Root Object
Children Properties Methods Events
Purpose: This is an invisible "system" object that acts as the parent of all other objects.


There is a single Root object called '.' which is always present. It cannot be created using ⎕WC nor can it be destroyed.

The Caption and IconObj properties of '.' are used to identify a Dyalog APL/W application as distinct from the APL Session. The Caption property specifies the application name that is displayed when you cycle through running applications using Alt+Tab and by the Windows Task List. The IconObj property specifies the name of an Icon object that is displayed alongside the application name in the box displayed by Alt+Tab. For these to take effect, your application must have at least one visible and active Form.

For the Root object, the value of Posn is (0,0). The value of Size is either (100,100) if Coord is 'Prop', or the size of the screen in pixels if Coord is 'Pixel'. XRange and YRange both have the value (0,100). The DevCaps property reports the physical size of the screen in terms of both pixels and millimetres. It also reports the number of colours available.

The FontList property provides a list of all the character fonts that are available. The PrintList property provides a list of all the installed printers. These properties are read-only and may not be changed using ⎕WS

As the default value of Coord is 'Inherit' for all other objects, the value of Coord for '.' defines the default co-ordinate system. It may be either 'Prop' (the default) or 'Pixel'. 'Inherit' and 'User' are not allowed.

The CursorObj property is used to define a cursor for the application as a whole. Its default value is an empty character vector. If it is set to any value other than '' or 0, the selected cursor overrides the CursorObj values for all other objects. If you want to indicate that the application is "busy", you can therefore set the CursorObj property on '.' to an hourglass for the duration of the operation, e.g.

      '.' ⎕WS 'CursorObj' 1  ⍝ Set cursor to an hourglass

[lengthy process...]

      '.' ⎕WS 'CursorObj' 0  ⍝ Reset cursor

The Yield property specifies how frequently APL yields to Windows during the execution of code. Its default value is 200 milliseconds.

The EdgeStyle property is used to determine whether or not objects may have 3-dimensional effects. Setting EdgeStyle to 'None' disables 3-dimensional effects on all Forms and controls. Setting EdgeStyle to any other value enables 3-dimensional effects for these objects.

The ExitApp and ExitWindows events can be used to prevent the user closing your application from the Windows Task List or by terminating Windows.

The expression ⎕EX '.' deletes all objects owned by the current thread except the Root object itself. In addition, if this expression is executed by thread 0, it resets all the properties of '.' to their default values.

Exposing Root members

The Properties, Methods and Events of the Root object are always accessible using the system functions ⎕WS, ⎕WG and ⎕NQ but may also be optionally accessed directly as if they were global variables or functions in the workspace.

For example, if Root members are exposed, the following expression will set the application cursor (GUI) to an hourglass:


There are a number of elements that control whether or not Root members are exposed.

  1. The fundamental mechanism is a flag that is saved in every workspace. If this flag is set, the members of the Root object are exposed; if not, they are not exposed.
  2. This flag may be changed dynamically using the Options/Object Syntax/Expose Root Properties menu item on the Session or using 2401⌶. If the workspace is subsequently saved, the current value of the flag is saved with it.
  3. The value of the flag in a CLEAR WS is determined by the PropertyExposeRoot parameter. Under Windows, this parameter is associated with the Expose properties of Root checkbox on the Object Syntax Tab of the Configuration dialog box. When you change the value of this checkbox and close the Configuration dialog by clicking OK, the value of the PropertyExposeRoot parameter is immediately updated in the user's section of the Registry. However, the value of the flag in the current workspace is not changed. The PropertyExposeRoot parameter only defines the value of the flag in a CLEAR WS, so if you subsequently type )CLEAR, the current value of the parameter in the Registry determines whether or not Root members are exposed and sets the flag in the workspace accordingly.

For further information, see The Options Menu, Configuration Parameters, and Expose Root Properties.


  1. When Root members are exposed, the first reference or assignment to a member, associates that name (with a nameclass of ¯2.6 or ¯3.6) with that member. If, having referenced a member in this way, you subsequently hide Root members using (2401⌶0), that name remains connected to that member and the member remains exposed. This association may however be removed by erasing the name.
  2. If Root members are not exposed, you are free to define an APL object with the same name as one of the members. If you subsequently expose Root members using (2401⌶1), the name remains associated with the APL object and not with a member of Root. If you then erase the name and re-reference or re-assign it, the name will be associated with the corresponding member.