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Authored by barbieri on Aug 27 2017, 8:40 AM.



Coroutines in EFL

Since users do not get callbacks, let's allow them to write
"synchronous" code that cooperates with the main loop.

This allows eina_coro_yield() to cooperatively give back control to
the main loop and ask to be rescheduled later, a common pattern we use
with a bunch of functions -- one to schedule, one for callback, one to
save context, other to free context.

And it is possible to await on a future of a promise to be resolved
with eina_coro_await() (or eina_future_await() helper). These will
allow for even simpler code and efficient scheduling -- the coroutine
is put to sleep until the future resolves.

Since there are no platform independent ways to save and restore a
function context (makecontext()/swapcontext() doesn't work on all
platforms) and I'm not willing to waste time with manual assembly for
each platform the initial implementation uses
Eina_Thred/Eina_Lock/Eina_Condition to do it. However the API allows
to change to single-thread coroutines -- code is also simple to
"ifdef" shall we come to an agreement: _eina_coro_signal() and

This is not about efficiency, more on ease of use and targeted at end
users, such as application developers. See _await() function in
ecore_test_promise2.c, it does the traditional "sleep()" without
blocking the main thread and is as simple to use -- if this becomes a
common pattern we can introduce efl_loop_coro_sleep(loop, coro,
seconds) to make it a single-line.

NOTE: this is on top of devs/barbieri/future, which contains fixes for devs/iscaro/future as mentioned in D5131.

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barbieri created this revision.Aug 27 2017, 8:40 AM

This could help T5301

also note that eina_thread_create() doesn't allow us to provide a stack size, so on Linux it's 2MB per thread -- quite a lot. If we create a new eina primitive, even if an internal primitive to set attributes then we could easily reduce the overhead... most coroutines should run under 16-32kb.

cedric added a subscriber: felipealmeida.

I must say that it doesn't seems so much better to use, but well, this is C. I am wondering how much of this is usable by bindings for implementing async/await in other language. I think @felipealmeida should have look at this.

@cedric maybe you overlooked it based on the _await() which is very minimalist. Take the complex_chain from Future & Promise, it would look much simpler as you can see:

  • single function versus 4 functions. If number of "async" stuff you had to wait grows, the function remains a single one...
  • no need to create and manage "context" data
  • looks plain C, "eina_future_await()" looks like a traditional function
  • in C++, "eina_future_await()" could throw exceptions and unpack value automatically, reducing number of lines.

// we could add some helpers to make C easier
#define eina_future_await_value_or_goto(future, coro, success_type, value, storage, label) \
   do { \
      value = eina_future_await(future, coro, success_type); \
      if (value.type == EINA_VALUE_TYPE_ERROR) goto label; \
      eina_value_get(&value, storage); \
    } while (0)

#define eina_future_await_or_goto(future, coro, label) \
   do { \
      Eina_Value __value = eina_future_await(future, coro, NULL); \
      Eina_Bool __is_error = __value.type == EINA_VALUE_TYPE_ERROR; \
      eina_value_flush(&__value); \
      if (__is_error) goto label; \
    } while (0)

static Eina_Value
async_do(void *data, Eina_Coro *coro, Eo *loop)
    const char *fname = data;
    Eina_Future *f;
    Eina_Value r;
    Eo *img;

    f = img_load(loop, fname); // for multi main loop, we must carry "loop"...
    eina_future_await_value_or_goto(f, coro, EINA_VALUE_TYPE_OBJECT, &img, error);

    eina_value_flush(&r); // unrefs object

    f = img_async_operation(img); // img is a loop user, no need to explicitly give "loop"
    eina_future_await_goto(f, coro, error);

    f = img_save(img, fname); // img is a loop user, no need to explicitly give "loop"
    r = eina_future_await_or_goto(f, coro, error;

    printf("done async operation!\n");
    return r;

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {

    efl_loop_coro(ecore_main_loop_get(), EFL_LOOP_CORO_PRIO_HIGH,
        argv[2] /* data = path */,
        async_do /* coroutine */,
        NULL /* free function */);

