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Messaging Between Processes

PriorityMessenger and MultiMessenger

The coproc messengers are wrappers around standard multiprocessing.Pipe objects that create an interface for exchange between processes. There are two primary messenger types that can be used for communications: PriorityMessenger and MultiMessenger. While they both support the request and channel interfaces, only PriorityMessenger supports priorities, as the name would imply.

The diagram below shows how both the host and worker processes maintain separate messengers that allow them to communicate together. While I imagine that some of the messenger features will be most often used on one side or the other (for example, the request/reply interface), the messages are identical.

Overview diagram.

Sending Messages

Basic communication.

  • send_norequest() sends a message without expecting a reply. This is the most basic method for sending data between processes. Specify channel_id to send to a specific channel (None by default, which is actually a valid channel). The simplest use of messager would be to to send messages back and forth using send_norequest(). This is most similar to pipe.send() and pipe.recv() except that it manages multiple channels (see next section).

  • Channels. Every message is associated with a channel, which can be any hashable object.

    • You can specify the channel using the channel_id parameter of most send/receive functions, and the default is None - itself a valid, hashable channel id which you may use by default.
  • Requests. Using special request and reply methods enables the messenger to track the number of requests sent and replies received so that it can wait for replies to a specific set of requests.

    • The requesting process would use send_request() to send a request, and the other process would use send_reply() so that the requesting process knows that the message is a reply.
    • Note that the request tracking happens on a per-channel basis, so you can send multiple requests on different channels and wait for replies to each set of requests.
    • send_request() will send a message while also incrementing the count of requested messages for the given channel.
    • send_reply() will send a message while also incrementing the count of received replies for the recipient channel.
  • Priorities. By default, the PriorityMessenger looks for a priority attribute on any messages being sent, and will sort the messages into a priority queue, rather than a standard fifo queue. If the sent item does not have this attribute, by default it is set to -inf.

  • Special Messages. There are several types of special messages that bypass the channel and priority queue interface - they are handled as soon as the messages are received (which occurs when any receive function is called), prior to placement in the queue.

    • send_error() will send an exception object to the other messenger that will then be raised directly in the recipient process. I recommend using custom exceptions for this behavior.
    • send_close_request() will send a message that directly raises a ResourceRequestedClose exception in the recipient process. Catch this exception in your processes to handle a shutdown. You may want to use this in conjunction with the .join() method, which waits for the process to finish.

Receiving Messages

Any time one of the following receive methods is called, data will be transferred from the multiprocessing.Pipe into the message queue. The following diagram shows the basic flow of data from the pipe to the receive methods.

Messenger Diagram

The receive method you use depends on the desigred behavior.

  • available() loads data from pipe into the queue, and returns the number of available messages on the specified channel.
  • receive_available() calls available() and returns all available messages if there are any. Otherwise, returns an empty list.
  • receive_blocking() blocks until a message is received on the specified channel, then returns the message.
  • receive_remaining() yields replies on the specified channel until all outstanding requests have been replied to.

Example Usage

Now I will give some examples for how to use the messenger interface.

import sys
import coproc

import dataclasses
import time

Choosing a Messenger

While messengers can be used by themselves, they can be managed by WorkerResource objects by passing them to the messenger_type parameter of the constructor. See how WorkerResource creates two messengers: one for the host process and one for the worker process.

class ExampleProcess:
    messenger: coproc.PriorityMessenger

    def __call__(self):
        print(f'process messenger: {self.messenger}')

worker = coproc.WorkerResource(
    worker_process_type =  ExampleProcess,
    messenger_type = coproc.PriorityMessenger,
with worker as w:
    print(f'resource messenger: {w.messenger}')
process messenger: PriorityMessenger(pipe=<multiprocessing.connection.Connection object at 0x7f3991f16c10>, queue=PriorityMultiQueue(queues={}), request_ctr=RequestCtr(requests=Counter(), replies=Counter(), sent=Counter(), received=Counter()))
resource messenger: PriorityMessenger(pipe=<multiprocessing.connection.Connection object at 0x7f394a08f880>, queue=PriorityMultiQueue(queues={}), request_ctr=RequestCtr(requests=Counter(), replies=Counter(), sent=Counter(), received=Counter()))

Messenger Interface

Now I will give some examples for using the messenger interface.

