userver: Periodics and DistLocks
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Periodics and DistLocks

Basic information on functions and classes that execute some code triggered by some non-IO event.


utils::PeriodicTask, as the name implies, regularly calls user code. Keep in mind that the task is called on every machine in the cluster.

Well suited for:

  • background actions within the component
  • cheap idempotent database cleanup, provided that repeated cleaning is very cheap for the database; if this is not the case, then use dist_lock::DistLockedTask.

Poorly suited for:

  • Regularly receiving data from another service for caching purposes. To do this, it is better to use specially designed caches.
  • Background DB accesses for periodic changes. Use instead dist_lock::DistLockedTask.

The update period can be changed without stopping the periodic task using utils::PeriodicTask::SetSettings().


std::chrono::seconds interval{40}; // every 40 seconds
PeriodicTask::Settings settings{interval};
syncer_.Start("task_name", settings, [this]{ DoSomeWork(); });
// Register itself in testsuite

See Testsuite tasks for information about functional testing of such tasks.


A family of tools for background task execution on only one machine in a cluster. When dist lock starts, the lock worker tries to take a lock in the loop. If succeeded, a task is launched that executes the user code. In the background, dist lock tries to extend the lock. In case of loss of the lock, the user task is canceled.

The implementation has some protection against brain split (more than one instance believes that they hold the lock, and do work that requires a lock). Watchdog periodically checks whether we were able to extend the lock, and in case of an imminent loss of the lock, cancels the user task. The user task itself is responsible for stopping the work in case of cancellation (via engine::current_task::ShouldCancel()). If the task continues to work despite the cancellation, then a brain split will happen and the task will start to execute on multiple instances at the same time.

Lock implementation options:

It is well suited for:

  • heavy operation that is performed for a long time, while you do not want to execute it on two or more cluster machines at once
  • operations that cannot be executed concurrently on several machines (for example, a distributed transaction in several databases).

Poorly suited if:

  • strict guarantees for parallel startup are not required
  • brain split is categorically unacceptable
  • an explicit synchronization point in the form of a lock storage is not suitable due to reliability / performance / adding a bottleneck.
  • Execution of a non periodic task that should hold a distributed lock. Use dist_lock::DistLockedTask instead.


class Worker: public ::storages::postgres::DistLockComponentBase { ... }
auto& testsuite_tasks = testsuite::GetTestsuiteTasks(context);
if (testsuite_tasks.IsEnabled()) {
testsuite_tasks.RegisterTask(kName, [this] { DoWork(); });
} else {
void Worker::DoWork() {
// do a periodic work step

See Testsuite tasks for information bout functional testing of such tasks.

Recommendations on DoWork implementation

If work in DoWork takes a long time, then it is necessary to check for task cancellation at least once in lock-ttl via engine::current_task::ShouldCancel(). Synchronization primitives engine::InterruptibleSleepFor, engine::SingleConsumerEvent, engine::Future, userver queues, requests to clients - support cancellations, that interrupt waiting when the task is canceled. After such a wait, you need to check whether the task has been canceled - synchronization primitives throw an exception or return false from a wait operation, depending on the primitive. After engine::InterruptibleSleepFor you should call engine::current_task::ShouldCancel() manually.

In 'DoWorkyou can perform one step of the operation, or you can write a loop while (!ShouldCancel())`. You can choose an approach based on this principle:

If it is important to perform a distlock on the same host, then write a loop DoWork, otherwise perform a single iteration.

More detailed:

  • If switching the host is cheap, then it is better not to write a loop in DoWork, then the work has a chance to be distributed among the hosts (although there is no guarantee). If in doubt, it is better not to write a loop in ‘DoWork’.
  • In some cases, the distlock performs one big task with interruptions via engine::InterruptibleSleepFor to not overload the CPU and/or the database. Then you need to write a loop inside DoWork. Or if the host needs an expensive setup before starting the work on a distlock task, then you can also write a loop.

Guarantees provided

The custom coroutine that runs DoWork is always the same. If the cancellation is not processed, then another DoWork-coroutine is not launched.