ReactPHP with RecoilPHP: An introduction

Getting your mind wrapped around async nature can be mind bending at first. But with RecoilPHP you can write code promise as if you're writing sync code.

Normally you would write code using promises like this:

operation()->then(function ($result) {
    return anotherOperation($result);
})->then(function ($result) {
    return yetAnotherOperation($result);
})->done(function ($result) {
    echo $result;

With RecoilPHP the same can be written as:

$result = yield operation();
$result = yield anotherOperation($result);
$result = yield yetAnotherOperation($result);
echo $result;

Which is a lot easier to grasp for the mind compared to using promises, as there is a lot less going on visually. Plus it feels and looks more like synchronous PHP.

Set up

To get the above example running we need a bit more than shown. First off we need a few packages:

composer require recoil/recoil recoil/react react/event-loop react/promise

Secondly we need a basic set up be able to use coroutines.

$loop = \React\EventLoop\Factory::create();
$kernel = \Recoil\React\ReactKernel::create($loop);

$kernel->execute(function () {


There a major requirement at this point. The lambda we pass into $kernel->execute must return a generator so we have to use a yield in the body of that lambda. Note: We can't put it a level deeper in a function call.

Open connections and Listening sockets

To demonstrate the synchronous asynchronous nature of coroutines we're going to retrieve the count of listening sockets, and the count of open connections through netstat. We'll be using one of my own packages to quickly get the outcome of netstat.

composer require wyrihaximus/react-child-process-promise

We're going to call netstat twice, once to count all the listening sockets, and a second time to count all established connections. No matter how often you run netstat.php the order will always be the same.

$kernel->execute(function () use ($loop) {
    $listeningCount = yield childProcessPromise($loop, new Process('netstat -tulpen | wc -l'));
    echo 'Listening Sockets: ', $listeningCount->getStdout(), PHP_EOL;
    $connectionCount = yield childProcessPromise($loop, new Process('netstat -tupen | grep ESTABLISHED | wc -l'));
    echo 'Open Connections: ', $connectionCount->getStdout(), PHP_EOL;

Two coroutines

Now as shown above the order within a coroutine is always the same. But you can always start another coroutine that does something else, in the following example we will try to resolve all hostnames from $argv, but first we need react/dns to do DNS looks up.

composer require react/dns

Now we'll add the following coroutine netstat.php and save it as netstat-dns.php.

$kernel->execute(function () use ($loop, $argv) {
    $resolver = (new Factory())->create('', $loop);
    for ($i = 1; $i < count($argv); $i++) {
        $ip = yield $resolver->resolve($argv[$i]);
        echo $argv[$i], ': ', $ip, PHP_EOL;

Bonus tip, order matters

Also you might have noticed that the IP and counts are retrieved on their own line. Not only does it look cleaner, it also matters a lot in execution order. The code runs to the exact location of the yield and then pauses from that point until the promise resolves. Consider the following line of code

echo $argv[$i], ': ', yield $resolver->resolve($argv[$i]), PHP_EOL;

As you can see in the outcome of that code, the hostname gets printed, then that coroutine is paused and the other takes over and starts printing it's first bit of text. By getting the desired value before printing we avoid this.

Coroutine order gone wrong

Dealing with errors

All of the above examples assume a happy flow, no errors, but errors are a core element in programming. When you reject a promise with an exception Recoil will throw it for you. Consider error.php.

$kernel->execute(function () {
    try {
        yield reject(new Exception('error'));
    } catch (Throwable $et) {
        echo (string)$et;

It has the following outcome:

Further reading

Later this week two more posts will be posted going into different use cases of coroutines using Recoil. But if you want to dive deeper in how coroutines work now, Nikita Popov wrote a great, but bit long and technical, article how coroutines work under the hood: Cooperative multitasking using coroutines (in PHP!).