Jim Jim - 3 months ago 13
C# Question

Is there a Task based replacement for System.Threading.Timer?

I'm new to .Net 4.0's Tasks and I wasn't able to find what I thought would be a Task based replacement or implementation of a Timer, e.g. a periodic Task. Is there such a thing?

Update
I came up with what I think is a solution to my needs which is to wrap the "Timer" functionality inside a Task with child Tasks all taking advantage of the CancellationToken and returns the Task to be able to participate in further Task steps.

public static Task StartPeriodicTask(Action action, int intervalInMilliseconds, int delayInMilliseconds, CancellationToken cancelToken)
{
Action wrapperAction = () =>
{
if (cancelToken.IsCancellationRequested) { return; }

action();
};

Action mainAction = () =>
{
TaskCreationOptions attachedToParent = TaskCreationOptions.AttachedToParent;

if (cancelToken.IsCancellationRequested) { return; }

if (delayInMilliseconds > 0)
Thread.Sleep(delayInMilliseconds);

while (true)
{
if (cancelToken.IsCancellationRequested) { break; }

Task.Factory.StartNew(wrapperAction, cancelToken, attachedToParent, TaskScheduler.Current);

if (cancelToken.IsCancellationRequested || intervalInMilliseconds == Timeout.Infinite) { break; }

Thread.Sleep(intervalInMilliseconds);
}
};

return Task.Factory.StartNew(mainAction, cancelToken);
}

Jim Jim
Answer

As Amy answered, there is no Tasked based periodic/timer implementation. However, based upon my original UPDATE, we have evolved this into something quite useful and production tested. Thought I would share:

using System;
using System.Diagnostics;
using System.Threading;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

namespace ConsoleApplication7
{
    class Program
    {
        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            Task perdiodicTask = PeriodicTaskFactory.Start(() =>
            {
                Console.WriteLine(DateTime.Now);
            }, intervalInMilliseconds: 2000, // fire every two seconds...
               maxIterations: 10);           // for a total of 10 iterations...

            perdiodicTask.ContinueWith(_ =>
            {
                Console.WriteLine("Finished!");
            }).Wait();
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Factory class to create a periodic Task to simulate a <see cref="System.Threading.Timer"/> using <see cref="Task">Tasks.</see>
    /// </summary>
    public static class PeriodicTaskFactory
    {
        /// <summary>
        /// Starts the periodic task.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="action">The action.</param>
        /// <param name="intervalInMilliseconds">The interval in milliseconds.</param>
        /// <param name="delayInMilliseconds">The delay in milliseconds, i.e. how long it waits to kick off the timer.</param>
        /// <param name="duration">The duration.
        /// <example>If the duration is set to 10 seconds, the maximum time this task is allowed to run is 10 seconds.</example></param>
        /// <param name="maxIterations">The max iterations.</param>
        /// <param name="synchronous">if set to <c>true</c> executes each period in a blocking fashion and each periodic execution of the task
        /// is included in the total duration of the Task.</param>
        /// <param name="cancelToken">The cancel token.</param>
        /// <param name="periodicTaskCreationOptions"><see cref="TaskCreationOptions"/> used to create the task for executing the <see cref="Action"/>.</param>
        /// <returns>A <see cref="Task"/></returns>
        /// <remarks>
        /// Exceptions that occur in the <paramref name="action"/> need to be handled in the action itself. These exceptions will not be 
        /// bubbled up to the periodic task.
        /// </remarks>
        public static Task Start(Action action,
                                 int intervalInMilliseconds = Timeout.Infinite,
                                 int delayInMilliseconds = 0,
                                 int duration = Timeout.Infinite,
                                 int maxIterations = -1,
                                 bool synchronous = false,
                                 CancellationToken cancelToken = new CancellationToken(),
                                 TaskCreationOptions periodicTaskCreationOptions = TaskCreationOptions.None)
        {
            Stopwatch stopWatch = new Stopwatch();
            Action wrapperAction = () =>
            {
                CheckIfCancelled(cancelToken);
                action();
            };

