Upgrading to v0.6

cl-async v0.6.x switches the backend from libevent to libuv. Please read the guide on upgrading to v0.6.x.


The documentation is split into a number of sections covering the various abilities of cl-async:

Quick start

Cl-async uses an event loop (via libuv) to keep track of events it’s currently processing. An event can be something like a timer being fired, data being received on a socket, an operating system signal being delivered to your application, etc. Everything that an evented application does is in response to an event being processed.

The first thing to do in cl-async is to start the event loop:

  (lambda ()
    (format t "Exiting event loop.~%")))

The event loop returns immediately after printing Exiting event loop. because we did not give it any events to process before returning control back. So in the next example, let’s give it an event to process:

  (lambda ()
      (lambda ()
        (format t "Timer fired. Exiting.~%"))
      :time 3)))

What we’re doing here is adding a function to be run on a timer (in this case, 3 seconds). Once this is done, control is return to the event loop, which will not exit yet because we just put an event on it, and event loops do not exit until all events are processed. Once the 3 seconds is up, the function we gave to delay will be run. After printing Timer fired. Exiting., the event loop exits to the REPL because there are no more events left to process.

You may be wondering, why not just use (sleep 2). In this case, using sleep would work the same. The power of an event loop is that while (sleep) would block the execution of the current thread, (delay) will not…it returns immediately after being called, no longer how long of a :time you specify. This means that while the delay event is sitting in the event loop waiting for its timer to count down, your app is free to do other things.

Using this methodology, your application can processing tens if not hundreds of thousands of strings of execution concurrently, all while only using one thread.

See more cl-async examples to get you started.

Event loop performance

It’s important to note what event loops are good for and what they are bad for. Event loops are wonderful if 50% or more of what you’re doing is input/output (IO), since most of the time your app is just waiting, which allows you to process many things at once. If your app is doing mostly CPU work, an event loop is probably going to give you worse performance than just using threading.

So if you’re running a server, an event loop might be good because you can handle tens of thousands of clients at the same time. If you’re folding protiens or something similar, just use threading.