Popular belief (reinforced indirectly by MSDN) is that
BackgroundWorker class will marshal the “progress” and “completed” events back to the calling thread. This turned out to be most certainly not true. A more restricted (and closer to reality) form of this belief is that if
BackgroundWorker is spawned by a WPF UI thread, the events will be marshaled back to the UI thread. This is almost true. Read on.
SynchronizationContext.Post() to marshal progress and completed events. It captures the synchronization context of the current thread when you invoke
RunorkerAsync() method. If current thread has no synchronization context, a default one will be created.
For WPF UI threads, the synchronization context (of type
DispatcherSynchronizationContext) will indeed post the events back to the UI thread.
|Thread pool thread|
In background thread, or in main thread of a console application, the synchronization context will schedule event calls on a thread pool. So, typically, you will end up with 3 or more threads:
|Thread pool thread #1|
|Thread pool thread #2…n|
An interesting twist occurs if you run
BackgroundWorker on a soon-to-be-come-UI-thread thread. Typically, it’s a main thread of your application before you called
Application.Run(). Windows is not psychic, and it does not know what you are about to do. So, until you actually started a WPF application, your main thread is considered a regular thread, and default synchronization context will be used instead of
DispatcherSynchronizationContext. Thus, your background worker events will not be marshalled back to the UI thread. Instead, they will be executed on a thread pool. If you touch UI in those callbacks, bad things will happen.
The workarounds are:
- Don’t use background workers before
Dispatcher.BeginInvoke() inside suspect callbacks (however, be prepared that proponents of the myth may remove them as redundant)
- Manually install
DispatcherSynchronizationContext (don’t do this it at home; I did not try it, but I think it should work).