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Curio

Curio is a coroutine-based library for concurrent Python systems programming using async/await. It provides standard programming abstractions such as as tasks, sockets, files, locks, and queues as well as some advanced features such as support for structured concurrency. It works on Unix and Windows and has zero dependencies. You'll find it to be familiar, small, fast, and fun.

Important Notice: October 25, 2022

The Curio project is no longer making package releases. I'm more than happy to accept bug reports and may continue to work on it from time to time as the mood strikes. If you want the absolute latest version, you should vendor the source code from here. Curio has no dependencies other than the Python standard library. --Dave

Curio is Different

One of the most important ideas from software architecture is the "separation of concerns." This can take many forms such as utilizing abstraction layers, object oriented programming, aspects, higher-order functions, and so forth. However, another effective form of it exists in the idea of separating execution environments. For example, "user mode" versus "kernel mode" in operating systems. This is the underlying idea in Curio, but applied to "asynchronous" versus "synchronous" execution.

A fundamental problem with asynchronous code is that it involves a completely different evaluation model that doesn't compose well with ordinary applications or with other approaches to concurrency such as thread programing. Although the addition of "async/await" to Python helps clarify such code, "async" libraries still tend to be a confused mess of functionality that mix asynchronous and synchronous functionality together in the same environment--often bolting it all together with an assortment of hacks that try to sort out all of associated API confusion.

Curio strictly separates asynchronous code from synchronous code. Specifically, all functionality related to the asynchronous environment utilizes "async/await" features and syntax--without exception. Moreover, interactions between async and sync code is carefully managed through a small set of simple mechanisms such as events and queues. As a result, Curio is small, fast, and significantly easier to reason about.

A Simple Example

Here is a concurrent TCP echo server directly implemented using sockets:

# echoserv.py

from curio import run, spawn
from curio.socket import *

async def echo_server(address):
    sock = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_STREAM)
    sock.setsockopt(SOL_SOCKET, SO_REUSEADDR, 1)
    sock.bind(address)
    sock.listen(5)
    print('Server listening at', address)
    async with sock:
        while True:
            client, addr = await sock.accept()
            await spawn(echo_client, client, addr, daemon=True)

async def echo_client(client, addr):
    print('Connection from', addr)
    async with client:
         while True:
             data = await client.recv(100000)
             if not data:
                 break
             await client.sendall(data)
    print('Connection closed')

if __name__ == '__main__':
    run(echo_server, ('',25000))

If you've done network programming with threads, it looks almost identical. Moreover, it can handle thousands of clients even though no threads are being used inside.

Core Features

Curio supports standard synchronization primitives (events, locks, recursive locks, semaphores, and condition variables), queues, subprocesses, as well as running tasks in threads and processes. The task model fully supports cancellation, task groups, timeouts, monitoring, and other features critical to writing reliable code.

Read the official documentation for more in-depth coverage. The tutorial is a good starting point. The howto describes how to carry out common programming tasks.

Talks Related to Curio

Concepts related to Curio's design and general issues related to async programming have been described by Curio's creator, David Beazley, in various conference talks and tutorials:

Questions and Answers

Q: What is the point of the Curio project?

A: Curio is async programming, reimagined as something smaller, faster, and easier to reason about. It is meant to be both educational and practical.

Q: Is Curio implemented using asyncio?

A: No. Curio is a standalone library directly created from low-level I/O primitives.

Q: Is Curio meant to be a clone of asyncio?

A: No. Although Curio provides a significant amount of overlapping functionality, the API is different. Compatibility with other libaries is not a goal.

Q: Is Curio meant to be compatible with other async libraries?

A: No. Curio is a stand-alone project that emphasizes a certain software architecture based on separation of environments. Other libraries have largely ignored this concept, preferring to simply provide variations on the existing approach found in asyncio.

Q: Can Curio interoperate with other event loops?

A: It depends on what you mean by the word "interoperate." Curio's preferred mechanism of communication with the external world is a queue. It is possible to communicate between Curio, threads, and other event loops using queues.

Q: How fast is Curio?

A: Curio's primary goal is to be an async library that is minimal and understandable. Performance is not the primary concern. That said, in rough benchmarking of a simple echo server, Curio is more than twice as fast as comparable code using coroutines in asyncio or trio. This was last measured on OS-X using Python 3.9. Keep in mind there is a lot more to overall application performance than the performance of a simple echo server so your mileage might vary. However, as a runtime environment, Curio doesn't introduce a lot of extra overhead. See the examples/benchmark directory for various testing programs.

Q: What is the future of Curio?

A: Curio should be viewed as a library of basic programming primitives. At this time, it is considered to be feature-complete--meaning that it is not expected to sprout many new capabilities. It may be updated from time to time to fix bugs or support new versions of Python.

Q: Can I contribute?

A: Curio is not a community-based project seeking developers or maintainers. However, having it work reliably is important. If you've found a bug or have an idea for making it better, please file an issue.

Contributors

The following people contributed ideas to early stages of the Curio project: Brett Cannon, Nathaniel Smith, Alexander Zhukov, Laura Dickinson, and Sandeep Gupta.

Who

Curio is the creation of David Beazley (@dabeaz) who is also responsible for its maintenance. http://www.dabeaz.com

P.S.

If you want to learn more about concurrent programming more generally, you should come take a course!