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An (NS)Operation subclass for async operations
import Foundation
/// An abstract class that makes building simple asynchronous operations easy.
/// Subclasses must override `main()` to perform any work and call `finish()`
/// when they are done. All `NSOperation` work will be handled automatically.
/// Source/Inspiration: and
open class AsyncOperation: Operation {
public init(name: String? = nil) {
super.init() = name
/// Serial queue for making state changes atomic under the constraint
/// of having to send KVO willChange/didChange notifications.
private let stateChangeQueue = DispatchQueue(label: "com.olebegemann.AsyncOperation.stateChange")
/// Private backing store for `state`
private var _state: Atomic<State> = Atomic(.ready)
/// The state of the operation
private var state: State {
get {
return _state.value
set {
// A state mutation should be a single atomic transaction. We can't simply perform
// everything on the isolation queue for `_state` because the KVO willChange/didChange
// notifications have to be sent from outside the isolation queue. Otherwise we would
// deadlock because KVO observers will in turn try to read `state` (by calling
// `isReady`, `isExecuting`, `isFinished`. Use a second queue to wrap the entire
// transaction.
stateChangeQueue.sync {
// Retrieve the existing value first. Necessary for sending fine-grained KVO
// willChange/didChange notifications only for the key paths that actually change.
let oldValue = _state.value
guard newValue != oldValue else {
willChangeValue(forKey: oldValue.objcKeyPath)
willChangeValue(forKey: newValue.objcKeyPath)
_state.mutate {
$0 = newValue
didChangeValue(forKey: oldValue.objcKeyPath)
didChangeValue(forKey: newValue.objcKeyPath)
/// Mirror of the possible states an (NS)Operation can be in
private enum State: Int, CustomStringConvertible {
case ready
case executing
case finished
/// The `#keyPath` for the `Operation` property that's associated with this value.
var objcKeyPath: String {
switch self {
case .ready: return #keyPath(isReady)
case .executing: return #keyPath(isExecuting)
case .finished: return #keyPath(isFinished)
var description: String {
switch self {
case .ready: return "ready"
case .executing: return "executing"
case .finished: return "finished"
public final override var isAsynchronous: Bool { return true }
open override var isReady: Bool {
return state == .ready && super.isReady
public final override var isExecuting: Bool {
return state == .executing
public final override var isFinished: Bool {
return state == .finished
// MARK: - Foundation.Operation
public final override func start() {
guard !isCancelled else {
state = .executing
// MARK: - Public
/// Subclasses must implement this to perform their work and they must not call `super`.
/// The default implementation of this function traps.
open override func main() {
preconditionFailure("Subclasses must implement `main`.")
/// Call this function to finish an operation that is currently executing.
/// State can also be "ready" here if the operation was cancelled before it started.
public final func finish() {
if isExecuting || isReady {
state = .finished
open override var description: String {
return debugDescription
open override var debugDescription: String {
return "\(type(of: self))\(name ?? "nil")\(isCancelled ? "cancelled" : String(describing: state))"
import Dispatch
/// A wrapper for atomic read/write access to a value.
/// The value is protected by a serial `DispatchQueue`.
public final class Atomic<A> {
private var _value: A
private let queue: DispatchQueue
/// Creates an instance of `Atomic` with the specified value.
/// - Paramater value: The object's initial value.
/// - Parameter targetQueue: The target dispatch queue for the "lock queue".
/// Use this to place the atomic value into an existing queue hierarchy
/// (e.g. for the subsystem that uses this object).
/// See Apple's WWDC 2017 session 706, Modernizing Grand Central Dispatch
/// Usage (, for
/// more information on how to use target queues effectively.
/// The default value is `nil`, which means no target queue will be set.
public init(_ value: A, targetQueue: DispatchQueue? = nil) {
_value = value
queue = DispatchQueue(label: "com.olebegemann.Atomic", target: targetQueue)
/// Read access to the wrapped value.
public var value: A {
return queue.sync { _value }
/// Mutations of `value` must be performed via this method.
/// If `Atomic` exposed a setter for `value`, constructs that used the getter
/// and setter inside the same statement would not be atomic.
/// Examples that would not actually be atomic:
/// let atomicInt = Atomic(42)
/// // Calls getter and setter, but value may have been mutated in between
/// atomicInt.value += 1
/// let atomicArray = Atomic([1,2,3])
/// // Mutating the array through a subscript causes both a get and a set,
/// // acquiring and releasing the lock twice.
/// atomicArray[1] = 42
/// See also:
public func mutate(_ transform: (inout A) -> Void) {
queue.sync {
extension Atomic: Equatable where A: Equatable {
public static func ==(lhs: Atomic, rhs: Atomic) -> Bool {
return lhs.value == rhs.value
extension Atomic: Hashable where A: Hashable {
public func hash(into hasher: inout Hasher) {

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@iwasrobbed-ks iwasrobbed-ks commented Sep 5, 2019

Hi @ole 👋 Thanks for sharing this implementation; we've seen with both this implementation and the one it's based off of by Caleb that there are EXC_BAD_ACCESS on didChangeValue(forKey: newValue.objcKeyPath) ( due to Attempted to dereference garbage pointer 0x41.

I'm curious if you have an idea why since I'd assume it's protected within the stateQueue


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Owner Author

@ole ole commented Sep 6, 2019

@rob-keepsafe Yes, I have seen similar crashes from time to time, though usually SIGSEGV rather than EXC_BAD_ACCESS. But the backtraces do look similar to yours. I don't have any idea what causes it.

There have been quite a number of multithreading bugs in Swift's KVO overlay up until Swift 5.0, so I have a vague hope that building with Xcode 11/Swift 5.1 will fix things — although we did install the workaround mentioned in the linked PR, so maybe those shouldn't be an issue anyway.

Please let me know if you find something.


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@iwasrobbed-ks iwasrobbed-ks commented Sep 6, 2019

Thanks for the quick reply and extra information, @ole 🙇‍♂️ We're also using the KVO workaround (since it corrupted every operation across the entire sandbox/3rd party libs without it). I might file a radar for this one since it seems pretty overkill to guard it like this and yet KVO still has threading issues.

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