• `std::ref` and `std::reference_wrapper` in C++

    In refactoring legacy C++ codebases we often have to deal with a lot of functions or class methods that takes a pointer as an argument and then does a bunch of null checks. This is a common pattern in C++ codebases that are not modernized yet.

    Modern C++ has introduced a few utilities to help with this pattern. One of them is std::ref and std::reference_wrapper. In this post, I wanted to talk about these tools and how they can improve the safety and readability of modern C++ code.

  • Let's build an asyncio runtime from scratch in Python

    asyncio in Python is a library that provides a way to write concurrent code using the async and await syntax. It is built on top of the asyncio event loop, which is a single-threaded event loop that runs tasks concurrently. Inspired by a similar post by Jacob, we will explore how asyncio works from scratch by implementing our own event loop runtime with Python generators.

  • jthread in C++20

    std::jthread introduced in C++20 is a new thread class that is cancellable and joinable. It is a wrapper around std::thread that provides a few additional features. In this post, I wanted to talk about std::jthread and how it can be used in modern C++ codebases.

    Advantages over C++11 std::thread:

    • cancellable, can be stopped at any time, unlike std::thread which can only be stopped at the end of the thread function
    • works better with RAII pattern, since it can be joined or detached in the destructor

  • Build a strong type system via Python typehints

    Python typehinting system is getting more powerful by each Python version. Projects I’m involved with are now enforcing typehints on all new code. This has been great for a variety of reasons:

    • Improves IDE support in terms of linting, autocompletion, and refactoring
    • Makes the codebase more readable and maintainable
    • Helps catch bugs early in the development cycle

    In this post, I’ll share some of the additional features we’ve been able to enable now that most of our codebases are typehinted.

  • Get the Python GIL play nice with C++

    It is no surprise that the GIL is one of the biggest drawbacks of using Python in performance oriented applications. The GIL, or Global Interpreter Lock, is a mutex that protects access to Python objects, preventing multiple threads from executing Python bytecodes at once. This means that even if you have multiple threads running in parallel, only one of them can execute Python code at a time. This can be a major bottleneck for applications that require high performance, as it limits the amount of parallelism that can be achieved.

    To defeat the GIL, there are two commonly taken path:

    • the first is to opt for multiprocessing instead of threads.
    • Re-write the core performance critical code using a lower level language such as C++ or Rust

    Today, let’s talk about the 2nd approach. With excellent next generation binding libraries such as pybind11 and pyo3, it has become a lot simpler to support Rust/C++ code in a Python project.

    However, often the porting to C++ / Rust from existing application code do not happen overnight. In the beginning, it is mostly a few performance critical functions that are ported to C++ / Rust. In such cases, it is common to see a mix of Python and C++ / Rust code in the same project. In these cases, the threading architecture / parallelism code could still be in Python, while the performance critical code is in C++ / Rust.

    I’ve personally dealt with such systems where the GIL became a major bottleneck in the performance of the system due to ill-undertsanding of how it worked. As a result, I’m sharing my findings here.

  • Stack optimization for small sized objects in modern C++

    I came across a popular technique for providing a handle for storing small objects in the handle itself and larger ones on the heap. Using modern C++, this can be implemented quite nicely at compile time. Here is a simple example:

    // max bytes to store on the stack
    constexpr int on_stack_max = 20;
    template<typename T>
    struct Scoped {     // store a T in Scoped
            // ...
        T obj;
    template<typename T>
    struct OnHeap {    // store a T on the free store
            // ...
            T* objp;
    template<typename T>
    using Handle = typename std::conditional<(sizeof(T) <= on_stack_max),
                        Scoped<T>,      // first alternative
                        OnHeap<T>      // second alternative
    void f()
        Handle<double> v1;                   // the double goes on the stack
        Handle<std::array<double, 200>> v2;  // the array goes on the free store

