Asynchronous programming is a process in which a unit of work is executed away from the main application on a different thread that ultimately notifies the application of its completion, failure or progress. This kind of programming will not only simplify a complex application being built but will also improve its performance drastically, making it more responsive. The .NET framework provides a rich set of features or say tools that can make asynchronous programming an easier process for the developers. Using these features in Dot Net development, one can easily develop even the complex dot net applications with much more simplicity.
If you are looking to develop .NET application for higher performance, keep in mind that you should opt for defining a simple structure with asynchronous processing for it. Generally, it is possible to divide an application into two separate asynchronous processes – one for information extraction and the other for doing some process with it. Here each process will carry out only one thing and is independent of the other. Therefore, coding for these individual processes becomes easy and moreover changes can be made to any one of them independent of the other. There are possibilities for the each of the two components of the application to work at a different pace than other. Hence, the process that is slow will lag behind the one that takes comparatively lesser time. In this case the faster process will be required to slow down or stop eventually in the middle in order to get in tune with the slower one. This way the application will perform better and moreover if you have a multicore processor, the application will tend to run much faster as the processes will be distributed over the many cores. However, there should be an efficient way through which these two individual processes can share the data in between them without any data integrity issues.
Let us consider an example to understand this. Assume that there are two data items – item A and item B which are related with each other and need to be processed together. Hence, in asynchronous method with two processes, there are chances that the process that creates the data updates the item A first and then the item B. However, at the same time, the other process may be reading the data from the data items but in a reverse order that is it will read the data first from item B. In this case the old value of item B will be read and new value of item A, resulting in the problem of data inconsistency. Hence, with asynchronous processing you need to take care of this and create a single object for various instances of the data. Object is a single unit carrying all the data and hence, making changes to the data will become much easier this way.
However, when there are updates to the data, it would be necessary to replace the old object with the new one and here, there could arise one more problem that what if the consumer tried to access the object before it is actually updated or it is about to get updated. Hence, data integrity still remains a problem.
Applying Lock to Data Items
One solution to resolve the data integrity issue is to lock data before updating the data items and releasing the lock only when update gets completed. In the same way even the process that consumes or reads the data will lock it before reading and will release lock only after reading. However, this could again create a problem of slow performance and in many situations may result in the deadlock problem.
However, there is a good solution for this problem with the .Net framework that offers tools for proper data management and integrity maintenance. One such tool that allows for development of .NET application with efficient asynchronous processing without data problems is BlockingCollection. This provides an efficient mechanism through which multiple asynchronous processes can share data between them in an efficient and easy manner without any integrity problems while ensuring that minimum possible lock situations occur. With BlockingCollection, the user can set limits to their data by preventing the data producers to add data items faster than consumers can use them. It notifies the processes when there is no more data to process and hence, leads to cancelling of no more necessary asynchronous processes. This way it helps in development of .NET application through asynchronous processing mechanism where multiple processes can share data without any integrity issues.
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