Saturday, January 5, 2013

every async operation involves a sync call

I now feel just about every asynchronous interaction involves a pair of (often remote) threads. (Let's give them simple names -- The requester RR vs the provider PP). An async interaction goes through 2 phases --

Phase 1 -- registration -- RR registers "interest" with PP. When RR reaches out to PP, the call must be synchronous, i.e. Blocking. In other words, during registration RR thread blocks until registration completes. RR thread won't return immediately if the registration takes a while.

If PP is remote, then I was told there's usually a local proxy object living inside the RR Process. Registration against proxy is faster, implying the proxy schedules the actual, remote registration. Without the scheduling capability, proxy must complete the (potentially slow) remote registration on the RR thread, before the local registration call returns. How slow? If remote registration goes over a network or involves a busy database, it would take many milliseconds. Even though the details are my speculation, the conclusion is fairly clear -- registration call must be synchronous, at least partially.

Even in Fire-and-forget mode, the registration can't completely "forget". What if the fire throws an exception at the last phase after the "forget" i.e. after the local call has returned?

Phase 2 -- data delivery -- PP delivers the data to an RR2 thread. RR2 thread must be at an "interruption point" -- Boost::thread terminology. I was told RR2 could be the same RR thread in WCF.

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