Getting dbus signatures right from Vala

I am trying to play a bit with Vala on the FreeRunner.

The stack on the OpenMoko is heavily based on DBus. Using DBus from Vala is rather simple, if mostly undocumented: you get a few examples in the Vala wiki and you make do with those.

All works fine with simple methods. But what with providing callbacks to signals that have complex nested structures in their signatures, like aa{sv}? You try, and then if you don't get the method signature right, the signal is just silently not delivered because it does not match the method signature.

So this is how to provide a callback to org.freesmartphone.Usage.ResourceChanged, with signature sba{sv}:

public void on_resourcechanged(dynamic DBus.Object pos,
                   string name,
                   bool state,
                   HashTable<string, Value?> attributes)
    stderr.printf("Resource %s changed\n", name);

And this is how to provide a callback to org.freesmartphone.GPS.UBX.DebugPacket, with signature siaa{sv}:

protected void on_ubxdebug_packet(dynamic DBus.Object ubx, string clid, int length,
        HashTable<string, Value?>[] wrongdata)
    stderr.printf("Received UBX debug packet");

    // Ugly ugly work-around
    PtrArray< HashTable<string, Value?> >* data = (PtrArray< HashTable<string, Value?> >)wrongdata;

    stderr.printf("%u elements received", data->len);

What is happening here is that the only method signature that I found matching the dbus signature is this one. However, the unmarshaller for some reason gets it wrong, and passes a PtrArray instead of a HashTable array. So you need to cast it back to what you've actually been passed.

Figuring all this out took several long hours and was definitely not fun.