Home > DeveloperSection > Interviews > Whats an NSOperationQueue and how/would you use it?

Posted on    July-30-2015 11:45 PM

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Jennifer Morgan
Jennifer Morgan

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Posted on    July-30-2015 11:45 PM

The NSOperationQueue class regulates the execution of a set of NSOperation objects. After being added to a queue, an operation remains in that queue until it is explicitly canceled or finishes executing its task. Operations within the queue (but not yet executing) are themselves organized according to priority levels and inter-operation object dependencies and are executed accordingly. An application may create multiple operation queues and submit operations to any of them.

Inter-operation dependencies provide an absolute execution order for operations, even if those operations are located in different operation queues. An operation object is not considered ready to execute until all of its dependent operations have finished executing. For operations that are ready to execute, the operation queue always executes the one with the highest priority relative to the other ready operations.

You cannot directly remove an operation from a queue after it has been added. An operation remains in its queue until it reports that it is finished with its task. Finishing its task does not necessarily mean that the operation performed that task to completion. An operation can also be canceled. Canceling an operation object leaves the object in the queue but notifies the object that it should abort its task as quickly as possible. For currently executing operations, this means that the operation object’s work code must check the cancellation state, stop what it is doing, and mark itself as finished. For operations that are queued but not yet executing, the queue must still call the operation object’s start method so that it can processes the cancellation event and mark itself as finished.

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