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proposal: context: Add Merge #36503

navytux opened this issue Jan 10, 2020 · 1 comment

proposal: context: Add Merge #36503

navytux opened this issue Jan 10, 2020 · 1 comment


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@navytux navytux commented Jan 10, 2020

( This proposail is alternative to #36448. It proposes to add context.Merge instead of exposing general context API for linking-up third-party contexts into parent-children tree for efficiency )

Current context package API provides primitives to derive new contexts from one parent - WithCancel, WithDeadline and WithValue. This functionality covers many practical needs, but not merging - the case where it is neccessary to derive new context from multiple parents. While it is possible to implement merge functionality in third-party library (ex., with current state of context package, such imlementations are inefficient as they need to spawn extra goroutine to propagate cancellation from parents to child.

To solve the inefficiency I propose to add Merge functionality to context package. The other possibility would be to expose general mechanism to glue arbitrary third-party contexts into context tree. However since a) Merge is a well-defined concept, and b) there are (currently) no other well-known cases where third-party context would need to allocate its own done channel (see #28728; this is the case where extra goroutine for cancel propagation needs to be currently spawned), I tend to think that it makes more sense to add Merge support to context package directly instead of exposing a general mechanism for gluing arbitrary third-party contexts.

Below is description of the proposed API and rationale:

---- 8< ----

Merging contexts

Merge could be handy in situations where spawned job needs to be canceled whenever any of 2 contexts becomes done. This frequently arises with service methods that accept context as argument, and the service itself, on another control line, could be instructed to become non-operational. For example:

func (srv *Service) DoSomething(ctx context.Context) (err error) {
	defer xerr.Contextf(&err, "%s: do something", srv)

	// srv.serveCtx is context that becomes canceled when srv is
	// instructed to stop providing service.
	origCtx := ctx
	ctx, cancel := xcontext.Merge(ctx, srv.serveCtx)
	defer cancel()

	err = srv.doJob(ctx)
	if err != nil {
		if ctx.Err() != nil && origCtx.Err() == nil {
			// error due to service shutdown
			err = ErrServiceDown
		return err


func Merge

func Merge(parent1, parent2 context.Context) (context.Context, context.CancelFunc)

Merge merges 2 contexts into 1.

The result context:

  • is done when parent1 or parent2 is done, or cancel called, whichever happens first,
  • has deadline = min(parent1.Deadline, parent2.Deadline),
  • has associated values merged from parent1 and parent2, with parent1 taking precedence.

Canceling this context releases resources associated with it, so code should call cancel as soon as the operations running in this Context complete.

---- 8< ----

To do the merging of ctx and srv.serveCtx done channels current implementation has to allocate its own done channel and spawn corresponding goroutine:

context.WithCancel, when called on resulting merged context, will have to spawn its own propagation goroutine too.

For the reference here is context.Merge implementation in Pygolang that does parents - child binding via just data:

/cc @Sajmani, @rsc, @bcmills


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@navytux navytux commented Feb 6, 2020

Judging by #33502 this proposal seems to have been missed. Could someone please add it to Proposals/Incoming project? Thanks.

@bcmills bcmills added this to Incoming in Proposals Feb 6, 2020
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