            Action mainAction = () =>
            {
                MainPeriodicTaskAction(intervalInMilliseconds, delayInMilliseconds, duration, maxIterations, cancelToken, stopWatch, synchronous, wrapperAction, periodicTaskCreationOptions);
            };

            return Task.Factory.StartNew(mainAction, cancelToken, TaskCreationOptions.LongRunning, TaskScheduler.Current);
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Mains the periodic task action.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="intervalInMilliseconds">The interval in milliseconds.</param>
        /// <param name="delayInMilliseconds">The delay in milliseconds.</param>
        /// <param name="duration">The duration.</param>
        /// <param name="maxIterations">The max iterations.</param>
        /// <param name="cancelToken">The cancel token.</param>
        /// <param name="stopWatch">The stop watch.</param>
        /// <param name="synchronous">if set to <c>true</c> executes each period in a blocking fashion and each periodic execution of the task
        /// is included in the total duration of the Task.</param>
        /// <param name="wrapperAction">The wrapper action.</param>
        /// <param name="periodicTaskCreationOptions"><see cref="TaskCreationOptions"/> used to create a sub task for executing the <see cref="Action"/>.</param>
        private static void MainPeriodicTaskAction(int intervalInMilliseconds,
                                                   int delayInMilliseconds,
                                                   int duration,
                                                   int maxIterations,
                                                   CancellationToken cancelToken,
                                                   Stopwatch stopWatch,
                                                   bool synchronous,
                                                   Action wrapperAction,
                                                   TaskCreationOptions periodicTaskCreationOptions)
        {
            TaskCreationOptions subTaskCreationOptions = TaskCreationOptions.AttachedToParent | periodicTaskCreationOptions;

            CheckIfCancelled(cancelToken);

            if (delayInMilliseconds > 0)
            {
                Thread.Sleep(delayInMilliseconds);
            }

            if (maxIterations == 0) { return; }

            int iteration = 0;

            ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
            // using a ManualResetEventSlim as it is more efficient in small intervals.
            // In the case where longer intervals are used, it will automatically use 
            // a standard WaitHandle....
            // see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/vstudio/5hbefs30(v=vs.100).aspx
            using (ManualResetEventSlim periodResetEvent = new ManualResetEventSlim(false))
            {
                ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
                // Main periodic logic. Basically loop through this block
                // executing the action
                while (true)
                {
                    CheckIfCancelled(cancelToken);

                    Task subTask = Task.Factory.StartNew(wrapperAction, cancelToken, subTaskCreationOptions, TaskScheduler.Current);

                    if (synchronous)
                    {
                        stopWatch.Start();
                        try
                        {
                            subTask.Wait(cancelToken);
                        }
                        catch { /* do not let an errant subtask to kill the periodic task...*/ }
                        stopWatch.Stop();
                    }

                    // use the same Timeout setting as the System.Threading.Timer, infinite timeout will execute only one iteration.
                    if (intervalInMilliseconds == Timeout.Infinite) { break; }

                    iteration++;

                    if (maxIterations > 0 && iteration >= maxIterations) { break; }

                    try
                    {
                        stopWatch.Start();
                        periodResetEvent.Wait(intervalInMilliseconds, cancelToken);
                        stopWatch.Stop();
                    }
                    finally
                    {
                        periodResetEvent.Reset();
                    }

                    CheckIfCancelled(cancelToken);

                    if (duration > 0 && stopWatch.ElapsedMilliseconds >= duration) { break; }
                }
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Checks if cancelled.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="cancelToken">The cancel token.</param>
        private static void CheckIfCancelled(CancellationToken cancellationToken)
        {
            if (cancellationToken == null)
                throw new ArgumentNullException("cancellationToken");

            cancellationToken.ThrowIfCancellationRequested();
        }
    }
}

Output:

2/18/2013 4:17:13 PM
2/18/2013 4:17:15 PM
2/18/2013 4:17:17 PM
2/18/2013 4:17:19 PM
2/18/2013 4:17:21 PM
2/18/2013 4:17:23 PM
2/18/2013 4:17:25 PM
2/18/2013 4:17:27 PM
2/18/2013 4:17:29 PM
2/18/2013 4:17:31 PM
Finished!
Press any key to continue . . .