer.Interval = 1000
Timer.Tick = OnTick
 
While ("True")
  doCalc()
  Program.Delay(10)
EndWhile
 
Sub OnTick
  doCalc()
  TextWindow.WriteLine(sum)
EndSub
 
Sub doCalc
  sum = 0
  For i = 1 To 10000
    sum = sum+1
  EndFor
EndSub

If the event subroutine and the main code both share variables, then since the two codes are changing variables at the same time, strange behaviour may occur.

Timer.Interval = 1000
Timer.Tick = OnTick
 
While ("True")
  sum = 0
  For i = 1 To 10000
    sum = sum+1
  EndFor
  Program.Delay(10)
EndWhile
 
Sub OnTick
  sum = 0
  For i = 1 To 10000
    sum = sum+1
  EndFor
  TextWindow.WriteLine(sum)
EndSub

Using a Game Loop

The solution to some if the issues above is to force only one piece of code to be running at a time. We want the main code to run everything in sequential order.

An infinite While loop that keeps running and just processes the results of events is a common programming technique, especially for action games. It is called a ‘game loop’ or ‘event loop’.

We want a flag to be set when the event occurs and use this flag inside the main game loop, where everything will be run in order without the issues of multiple pieces of code running at the same time. A flag is just a variable that is either true or false or has a simple value like 0(false) and 1(true).

The methodology is to:

  1. Create a game loop the just keeps running while the program is active. Usually a Program.Delay is used to control the speed that the loop operates.
  2. For each event, just set a flag variable to indicate to the game loop that the event has occurred.
  3. Within the game loop, check for each event flag; if it is set then do appropriate action and reset the flag to unset.

The following examples show this for the first two cases shown earlier.

GraphicsWindow.MouseMove = OnMouseMove
mouseMove = 0
 
While ("True")
  If (mouseMove = 1) Then
    Sound.PlayChimeAndWait()
    mouseMove = 0
  EndIf
  Program.Delay(20)
EndWhile
 
Sub OnMouseMove
  mouseMove = 1
EndSub

 

Timer.Interval = 1000
Timer.Tick = OnTick
 
While ("True")
  doCalc()
  If (tick = 1) Then
    doCalc()
    TextWindow.WriteLine(sum)
    tick = 0
  EndIf
  Program.Delay(10)
EndWhile
 
Sub OnTick
  tick = 1
EndSub
 
Sub doCalc
  sum = 0
  For i = 1 To 10000
    sum = sum+1
  EndFor
EndSub

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