The BApplication class defines an object that represents your application, creates a connection to the App Server, and runs your app's main message loop. An app can only create one BApplication object; the system automatically sets the global be_app object to point to the BApplication object you create.

A BApplication object's most pervasive task is to handle messages that are sent to your app, a subject that's described in detail below. But message handling aside, you can also use your BApplication object to…

Control the cursor.

BApplication defines functions that hide and show the cursor, and set the cursor's image. See SetCursor().

Access the window list.

You can iterate through the windows that your application has created with WindowAt().

Get information about your application.

Your app's signature, executable location, and launch flags can be retrieved through GetAppInfo(). Additional information icons, version strings, recognized file types can be retrieved by creating an BAppFileInfo object based on your app's executable file. BAppFileInfo is defined in the The Storage Kit.

be_app and Subclassing BApplication

Because of its importance, the BApplication object that you create is automatically assigned to the global be_app variable. Anytime you need to refer to your BApplication object from anywhere in your code you can use be_app instead.

Unless you're creating a very simple application, you should subclass BApplication. But be aware that the be_app variable is typed as (BApplication *). You'll have to cast be_app when you call a function that's declared by your subclass:

((MyApp *)be_app)->MyAppFunction();

Constructing the Object and Running the Message Loop

As with all BLoopers, to use a BApplication you construct the object and then tell it to start its message loop by calling the Run() function. However, unlike other loopers, BApplication's Run() doesn't return until the application is told to quit. And after Run() returns, you delete the object it isn't deleted for you.

Typically, you create your BApplication object in your main() function—it's usually the first object you create. The barest outline of a typical main() function looks something like this:

#include Application.h

   2new BApplication("application/x-vnd.your-app-sig")3;
   /* Further initialization goes here -- read settings,
      set globals, etc. */
   /* Clean up -- write settings, etc. */
   delete be_app;

The main() function doesn't declare argc and argv parameters (used for passing along command line arguments). If the user passes command line arguments to your app, they'll show up in the ArgvReceived() hook function.


Why no pointer assignment? The constructor automatically assigns the object to be_app, so you don't have to assign it yourself.


The string passed to the constructor sets the application's signature. This is a precautionary measure it's better to add the signature as a resource than to define it here (a resource signature overrides the constructor signature). Use the FileTypes app to set the signature as a resource.


As explained in the BLooper class, Run() is almost always called from the same thread in which you construct the BApplication object. (More accurately, the constructor locks the object, and Run() unlocks it. Since locks are scoped to threads, the easiest thing to do is to construct and Run() in the same thread.)

Application Messages

After you tell your BApplication to run, its message loop begins to receive messages. In general, the messages are handled in the expected fashion: They show up in BApplication's MessageReceived() function (or that of a designated BHandler; for more on how messages are dispatched to handlers, see ("From Looper to Handler").

But BApplication also recognizes a set of application messages that it handles by invoking corresponding hook functions. The hook functions are invoked by DispatchMessage() so the application messages never show up in MessageReceived().

Overriding the hook functions that correspond to the application messages is an important part of the implementation of a BApplication subclass.

In the table below, the application messages (identified by their command constants) are listed in roughly the order your BApplication can expect to receive them.

Command ConstantHook functionDescription
B_ARGV_RECEIVEDArgvReceived()Command line arguments are delivered through this message.
B_REFS_RECEIVEDRefsReceived()Files (entry_refs) that are dropped on your app's icon, or that are double-clicked to launch your app are delivered through this message.
B_READY_TO_RUNReadyToRun()Invoked from within Run(), the application has finished configuring itself and is ready to go. If you haven't already created and displayed an initial window, you should do so here.
B_APP_ACTIVATEDAppActivated()The application has just become the active application, or has relinquished that status.
B_PULSEPulse()If requested, pulse messages are sent at regular intervals by the system.
B_ABOUT_REQUESTEDAboutRequested()The user wants to see the app's About… box.

The protocols for the application messages are described in the "Message Constants" section of this chapter.

For more information on the details of when and why the hook functions are invoked, see the individual function descriptions.

A BApplication can also receive the B_QUIT_REQUESTED looper message. As explained in BLooper, B_QUIT_REQUESTED causes Quit() to be called, contingent on the value returned by the QuitRequested() hook function. However, BApplication's implementation of Quit() is different from BLooper's version. Don't miss it.

Other Topics


Like a BLooper, a BApplication must be locked before calling certain protected functions. The BApplication locking mechanism is inherited without modification from BLooper.

FileTypes settings.

The BApplication object represents your application at run-time. However, some of the characteristics of your application, whether it can be launched more than once, the file types it can open, its icon are not run-time decisions.

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