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Branchy

Tests npm

Comfortly run Node.js functions in a separate process.

const forkedAsyncFunction = branchy(heavySyncFunction)

Installation

npm install --save branchy

Basic Usage

It's super easy β€” pass your function to branchy and get an asynchronous, Promise-returning version of it:

const branchy = require('branchy')

// Synchronous "add", returns number
const adder = (a, b) => a + b

// Asynchronous "add" in a child process, returns Promise that resolves to number
const forkedAdder = branchy(adder)

// Don't forget to wrap in async function
await forkedAdder(2, 3) // 5

// This example just adds two numbers, please don't ever
// put that work into an extra process in a real-world scenario

Alternatively, you could put the function in its own file and pass the file path to branchy:

// add.js
module.exports = (a, b) => a + b

// index.js
const forkedAdder = branchy('./add')

await forkedAdder(2, 3) // 5

Caveats

The technical procedures of branchy set some requirements for forked functions:

  • Parameters passed to a forked function will be serialized. That means, forked functions should only accept serializeable arguments. The same goes for their return values.

  • Forked functions are serialized before being run in a different process. Consequently, they have no access to the local variable scope that was available during their definition:

    const branchy = require('branchy')
    
    const foo = 42
    
    branchy(() => {
      return foo // ReferenceError: foo is not defined
    })
  • Although the outer scope is not available in a forked function, the __filename and __dirname variables are funnelled into the function with the values they have at the location where the function is passed to branchy().

    Also, the require() function works as expected – it resolves modules relative to the file where branchy() was called.

    Attention: This means that you may not pass functions to branchy which have been imported from another location. __filename, __dirname and require() won't work as expected. To use functions from another file, pass their module specifier to branchy.

    // do this
    const forkedFn = branchy('./fn')
    
    // not this
    const forkedFn = branchy(require('./fn'))

Advanced Usage

Concurrency Control

To avoid sharing work among too many processes, you may need to restrict how many child processes a function may create at the same time. For this use case, branchy offers some simple concurrency control.

Enable concurrency control by passing an optional second argument to the branchy() function, specifying the concurrent option:

const fn = branchy('./computation-heavy-sync-task', { concurrent: 4 })

No matter how often you call fn(), there will be no more than 4 processes of it running at the same time. Each additional call will be queued and executed as soon as a previous call finishes.

Note: Passing a number as the concurrent option actually is a shorthand, you may pass an object to refine concurrency control:

{ concurrent: 4 }

// is equivalent to

{
  concurrent: {
    threads: 4,
    // other options
  }
}

Automatically Choose Number of Concurrent Forks

To restrict concurrency to the number of available CPU cores, use { concurrent: 'auto' }.

Priority

You may define the priority of each call depending on its arguments:

const call = branchy(name => console.log('Call %s', name), {
  concurrent: {
    threads: 1, // Only one at a time for demoing purposes
    priority: name => (name === 'Ghostbusters' ? 100 : 1)
  }
})

call('Alice')
call('Bob')
call('Ghostbusters')

// "Call Ghostbusters", "Call Alice", "Call Bob"
  • The priority() function will be passed the same arguments as the forked function itself.
  • Priority may be determined asynchronously (by returning a Promise).

Call Order Strategy

By default, the queue starts processes in the order functions were called (first-in, first-out). However you can make the queue handle the latest calls first (technically making it a Stack) by setting the strategy:

{
  concurrent: {
    strategy: 'stack'
  }
}

Concurrency Contexts

While you now may control how many child processes a single function creates, process limits are function-bound and not enforced across different Branchy functions:

const inc = branchy(num => num + 1, { concurrent: 2 })
const dec = branchy(num => num - 1, { concurrent: 2 })

// This opens 2 processes
inc(1)
inc(2)
inc(3)

// Another function, another context, so it opens another 2 processes
dec(1)
dec(2)
dec(3)

This is where concurrency contexts come in. A context encapsulates a concurrency configuration in a shareable ConcurrencyContext object with a single queue attached to it.

Create it like so:

const ctx = branchy.createContext({
  threads: 2
})

Now share the ctx across multiple forked functions, so the example above works as expected:

const inc = branchy(num => num + 1, { concurrent: ctx })
const dec = branchy(num => num - 1, { concurrent: ctx })

// This opens 2 processes
inc(1)
inc(2)
inc(3)

// This correctly queues dec() calls after inc() calls
dec(1)
dec(2)
dec(3)

Access the Queue

A ConcurrencyContext is just an extended Queue.

If you need more fine-grained control over currently running tasks, you may create a context for that:

const ctx = branchy.createContext({ threads: 4 })

// For more information about the available API, see the `better-queue` docs
ctx.on('drain', () => {
  console.log('All calls have been executed!')
})

// ...use the `ctx` context in branchy() calls

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