    // return is a promise, we could "chain/then" to know when it's finished...

    return 0;

as for "await" in other languages, if they are all based on a future (as in JavaScript), then yes. The logic is pretty, pretty simple:

  • coroutine "thens" the future, save the pointer as "awaiting" and yield;
  • main routine returns from eina_coro_run() with p_awaiting set to the internal future. Caller will "then" on that future instead of scheduling using idler/timer/job...
  • promise resolves in the main thread, call future chain:
    • gets the promise result and store in coroutine context
    • scheduler calls eina_coro_run(), this unlocks the coroutine
  • coroutine checks for value, it's there, so keeps running (if called without a value, would "yield" again)

tell me if i'm wrong... yield() here literally has to stop and run a nested loop inside of it before it returns... right? for this to work.... or this can only be used in thread with no loops... ?

@raster, it's not what you thought... it's much more like what's done with ecore_main_loop_thread_safe_call_sync(), however it's simpler as you can see below:

  1. eina_coro_run(): main thread signals turn == COROUTINE and then sleeps;
  2. coroutine runs, main thread is sleeping;
  3. coroutine eina_coro_yield() or eina_coro_await(): signals turn == MAIN and then sleeps;
  4. main thread awakes from sleep, coroutine is sleeping... main thread runs normally (no nested main loop!). It will schedule a new call to eina_coro_run(), either using a job/timer/idler or will eina_future_then() on any future that the coroutine is waiting with await.
  5. scheduled callback triggers, calls eina_coro_run()... back to step 1

The loop is finalized when coroutine exits, then eina_coro_run() retuns false and step 4 will not reschedule it, but dispatch the returned value using eina_promise_resolve() on an internal promise, which the future was returned by efl_loop_coro().

| Turn      | Method                | Main Routine         | Coroutine               |
| MAIN      | `eina_coro_new()`     | set `turn = MAIN`,   | thread starts and       |
|           | or `efl_loop_new()`   | create thread,       | sleeps waiting          |
|           |                       | schedules "run"      | condition               |
|           |                       | (timer/job/idler...) | `turn == COROUTINE`     |
| MAIN      | scheduled callback    | signals              | _sleeping..._           |
|           | calls                 | `turn = COROUTINE`,  |                         |
|           | `eina_coro_run()`     | sleeps waiting       |                         |
|           |                       | condition            |                         |
|           |                       | `turn == MAIN`       |                         |
| COROUTINE |                       | _sleeping..._        | awakes signaled,        |
|           |                       |                      | notices                 |
|           |                       |                      | `turn == COROUTINE`     |
|           |                       |                      | call **user function ** |
| COROUTINE | `eina_coro_yield()`   | _sleeping..._        | signals                 |
|           | or                    |                      | `turn = MAIN`,          |
|           | `eina_coro_await()`   |                      | sleeps waiting          |
|           | or                    |                      | condition               |
|           | `eina_future_await()` |                      | `turn == COROUTINE`     |
| MAIN      |                       | awakes signaled,     | _sleeping..._           |
|           |                       | notices              |                         |
|           |                       | `turn == MAIN`,      |                         |
|           |                       | schedule based on    |                         |
|           |                       | `p_awaiting` or      |                         |
|           |                       | timer/job/idler...   |                         |
|           |                       | **Goes to row 2 **   |                         |

@barbieri Oh, I wasn't clear on what I find "problematic" here. My issue is that you have to create and run the coroutine function in a specific way. You can't have the JS/C# freedom that the language give. I am really fine with this, it is still an improvement. I just want to be sure that the same facility is available in language where it is really powerful. Other than that I am fine with this proposal.

zmike requested changes to this revision.May 2 2018, 3:58 PM
zmike added a project: efl.
zmike added a subscriber: zmike.

This patch needs rebasing.

This revision now requires changes to proceed.May 2 2018, 3:58 PM