    Let’s break this down

    • constexpr int on_stack_max = 20;: This line defines a constant expression for the maximum number of bytes that can be stored on the stack.
    • template<typename T> struct Scoped { T obj; };: This is a template struct that can store an object of any type T on the stack.
    • template<typename T> struct OnHeap { T* objp; };: This is a template struct that can store a pointer to an object of any type T on the heap.
    • template<typename T> using Handle = typename std::conditional<(sizeof(T) <= on_stack_max), Scoped<T>, OnHeap<T>>::type;: This line defines a template alias Handle that uses std::conditional to decide whether to use Scoped<T> or On_heap<T>. If the size of T is less than or equal to on_stack_max, it uses Scoped<T>. Otherwise, it uses On_heap<T>.
    • void f() { Handle<double> v1; Handle<std::array<double, 200>> v2; }: This function demonstrates how to use the Handle template. v1 is a Handle that stores a double on the stack, because the size of a double is less than on_stack_max. v2 is a Handle that stores an std::array<double, 200> on the heap, because the size of std::array<double, 200> is greater than on_stack_max.

    Of course, this assumes that T can be copied and moved around, and that it has a finite size. If T is not copyable or movable, you will need to adjust the implementation accordingly.

    This shows how powerful modern C++ can be in terms of compile-time programming. It allows you to make decisions at compile time based on the properties of types, which can lead to more efficient and flexible code.

  • Dive into Python asyncio - part 2

    In the second part of this series on deep diving into asyncio and async/await in Python, we will be looking at the following topics:

    • task, task groups, task cancellation
    • async queues
    • async locks and semaphores
    • async context managers
    • async error handling

  • Dive into Python asyncio - part 1

    For as long as I have worked in Python land, I never had to touch the async part of the language. I know that asyncio library has gotten a lot of love in the past few years. Recently I’ve came across an opportunity to do a lot of IO and non-cpu bound work in Python. I decided to take a deep dive into the asyncio library and see what it has to offer.

    In part 1 of this series (I originally just wanted to write one post and realized the scope is way too big), we’ll cover:

    • How async code interfaces with synchronous code in Python
    • How to convert synchronous code to asynchronous code, including how to prevent blocking of the event loop via custom ThreadPoolExecutor
    • How to use asyncio to run multiple tasks concurrently

    Basic example, async hello world

    import asyncio
    async def hello_world():
        print("Hello world")
    >>> Hello world

    Running two async functions in parallel

    import asyncio
    async def foo():
        while True:
    async def bar():
        while True:
    asyncio.run(asyncio.gather(foo(), bar()))

    What if I have existing synchronous methods?

    We can wrap a synchronous function in an async function, an example implementation would be a decorator (i love decorators, btw):

    def async_wrap(
        loop: Optional[asyncio.BaseEventLoop] = None, executor: Optional[Executor] = None
    ) -> Callable:
        def _async_wrap(func: Callable) -> Callable:
            async def run(*args, loop=loop, executor=executor, **kwargs):
                if loop is None:
                    loop = asyncio.get_event_loop()
                pfunc = partial(func, *args, **kwargs)
                return await loop.run_in_executor(executor, pfunc)
            return run
        return _async_wrap

    The above decorator is a higher order decorator (it takes arguments and then generates another decorator), example usage is the following:

    import asyncio
    import time
    def foo():
        while True:
            print("foo from sync")
    async def bar():
        while True:
            print("bar from async")
    asyncio.run(asyncio.gather(foo(), bar()))

  • What is copiable?

    What is copiable anyway?

    Python is garbage collected and has a reference counting system. This means that when you create an object, it is stored in memory and a reference to it is stored in a variable. When you assign a variable to another variable, the reference count for the object is incremented. When you delete a variable, the reference count is decremented. When the reference count reaches zero, the object is deleted from memory.

    This is a very simple explanation of how Python works. There are many more details that I will not go into here. The point is that when you assign a variable to another variable, you are not creating a copy of the object. You are creating a new reference to the same object. This is important to understand because it can lead to some unexpected behavior.

    Questions I had:

    • What happens when you assign a variable to another variable?
    • What happens when you return a complex object (i.e. a class) as part of a tuple from a function?
    • What happens when you spin up a subprocess, call a method you defined in one class, and give it an object as an argument?

  • Dependency injection in Python

    Since Python type hints are introduced, they have made complex Python code-bases much more readable and easier to maintain - especially combined with newer static analysis tools such as mypy or pylint. However, even with these tools, Python is still a dynamic language. When using a dynamic language on a larger application (>5k LOC), the ability to do whatever we wanted any where and any time is more of a curse than a blessing.

