Thursday, January 27, 2011

exception passing between threads

Many people ask how to make a child thread’s exception “bubble up” to the parent thread. Background -- A Runnable task is unsure how to handle its own exception. It wants to escalate to parent thread. Note parent has to block for the entire duration of the child thread (right after child's start()), blocked either in wait() or some derivative of wait().

This question is not that trivial. Here are my solutions:

1) Callable task and Futures results -- but is the original exception escalated? Yes. P197 [[java threads]]

2) Runnable's run() method can temporarily catch the exception, save the object in a global variable such as a blocking queue, and notifyAll(). Parent thread could check the global variable after getting notified. Any thread can monitor the gloabal.

If you don't have to escalate to parent thread, then

3) setUncaughtExceptionHandler() - I think the handler method is called in the same exception thread -- single-threaded. In the handler, you can give the task to a thread pool, so the exception thread can exit, but I don't know how useful.

4) adopt invokeAndWait() design -- invokeAndWait() javadoc says “Note that if the Runnable.run() method throws an uncaught exception (on EDT) it's caught and rethrown, as an InvocationTargetException, on the callers thread"

In c#, there are various constructs similar to Futures.get() -- seems to be the standard solutions to capture child thread exception.
* Task.Wait()
* Task<T>.Result property
* EndInvoke()

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