kaqqao kaqqao - 1 year ago 126
Java Question

CompletableFuture#whenComplete not called if thenApply is used

I have the following code (resulting from my previous question) that schedules a task on a remote server, and then polls it completion using

. Once the task is complete, it downloads the result.
I want to return a
to the caller so they can decide when and how long to block, and give them the option to cancel the task.

My problem is that if the client cancels the
returned by the
block doesn't execute. If I remove
it does. It's obvious I'm misunderstanding something about
composition... What should I change?

public Future<Object> download(Something something) {
String jobId = schedule(something);
CompletableFuture<String> job = pollForCompletion(jobId);
return job.thenApply(this::downloadResult);

private CompletableFuture<String> pollForCompletion(String jobId) {
ScheduledExecutorService executor = Executors.newSingleThreadScheduledExecutor();
CompletableFuture<String> completionFuture = new CompletableFuture<>();

ScheduledFuture<?> checkFuture = executor.scheduleAtFixedRate(() -> {
if (pollRemoteServer(jobId).equals("COMPLETE")) {
}, 0, 10, TimeUnit.SECONDS);
.whenComplete((result, thrown) -> {
System.out.println("XXXXXXXXXXX"); //Never happens unless thenApply is removed
return completionFuture;

On the same note, if I do:

return completionFuture.whenComplete(...)

instead of

return completionFuture;

also never executes. This seems very counterintuitive to me. Shouldn't logically the
returned by
be the one I should hold on to?


I changed my code to explicitly back-propagate the cancellation. It's abhorrent and unreadable, but it works and I couldn't find a better way:

public Future<Object> download(Something something) throws ChartDataGenException, Exception {
String jobId = schedule(report);
CompletableFuture<String> job = pollForCompletion(jobId);;
CompletableFuture<Object> resulting = job.thenApply(this::download);
resulting.whenComplete((result, thrown) -> {
if (resulting.isCancelled()) {
return resulting;

Answer Source

Your structure is as follows:

           │ completionFuture |
             ↓              ↓
  ┌──────────────┐      ┌───────────┐
  │ whenComplete |      │ thenApply |
  └──────────────┘      └───────────┘

So when you cancel the thenApply future, the original completionFuture object remains unaffected as it doesn’t depend on the thenApply stage. If, however, you don’t chain the thenApply stage, you’re returning the original completionFuture instance and canceling this stage causes the cancellation of all dependent stages, causing the whenComplete action to be executed immediately.

But when the thenApply stage is cancelled, the completionFuture still may get completed when the pollRemoteServer(jobId).equals("COMPLETE") condition is fulfilled, as that polling doesn’t stop. But we don’t know the relationship of jobId = schedule(something) and pollRemoteServer(jobId). If your application state changes in a way that this condition can never be fulfilled after canceling a download, this future will never complete…

Regarding your last question, which future is “the one I should hold on to?”, there is no requirement to have a linear chain of futures, in fact, while the convenience methods of CompletableFuture make it easy to create such a chain, more than often, it’s the least useful thing to do, as you could just write a block of code, if you have a linear dependency. Your model of chaining two independent stages is right, but cancellation doesn’t work through it, but it wouldn’t work through a linear chain either.

If you want to be able to cancel the source stage, you need a reference to it, but if you want to be able to get the result of a dependent stage, you’ll need a reference to that stage too.

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