06/07/2015

A practical example of using TaskCompletionSource<T>

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Recently I've found a question about real life scenarios for using rather unknown TaskCompletionSource<T> class. I started thinking where I would use it and very quickly I found a good practical example.

I have a pet project LanguageTrainer that helps me in learning words in foreign languages. Some time ago I added Dropbox support to it. It allows me to export/import list of words to/from Dropbox. I developed it in synchronous way. Now I prefer an asynchronous approach and I want to take advantages of async/await keywords.

The problem is that DropNet library, that makes communication with Dropbox easy, doesn't use async/await. It has asynchronous API but it is callback based. The really easy solution here is to use TaskCompletionSource<T>. Here is an example (simplified). Let's start with the original code that downloads a given file from Dropbox.
public void ProcessFile(string key, string secret, string path)
{
   var client = new DropNetClient(key, secret);
   // ...
   var bytes = client.GetFile(path)
   //Process bytes
}
The version that uses DropNet asynchronous API looks in the following way:
public void ProcessFileAsync(string key, string secret, string path)
{
   var client = new DropNetClient(key, secret);
   //...
   client.GetFileAsync(path, 
      response => 
      {
         var bytes = response.RawBytes;
         //Process bytes
      }, 
      ex => 
      {
         //Handle exception
      });
}
And finally the asynchronous version with async/await looks in the following way:
public async Task<Stream> ProcessFileAsync(string key, string secret, string path)
{
   var client = new DropNetClient(key, secret);
   //...
   var tcs = new TaskCompletionSource<Stream>();
   client.GetFileAsync(path, response => tcs.SetResult(new MemoryStream(response.RawBytes)), tcs.SetException);
   return tcs.Task;
}
...
var bytes = await ProcessFileAsync(key, secret, path);
//Process bytes
The method ProcessFileAsync is marked as async and returns a task so it can be awaited. Easy. isn't it? A few lines of code and you can use async/await with other types of asynchronous APIs.

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