Debugging Qt’s signal-slot connections…

What do you do if you think you’ve correctly connected a signal to a slot and yet your slot’s not being fired? I ran into that Friday at 5:30pm, just about the time I hoped I’d call it a day and go home. Fortunately in my case, I was simply passing null to connect, and I got a message in the debugging log about trying to connect a signal from a null object. (Unfortunately for me, I didn’t see the log right away, because of all the other stuff I was dumping to the log.)

If you’re in the same boat, what do you do to debug the situation? Here’s a bunch of things to try:

  • Check the compile log for error messages about undefined signals and slots.
  • Check the run-time log for errors on connection. If need be, ensure that connect succeeds by testing its return value (it should return true.
  • Check to make sure that the connect code is reached, that the emit code is reached, and the slot code. (Odds are one of them isn’t.)
  • Make sure you declare the connection like this:

    connect(sender, SIGNAL(someSignal(type)), receiver, SLOT(received(type)))

    The signal and slot specifications should have the argument types, but not the arguments themselves. Moreover, you can omit const and reference specifications in the arguments; the meta-object compiler strips them anyway.
  • Check the parameters of the signal and slot and ensure that they match precisely
  • Check to be sure that you’ve correctly declared the signals and slots portions of your header correctly.
  • For that matter, be sure that your sender and receiver both inherit from QObject, and that you have Q_OBJECT declared in your class definition. (Remember, you need to do both.)
  • If you’ve forgotten part of the QObject declaration in your header, re-run qmake and rebuild.
  • Make sure you make the connection with connect before you invoke any functions that fire the signal. Signals may fire synchronously.
  • Make sure you’re not disconnecting the signal anywhere with disconnect.

Usually, the problem’s pretty easy to track down, especially if you check the log and the signal and slot declarations closely. A common mistake is to try to wire a signal to a slot that’s not been declared a slot, too, so check your headers closely!

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