    In this post, I wanted to discuss several options of implementing loosely coupled code in large Python codebases that I have played around with and the final solution of dependency injection based pattern I ended up deciding on.

  • Javascript oddities

    A collection of weird things in Javascript:

    1. var scoping rules

    for (var i = 0; i < 3; ++i)
    	const log = () => {
      	console.log(`a ${i}`);
      setTimeout(log, 100);
    for (let i = 0; i < 3; ++i)
    	const log = () => {
      	console.log(`b ${i}`);
      setTimeout(log, 100);

    The output here is:

    "a 3"
    "a 3"
    "a 3"
    "b 0"
    "b 1"
    "b 2"

    Why does var cause it to print 3?

    2. const in Javascript does not mean the same as C/C++. Example:

    const value = 3;
    value = 4; // error, cannot override a constant
    value += 3; // error
    const obj = {a : 3};
    obj.a += 3; //allowed
    obj.a = 5; //allowed

    Turns out const in Javascript is more of a “const” reference like const & in C++. It does not mean the value itself is constant - just the reference to the array cannot be changed.

    3. Converting time formats can be tricky

    Suppose you have a time in yyyy-mm-DD format and you want it in mm/DD/yyyy format.

    new Date('2016-06-05').
      toLocaleString('en-us', {year: 'numeric', month: '2-digit', day: '2-digit'})
    // Output:
    >>> '06/04/2016'

    Wait, what happened?, I asked for 2016-06-05 in mm/dd/YYYY but it gave me 06/04/2016 instead! This because all dates by default assumes it’s GMT time, when you convert it to a local timezone, you might get a different date.

    The moment library fortunately makes this a lot easier.

    var date = new Date('10/01/2021');
    var formattedDate = moment(date).format('YYYY-MM-DD');

    If we don’t want some extra dependency, it’s probably easier to just not convert the date into a Javascript Date obj and directly do string operations on it to get it to the format you want. Example:

    function reformatDateString(dateString) {
        //reformat date string to from YYYY-MM-DD to MM/DD/YYYY
        if (dateString && dateString.indexOf('-') > -1) {
            const dateParts = dateString.split('-');
            return `${dateParts[1]}/${dateParts[2]}/${dateParts[0]}`;
        return dateString;

  • Rust like enums in C++

    While browsing the excellent modern C++ reactive console UI library FTXUI, I noticed this piece of code in how the events are typed/handled.

    // event.hpp
    struct Event {
      // --- Constructor section ---------------------------------------------------
      static Event Character(char);
      static Event CursorReporting(std::string, int x, int y);
      // Other constructor methods
      // --- Arrow ---
      static const Event ArrowLeft;
      static const Event ArrowRight;
      static const Event ArrowUp;
      static const Event ArrowDown;
      // .... Other definitions etc....

    My immediate reaction to this is that this feels weird - partially because I am not used to the author’s C++ style, in addition, the combination of static member variables sharing the parent-type, and static methods for constructors are really confusing to read.

    Let’s dive into it to see how things work.

  • Python testing ecosystem

  • Common, stupid, but non-obvious C++ mistakes I made

    Internet consensus tends to label C++ as a hard language; I like to think Cpp is a “deep” language. There are always rooms for improvement - doesn’t matter how long you have been coding in C++. The expressiveness and the depth of the language is double-edged. It is what makes C++ great, but also makes it daunting for new users. These are the mistakes I’ve made in my daily usage of C++. I hope they can be useful for other people to avoid them in the future.

    1. Capture by reference on transient objects

    Callbacks (lambda functions, function pointers, functors, or std::bind on static functions) are a common paradigm when you work with message queues, thread pools, or event based systems. Lambda and closures give you a lot of power - but too much power could often cause problems, consider the following code:

  • Rich D3 interactivity in Jekyll posts

    This is me trying to reproduce the results in this Stack Overflow post and Dan Cole’s blog.

    Things to keep in mind:

    • Include morley.csv (Search local JavaScript for /morley.csv)
    • Include D3.js
    • Include box.js
    • Include the local CSS and JavaScript

    Check out the code for this post on GitHub.