Starting stuartsierra/component in Parallel

January 11, 2020    Clojure Software

The stuartsierra/component library (design pattern?) has been a tremendous aid to me in the development of Sixtant’s trading system, but over time I’ve found our dependency graph growing in such a way that we have ten or fifteen different connections — that the rest of the system depends on to start up — each of which makes HTTP requests, establishes connections, fetches data, etc. before completing Lifecycle/start.

Those five or ten seconds waiting at the REPL for the connections to fire up serially, over enough restarts, gave me time to realize that there was a better way.

I remembered reading Stuart’s “Lifecycle Composition” brainstorm / blog post that eventually evolved into the component library and noting that his initial workflow had all of the calls to start inside a (future ...) such that the expression would dereference to a modified component record. I decided to write a small alternative to start-system that would do something similar, starting components in parallel and dereferencing them before injecting them downstream — with the result that components that don’t depend on each other start concurrently but enjoy the guarantee that their dependencies are already started and dereferenced before being injected.


Given that start-system’s implementation is pretty much,

(fn [sys] (update-system sys (keys sys) #'start))

I initially replaced #'start with this:

(fn [component]
  (future ;; <-- start the component inside a future
        (zipmap ;; <-- modify the component to deref any future dependencies
          (keys component)
          (map #(if (future? %) (deref %) %) (vals component)))))))

… which works fine, except that components can be things that aren’t maps, including futures. So I wrapped everything in {::future (future ...)} to unambiguously identify other components waiting to finish starting.

(require '[com.stuartsierra.component :as c])

(defn deref-deps [component]
  (if-not (map? component)
      (fn [component [field-key field]]
        (if-let [dep (::future field)]
          (assoc component field-key (deref dep))

(defn start-future [component]
  (let [starting (future (-> component (deref-deps) (c/start)))]
    {::future starting}))

(defn parallel-start [sys]
  (c/update-system sys (keys sys) #'start-future))

Here’s hoping that somebody else finds this snippet useful!