Running Python async function

Lately I was playing with asyncio and aiohttp in python 3.5.2. First time I hit the wall was when I was trying to test async methods:

async def say_hi():
    print('Hi!')

First of all I did not know how to call say_hi() directly without event loop. Reading docs didn't really help me. I already knew I could do:

loop = asyncio.get_event_loop()
loop.run_until_complete(say_hi())
loop.close()

But I was more interested how asyncio event loop triggers this method by itself. So I decided to dig into asyncio source code.

Summary

I've found two ways to call async say_hi() without event loop.

  1. Send something to coroutine:
cor = say_hi()
try:
    cor.send(None)
except StopIteration:
    pass
  1. Wrap coroutine in Future:
future = asyncio.ensure_future(say_hi())
future._step()

BaseEventLoop

Turns out on Debian asyncio.get_event_loop() returns UnixSelectEventLoop. It extends some other event loops:

UnixSelectEventLoop --> BaseSelectorEventLoop --> BaseEventLoop --> AbstractEventLoop

BaseEventLoop is the one that interests me, because it implements run_until_complete() method.

run_until_complete() calls self.run_forever() which calls self._run_once().

What _run_once() essentially does is it gets the handle from the task queue and calls handle._run():

class BaseEventLoop(events.AbstractEventLoop):

    def __init__(self):
        self._ready = collections.deque()

    def _run_once(self):
        handle = self._ready.popleft()
        handle._run()

handle type is asyncio.events.Handle. It's simplified version is:

class Handle:
    def __init__(self, callback, args, loop):
        self._loop = loop
        self._callback = callback
        self._args = args

def _run(self):
    try:
        self._callback(*self._args)
    except Exception as exc:
        # ...

Now this is where the call chain started from run_until_complete() stops. And it's clear to me that I have to find the spot where handles are created and added to the event_loop._ready queue (or dequeu to be precise).

How my async function is turned into Handle?

Let's go back to loop.run_until_complete(). Simplified version could be read as:

def run_until_complete(self, future):
    future = tasks.ensure_future(future, loop=self)

    try:
        self.run_forever()
    except:
        # ...
    return future.result()

Ok, let's investigate tasks.ensure_future(). In my case it does:

return loop.create_task(coro_or_future)

Which by itself does not do a lot:

return tasks.Task(coro, loop=self)

But Task constructor calls something interesting:

def __init__(self, coro, *, loop=None):
    super().__init__(loop=loop)
    self._coro = coro
    self._loop.call_soon(self._step)

And Task._step() method is even more interesting:

def _step(self, exc=None):
    # ...
    coro = self._coro
    # ...
    try:
        result = coro.send(None)
    except:
        # ...
    return result

AHA, seems like coro.send(None) triggers the async function. I quickly test it and indeed it works :) :

say_hi().send(None)

Anyway, let's keep hunting how this coroutine (my async function) is turned into Handle...

The next interesting function in Task contructor is loop.call_soon(). It simply calls self._call_soon(). Which does the rest:

def _call_soon(self, callback, args):
    if (coroutines.iscoroutine(callback)
    or coroutines.iscoroutinefunction(callback)):
        raise TypeError("coroutines cannot be used with call_soon()")
    self._check_closed()
    handle = events.Handle(callback, args, self)
    if handle._source_traceback:
        del handle._source_traceback[-1]
    self._ready.append(handle)
    return handle

It wraps callback (our async function) into Handle and appends it to the loop._ready queue.

So the call graph is something like this:

   loop.run_until_complete(future)
               |
               V
   tasks.ensure_future(future, loop)
               |
               V
      loop.create_task(future)
               |
               V
      task.Task(future, loop)
               |
               V
      loop.call_soon(task._step)
               |
               V
      loop._call_soon(task._step)
               |
               V
loop._ready.append(Handle(task._step))

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