Task Management

This document assumes you have a basic understanding of network overlays in IPv8, as documented in the overlay tutorial. You will learn how to use the IPv8’s TaskManager class to manage asyncio tasks and how to use NumberCache to manage Future instances.

What is a task?

Essentially, a task is a way for asyncio to point to code that should be executed at some point. The asyncio library checks if it has something to execute and executes it until it has no more tasks to execute. However, there are many intricacies when dealing with tasks. Consider the following example:

import asyncio


async def execute_me_too(i: int) -> None:
    await asyncio.sleep(0.5)

async def execute_me() -> None:
    execute_me_too(1)  # 1
    await execute_me_too(2)  # 2
    COMPLETED.append(3)  # 3
    _ = asyncio.ensure_future(execute_me_too(4))  # 4
    COMPLETED.append(5)  # 5
    await asyncio.sleep(1)  # 6


Can you guess what will be printed?

The correct answer is [2, 3, 5, 4] and equally important is that the answer changes to [2, 3, 5] if you omit the final await asyncio.sleep(1). Feel free to skip to the “The TaskManager” section if both of these answers are obvious to you.

Let’s run through execute_me() to explain this behavior:

  1. The execute_me_too(1) will not be executed, though your application will not crash. You will be informed of this through the RuntimeWarning: coroutine 'execute_me_too' was never awaited warning message. You should have awaited this execute_me_too call, we do this properly in the next line.

  2. By awaiting execute_me_too(2) the execute_me() call will wait until execute_me_too(2) has finished executing. This adds the value 2 to the COMPLETED list.

  3. After waiting for execute_me_too(2) to finish COMPLETED.append(3) is allowed to append the value 3 to the COMPLETED list.

  4. By creating a future for execute_me_too(4), we allow execute_me() to continue executing.

  5. While we wait for execute_me_too(4) to finish, COMPLETED.append(5) can already access the COMPLETED list and insert its value 5.

  6. While execute_me() waits for another second, execute_me_too(4) is allowed to add to the COMPLETED list.

Note that if you had omitted await asyncio.sleep(1), the execute_me() call would not be waiting for anything anymore and return (outputting [2, 3, 5]). Instead, the future returned by asyncio.ensure_future() should have been awaited, as follows:

async def execute_me() -> None:
    await execute_me_too(2)
    fut = asyncio.ensure_future(execute_me_too(4))  # store future
    await fut  # await future before exiting

As an added bonus, this is also faster than the previous method. This new example will finish when the execute_me_too(4) call completes, instead of after waiting a full second.

This concludes the basics of asyncio tasks. Now, we’ll show you how to make your life easier by using IPv8’s TaskManager class.

The TaskManager

Managing Future instances and coroutine instances is complex and error-prone and, to help you with managing these, IPv8 has the TaskManager class. The TaskManager takes care of managing all of your calls that have not completed yet and allows you to cancel them on demand. You can even find this class in a separate PyPi repository: https://pypi.org/project/ipv8-taskmanager/

Adding tasks

To add tasks to your TaskManager you can call register_task(). You register a task with a name, which you can later use to inspect the state of a task or cancel it. For example:

import asyncio

from ipv8.taskmanager import TaskManager


async def execute_me_too(i: int) -> None:
    await asyncio.sleep(0.5)

async def main() -> None:
    task_manager = TaskManager()

    task_manager.register_task("execute_me_too1", execute_me_too, 1)
    task_manager.register_task("execute_me_too2", execute_me_too, 2)
    await task_manager.wait_for_tasks()

    await task_manager.shutdown_task_manager()


This example prints [2]. If you had not called wait_for_tasks() before shutdown_task_manager() in this example, all of your registered tasks would have been canceled, printing [].

In some cases you may also not be interested in canceling a particular task. For this use case the register_anonymous_task() call exists, for example:

    for i in range(20):
                                             execute_me_too, i)
    await task_manager.wait_for_tasks()

Note that this example takes just over half a second to execute, all 20 calls to execute_me_too() are scheduled at (almost) the same time!

Periodic and delayed tasks

Next to simply adding tasks, the TaskManager also allows you to invoke calls after a delay or periodically. The following example will add the value 1 to the COMPLETED list periodically and inject a single value of 2 after half a second:

async def execute_me_too(i: int, task_manager: TaskManager) -> None:
    if len(COMPLETED) == 20:
        task_manager.cancel_pending_task("keep adding 1")

async def main() -> None:
    task_manager = TaskManager()

    task_manager.register_task("keep adding 1", execute_me_too,
                               1, task_manager, interval=0.1)
    task_manager.register_task("sneaky inject", execute_me_too,
                               2, task_manager, delay=0.5)
    await task_manager.wait_for_tasks()

    await task_manager.shutdown_task_manager()

This example prints [1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1].

Note that you can also create a task with both an interval and a delay.

Community Integration

For your convenience, every Community is also a TaskManager. However, try to avoid spawning any tasks in the __init__ of your Community. Specifically, you could end up scheduling a task in between your Community and other Community initialization. Working with a half-initialized IPv8 may lead to problems. This practice also makes your Community more difficult to test.

If you do end up in a situation where you absolutely must schedule a task from the __init__(), you can use the TaskManager’s cancel_all_pending_tasks() method to cancel all registered tasks. This is an example of how to deal with this in your unit tests:

class TestMyCommunity(TestBase):

    def create_node(self, *args: Any, **kwargs) -> MockIPv8:
        mock_ipv8 = super().create_node(*args, **kwargs)
        return mock_ipv8

    async def test_something(self) -> None:
        self.initialize(MyCommunity, 1)  # Will not run tasks

Futures and caches

Sometimes you may find that certain tasks belong to a message context. In other words, you may have a task that belongs to a cache (see the storing states tutorial). By registering a Future instance in your NumberCache subclass it will automatically be canceled when the NumberCache gets canceled or times out. You can do so using the register_future() method. This is a complete example:

import asyncio

from ipv8.requestcache import NumberCacheWithName, RequestCache

class MyCache(NumberCacheWithName):

    name = "my cache"

    def __init__(self,
                 request_cache: RequestCache,
                 number: int) -> None:
        super().__init__(request_cache, self.name, number)

        self.awaitable = asyncio.Future()

        self.register_future(self.awaitable, on_timeout=False)

    def timeout_delay(self) -> float:
        return 1.0

    def finish(self) -> None:

async def main() -> None:
    rq = RequestCache()

    rq.add(MyCache(rq, 0))
    with rq.passthrough():
        rq.add(MyCache(rq, 1))  # Overwritten timeout = 0.0
    rq.add(MyCache(rq, 2))

    future0 = rq.get(MyCache, 0).awaitable
    future1 = rq.get(MyCache, 1).awaitable
    future2 = rq.get(MyCache, 2).awaitable

    rq.get(MyCache, 0).finish()
    await future0
    rq.pop(MyCache, 0)

    await future1

    await rq.shutdown()



This example prints:


This example showcases the three states your Future may find itself in. First, it may have been called and received an explicit result (True in this case). Second, the future may have timed out. By default a timed-out Future will have its result set to None, but you can even give this method an exception class to have it raise an exception for you. In this example we set the value to False. Third and last is the case where your future was cancelled, which will raise a asyncio.exceptions.CancelledError if you await it.