[Twisted-Python] Another approach to allowing __init__ to work with Deferreds

Drew Smathers drew.smathers at gmail.com
Mon May 11 19:11:22 EDT 2009

On Mon, May 11, 2009 at 12:19 PM, Terry Jones <terry.jones at gmail.com> wrote:
> I posted to this list back in Nov 2008 with subject:
> A Python metaclass for Twisted allowing __init__ to return a Deferred
> Briefly, I was trying to find a nice way to allow the __init__ method of a
> class to work with deferreds in such a way that methods of the class could
> use work done by __init__ safe in the knowledge that the deferreds had
> completed.  E.g., if you have
>    class X(object):
>        def __init__(self, host, port):
>            def final(connection):
>                self.db = connection
>            d = makeDBConnection(host, port)
>            d.addCallback(final)
>        def query(self, q):
>            return self.db.runQuery(q)
> Then when you make an X and call query on it, there's a chance the deferred
> wont have fired, and you'll get an error.  This is just a very simple
> illustrative example.  There are many more, and this is a general problem
> of the synchronous world (in which __init__ is supposed to prepare a
> fully-fledged class instance and cannot return a deferred) meeting the
> asynchronous world in which we would like to (and must) use deferreds.
> The earlier thread:
>  http://twistedmatrix.com/pipermail/twisted-python/2008-November/018600.html
> Although I learned a lot in that thread, I wasn't completely happy with any
> of the solutions. Some of the things that still bugged me are in posts
> towards the end of the thread:
>  http://twistedmatrix.com/pipermail/twisted-python/2008-November/018624.html
>  http://twistedmatrix.com/pipermail/twisted-python/2008-November/018634.html
> The various approaches we took back then all boiled down to waiting for a
> deferred to fire before the class instance was fully ready to use. When
> that happened, you had your instance and could call its methods.
> I had also thought about an alternate approach: having __init__ add a
> callback to the deferreds it dealt with to set a flag in self and then have
> all dependent methods check that flag to see if the class instance was
> ready for use. But that 1) is ugly (too much extra code); 2) means the
> caller has to be prepared to deal with errors due to the class instance not
> being ready, and 3) adds a check to every method call. It would look
> something like this:
>    class X(object):
>        def __init__(self, host, port):
>            self.ready = False
>            def final(connection):
>                self.db = connection
>                self.ready = True
>            d = makeDBConnection(host, port)
>            d.addCallback(final)
>        def query(self, q):
>            if not self.ready:
>                raise IAmNotReadyException()
>            return self.db.runQuery(q)
> That was too ugly for my taste, for all of the above reasons, most
> especially for forcing the unfortunate caller of my code to handle
> IAmNotReadyException.
> Anyway.... fast forward 6 months and I've hit the same problem again. It's
> with existing code, in which I would like an __init__ to call something
> that (now, due to changes elsewhere) returns a deferred. So I started
> thinking again, and came up with a much cleaner way to do the alternate
> approach via a class mixin:
>    from twisted.internet import defer
>    class deferredInitMixin(object):
>        def wrap(self, d, *wrappedMethods):
>            self.waiting = []
>            self.stored = {}
>            def restore(_):
>                for method in self.stored:
>                    setattr(self, method, self.stored[method])
>                for d in self.waiting:
>                    d.callback(None)
>            def makeWrapper(method):
>                def wrapper(*args, **kw):
>                    d = defer.Deferred()
>                    d.addCallback(lambda _: self.stored[method](*args, **kw))
>                    self.waiting.append(d)
>                    return d
>                return wrapper
>            for method in wrappedMethods:
>                self.stored[method] = getattr(self, method)
>                setattr(self, method, makeWrapper(method))
>            d.addCallback(restore)
> You use it as in the class Test below:
>    from twisted.internet import defer, reactor
>    def fire(d, value):
>        print "I finally fired, with value", value
>        d.callback(value)
>    def late(value):
>        d = defer.Deferred()
>        reactor.callLater(1, fire, d, value)
>        return d
>    def called(result, what):
>        print 'final callback of %s, result = %s' % (what, result)
>    def stop(_):
>        reactor.stop()
>    class Test(deferredInitMixin):
>        def __init__(self):
>            d = late('Test')
>            deferredInitMixin.wrap(self, d, 'f1', 'f2')
>        def f1(self, arg):
>            print "f1 called with", arg
>            return late(arg)
>        def f2(self, arg):
>            print "f2 called with", arg
>            return late(arg)
>    if __name__ == '__main__':
>        t = Test()
>        d1 = t.f1(44)
>        d1.addCallback(called, 'f1')
>        d2 = t.f1(33)
>        d2.addCallback(called, 'f1')
>        d3 = t.f2(11)
>        d3.addCallback(called, 'f2')
>        d = defer.DeferredList([d1, d2, d3])
>        d.addBoth(stop)
>        reactor.run()
> Effectively, the __init__ of my Test class asks deferredInitMixin to wrap
> some of its methods. deferredInitMixin stores the original methods away and
> replaces each of them with a function that immediately returns a deferred.
> So after __init__ finishes, code that calls the now-wrapped methods of the
> class instance before the deferred has fired will get a deferred back as
> usual (but see * below). As far as they know, everything is normal.  Behind
> the scenes, deferredInitMixin has arranged for these deferreds to fire only
> after the deferred passed from __init__ has fired.  Once that happens,
> deferredInitMixin also restores the original functions to the instance. As
> a result there is no overhead later to check a flag to see if the instance
> is ready to use. If the deferred from __init__ happens to fire before any
> of the instance's methods are called, it will simply restore the original
> methods.  Finally (obviously?) you only pass the method names to
> deferredInitMixin that depend on the deferred in __init__ being done.
> BTW, calling the methods passed to deferredInitMixin "wrapped" isn't really
> accurate. They're just temporarily replaced.
> I quite like this approach.  It's a second example of something I did in
> http://twistedmatrix.com/pipermail/twisted-python/2009-April/019522.html in
> which a pool of deferreds is accumulated and they're all fired when another
> deferred fires. It's nice because you don't reply with an error and there's
> no need for locking or other form of coordination - the work you need done
> is already in progress, so you get back a fresh deferred and everything
> goes swimmingly.
> * Minor note: the methods you wrap should probably be ones that already
> return deferreds. That way you always get a deferred back from them,
> whether they're temporarily wrapped or not. The above mixin works just fine
> if you ask it to wrap non-deferred-returning functions, but you have to
> deal with the possibility that they will return a deferred (i.e., if you
> call them while they're wrapped).
> Comments welcome / wanted.
> Terry

Somewhere, someplace something has to get a reference to the object
and it seems to me you're trying to prevent that something from
calling methods on the instance of the object before it's ready.  So
why not just defer providing the reference instead of wrapping methods
and intercepting calls?  To illustrate, here's a simple modification
of your example--assuming that `deferred' is an attribute on Things
set in __int__()--that would achieve this without any special mixins:

def theThingThatGetsTheReference(t):
    d1 = t. f1(44)
    d1.addCallback(called, 'f1')
    d2 = t.f1(33)
    d2.addCallback(called, 'f1')
    d3 = t.f2(11)
    d3.addCallback(called, 'f2')
    d = defer.DeferredList([d1, d2, d3])

if __name__ == '__main__':
    t = Thing()
    t.deferred.addCallback(lambda ign: theThingThatGetTheReference(t))


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