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Subject: Re: [boost] Futures vs async_result
From: Niall Douglas (s_sourceforge_at_[hidden])
Date: 2015-07-27 14:18:03

On 27 Jul 2015 at 17:03, Bjorn Reese wrote:

> > Future continuations are fine when the sequence from start to end
> > doesn't branch. I am cautious of their usefulness in the general case
> > still. It isn't uncommon to make choices in a completion handler to
> > queue different async actions with different completion handlers.
> You hit the nail on the head. This is one of the main reasons why I
> seldomly use futures for asynchronous operations. Instead I prefer
> coroutines (and callbacks for simple sequences) over futures as the
> use of future continuations quickly becomes unwieldy in reality.
> async_result gives me the freedom to choose whatever mechanism is
> appropriate for my application.

I agree with this, up until C++ 1z coroutines being part of the
language. They too can work with any arbitrary synchronisation
mechanism same as async_result, however the traits specialisation to
enable an arbitrary synchronisation mechanism is rather more involved
than async_result.

Still, I am working under the assumption that with C++ 1z coroutines
that people have access to an async_result equivalent, so I don't
need to provide one myself.

> I suspect that Niall's preference for (his own) futures is due to
> something that has only been mentioned briefly in this discussion.
> AFIO operations are launched in a two-step process:
> 1. An operation is scheduled for execution (e.g. dispatcher::file()
> for opening a file.)
> 2. The operation is executed (e.g. dispatcher::call().)
> Using this two-step approach allows us to schedule batches of dependent
> operations before they are executed.
> When we batch operations together we should be able to express
> dependencies between them. Niall uses his own futures for that.


In the new v1.4 API things have slightly changed to become more
obvious to write for the typical programmer:

// This code uses v2 of the AFIO ABI
using namespace BOOST_AFIO_V2_NAMESPACE;

// Schedule a file open for writing
future<> fileopened=async_file("foo.txt", file_flags::write);

// Schedule a gather write to the file once it has opened
future<> filewritten=async_write(fileopened, buffers, 0);

// Schedule a fsync once the file has finished being written to
future<> fileinstorage=async_sync(filewritten);

// Schedule a file close once the previous fsync has completed
future<> fileclosed=async_close(fileinstorage);

All that happens asynchronously without blocking. If you'd like to
know how an operation went, simply get() its future.

In other words, the future returned carries happens-before dependency
to any operations scheduled upon that future.

Internally the above free functions quite literally expand into:

return precondition.then(detail::async_xxx(pars...))

... in fact internally, under the yet to be written lightweight
futures engine, the engine itself is nothing but chains of future


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