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A Flutter package which allows you to work with MethodChannels in Isolate and provides simplified Isolate and Thread Pool API.

Combine logo

License: MIT Pub

This plugin Combines Isolate, MethodChannel and Thread Pool.
In other words it provides a way to use flutter plugins in Isolate or just work with user friendly API for Isolates.

Learn more in this article!

Features #

  • Create an Isolate.
  • Communicate with Isolate without extra code.
  • Use Method Channels in Isolate.
  • Efficiently execute tasks in Isolates pool.

Index #

Usage #

Short usage example #

Combine is used to create Isolates.

CombineInfo isolateInfo = await Combine().spawn((context) {
  print("Argument from main isolate: ${context.argument}");

  context.messenger.messages.listen((message) {
    print("Message from main isolate: $message");
    context.messenger.send("Hello from isolate!");
  });
}, argument: 42);

isolateInfo.messenger
  ..messages.listen((message) {
    print("Message from isolate: $message");
  })
  ..send("Hello from main isolate!");

// Will print:
// Argument from main isolate: 42
// Message from main isolate: Hello from main isolate!
// Message from isolate: Hello from isolate!

CombineWorker is a pool of Isolates that efficiently executes tasks in them.

In comparison to Fluter's compute method which creates an isolate each time it is called, Combine Worker creates a pool of isolates and efficiently reuses them.

final fibonacciNumber = await CombineWorker().executeWithArg(calculateFibonacci, 42);
print(fibonacciNumber); // 1655801441

int calculateFibonacci(int number) {
  if (number == 1 || number == 2) {
    return 1;
  } else {
    return calculateFibonacci(number - 1) + calculateFibonacci(number - 2);
  }
}

Combine #

Create and maintain Isolate #

Create

CombineIsolate is just a representation of Isolate so when you create a CombineIsolate, an Isolate will be created under the hood. On the web, however, everything will be executed on the main isolate.

To create a new CombineIsolate you just need to call Combine().spawn(entryPointFunction). entryPointFunction is a function which will be called in Isolate.

CombineInfo will be returned which holds CombineIsolate to control Isolate and IsolateMessenger to communicate with it.

CombineInfo combineInfo = await Combine().spawn((context) {
  print("Hello from Isolate!!!");
});

Kill

You can use CombineIsolate.kill method to kill CombineIsolate.

CombineIsolate combineIsolate;
combineIsolate.kill(); // Kill Isolate.

Communicate with Isolate #

IsolateContext

Do you remember context argument in entryPointFunction? Let's take a closer look at it.

IsolateContext holds an argument, passed while you spawn Isolate, IsolateMessenger which is used to communicate with original Isolate and CombineIsolate which is represents current Isolate.

Pass arguments

You can just use variables from closure or provide argument by passing it to the spawn function.

final argumentFromClosure = "This is argument from main Isolate";
Combine().spawn(
  (context) {
    final argument = context.argument as String;
    print(argument); // Print: This is my argument
    print(argumentFromClosure); // Print: This is argument from main Isolate
  },
  argument: "This is my argument",
);

Arguments from closure will be copied to the Isolate. They may be mutable however mutable variable won't be synchronized so if you change it in main Isolate it won't be changed in Combine Isolate.

Chat with Isolate

To chat with Isolate you can use IsolateMessenger. It has messages getter with stream of messages from Isolate and send method which sends message to Isolate.

In the created isolate you can get IsolateMessenger from IsolateContext.messenger. Another IsolateMessenger can be found in CombineIsolate.

CombineInfo combineInfo = await Combine().spawn((context) {
  context.messenger
    ..messages.listen(
      (event) => print("Message from Main Isolate: $event"),
    )
    ..send("Hello from Combine Isolate!");
});

combineInfo.messenger.messages.listen(
  (event) {
    print("Message from Combine Isolate: $event");
    combineInfo.messenger.send("Hello from Main Isolate!");
  },
);

This code will give the following output:

Message from Combine Isolate: Hello from Combine Isolate!
Message from Main Isolate: Hello from Main Isolate!

