WWDC Notes: Swift concurrency: Behind the scenes

Published on: June 10, 2021

Meet async / await, explore structured concurrency, protect mutable state with actors should be watched first. Threading model Compares GCD to Swift. It’s not built on top of GCD. It’s a whole new thread pool. GCD is very eager to bring up threads whenever we kick off work on queues. When a queue blocks its thread, a new thread will be spawned to handle work. This means that the system can overcommit with more threads than there are CPU cores. This is also called Thread explosion and can lead to memory and performance issues. There’s a lot of scheduling overhead...

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WWDC Notes: Bring Core Data concurrency to Swift and SwiftUI

Published on: June 10, 2021

Persistence everywhere Core Data takes care of many complexities to persist data. It converts in-memory graph to persisted data and takes care of all kinds of complex tasks like memory management. Core Data works on all platforms, and it’s great in Swift. Apple’s been working to make Core Data better with Swift over the years. Core Data has always cared about running code concurrently. Swift concurrency Sample app The sample app loads data from the background and persist it. Eventually it updates the view context. Insertion is done with bgctx.performAndWait() and a batch insert. performAndWait will block the calling thread...

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WWDC Notes: Discover concurrency in SwiftUI

Published on: June 9, 2021

When performing slow work, you might dispatch off of the main queue. Updating an observable object off of the main queue could result in this updating colliding with a “tick” of the run loop. This means that SwiftUI receive an objectWillChange, and attempt to redraw UI before the underlying value is updated. This will lead to SwiftUI thinking that your model is in one state, but it’s in the next. SwiftUI needs to have objectWillChange->stateChange->runloop tick in this exact order. Running your update on the main actor (or main queue pre async/await) will ensure that the state change is completed...

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WWDC Notes: Meet AsyncSequence

Published on: June 9, 2021

Map, filter, reduce, dropFirst all work in async sequences: for try await someThing in async.dropFirst() { } For example. AsyncSequence suspends on each element and receives values asynchronously from the iterator. AsyncSequences either complete with success or stop when an error is thrown. Implementing an AsyncSequence follows all the rules that a normal sequence follows. Its next() returns nil when it’s completed for example. An async iterator also consumes its underlying collection. Things like break and continue work in async sequences too. You can cancel an iteration by holding on to its Task.Handle when you wrap it in async: let...

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WWDC Notes: What’s new in SwiftUI

Published on: June 9, 2021

A good way to get started with SwiftUI is to use it for new features. SwiftUI can be mixed in with UIKit and AppKit code. It also allows you to expand into new platforms, like macOS, with little to no work. Essentially, try to do new work with SwiftUI whenever you can. Better lists SwiftUI can load images async with the new AsyncImage. This takes a URL and shows a placeholder by default. You can pass a closure to configure the loaded image with modifier, and to set a custom placeholder. There’s a new refreshable modifier. This modifier takes a...

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WWDC Notes: Protect mutable state with Swift actors

Published on: June 8, 2021

Data races make concurrency hard. They occur when two threads access the same data and at least one of them is a write. It’s trivial to write a data race, but it’s really hard to debug. Data races aren’t always clear, aren’t always reproducible, and might not always manifest in the same way. Shared mutable state is needed for a data race to occur. Value types don’t suffer from data races due to the way they work; they’re copied. When you pass an array around, copies are created. This is due to array’s value semantics. Even an object that’s a...

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WWDC Notes: Explore structured concurrency in Swift

Published on: June 8, 2021

Structured programming uses a static scope. This makes it very easy to reason about code and its flow. Essentially making it trivial to understand what your code does by reading it from top to bottom. Asynchronous and concurrent code do not follow this structured way of programming; it can’t be read from top to bottom. Asynchronous functions don’t return values because the values aren’t ready at the end of the function scope. This means that the function will communicate results back through a closure at a later time. It also means that we don’t use structured programming for error handling...

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WWDC Notes: Meet async await in Swift

Published on: June 8, 2021

There are tons of async await compatible functions built-in into the SDK. Often with an async version and completion handler based function. Sync code blocks threads, async code doesn’t When writing async code with completion handlers you unblock threads but it’s easy to not call your completion handlers. For example when you use a guard let and only return in the else clause. Swift can’t enforce this in the compiler which can lead to subtle bugs. You can’t throw errors from completion handlers. We usually use Result for this. This adds “ceremony” to our code which isn’t ideal. Futures can...

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Thoughts on Combine in an async/await world

Published on: June 8, 2021

When Apple announced their own Functional Reactive Programming framework at WWDC 2019 I was super excited. Finally, a simplified, easy to use framework that we could use to dip our toes in FRP. What made it even better is that SwiftUI makes heavy use of Combine, which means that Apple had to buy in to the technology themselves. This made it seem unlikely that Apple would abandon the technology any time soon. Then WWDC 2020 came around and there weren’t any meaningful changes to Combine. It was hardly even mentioned in the sessions. To me, this was a signal that...

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The iOS Developer’s guide to WWDC 2021

Published on: May 31, 2021

WWDC is always an exciting time for iOS engineers. It's the one week a year where we're all newcomers to a whole range of features and APIs that Apple has just unleashed upon the world through their latest Xcode, macOS, iOS, tvOS, iPadOS, and watchOS betas. The entire iOS community comes out of hiding and we all come together to share thoughts, experiences, opinions, and findings. For a whole week, Apple releases dozens of sessions on different topics, and we all scramble to watch them as soon as possible to make sure we're all up to date with whatever the...

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