Coroutines in Python

Python 3.5 added native support for coroutines. Actually, there were several steps towards the current implementation. See Wikipedia, and it seems a bit messy to me:

  • Python 2.5 implements better support for coroutine-like functionality, based on extended generators (PEP 342).
  • Python 3.3 improves this ability, by supporting delegating to a subgenerator (PEP 380).
  • Python 3.4 introduces a comprehensive asynchronous I/O framework as standardized in PEP 3156, which includes coroutines that leverage subgenerator delegation.
  • Python 3.5 introduces explicit support for coroutines with async/await syntax (PEP 0492).

Before Python 2.5, there were only generators.

In Python 2.5, yield was refined to be an expression rather than a statement, which gave the possibility to implement a simple coroutine. But still a lot of work left for programmers to use it. For instance, a simple conroutine scheduler was required.

In Python 3.3, yield from was added to support subgenerators. Nothing to do with coroutines.

In Python 3.4, the Father of Python (Guido van Rossum) wrote a PEP himself to add an asyncio module to simplify coroutine usage in Python. An official scheduler was added. We can use @asyncio.coroutine to decorate a function. We can use yield from expressions to yield to a specific coroutine.

In Python 3.5, async/await syntax was added, borrowed from C#. The newest PEP made coroutines a native Python language feature, and clearly separated them from generators. A native coroutine now declares with async def syntax, and yield from is replaced with await expression. This removes generator/coroutine ambiguity. So in Python 3.5, coroutines used with asyncio may be implemented using the async def statement, or by using generators. Generator-based coroutines should be decorated with @asyncio.coroutine, although this is not strictly enforced. The decorator enables compatibility with async def coroutines, and also serves as documentation. See Python documents here.

The implementation can be found in this commit.

I wrote a echo server/client sample to try corutines. Server code first:

Client code here, or you can simply use telnet command:

Server output:

Client output:

With Python 3.5 on Ubuntu 16.04, we can also use async/await:

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