Events and Callbacks Guide


Callbacks are used by the application to receive notifications from the system that the user or the system itself has interacted with the user interface of the application. On the other hand attributes are used by the application to communicate with the user interface system.

Even though callbacks have different purposes from attributes, they are also associated to an element by means of an name.

The OLD method to associate a function to a callback, the application must employ the IupSetAttribute function, linking the action to a name (passed as a string). From this point on, this name will refer to a callback. By means of function IupSetFunction, the user connects this name to the callback. For example:

int myButton_action(Ihandle* self);
IupSetAttribute(myButton, "ACTION", "my_button_action");
IupSetFunction("my_button_action", (Icallback)myButton_action);

In LED, callback are only assigned by their names. It will be still necessary to associate the name with the corresponding function in C using IupSetFunction. For example:

# In LED, is equivalent to the IupSetAttribute command in the previous example.
bt = button("Title", my_button_action)  

In the NEW method, the application does not needs a global name, it directly sets the callback using the attribute name using IupSetCallback. For example:

int myButton_action(Ihandle* self);
IupSetCallback(myButton, "ACTION", (Icallback)myButton_action);

The new method is more efficient and more secure, because there is no risk of a name conflict. If the application uses LED, just ignore the name in the LED, and replace IupSetFunction by IupSetCallback.

Although enabled in old versions, callbacks do NOT have inheritance like attributes.

All callbacks receive at least the element which activated the action as a parameter (self).

The callbacks implemented in C by the application must return one of the following values:

Only some callbacks support the last 3 return values. Check each callback documentation. When nothing is documented then only IUP_DEFAULT is supported.

An important detail when using callbacks is that they are only called when the user actually executes an action over an element. A callback is not called when the programmer sets a value via IupSetAttribute. For instance: when the programmer changes a selected item on a list, no callback is called.

The order of callback calling is system dependent. For instance, the RESIZE_CB and the SHOW_CB are called in different order in Win32 and in X-Windows when the dialog is shown for the first time.

To help the definition of callbacks in C, the header "iupcbs.h" can be used, there are typedefs for all the callbacks.

Main Loop

IUP is an event-oriented interface system, so it will keep a loop “waiting” for the user to interact with the application. For this loop to occur, the application must call the IupMainLoop function, which is generally used right before IupClose.

When the application is closed by returning IUP_CLOSE in a callback, calling IupExitLoop or by hiding the last visible dialog, the function IupMainLoop will return.

The IupLoopStep and the IupFlush functions force the processing of incoming events while inside an application callback.


Callbacks in Lua have the same names and receive the same parameters as callbacks in C, in the same order. In Lua the callbacks they can either return a value or not, the IupLua binding will automatically return IUP_DEFAULT if no value is returned. In Lua callbacks can be Lua functions or strings with Lua code.

The callbacks can also be implemented as methods, using the language’s resources for object orientation. Thus, the element is implicitly passed as the self parameter.

The following example shows the definition of an action for a button.

function myButton:action ()
  local aux = self.fgcolor
  self.fgcolor = self.bgcolor
  self.bgcolor = aux

Or you can do

function myButton_action(self)
myButton.action = myButton_action

Or also

myButton.action = function (self)

Or, as a string

myButton.action = "local aux = self.fgcolor; 
                   self.fgcolor = self.bgcolor; 
                   self.bgcolor = aux"

Altough some callbacks exists only in specific controls, all the callbacks can be set for all the controls. This is usefull to set a callback for a box, so it will be inherited by all the elements inside that box which implements that callback.