Dealing with MethodChannels #

Configuration

Everything is already configured to work with MethodChannels so you can just use them!

Combine().spawn((context) async {
  final textFromTestAsset = await rootBundle.loadString("assets/test.txt");
  print("Text from test asset: $textFromTestAsset");
  // Print: Text from test asset: Asset is loaded!
});

Explanation:

  • the point it that rootBundle uses BinaryMessenger (low level MethodChannel)
  • let's assume that file in assets/test.txt exists and contains Asset is loaded! text

Combine Worker #

Initialize worker #

To initialize worker you may call CombineWorker().initialize() however it can be lazily initialized on the first execution so you omit calling this method.

Also this method has isolatesCount, tasksPerIsolate and initializer parameters. The second parameter is used to set maximum number of tasks that one isolate can perform asynchronously. About the initializer parameter you can read below.

Execute tasks #

You can execute task with zero, one or two arguments using execute, executeWithArg and executeWith2Args methods accordingly.

final helloWorld = await CombineWorker().execute(zeroArgsFunction);
final maksim = await CombineWorker().executeWithArg(oneArgFunction, "Maksim");
final helloArshak  = await CombineWorker().executeWith2Args(
  twoArgsFunction, 
  "Hello", "Arshak!"
);

String zeroArgsFunction() => "Hello, World!";
String oneArgFunction(String str) => str;
String twoArgsFunction(String a, String b) => "$a, $b";

If some task will throw an exception, corresponding execute function will completes with this exception.

Create a new instance #

If you want to have a few workers with different settings for the separate tasks, you can create a new worker instance with the CombineWorker.newInstance factory.

Initialize worker isolates

Sometimes you need to execute some code once worker isolate is created. For example, to initialize db connection, configure API client, etc. It can be done with the initializer function parameter for the CombineWorker.initialize() method.
initializer is a function that will be executed in each worker isolate during their creation.

Close Worker #

CombineWorker().close() method is used to close the current worker.
CombineWorker is a singleton but under the hood it uses a worker manager instance which can be closed and recreated. It may be useful if you want to cancel all running and awaiting tasks (i. e. on user logout).

When worker is closed it completes all tasks with CombineWorkerClosedException.
If you want to wait for remaining tasks set waitForRemainingTasks parameter to true. In that case they won't be completed with exception.

You can call execute or initialize methods without awaiting for this future. In that case new worker manager will be created.

Limitations #

Method Channel #

Everything will work fine while MethodChannel.invokeMethod or BinaryMessenger.send methods are used by you or your plugin.

However if MethodChannel.setMethodCallHandler or BinaryMessenger.handlePlatformMessage are used by you or your plugin you may notice that these methods are not working. This may happen if you didn't send any data to the platform from this Isolate.

Why? In short the reason is that plugin just sends all messages from known [method] channels in Main Isolate to the Combine Isolate. However [method] channel becomes known when you send anything to it. The good news is when you want to receive messages from channel using MethodChannel.setMethodCallHandler or BinaryMessenger.handlePlatformMessage methods almost always firstly you send some data to this channel so it is very unlikely that you will face this problem.

Closure variables #

Isolate entryPoint function for spawn method or task function for the execute methods may be a first-level, as well as a static or top-level.

Also, it may use closure variables but with some restrictions:

  • closure variable will be copied (as every variable passed to isolate) so it won't be synchronized across Isolates.
  • if you use at least one variable from closure all closure variables will be copied to the Isolate due to this issue. It can lead to high memory consumption or event exception because some variables may contain native resources.

Due to the above points, I highly recommend you avoid using closure variables until this issue is fixed.

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Publisher

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A Flutter package which allows you to work with MethodChannels in Isolate and provides simplified Isolate and Thread Pool API.

Repository (GitHub)

Documentation

API reference

License

Icon for licenses.MIT (LICENSE)

Dependencies

equatable, flutter

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