global variables multi-threading application

Posted on 2011-02-16
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hello experts.

I have a multi-threading Delphi application that uses some global variables but only for read-only purposes. The initial value of those global variables is set when the application starts and only the main thread is active. I have not had problems with my application so far but want to know if it is safe to read the value of global variables in a multi-threaded application and the reason why it is safe or not to access the global variables for reading their value.

Question by:arturosm
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LVL 37

Assisted Solution

by:Geert Gruwez
Geert Gruwez earned 200 total points
ID: 34910346
it would be better if you pass the value of the variables to the thread
this way you can keep the global variables and the thread is not affected by any changes

you could build in a system to restart the thread

using global variables accessed by threads is not such a good idea

you could protect access to them with critical sections
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

by:Ephraim Wangoya
Ephraim Wangoya earned 100 total points
ID: 34910385

So long as they are strictly readonly, then it would be safe to access them.
However for safety and less headache, you should still protect them

Author Comment

ID: 34910445
Thank you Geert_Gruwez.

I don´t know if this is another question, just that I don´t know much about critical sections, can you tell me more please, I'm asking for concepts more than for code.


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Author Comment

ID: 34910477
Thank you ewangoya.

Yes, they are strictly read only, basically they contain the value of paths to folders that the application uses for reading and writing files.

LVL 37

Assisted Solution

by:Geert Gruwez
Geert Gruwez earned 200 total points
ID: 34910523
unit x;

var globalvar: string;

function valueofglobalvar: string;


uses SyncObjs;

var cs: TCriticalSection;

procedure initCs;
  cs := TCriticalSection.Create;

procedure EndCs;

function valueofglobalvar: string;
    Result := globalvar;


LVL 12

Accepted Solution

Hypo earned 200 total points
ID: 34910549
I'd say that it's "safe", but it's considered to be "bad practice" to have unprotected variables that are accessed from multiple threads, even if you only read from them... It would probably work fine in your application since you say that these variables are only written to before any threads start... and then they are only read...

There is a synchronization object in Delphi that's called TMultiReadExclusiveWriteSynchronizer, and the purpose of this object is to allow for multiple threads to access/read the same variables simultaniously, whilst it still gives the possibility to protect the resource when you need to write to it...

This syncrhonization object is also normally used when you have a resource that you know will be often read by mutliple threads, but only written to in rare occacions; and the synchronization object helps speeding up the application since reads then don't have to wait for other reads...

Since the TMultiReadExclusiveWriteSynchronizer allows multiple threads to access the same resource at the same time as long as no one has locked it for writing, I'd say that your application design would be "safe" as well... and If you want to be extra safe, you implement a locking mechanism using the TMultiReadExclusiveWriteSynchronizer.


Author Closing Comment

ID: 34913558
Thank you experts, your comments helped me to understand better this subject.


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