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73014Re: [PATCH] Asynchronous functions (settimeout, setinterval, and cancelinterval)

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  • Ben Fritz
    Sep 3, 2013
      On Sunday, September 1, 2013 8:42:25 PM UTC-5, Geoff Greer wrote:
      > This patch adds asynchronous functions to vimscript. If you want to perform an action in 700ms, simply:
      >
      > let timeout_id = settimeout(700, 'echo("hello")')
      >
      > To cancel the timeout before it's fired:
      >
      > canceltimeout(timeout_id)
      >
      > setinterval() also returns an id that can be used with canceltimeout.
      >
      > The reason for this patch is simple: asynchronous functionality is needed to implement real-time collaborative editing in Vim. This is one of the most voted-for features (see http://www.vim.org/sponsor/vote_results.php).
      >
      > Along with Matt Kaniaris, I founded Floobits to build real-time collaboration into every editor. We wrote a plugin for Vim, but we had to use hacks to get async behavior (abusing feedkeys or client-server). These methods had side-effects such as breaking leaderkeys or other shortcuts. After a lot of experimenting, we decided to try patching Vim.
      >
      > Since Vim is character-driven, we had to munge some low-level input functions to get the desired behavior. We changed gui_wait_for_chars() and mch_inchar() so that call_timeouts() is run every ticktime milliseconds. The default ticktime is 100ms.
      >
      > This patch isn't finished yet, but it works on unix-based OSes. If the reaction is positive, our intention is to change mch_inchar() (or something similar) in other OS-specific files. That will get async functions working for everyone.
      >
      > Even if our patch isn't the best approach, we'd love to help get async functions in Vim. Doing so will open the door to a lot of cool plugins.
      >
      > Oh, and this is the first time either myself or Matt have submitted a patch to Vim, so please be gentle.
      >
      > Sincerely,
      >
      > Geoff Greer

      Forgive me if I'm wrong, I didn't spend more than a few minutes looking over the patch.

      It looks like this is not really "asynchronous" behavior, but rather adding a timer-like hook into the main loop. Pro: no worries about thread safety, race conditions, etc. Con: if the function called by the timer event takes a long time, Vim hangs until it's done.

      If I'm correct, and this gets included, the help will need to be very explicit about making sure to limit the time taken by the function called! And there should definitely be a way to interrupt the action.

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