Send/receive and Channels

In this example you can see how we send and receive the most basic messages messages on two separate channels over the same pipe. We use the send_norequest() method to send data to the other side, and specify the channel_id parameter of most send/receive methods to specify the channel.


class EchoProcess1:
    messenger: coproc.PriorityMessenger
    def __call__(self):
        while True:
            print(f'awaiting messages')
            print(f'some messages were found')
            for data in self.messenger.receive_available(CHANNEL_A):
                self.messenger.send_norequest(data, CHANNEL_A)

            for data in self.messenger.receive_available(CHANNEL_B):
                self.messenger.send_norequest(data, CHANNEL_B)

            #data = self.messenger.receive_blocking()
            #print(f'worker received: {data}')

with coproc.WorkerResource(EchoProcess1) as w:
    print(w.messenger.send_norequest('hello', channel_id=CHANNEL_A))
    print(w.messenger.send_norequest('hi', channel_id=CHANNEL_B))
    time.sleep(0.1) # wait for process to return it

awaiting messages
some messages were found
awaiting messages

Request Interface

In this example, I use send_request() and send_reply() to send and receive messages synchronously. The messenger will track the number of requests sent, and we can use receive_remaining() to wait for all expected replies to be received.

class EchoProcess2(coproc.BaseWorkerProcess):
    def __call__(self):
        while True:
            data = self.messenger.receive_blocking()

with coproc.WorkerResource(EchoProcess2) as w:

    print(f'sending {[w.messenger.send_request(i) for i in range(3)]}')
    for d in w.messenger.receive_remaining():
sending [None, None, None]

Priority Interface

We can set the priority of messages by adding a priority attribute to the message - we used simple wrapper objects here to accomplish that. Notice that the process accesses the higher priority objects first.

Note that the default priority is -inf, so any message without a priority will be sent to the back of the queue. In this example, we send messages with different priorities and see how they are received in order.

class PrintProcess(coproc.BaseWorkerProcess):
    def __call__(self):
        while True:
            for data in self.messenger.receive_available():

class HighPriorityMessage:
    text: str
    priority: int = 0 # lower is more improtant

class LowPriorityMessage:
    text: str
    priority: int = 1 # lower is more improtant

with coproc.WorkerResource(PrintProcess, coproc.PriorityMessenger) as w:
    for i in range(3):
        w.messenger.send_norequest(LowPriorityMessage(f'low {i}'))
        w.messenger.send_norequest(HighPriorityMessage(f'high {i}'))

    time.sleep(0.1) # wait for process to finish. Should I use join here?
HighPriorityMessage(text='high 0', priority=0)
HighPriorityMessage(text='high 1', priority=0)
HighPriorityMessage(text='high 2', priority=0)
LowPriorityMessage(text='low 0', priority=1)
LowPriorityMessage(text='low 1', priority=1)
LowPriorityMessage(text='low 2', priority=1)

Special Messages

In this last example I demonstrate use of the special messages. The send_error() method sends an exception object to the other process, which will be raised directly in the other process. The send_close_request() method sends a message that raises a ResourceRequestedClose exception in the other process. This is useful for shutting down the process.

class PrintProcess2(coproc.BaseWorkerProcess):
    def __call__(self):
        while True:
                message = self.messenger.await_available()
                results = self.messenger.receive_available()
            except coproc.ResourceRequestedClose as e:
                self.messenger.send_error(ValueError('process was closed successfully'))
                break # exits the process naturally
            for data in results:

with coproc.WorkerResource(PrintProcess2) as w:
    w.messenger.send_norequest('message 1')

    except ValueError as e:
        print('successfully caught value error sent from process')

    time.sleep(0.1) # wait for process to finish. Should I use join here?
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/tmp/ipykernel_1047367/", line 6, in __call__
    message = self.messenger.await_available()
  File "/DataDrive/projects/coproc/examples/../coproc/messenger/", line 121, in await_available
  File "/DataDrive/projects/coproc/examples/../coproc/messenger/", line 133, in _receive_and_handle
  File "/DataDrive/projects/coproc/examples/../coproc/messenger/", line 147, in _handle_message
    raise ResourceRequestedClose(f'Resource requested that this process close.')
coproc.messenger.exceptions.ResourceRequestedClose: Resource requested that this process close.

successfully caught value error sent from process