Deferred Result: Make Spring Boot Non-Blocking

deferred result is non-blocking

Divyesh Kanzariya, Java Tutorials Spot

Non-blocking I/O is achievable in Spring using the deferred result. This article examines how to improve speed on a heavily trafficked website using Spring and how to test a deferred result.

Spring is fast but suffers from dedicating a single thread per request. The deferred result helps eradicate this issue.

Why is My Spring Boot Website Slow?

Spring is written in Java which does not block. However, Spring dedicates a single thread to each request. No other work is performed on the thread for the life of the request.

This means that performance tuning often revolves around dedicating more RAM or CPU to the website. The JVM must account for threads, and this can become cumbersome no matter how well built a system is.

Executing a single request per thread is particularly problematic when requests to other services are made or heavy computation is performed.  For instance, a program might create a call to a database system. The handling thread will wait until the response is received before continuing. A bottleneck occurs when thousands or millions of  requests are processed at once.

When Can Non-Blocking I/O Help?

Non-blocking I/O as outlined above performs a request on a thread pool. Computation and I/O laden requests are completed in the background while the main thread works on other tasks. By not blocking, the comptuer is free to perform more work this includes handling other requests in Spring.

Java contains a variety of mechanisms to avoid blocking.  A fork-join pool and thread pool are available to the developer.

Fork-join pools are particularly useful. In this pool, idle threads take up work from active threads.

How Can I Perform Non-Blocking I/O in Spring Boot?

Spring Boot allows for non-blocking I/O to be performed through the deferred result. Error or response objects are set in the deferred result which serves as the return value:

@PostMapping("/test_path")
public DeferredResult testDeferred(){
    DeferredResult deferred = new DeferredREsult();
    deferred.onTimeout(() -> Logging.info("timeout");
    Thread thread = (() -> {
        deferred.setResult("Success");
        //deferred.setErrorResult("error");
    });
    ForkJoinPool.commonPool().submit(thread);
    deferred;
}

A deferred object is thread-safe. The return value is set in the result. An error object and function executed on timeout may be configured as well.

How Can I Test Non-Blocking I/O in Spring?

Testing non-blocking I/O is possible through  MockMvc or RestAssured. MockMvc handles asynchronous requests differently from synchronous calls:

ResultActions resultActions = this.mockMvc.perform(post("/test_path"));
MvcResult result = resultActions.andExpect(request().asnycStarted()).andReturn();
result = this.mockMvc.perform(asyncDispatch()).andReturn();

 

After ensuring that the asynchronous behavior started execution and awaiting a return value, testing continues as before.

Conclusion

Spring and Spring Boot can perform non-blocking I/O calls. This allows the framework to wait for computation-heavy processes and asynchronous network requests to complete while other network calls are handled by the original thread.

A fork-join pool or thread pool ensures that only a certain number of threads are created to handle background tasks.

Event Chaining Framework in JavaScript

Stainless-Steel-Chain

Asynchronous code flow is notoriously difficult to follow. With the deprecation of synchronous Ajax calls and increasing use of concurrent code in JavaScript, we often need to have functions execute in a step by step process via chaining.

This article presents a short solution to chaining asynchronous code in JavaScript. I wrote a small event manager in JavaScript using the principals defined in the article.

Deferred

The JQuery Deferred object acts much like promises and futures in more powerful object orient languages such as Java and Scala. A deferred object is created and used to call a function or chain of functions as needed.

var dfrd = $.Deferred();
dfrd.then(func1).then(function(result){
    console.log(result);
});
dfrd.resolve('result');

A deferred object works in exactly the same way as a JQuery Ajax call and uses the same method to handle an asynchronous method call. The created deferred can be chained using .then which allows for a result to be passed via .resolve.

A deferred object must be resolved to execute a chain. The .then method allows for not only a callback to be executed on success, but failure and progress callbacks to be executed as well.

Nesting Problem With JQuery Solutions

Nesting is messy. Unfortunately, with the JQuery solution, it is impossible to chain deferred functions without nesting them.

$.when(func1()).then(function(result1) { 
    $.when(func2(result1)).then(function(result2) {
        alert(result2);
    }) 
});

With this solution, the deferred method waits on another result before executing the next function. The call to .when allows for a promise to be utilized.

Custom Chaining Solution

While nesting is useful, it is not always the cleanest solution. Another option is to create a stack and then pop from the stack while generating a new chain.

function get_chain(step, previous_chain){
    var to = step.timeout;
    var func = step.func;
    var new_chain =  $.Deferred();
    if(to > 0){
        new_chain.then(function(result){
            return execute_step_timeout(to, result);
        })
    }
    new_chain.then(function(result){
           return func(result);
    });
    if(previous_chain){
        new_chain.then(function(result){
            previous_chain.resolve(result);
        });
    }
    return new_chain;
}

Here, a function takes a step configuration containing any deferred timeout and a previous chain and constructs a new chain.

Such a process is akin to writing the following code:

var nchain = $.Deferred()
nchain.then(function(result){
	return execute_step_timeout(1, result);
}).then(function(result){
	return func2(result);
}).then(function(result2) {
    	    alert(result2);
});

$.when(func1()).then(function(result1) {

Conclusion

Asynchronous Javascript, while not parallel, often requires chaining. This article reviewed how this can be done cleanly using the JQuery Deferred object.