Php workshop to use generators for asynchronous programming

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Workshop: Asynchronous computation and generators

An AFUP Lyon event.

Here the slides to the associated talk.


Welcome! 🖐😀

This repository contains a workshop written in Php, to understand how works asynchronous computation with generators. To achieve this goal, we will build our own asynchronous micro-framework step by step, and write a small program to crawl a mysterious API.

⚠️ Although this document tries to be as complete as possible, some details may be omitted, and meant to be discussed face to face.

💡Feel free to open a PR/issue if you have any correction/question about this 😀.


You don’t need to already be a Php guru, but it’s recommended to be familiar with:

And of course: patience, perseverance and good mood 🙂.

Getting Started


First, clone this repository, and go in corresponding directory.

git clone
cd Afup-Workshop-Async

Then, install dependencies.

composer install

Folders structure


The workshop is divided into several steps. For each step:

Of course, never hesitate to ask questions! 😉

Part A

In this part, we will write all the tools to create our crawler with asynchronous designbut synchronously! Thus, we will focus on generators usage, and promises concepts before to dive in asynchrony.

Step 1: Waiting a promise

Let’s start with the key concept of asynchronous computation: the promise. But our firsts promises are constant, it means that we can create them only if we know in advance what the result will be, like in a classical synchronous program.

Then we create our initial EventLoop and its wait method, a synchronous way to retrieve the resolved value of a promise. If the promise is rejected, this method must throw corresponding exception. wait should be called only once on the global promise of your program, but we will detail this later.

Step 2: A promise from a generator

A generator will be the only way to wait a promise asynchronously, using the keyword yield. By doing this, our EventLoop will have time to execute other generators, and delivering the expected promise result when known.

But how to execute an asynchronous generator? By creating a promise, with the method async, that will be resolved when generator return a value (success), or throw an exception (failure).

⚠️ Remember that for the moment, we don’t yet focus about how to execute several generators asynchronously. The async method has just to execute the generator, transmit expected values from yielded promises, and create a constant promise from the generator result.

Step 3: Grouping promises

Generators give ability to write asynchronous functions, but not to run them concurrently. It’s the role of the all method, to create a promise that will be resolved when all children promises are resolved. If one child promise fails, the parent promise hase to fail too.

Step 4: An Http client

We won’t write a fully Psr-7 compatible Http client, we just need a way to create a promise resolved with the response.

💡 Keep it simple! It’s not yet the time to play with curl. Do you remember that file_get_contents can be used to perform Http requests?

Step 5: Crawling the mysterious text-API…

Here the first challenge, writing a CLI program to crawl an API with an huge number of requests. Feel free to use CLI tools/libraries you are comfortable with, there is no predefined structure here, no tests to execute. Of course, you have to use our predefined HttpClient and a lot of asynchronous requests, even if our EventLoop is synchronous. Then we will compare performances with our actual asynchronous EventLoop in part B.

You have to discover a text, composed by sentences, composed by words, composed by letters.

To retrieve the full text, you will need about 8000 requests. Please, don’t try to use cache system now, it will be less fun 😉. If each request takes 200ms, it means that the global execution should take about 25 minutes. To be honest, I never had the patience to wait until the end 😅, that’s why you should use a local Php server to test your program. It may be Apache, Nginx… or just the built-in Php web server:

cd api
php -S localhost:1234

Then you can start with http://localhost:1234/text.json to retrieve the full text in less than 20 seconds!

⚠️ If you code it in bare Php, do not forget to include __DIR__.'/../vendor/autoload.php'; in order to enable classes autoloading.

💡 Think about a way to follow the progress of your program, and possible encountered errors.

Part B

Now that we have our crawler, we will empower our micro-framework to actually use asynchrony, and then compare performances.

Step 6: Pending promise and asynchronous event loop

In step 1, we coded simple constant promises, but that’s not the good way to go. We need a third state, a pending promise that may be resolved or rejected later. So here we go, write the PendingPromise class, and adapt all EventLoop methods to handle this new workflow.

💡⚠️ It’s a big step, here some hints.

Step 7: Idle promise and asynchronous Http client

How can we perform an Http request and be notified when the response is ready? It’s possible to rely on curl extension with its curl_multi_* set of functions. This curl_mutli_info_read example gives you a good overview of what the process should be.

You certainly remarked that you need to loop to wait the response. That’s exactly why we need the EventLoop::idle function: if you wait asynchronously for an idle promise in a loop, you won’t block other EventLoop’s tasks.

💡 Do you know that you can cast a curl resource to an int value?

Step 8: Asynchronous crawler

Let’s see if our actually asynchronous event loop is really better! Normally, you won’t have to modify your program so much. Don’t try to improve performances with the built-in Php web server, it can run only one request at a time, so asynchronous requests won’t help.

💡 Since your program perform a huge number of request, your computer will certainly complains, and generate a lot of errors… Don’t worry, just handle them and… retry! 😅

Part C

Congratulations, we did it! But what other about existing frameworks? Can we wrap them into our classes?

⚠️ You will have to build your own steps from here…

Part D

You have now a strong experience about asynchronous programming, and our micro-framework can be improved in many ways.

And then, feel free to suggest your own improvements 🙂.