Asyncio Handle Blocking Functions

Asyncio Handle Blocking Functions

When we use concurrency, all tasks are running in the same thread. When the await or yield from keywords is used in the task, the task is suspended and the EventLoop executes the next task. This will be occur until all tasks are completed.

If you have a blocking function, by example, a web request. All tasks will wait the blocking function be completed. See this example:

import asyncio
import time


def slow_function():
    time.sleep(3)
    return 42


@asyncio.coroutine
def test1():
    slow_function()
    print('Finish test1')


@asyncio.coroutine
def test2():
    for i in range(0, 10):
        print(i)
        yield from asyncio.sleep(0.5)
    print('Finish test2')


loop = asyncio.get_event_loop()
loop.run_until_complete(
    asyncio.wait([
        test1(),
        test2()
    ])
)

Output

Finish test1
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Finish test2

How can we see, the EventLoop run the test1 and the test2 only starts after the test1 is completed.

If you need execute a blocking functions you can use the run_in_executor() method of the EventLoop, this will be run the function in an executor (by default the ThreadPoolExecutor).

The usage of run_in_executor is like this:

loop.run_in_executor(executor=None, fn, *args)

When the *args will be the args of fn.

Now, the same example using the run_in_executor and its output.

import asyncio
import time


def slow_function():
    time.sleep(3)
    return 42


@asyncio.coroutine
def test1(loop):
    yield from loop.run_in_executor(None, slow_function)
    print('Finish test1')


@asyncio.coroutine
def test2():
    for i in range(0, 10):
        print(i)
        yield from asyncio.sleep(0.5)
    print('Finish test2')


loop = asyncio.get_event_loop()
loop.run_until_complete(
    asyncio.wait([
        test1(loop),
        test2()
    ])
)

Output:

0
1
2
3
4
5
Finish test1
6
7
8
9
Finish test2

Now, the test2 can be executed while the test1 waits from the slow_function response.

Carlos Maniero

Python Developer and an open source evangelist. Focused in web development. Working with Django and Tornado for async web solutions. A lover of the Linux terminal and the creator of the Pygamii, an ascii game engine written in Python.

São Paulo/Brazil

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