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Resources

As we discussed in the chapter on tasks, an Operation can be one of several things, one of which is a Resource. In this chapter we will explain what a resource is and why you might want to use one.

The resource criteria#

Resources can seem a little complicated, but the reason for their existence is rather simple. Sometimes there are operations which meet the following criteria:

  1. They are long running
  2. We want to be able to interact with them while they are running

Why resources?#

As an example, let's consider that our program opens a Socket, and we want to be able to send messages to this socket while it is open. This is fairly simple to write using regular operations like this:

import { main } from 'effection';import { Socket } from 'net';
main(function*() {  let socket = new Socket();  socket.connect(1337, '127.0.0.1');
  yield once(socket, 'connect');
  socket.write('hello');
  socket.close();});

This works, but there are a lot of details we need to remember to use the socket safely. It would be nice if we could create a friendly abstraction that we could reuse in all of our code that uses socket.

We know we want to close this socket once we're done, so our first attempt might look something like this:

import { once } from 'effection';
export function *createSocket(port, host) {  let socket = new Socket();  socket.connect(port, host);
  yield once(socket, 'connect');
  try {    yield    return socket;  } finally {    socket.close();  }}

But when we actually try to use our createSocket operation, we run into a problem:

import { main } from 'effection';import { createSocket } from './create-socket';
main(function*() {  let socket = yield createSocket(1337, '127.0.0.1'); // this blocks forever  socket.write('hello'); // we never get here});

Using resources#

Remember our criteria from before:

  1. Socket is a long running process
  2. We want to interact with the socket while it is running by sending messages to it

This is a good use-case for using a Resource. Let's look at how we can rewrite createSocket using resources. Effection considers any object which has an init function a Resource. The init function initializes the Resource, and an implementation of createSocket could look like this:

import { once, spawn } from 'effection';
export function createSocket(port, host) {  return {    *init() {      let socket = new Socket();      socket.connect(port, host);
      yield spawn(function* closeSocket() {        try {          yield        } finally {          socket.close();        }      });
      yield once(socket, 'connect');
      return socket;    }  }}

Before we unpack what's going on, let's just note that how we use createSocket has not changed at all, only it now works as we expect!

import { main } from 'effection';import { createSocket } from './create-socket';
main(function*() {  let socket = yield createSocket(1337, '127.0.0.1'); // waits for the socket to connect  socket.write('hello'); // this works  // once `main` finishes, the socket is closed});

How resources work#

The init function is used to initialize the resource. Once the init function is done, we can proceed past the yield point where we called createSocket in main. You can see why we call once from init, so we wait for the socket to open before proceeding.

But what about the call to spawn? We have previously established that a spawned Task cannot outlive its parent, and so the Task that we spawned really should be halted when the init function is finished. But the rules within init are slightly different, and this is what gives resources their power. If we use spawn in init then the spawned Task is actually spawned under the Task that created the resource, which in this case is the main task. The Task still cannot outlive its parent, which is main, but its able to outlive the init function.

You can think of this as creating a task hierarchy which looks something like this:

+-- main  |  +-- init    |    +-- once(socket, 'connect')  |  +-- closeSocket

As you can see, closeSocket and init are siblings rather than closeSocket being a child of init.

Nested resources#

Other resources created within init behave the same way and are created as siblings. We can use this to make a socket which serializes anything written to it as JSON:

import { main, once, spawn } from 'effection';import { createSocket } from './create-socket';
function createJSONSocket(port, host) {  return {    *init() {      let socket = yield createSocket(port, host); // outlives the `init` function
      return {        write: (value) => socket.write(JSON.stringify(value));      }    }  }}
main(function*() {  let socket = yield createJSONSocket(1337, '127.0.0.1'); // waits for the socket to connect  socket.write({ hello: 'world' }); // this works  // once `main` finishes, the socket is closed});

Here we're able to reuse our createSocket operation. Resources allow us to create powerful, reusable abstractions which are also able to clean up after themselves.

If we used a regular operation here and not a Resource, the socket would be closed before we could ever send a message to it.

// THIS DOESN'T WORKimport { once, spawn } from 'effection';import { createSocket } from './create-socket';
export function *createJSONSocket(port, host) {  let socket = yield createSocket(port, host);
  return {    write: (value) => socket.write(JSON.stringify(value));  }  // socket gets closed here!}