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async/await for continuation-passing style functions

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Writing correct CPS code is hard and awkward. Exceptions thrown in continuation functions tend to get swallowed. Any non-trivial flow can quickly become unmanageable.

This library delivers async/await expressions that let you write idiomatic, synchronous-looking code while leveraging the power of asynchronous, continuation-passing style functions (Ring's async handlers, clj-http).

(require '[await-cps :refer [async await]]
         '[clj-http.client :as http])

(defn star-wars-greeting-handler [request respond raise]
  ; initiate the async block
  (async respond raise
    (let [person-url (str "" (:id (:params request)))
          ; await the completion of asynchronous http request, doesn't block the thread 
          person (:body (await http/get person-url {:async? true :as :json}))]
      (str "Hi! I'm " (:name person) " from "
           ; await expression can go wherever a function call is allowed
           (get-in (await http/get (:homeworld person) {:async? true :as :json})
                   [:body :name])))))

You can also use defn-async to reduce boilerplate.

(defn-async star-wars-greeting-handler [request]

Async block can handle arbitrary Clojure code with following notes:

async boundary

The boundary of async block does not stretch inside the body of any nested function defined within.

(async resolve raise
  (doall (map (fn [url] (await http/get url {:async true}))
              ["" ""])))
=> IllegalStateException await called outside async block

Use loop/recur to traverse collections.

(async resolve raise
  (loop [[x & xs] ["" ""]]
    (when x
      (println (await http/get x {:async? true}))
      (recur xs))))


Recurring is supported in the context of a loop, fn-async and defn-async.

When awaited function invokes continuation in the calling thread the call stack may keep growing until overflow. This is most problematic for code that can't make assumptions about runtime properties of the function awaited. You can wrap it in with-new-call-stack to avoid the issue at the penalty of extra time taken to schedule a task each loop.


try/catch/finally is fully supported. Note however that when a CPS function completes failing to call either the resolve or raise callback the finally block may never execute. This would be equivalent to killing a thread that's executing a regular try block.

Monitor operations

monitor-enter and monitor-exit are strictly related to the executing thread and therefore are not supported.

Currently there is no warning when monitor-* is used inside async which may lead to hard-to-spot concurrency bugs.

Does it work?

Being cautious about a library applying chainsaw surgery to your production code is only fair. The goal of this library is for you to be able to use it with confidence.

The test suite included employs generative testing producing nested combinations of expressions including special forms, synchronous and asynchronous function calls. It asserts that both the result (value returned or exception thrown) and the order of any side effects is consistent with what you'd observe with regular, synchronous evaluation.

At the same time, the project has not seen extensive production use yet.


This project is distributed under The MIT License.

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