Latest 0.3.0
Homepage https://github.com/zradke/PromiseZ
License MIT
Platforms ios 6.0, osx 10.8, requires ARC
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A high level implementation of the Promises/A+ spec which borrows heavily and shamelessly from the RXPromise implementation.


Installation

Cocoapods is a nice dependency manager for iOS and OSX apps. Take a look at the Cocoapods website to get started if you’re not familiar.

Once cocoapods is set up, just add the following to your Podfile:

pod 'PromiseZ'

And when you’re importing the library:

#import <PromiseZ/PZPromise.h>

Putting it to use

At its core a promise represents an undetermined result. For example, when making a network request, the data is not available immediately, and the request can either be successful with a result or fail for some reason. Promises represent all those states and potential values in one object.

The PZPromise class conforms to the <PZThenable> protocol and conforms to the Promises/A+ spec. It can be initialized via the -init method.

Let’s say we have a method which does some background processing asynchronously:

- (PZPromise *)doSomethingAsync
{
    // This promise will need to be retained somehow so it can be notified of it's eventual value or failed reason.
    PZPromise *promise = [PZPromise new];
    ...
    return promise;
}

At the most basic level, we can be notified when the method completes by adding on-kept and on-broken blocks:

PZPromise *promise = [self doSomethingAsync];
[promise thenOnKept:^id(id value) {
    // Do something with the result
    ...
    return nil; // The return value doesn't matter in this case
} onBroken:^id(NSError *reason) {
    // Do something to handle the failure
    ...
    return nil; // The return value doesn't matter in this case
}];

Notice that the on-kept and on-broken blocks actualy return a value. That’s because the -thenOnKept:onBroken: method actually returns another <PZThenable>! This new promise is resolved depending on what you return from the on-kept and on-broken blocks, or if you don’t provide a block, on the result of the original promise. So in our example let’s say we want to do something else with a successful result:

- (PZPromise *)doSomethingElseAsyncWithResult:(id)result
{
    ...
}

Instead of returning nil from our on-kept block, we can return that promise:

PZPromise *promiseA = [self doSomethingAsync];
PZPromise *promiseB = [promise thenOnKept:^id(id value) {
    // We return the next promise we want to execute
    return [self doSomethingElseAsyncWithResult:value];
} onBroken:^id(NSError *reason) {
    // Do something to handle the failure
    ...

    // We can return an already broken promise so promiseB will also be broken.
    return [[PZPromise alloc] initWithBrokenReason:reason];
}];

In this case promiseB will resolve whenever the promise returned by doSomethingElseAsyncWithResult: resolves.

But in our example we don’t realy need promiseA, so we can ignore it and start chaining:

PZPromise *promise = [[self doSomethingAsync] thenOnKept:^id(id value) {
    return [self doSomethingElseAsyncWithResult:value];
} onBroken:^id(NSError *reason) {
    ...
    return [[PZPromise alloc] initWithBrokenReason:reason];
}];

The returned promise will only be resolved after -doSomethingAsync resolves its promise and -doSomethingElseAsyncWithResult: resolves. We can continue chaining as long as we need:

PZPromise *promise = [[[self doSomethingAsync] thenOnKept:^id(id value) {
    return [doSomethingElseAsyncWithResult:value];
} onBroken:nil] thenOnKept:^id(id value) {
    return [doAnotherThingWithAnotherResult:value];
} onBroken:nil] thenOnKept:^id(id value) {
    return [doFinalThingWithFinalResult:value];
} onBroken:^id(NSError *error) {
    // Handle any of the errors that other promises in the chain encountered
    ...
    return [[PZPromise alloc] initWithBrokenReason:reason];
}];

Note that we are passing nil for the on-broken block. Remember that both the on-kept and on-broken blocks are optional. If they are nil, the promise simply passes on its state and value to the returned promise. In this way, the final on-broken block will actually will catch any of the previous promises’ failures! The same would work for on-kept blocks as well.

Promises returned by the -thenOnKept:onBroken: method are different from ones created via -init or +new in that their resolution depends on the initial promise or the block return values. For this reason, they are considered "bound" and bound promises cannot be manually kept or broken. Calling -keepWithValue: or -breakWithReason: on a bound promise will have no effect.

What’s the catch?

The PZPromise class represents only part of the promise equation. The other part is that in order for it to be any use, your async methods must generate, return, keep, and break PZPromise instances. Specific implementations are a bit beyond the scope of this read-me (though you can take a look at the example app for some inspiration), but generally there are a few points to consider:

  • When an async method is called, return a pending PZPromise instance.
  • If the async method resolves in success, call -keepWithValue: on the promise, passing the successful result.
  • If the async method fails for some reason, call -breakWithReason: on the promise, passing an NSError representing the reason.

A key point in this implementation is that the class with the async method needs to keep a hold of its promises and resolve the proper promise with the proper value (success or failure). Once you’ve got that down, it’s all dandy!


Getting into the snickel-frits

Is a high-level overview not enough? This section gets into some more esoteric points about the PZPromise implementation.

Becoming "thenable"

The <PZThenable> protocol defines the -thenOnKept:onBroken: method which conformers must implement. Though PZPromise conforms to the protocol, it is left independent for cases when a method wishes to return a custom object instead of the normal PZPromise. Typically, though, the PZPromise class should suffice.

Concurrency

  • PZPromise should be thread safe, and can be resolved (-keepWithValue: or -breakWithReason:) on any thread regardless of where they were created.
  • As per the Promises/A+ spec, on-kept or on-broken blocks are always executed asynchronously on at least the next run-loop, even if the receiving PZPromise has already been kept or broken.
  • On-kept and on-broken blocks make no guarantees about what thread they are called on. For this reason, it is important when making UI changes to always dispatch back to the main thread.

Latest podspec

{
    "name": "PromiseZ",
    "version": "0.3.0",
    "summary": "Promises/A+ done right and done small.",
    "homepage": "https://github.com/zradke/PromiseZ",
    "license": "MIT",
    "authors": {
        "Zach Radke": "[email protected]"
    },
    "source": {
        "git": "https://github.com/zradke/PromiseZ.git",
        "tag": "0.3.0"
    },
    "platforms": {
        "ios": "6.0",
        "osx": "10.8"
    },
    "requires_arc": true,
    "source_files": "Pod/Classes/**/*"
}

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